For Students


I welcome inquiries from potential Ph.D. students, although I encourage you to start the application process by perusing the Department’s graduate admissions website. Ph.D. admissions in U.S. universities, as you may know, are handled by a central committee in each department. Each student is admitted to a department, not to work with a particular individual. This enables admitted students to have greater flexibility in designing their dissertation projects once they join the program. It also means, however, that no faculty member can individually decide to admit a prospective Ph.D. student, as you would, on arrival, work with a committee of three to five faculty members. I am very happy to correspond with you during the admissions process.


I am happy to write letters of recommendation for current and former students. To ensure that you get the strongest letters possible, give me as much advance notice and information as you can. Ideally you would request the letter from me about a month before it is due, and would send me your recommendation materials at least two weeks before the deadline.

Please send me the following materials:

  • The recommendation form itself. In most cases, I will be writing the letter on letterhead, but I may need to include or use a specific form.
  • The following information on a separate sheet:
    1. The deadline
    2. To whom the letter(s) should be addressed (individual or committee, relevant titles, address)
    3. Information about how and where the letter needs to be sent. If I need to use an online submission portal, please be sure to send me the necessary login and access instructions.
  • A description of the opportunity for which you are applying. I will try to tailor my letter accordingly: a link to a website is sufficient.
  • A copy of any essays, personal statements, or other discursive materials you have written for the application.
  • A copy of the resume and/or activities list you plan to submit as part of your application.
  • A copy of your transcript. This is just to give me a sense of how the course you took with me fits into your academic career: an unofficial version is fine.
  • Reminders of any significant work you did in my course, or any aspects of your abilities which you would particularly like me to mention. The strongest letters include lots of details, so please feel free to remind me of aspects that you feel were most significant. You can write a summary paragraph describing why you thought I’d be able to write a strong letter in your support, or you can simply mention a few bullet points that stood out to you from our semester together. (I won’t necessarily use your suggestions, but I will keep them in mind as I write.)

Please send me an email reminder one week before the recommendation is due. Upon submission of the letter, I will forward you any confirmation email or receipt that I receive.