Recommendation Letter for Graduate School Applications

Updated on October 1,  2021

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. Over the years, I have developed some criteria I use when I decide whether I would write a letter in support of your applications.  The criteria and instructions are different depending on whether you are/were a UCSD student or not.  Please click the appropriate link below:

Criteria and Instructions for UCSD Students

Criteria and Instructions for Other Students

UCSD Students

If you are/were a UCSD undergraduate, then you need to meet all of the following criteria:

  1.  You got an A or A+ in my class (Econ 120B, Econ 120C, Econ 120CH, ...),

  2.  Your GPA is not lower than 3.5,

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

It is a big plus if you are a joint Math and Econ major.  Enrollment in both Econ120B/Econ120C and Econ120CH is also a big plus.  If you got only an A- in my class and your GPA is lower than 3.5, then I am not the right person to write your LOR.

If you meet the above criteria, please make your LOR request HERE. This page is accessible only via your UCSD email.  This is the first step of the whole process. No letter will be written if this step is missing. We will use the departmental LOR system to manage the whole process.  

If you haven't read the general instruction, please read it now:  https://economics.ucsd.edu/undergraduate-program/opportunities-for-our-majors/graduate-school.html. This page contains a very helpful LOR Flowchart.

It takes much of my time to write recommendation letters these days. Please help me write a better letter by sharing the following items on the LOR system

  • Your performance in my class(es);
  • Items that can refresh my memory about you, for example, any discussion we had.

You are welcome to share a brag letter (or a paragraph or two) from the third-person point of view. However, this is totally optional and not necessary, and I may not use any information you provide.  A CV is also optional.

No meeting is necessary unless instructed.

Send me an email one week before the deadline if any letter is missing.

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).   Some of these schools force a letter writer to answer specific questions and do not give the letter writer the option to upload a recommendation letter.  I prefer not to be your recommender for those cases (and the department system can not handle those cases).  

After I agreed to write a LOR, you will receive an email from the department LOR system that contains the following:

"Yixiao Sun agreed to write you a letter of recommendation.

DO NOT request the letter through the application portal of the schools you apply to yet.

We will let you know an email address you must use when Yixiao Sun finishes writing the letter. Then, you can request the letter submission.

The letter is going to be ready by three days before your deadline. "

Please read the above carefully. Please do not provide my email address yisun at ucsd.edu or yisun at econ.ucsd.edu on your application forms.

 

Exchange or Non-UCSD Students

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 need to meet all of the following criteria:

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

2.      You are/were 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.

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.

  • Your performance in my class(es);
  • Your CV;
  • Items that can refresh my memory about you, for example, any discussion we had.

Please also include a recent picture of you, your transcript, and a proof of your ranking in your home program.

You are welcome to share a brag letter (or a paragraph or two) from the third-person point of view. However, this is totally optional and not necessary, and I may not use any information you provide.

Please note that I 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.  

  • If I agree to write you a letter,  please make your LOR request HERE if possible. This page is accessible only via your UCSD email.  This is the first step of the whole process. No letter will be written if this step is missing.  We will use the departmental LOR system, if available to you,  to manage the letter-writing process.  If you can use the LOR system, please read the flow chart at  https://economics.ucsd.edu/undergraduate-program/opportunities-for-our-majors/graduate-school.html

    After I agreed to write a LOR, you will receive an email from the department LOR system that contains the following:

    "Yixiao Sun agreed to write you a letter of recommendation.

    DO NOT request the letter through the application portal of the schools you apply to yet.

    We will let you know an email address you must use when Yixiao Sun finishes writing the letter. Then, you can request the letter submission.

    The letter is going to be ready by three days before your deadline. "

    Please read the above carefully. Please do not provide my email address yisun at ucsd.edu or yisun at econ.ucsd.edu on your application forms.   

  • If you can not use the LOR system, I will handle the whole process myself. 

    • Please make a request via  email yisun at ucsd.edu.  All letter requests should be made about one month before the deadline. Please do not make too early or too late requests.  You should send me only two emails 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 any additional email or call my office.

    •  Please sign the form here. I will not be able to write the letter if this form is missing.  After you sign the form, you can supply my email yisun at ucsd.edu 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 (this will save me some time).  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.

    •  

 

 Back to the Main page