Letters of Recommendation

Most faculty members are happy to provide letters of recommendation when given sufficient notice. If you would like a faculty member to write a letter of recommendation, please e-mail the faculty member as soon as possible to arrange a time to meet in person, to discuss whether that faculty member is the best person to write a letter of support for you.

The best faculty members to write letters are those who know you well, either because you took multiple classes from them or you worked with them on research projects, service projects, or club activities. Your academic advisor may also be a good resource for a letter of recommendation, particularly if you have been meeting with him or her regularly and sharing your goals and accomplishments.

General Timeline

  • At least 4 weeks prior to earliest due date: Meet with possible faculty recommenders
  • At least 3 weeks prior to earliest due date: Provide needed materials to recommenders
  • Until deadline(s): Check-in with recommenders regularly

What is a letter of recommendation? What information is included?

A recommendation letter is an honest assessment of various aspects of your person, including your performance in the classroom, your performance in research, your overall attitude, your work ethic, and your ability to work with others. Graduate schools, professional schools, and employers rely heavily on recommendation letters to make decisions about admissions and hiring. 

While the specific content of any letter of recommendation varies, the following items could be included.


  • Overall GPA and major
  • Grade, rank and performance in the recommender's classes
  • Comparison to other students who have/had similar goals
  • Mastery of course content and concepts
  • Critical thinking skills, analytical skills, writing skills
  • Class participation (discussions, asking questions, office hours, etc.)
  • Intellectual engagement, work ethic, study habits, effort, enjoyment, curiosity


  • Mastery of technical skills (reaction planning, execution, data acquisition)
  • Mastery of analytical skills (data interpretation, experiment design, ability to apply theory to practice)
  • Productivity (the volume of trustworthy results you generate)
  • Intellectual engagement (creativity, problem solving ability)
  • Dedication (dependability, motivation, initiative, independence)
  • Leadership and collegiality (ability to work on a team, respect for others)
  • Presentation skills (group meeting, posters, seminars)
  • Writing ability (quarterly reports, thesis)
  • Attitude (enthusiasm, curiosity, enjoyment)
  • Professional potential

Personal Attributes 

  • Social maturity and ability to get along with others
  • Ability to give and take advice appropriately
  • Generosity (helpfulness, willingness to teach others)
  • Attitude (kindness, conscientiousness, confidence)
  • Responsibility (punctuality, follow-through skills, stewardship of resources)
  • Leadership abilities and propensity to take on responsibilities

How do I get a letter of recommendation?

Make an appointment for a meeting with a faculty member to request your letter of recommendation. At this meeting you and the faculty member will determine if that faculty member is the best choice to write your letter. This meeting should take place at least four weeks prior to the earliest due date for your letters.

I asked, the faculty member agreed, and I've given him/her my information. Now what?

Once the faculty member has agreed to write the letter and you have provided the requested information, please send the faculty member e-mail reminders as deadlines approach, and feel free to chat about other ways you can make the letter writing process go as smoothly as possible.

After you have completed your applications and have heard back from the organization, please let the faculty member know what happened and what your future plans are.  The relationship with your recommender can last well past graduation.

Your education in the College of Science and Engineering at Seattle University is the first step toward your career. With some planning, we can help you make your future what you want it to be!