Letters of Rec

Letters of Recommendation

The Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) Department offers a service to keep letters of recommendation on file and, at the student’s request, send them to prospective graduate schools, professional schools, or employers. Students must be part of a PBS major to qualify for this service. It is the responsibility of each student needing such letters to contact potential evaluators for letter writing.

Procedures for Using the Letters of Recommendation Service

Students wishing to use the service must follow these directions:

  1. Read and complete the Letter of Recommendation Request Form PDF to the right, including the Access to Confidential Statements box on the second page. Return the form to Room 1813 in the PBS Main Office (Psychology East, 1814) at least 15 working days prior to the earliest application deadline for postgraduate education or employment.
  2. A maximum of four evaluator letters will be mailed to a maximum of ten institutions. Due to workload issues, we cannot exceed these departmentally established limits.
  3. Ask evaluators (from the PBS Department) to provide letters of recommendation at least 15 working days prior to an application deadline. Letters must be typewritten, but not addressed. PBS cannot provide support to evaluators in other departments.
  4. Students are responsible for providing stamped, pre-addressed envelopes in which their letters will be sent. The pre-addressed envelopes should contain the student’s name in the bottom left-hand corner (e.g., “Recommendation for John Doe”) to avoid any possible error. It is also recommended that the name of the evaluator be typed in the return address space at the top left-hand corner of the envelope.
  5. All letters of recommendation will be mailed directly to the institution and cannot be returned to the student personally. There are 2 exceptions to this policy:
    • A. Letters for students who have not waived their right to access (PBS will notify the letter writer that the student has not waived their right to access when file is opened).
    • B. Letters to institutions that have specifically provided students with envelopes for the purpose of the letters being included with the application.
  6. Evaluators will submit a printed copy of their letter of recommendation on department letterhead to the PBS main office.
  7. PBS will retain one copy of each letter written on behalf of a student. Once an initial letter is on file, a student requesting that the letter(s) be sent to additional persons/institutions (according to the Coverages and Exclusions Statement) must submit additional stamped, pre-addressed envelopes to the PBS Main Office for mailing according to the deadlines established above. A note will be made on the student’s Letter of Recommendation Request Form indicating the date his/her letters are mailed.
  8. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that each of their evaluator’s letters arrive in the PBS Main Office at least 15 working days prior to the earliest application deadline. Failure to do so may cause letters to be sent after an application deadline has passed.

Obtaining Letters of Recommendation

Letters should be solicited from individual PBS Faculty members who have had sufficient opportunity to evaluate a student’s potential for postgraduate work or employment. Provision of these letters is not an obligation on the part of the evaluator, and students must remember to provide enough lead-time to meet any existing deadlines associated with the application process. A deadline crisis of the student does not constitute a crisis for the person agreeing to provide a letter of recommendation.

At the time of the letter request, students can assist the evaluator by providing a concise academic autobiography. The academic autobiography should indicate:

  • Courses, field work, research, or honors thesis completed that are relevant to the field of interest
  • Overall GPA and major GPA
  • Relevant extracurricular activities
  • Copies of papers and/or tests from classes taught by the evaluator
  • Autobiographical information that might be relevant to the request
  • A description of the general type of postgraduate program, employment opportunity, or other program or professional opportunity, as well as the application deadlines for each.

Some postgraduate educational and professional school programs as well as potential employers require evaluators to fill out a specialized recommendation form. A letter of recommendation on departmental or agency letterhead can usually take the place of these forms. Nevertheless, if students desire these forms to be sent with their letter, they should complete the specialized forms and include them along with the stamped, pre-addressed envelopes at the time the letter is requested.