I have been out of school since May now, and I am considering applying for graduate school. I currently live nowhere near the university I attended.

Would it be appropriate for me to ask for a letter of recommendation via e-mail? If not, what would be the best option?

[Suggestions as to how I should approach such a communication would be appreciated as well.]

  • I don't see why not, but we can always entertain the possible outcomes. Scenario 1 - It is appropriate. Professor has no issues. Scenario 2 - It is inappropriate. Professor emails you back a stinging rebuke remarking on your poor etiquette and demands that a formal request be penned in black ink and sealed with a red stamp featuring your family crest. Alternatively, if you have his number, you can call him. – Compass Sep 30 '14 at 20:35
  • Yes, of course it is appropriate. Why wouldn't it be? – Jukka Suomela Sep 30 '14 at 20:41
  • @JukkaSuomela - I ask since a particular friend of mine says to request in-person, which I would do, but it's not possible currently. – Clarinetist Sep 30 '14 at 20:42
  • 2
    If you're on-campus, then it doesn't hurt since the professor can put a face to a name, but realistically speaking, if your professor can remember who you are by name and face without seeing you, the email is fine. – Compass Sep 30 '14 at 20:48

In-person requests are always the best route, because you can gauge willingness and eagerness to write the letters much more directly than via telephone or email.

However, if you can't be there, because you've moved away, then it is of course appropriate to ask for letters by email. Whether or not the professor will grant the request or not is of course a question. However, I would mention that you've moved (and where you currently are) as part of your request, so that the professor knows why you're not able to come in for a meeting if asked.

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