Econometrics, Quantitative Economics, Data Science

My Policy on Letters of Recommendations

My policy about letters of recommendations

I am happy to write letters of recommendations to my students who deserve it, a duty I regard as part of my job. The criteria I base my evaluation on are (in no particular order):
– overall academic ability
– results obtained at my course(s)
– relevance/soundness of graduate study plans

The number of students seeking recommendations is growing every year, and so to organize the process optimally I have some requirements. I urge students planning to ask me for letters to read carefully what follows and act accordingly:

1) Meet the criteria. The minimal requirement depend on whether the grades at my courses are known or not. If they are not, the requirement is based on the GPA; if they are, they are based on a combination of the GPA and the grades. So:
(a) if the letter is needed before the grades at my exam are known (which is one week after the exam dates), I do not write letters to international universities for students whose cumulated GPA is below 3.8.
(b) if the letter is needed after the grades are known, I do not write letters to international universities for students whose cumulated GPA is below 3.5 or whose grade is C or below.

2) Take my course. I only recommend students whom I know in person, which generally means that you should take (or have taken in the past) at least one of the courses I teach if you want me to recommend you.

3) Ask in advance. Once you think you will be needing a letter, tell me about your project as early as possible, both verbally and by email. I do not write letters at the last moment, and I value projects that are planned in advance.

4) Give me the relevant info. When you are about to file in applications, please send me the following items in one single email if possible (so to avoid disseminating information into multiple emails).
* for all applicants:
a) a list of the programs you are applying to (be precise: degree, institution, department and name of program),
b) if any, the list of the programs whose deadline for applications is before the date of my courses’ final exams,
c) a draft of one representative “Statement of Purpose” that you will be sending to one of the universities (only one please),
d) your CV,
e) your official transcripts, with mention of the GPA,

* and for PhD applicants only, on top of the previous items:
f) some personal elements that may be helpful for me to know when writing the letter: notable academic achievements, research experience, etc.
g) the names of your other recommenders.

5) Keep my paperwork to the minimum. When you file in your applications, help make my life easier by filling as many administrative details as possible about me. For Institution, Department, Address, Telephone, you can find the info on my webpage). My Title/Position is “Professor of Economics”, my Relationship with Applicant is “Applicant’s professor of Economics”. Be aware that I will not complete my recommendation if you have not filled these details yourself, and you may end up with a missing letter. Note also that the only email address that must be used is my¬†institutional¬†address.

6) Please waive. Some university offer applicants the option to waive or not their right to review recommendation letters at a later stage. Here is my stand on this: I do not accept to recommend candidates who have not “waived” their right to review their recommendations. This means by no mean that I say negative things about candidates in my letters: I accept to recommend candidates in order to help them, not to harm them. But I regard recommendation as a private communication between me and the university, and candidates have to accept this if they want me to recommend them.

7) Wait for confirmation. Universities usually confirm by email to candidates once they have received my recommendation. If the deadline is approaching and you don’t see this coming, please send me a reminder e-mail.