Letters of Recommendation

I would be happy to support your applications for a masters/doctoral program or a funding application. Here are some instructions if you would like to ask me for a letter of recommendation.

Key guidelines:

  • Please let me know at least three weeks before a letter is due.
  • If you have multiple applications, please provide me with a comprehensive list^[A comprehensive list could be an excel dashboard with the institution, the name of the program and the deadline.] ahead of time and arrange to have the letter requests sent at the same time so that they appear in one chunk in my e-mail box.
  • Try to keep the communication under the same subject title to avoid the loss of any email.
  • Half-life reminder rule: If you last reminded me about your recommendation some time $t$ before the due date, then remind me again when it is $\frac{t}{2}$ before the due date.


STEP 1: Should you ask me for a letter of recommendation?

Your strongest letters of recommendation will come from faculty who know you well and who can speak to your abilities above and beyond the standard coursework. For most applications , the ideal letter writer is a research mentor who you have worked with closely (e.g. for at least one year). A second tier of letters are those from professors of advanced coursework where you have excelled.

Before contacting me, you may want to consult with your academic advisor (undergraduate mentor) or your dissertation supervisor.

STEP 2: How to ask for a letter of recommendation from me

Did you answer “yes” in step 1? If so and if you still think that I am a good recommender for you, please contact me to schedule an appointment to discuss your application strategy (institutions, programs).

Why? I’d like to understand what you’re applying for and how I can best support you in a letter.

Initial email attachments

Please provide the following information for me in your e-mail:

  1. The evaluation criteria for your application.

You may skip this for standard graduate school applications.

  1. A draft of your application materials including your CV and any personal statement/cover letter.

The statement does not need to be formal - not at this stage and not for me. I want to understand your next steps and why this is the right program for you.

  1. A reminder of how I know you: what classes you’ve taken with me (and your grade in the course), any extracurricular activities where we have worked together, etc.

For the course you met me, please include both your overall mark and your coursework marks. If you are a graduate, please remind me the overall mark of your degree. If known, what was your relative cohort position? If not a graduate yet, please let me know your current (second-year) result.

  1. A list of specific achievements that I am qualified to highlight in your application. For example: class projects that you are proud of, economics discussions during office hours, achievements that may not be clear in the rest of your application.

It may be useful to combine #3 and #4 into a draft letter of recommendation. Why? The purpose of this is not for me to rubber stamp the letter—I will rewrite everything. This exercise is to help you explain me how I can best support your application. If you do this, do not be bashful to sing your own praises; I’ll calibrate.

After the first email/meeting

  1. Most applications have an online system that will automatically send your recommenders an e-mail with instructions for how to upload their letter. Please arrange to have all of these e-mails sent at the same time so they appear in one chunk in my e-mailbox. If not possible, just keep reminding me about the deadlines.

  2. Please e-mail me a list with all of the applications that require my letter and the due dates.

  3. Remind me! I will not be annoyed if you are reminding me about a letter that I’ve promised you. A good rule of thumb is to remind me every half-life before the due date.


Please contact me by e-mail to discuss your applications. If needed, I will propose to arrange a meeting.