1. Purpose
  2. Eligibility
  3. Requesting a Letter of Recommendation
  4. Regulations


Letters of recommendation are important for relaying information about a student to an entity, such as an employer, academic, or research institution. As such, writing a good, solid letter of recommendation is my ultimate goal of writing this page.

I write all letters of recommendation on official University of Tennessee letterhead.


Undergraduates: at least enough undergraduate credits to be considered a junior (~80 – 100)
Graduates: at least nine hours or two semesters, whichever is greater.

I personalize all letters of recommendation. If I don’t know you very well, then I will not be able to do so, and there is little point in me writing a recommendation letter for you. I will not lie on a letter of recommendation. I will try to frame my vision of you as a student as well as a future student, employee, or researcher to whomever I’m writing the letter to.

Requesting a Letter of Recommendation

If you would like me to write you a letter of recommendation, please email me the following information.

  1. A website or flyer containing the specific reason you’re asking for a letter.
    • For example, if it is for a job, please send me your job vacancy announcement. If it is for a graduate program, please send me the URL to the program you’re applying for.
  2. Your most recent resume or CV.
  3. A PDF of your most recent unofficial transcript (from MyUTK).
  4. A Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) waiver. (download template here).
    • Make sure you fill out every box and sign the form.
    • You can sign electronically or sign it manually and scan it.
  5. A brief paragraph explaining how I know you. Be specific about which classes you took with me.
    • I teach hundreds of students every semester. It is very likely I will not remember each and every one of you.
  6. Be specific about what aspects need to be covered in the letter of recommendation.
    • Do not ask me to write about aspects for which I would not have knowledge (e.g., your research acumen if I have never observed you do research).
  7. Be specific about how many letters I need to write. I may agree to a smaller number than you request.
  8. Be specific about the due dates. I know I can probably look it up, but I’d rather your email be my go-to to know.
  9. Any relevant information. If above has not covered the who, what, when, where, and why, add that here.


  1. If I agree to write you a letter, it is not a blanket agreement.
    • I will only write the letters to the agreed upon receipients. If you come along later and ask for more recommendations, that will need to be renegotiated as a separate request.
    • Do not assume that if I write you a letter to one entity that I will write you a letter to another.
  2. Be timely. If I agree to write you a letter, I expect to know who/how to submit the letter within a reasonable timeframe (e.g., within a week or two).
  3. Do not expect that I can speak to something I have not observed.
    • I will usually only know you from a specific class. Do not expect that I can speak to your research acumen or teaching acumen unless I have observed you in those roles.
  4. Do not expect me to embellish.
    • I will not “bad-mouth” you to any entity, but I will not lie, either. For example, if you were not a good student, I will not write that you were a good student.
  5. If it is an option: you must waive your right to see the letter of recommendation.
    • I will not refuse to write a letter if you don’t waive, but it will not be as specific as you might want.
  6. I will deliver the letter directly to the entity, and you will not get a copy.
    • In other words, unless absolutely necessary, I will not give you the letter as either the original or a copy both electronically or on paper.
    • The letter is not for you. It is for the entity for which you’re applying.