History faculty take seriously the responsibility of writing letters of recommendation to advance the educational, research, and career goals of their students. Crafting letters, however, takes time and energy — particularly since every year, a Brown faculty member submits dozens of letters of recommendation for: current students, both undergrad and grad; past students, both undergrad and grad; postdoctoral fellows; faculty peers at Brown and other institutions; other researchers; institutional grant applications, etc. Please follow the guidelines below so that you may get the best possible letters.
- Select faculty with whom you have worked closest. They usually know you the best and can write vividly about your strengths.
- Avoid last-minute requests (i.e., any request less than one week prior to deadline). It's likely that the faculty member cannot accommodate you. Faculty normally need at least three weeks notice to comply with your request, even if they already have a letter on file since they may want to update that letter. Never assume that letters can be faxed or e-mailed at the last second. Allow an equal amount of time for these requests as you would for mailed letters.
In your request to faculty:
- include a copy of your resume and transcript (unofficial will do)
- explain in a paragraph or two what your purpose is in applying, what you hope to accomplish, etc.
After the faculty member agrees to your request, send digital copies or hardcopies (depending on faculty preference) of:
- your resume
- your transcript
- any statement of purpose or application essay
- (optional — best to ask) past work done for the letter writer or even work done in another class
- Make sure that you have filled out the waiver of confidentiality agreement. Letters cannot be sent unless you have done this.
- Send a "gentle reminder" email one week prior to the due date if necessary.