Before you ask your professors to write letters of recommendation for you, please follow these steps:

At least six weeks in advance of your deadline for submitting the letters, contact your professors in person or by e-mail to ask them if they are willing to write a letter. Provide the professor with specific information to help them recall you and your accomplishments. Include the following in your request:

  • Your complete name (as listed in the IUP directory), plus current postal and e-mail addresses
  • Date the letter of recommendation is due
  • To whom the letter should be sentname, title, and address. If you want it sent to you, then provide a self-addressed envelope.
  • If the recommendation is to be completed on a form, be sure you have completely filled out your part of the form. Leave no blanks on your section of the form.
  • Why you need this letterwhat are you applying for?
  • Specifics about the positionneeded knowledge, skills, and experience
  • List all classes you have taken from this professorspecify course numbers, titles, semester, year, brief descriptions of projects you developed, how they might relate to your current application, and final grade.
  • List other kinds of work you may have done with this professorthesis, portfolio, internship, independent study, etc.
  • Your current statussemester, year, planned or actual date of graduation, and current job
  • Include a copy of your vita or resume, and still include the information above in your request.
  • Remember that it is unlikely that your recommender will be able to address accomplishments that he or she was not involved in with you, such as pre- or post-IUP activities, work done for other professors, or work done outside of the program.
  • Do not assume that your professors will agree to write a letter for you. Ask politely for a response to your request. Allow one week for the response. If the answer is yes, write a brief thank-you note. If the answer is no, contact the next person on your list. If you do not receive a response, contact the professor again with a reminder.

Sample Request for Letter of Recommendation

Dear (Professor, Dr., Mr., or Ms.) Higgins,

As part of the prerequisites for acceptance to (graduate school, the IUP honors track, etc.), I have been asked to provide a letter of recommendation. Would you be so kind as to write such a letter, with particular comments in regard to our past association in (the honors program, an internship, coursework, conference, etc.)?

The deadline for submitting the letter is (date), and if you are unable to provide a letter, please let me know by (one week from the date of this letter).

Thank you in advance for your time.


Eliza Doolittle