It is my belief that your letters of recommendation are the most important part of your application package. Getting good letters requires years of work! This is because you want to establish as much of a positive professional relationship with your current faculty members as possible. Go to office hours! And do so to talk about art and ideas, not about your grades. Participate actively (but politely) in class. Get a job as a research assistant, by volunteering, if necessary.

How To Request Letters

Good letters of recommendation take a lot of time and care to write, so be sure to set your recommenders up for success. These are the Art History Rules for Requesting Letters of Recommendation:

  1. Give lots of time — at least a month, but more is better.
  2. Ask as politely and respectfully as you can. An email saying, “hey i was wundering can you write a letter of rec for me for grad school?” is not the way to go!
  3. Talk with your current professors about your plans to go to grad school and ask their advice.
  4. Provide as much information as you can, in as clear a form as possible:
    1. Where and how to send in the letter. Email? Online portal? Carrier pigeon?
    2. Your current curriculum vitae
    3. An unofficial transcript
    4. A draft of your personal statement
    5. Copies of successful papers you wrote from this professor, with her original comments on them, if possible.
    6. A clear list of all schools and their deadlines.