Recommendation Letter for Graduate School Applications

December 2016

Every year I receive many requests for recommendation letters. I am happy to help, but I need strong evidence in order to write a good letter. Here are some criteria I use when I decide whether I will write a letter in support of your applications.

If you are/were a UCSD undergraduate, then you have to get an A+ in my Econ120C, your GPA has to be at least 3.75, and you have given me some opportunities to know who you are.  It is a big plus if you are/were a joint Math and Econ major.  Enrollment in my Econ120CH is also a big plus. Please note that I can only write an academic recommendation letter.  In general, I will not be able to comment on your personal traits -- such comments are often required by professional schools (i.e., business schools, public policy schools, and law schools).  

If you were a student in my class but you were not a UCSD student (for example, you were a visiting student from another university, or you were a student when I taught a class outside UCSD), then you have to meet all of the following criterions:

1.      You are a top five or top 5%  student in my class;

2.      You are ranked among the very top, say top 2%, in your home program;

3.      You are applying to Ph.D. programs; and

4.      You have given me some opportunities to know who you are.

Please note that I typically do not write a letter for master's programs for non-UCSD students. A letter from me will not be as useful as that from your local professors who are much more familiar with your work.

It takes much of my time to write recommendation letters these days. Please help me write a better letter by sharing the following items about one month before the deadline.

UCSD students:

  • Your performance in my class.
  • Your Econ120CH project and presentation, if any.
  • Your Vita
  • Items that can refresh my memory about you, for example, any discussion we had.
  • Items that you think might be useful for including in the letter from a professor's point of view, for example, your past academic achievements such as winning a math competition 

If you are/were not a UCSD student, please also include a recent picture of you, your transcript, and a proof of your ranking in your program.

The letter that I write will be based on the facts that I know about you. If you did not make any impression in my class or during office hours, it is unlikely that I will write a very strong letter.

All letter requests should be made about one month before the deadline. Do not make too early or too late requests.  You should send me only two email about such a request --- one at the beginning and one reminder a week before the deadline if any letter is missing.  Please DO NOT send additional email or call my office. Please do not send any gift.

If I agree to write you a letter,  you can just supply my email yisun at on your application forms.  Within your capacity, please fill in the recommendation form as much as possible. Here is my contact information:

Mailing Address:
Department of Economics
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508

Tel: (858) 534-4692     

The above information is often required on the recommendation form.  Please pre-fill the form.  Please try your best to complete your applications in as few batches as possible (say, two batches). I do not want to deal with letter uploading and form filling over a long period of time.   It is a distraction.

Please fill in this form to help me get organized. 

Finally, please share your application outcomes!


 Back to Main page