For Students

Letters of Recommendation

I am generally happy to write letters of recommendation for students. Generally speaking, I will write for students who:

  • have earned an A or an A- in two classes with me
  • have participated in some intensive research activity with me (e.g., UREP at UMASS)
  • are a senior thesis student of mine
  • have otherwise developed a professional connection with me

These criteria enable me to write a good letter for you. I put time and care into my letters, and I want anyone who reads what I write to be able to trust what I say.

If you fit into one of these categories, or you have otherwise approached me about writing for you (and I’ve said yes!), then you should:

  • Fill in this form
  • Email me ( paul dot musgrave at gmail dot com) to tell me you’ve filled in the form!
    • Please use the subject line “[Your last name] Letter of Recommendation”
    • Include as attachments to this email your CV/resume, personal statement, cover letter, etc–anything you will be sending to the employer/school/whatever plus anything else I should know

It takes me between 15 minutes and an hour to write a letter of recommendation (the first time; subsequent letters are faster). It’s uncompensated work. And, if I have several of them to write, it’s actually a lot of work. So I tend to do them in batches, near the end of the month, when I can set aside some time after a working day to crank through them. This means that in general you should give me at least a month’s notice, especially for your first letter. (Subsequent ones may be much faster, although I may also be traveling or otherwise engaged, so you should still aim to give me at least a week.) I understand that sometimes opportunities arise late, but if I don’t have sufficient time it may be very difficult for me to turn a good letter around.

Finally, remind me of what’s going on. If you haven’t heard from me, and the deadline is growing near, I would rather have a reminder email from you because I may have overlooked the letter (it happens!). So please remind me, remind me, remind me … starting about a week in advance.