Reference Letter Request Process

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Reference Letter Request Process

Department faculty are generally happy to write letters of reference for students they know well. If you wish to ask that one of our faculty write you a letter of recommendation, please adhere to the following guidelines. We ask these things both so that we can write good letters, and so that it does not take us an inordinate amount of time to do so. Bear in mind that over 120 students graduate from this department every year, so we are all writing many letters each year. It is important that we be able to organize and plan.

First, e-mail each faculty member and ask them if they are willing to write you a letter. Most faculty will want to talk to you in person before agreeing. If they agree, provide the following information at least two weeks before the first letter is due. Note that most faculty prefer to have this information via email but some may accept or prefer paper copies.

  • What is your name, year, and major?
  • An unofficial copy of your transcript.
  • For what are you applying (e.g. scholarship, summer research experience, grad school)? List the programs, the deadlines, and how the letter should be sent (e-mail or snail mail). Be sure to include the exact name of each program. (This information is often best organized in a spreadsheet.)
  •  If letters need to be sent in snail mail, please provide addressed envelopes (WFU students do not need not provide stamps).
  • A copy of everything you will submit with your application (personal statements, answers to questions on the application, etc). Very good drafts will do in a pinch.
  • Some faculty will want other information in writing, so you should check with each of them individually before you send materials.
  • Some faculty will require you to waive your right to see the recommendation, or to explain why you did not.

Please send your faculty members e-mail reminders as the deadlines approach. When they send out each of your letters, they will usually inform you. This means that if you haven’t heard from them, your letters may not have been sent. They are busy and can lose track—it is your responsibility to make sure they are reminded to send the letters.

Please let each of your recommenders know the results of your applications and your plans, when you find out.

Last Updated 5/20/19
Note that this information was assimilated from similar pages math faculty have on this topic, primarily those of Jeremy Rouse, Jason Parsley, Michael Orrison and Ravi Vakil.

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