Information on Recommendation Letters from R. Muller

Need a letter of recommendation?

Strong letters of recommendation are an essential part of an application for graduate school (CS, MBA, Law, Medicine, ...). They are also very useful for applications for jobs and internships. I write recommendation letters for many of my current or former students. If you are a current or former student, it may be reasonable to ask me for a letter of recommendation. This page will help give you an idea if I can write a strong, supportive letter for you and it specifies what materials I would need in order to write the letter.

Should I ask for a letter?

A necessary condition for a strong recommendation from me is for me to have worked with you for at least one year. This year of work might be in the form of two semesters of classes or it might be in the form of one class together with some sort of departmental job such as a webmaster or research or teaching assistant. If I have worked with you for a year and you've done well (i.e., you've fulfilled your commitments, you've applied yourself and you've demonstrated that you've learned something) then you should feel free to call on me for a letter any time, even years later. In some cases I can write a stronger letter for someone earning a lesser grade; it all hinges on whether the student has applied him or herself and is working to the best of their ability.

I can write a recommendation letter based on only one semester of experience with a student but such letters are usually less well-developed and are therefore less helpful. Except under unusual circumstances, if you have not taken at least one class with me, it is probably not appropriate to ask me for a letter of recommendation; consider someone else.

What I need to write my letter:

Having read the above, if you've decided to ask me for a letter, here is what I need:
  1. Sufficient time (usually at least one month),
  2. A recent resume,
  3. If you are using The Common App or a similar aggregator which requires you to enter an email address for me, you must register me with the email address
  4. if you are a current student, a degree audit with annotation showing which course(s) you took from me,
  5. if you are not a current student, complete information about the course(s) you took from me, (year, semester and grade earned),
  6. a paragraph or two explaining why you are applying for the program/job in question and
  7. complete information about where the letters need to go and when they need to be there. If envelopes are required, please provide them.