For Students

Prospective Students  |  Reference Letter Requests

Prospective Students

Thanks for your interest in working with me at the University of Toronto. I have two major projects currently underway. First concerns gender and sexual politics in contemporary South Korea, with a focus on queer activism and transnational social movements. My second project is supported by a new SSHRC Insight grant on protest cultures in South Korea, with an emphasis on affect, faith, and experience of political mobilization and dissent. To be considered for research assistantships for either project, Korean language proficiency and familiarity with contemporary Korean cultural politics are required. I have other ongoing projects on conservative political formations and religious infrastructure (personnel, property, political economy), and I welcome inquiries from prospective students not only from geography but from interdisciplinary backgrounds such as critical Asian studies, transnational feminist and cultural studies, and ethnic studies.

Please beware that the graduate admissions process at the University of Toronto is highly competitive, especially for international applicants. If you are interested in applying to work with me in the MA or PhD program in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, please send me an email inquiry.

  1. Please make sure to read carefully the University of Toronto department’s Application & Admissions page.
  2. If you’re in the Toronto area, I highly recommend that you attend the department’s Graduate Open House, which is generally held in November.
  3. Please use an informative subject line. Beginning with “Inquiry: ” or “Prospective student inquiry: ” would be great.
  4. Do not send a generic form letter. Try to become at least a little bit acquainted with my work before asking me to supervise your studies.
  5. Include in your email a brief self-introduction. Who are you? Where and in what field did you do your undergraduate studies, and what are your primary intellectual interests and/or personal/political stakes? How did you hear about Geography at UofT, and how did you come across my work? Do we share at least some common research interests? What else would you like me to know about you?
  6. Please attach an up-to-date resume/CV that includes information about your background such as major fields of study, honours and awards, volunteer experience, and employment history. I welcome information about artistic projects, extracurricular activities, activist involvement, personal motivations, and community engagement or organizing work — anything that helps paint a picture of who you are.
  7. When preparing your application, make sure to follow the instructions. Your resume should be no longer than 2 pages, and your research statement must fit on 1 page.
  8. For your application, it is not necessary for you to outline super detailed methodology or propose a timeline for your MA or PhD project. I look for research statements that are bold (but not arrogant) and intellectually ambitious. Try not to use jargon and don’t bury your own voice underneath a pile of citations. Research statements should be animated by questions you want to pursue in graudate school, not answers you already know.
  9. Please do not include a long list of test scores, certificates, or GPA. (I don’t care.)
  10. Please do not include a photo of yourself. This may be a standard practice in some (many?) parts of the world, but it is not in Canada or the United States.
  11. If your email begins with “Dear Sir,” I probably will not reply. If your email reflects that you have no idea who I am or what I do, but that you simply want a supervisor for graduate school, I will probably take a very, very long time to reply.

Reference Letter Requests

I’d be glad to provide reference letters for graduate school, employment, and other opportunities for students who have worked with me as research assistants or taken courses with me. Please email me with a formal request with the following information.

  1. I will gladly provide reference letters for students who have earned at least a B (above 80%) in my courses and research assistants who have impressed me with their initiative, reliability, intellectual capacity, and organizational skills. I generally do not provide references for students who have not completed at least one course with me.
  2. When you email me, please remind me a little about who you are and how we know each other. Tell me why you want a letter from me.
  3. I ask that all reference requests be made at least 3 weeks before the deadline. Once I agree, I also ask that you send me an email reminder 1 week before the deadline.
  4. Please use an informative subject line, i.e. not something vague like “hello” or “reference letter question.” Something like “Letter request due 18 Jan 2017” would be perfect.

Once I say yes to writing a reference letter for you:

  1. Let me know the method of submission. Am I supposed to print the letter, sign it, and send it by postal mail? Will you enter my email address in an online application so that an automatic notice will be sent to me? Is there a link where I’m supposed to fill out a form? Am I supposed to email the letter to someone?
  2. For graduate school, let me know the mailing address and URL for the department/program you’re applying to. I also ask that you send me a statement of purpose even if it’s still in draft form. The more I know about what you’re applying to and why, the more I can customize the letter for you.
  3. For employment, send me the job description blurb or URL if there’s any. The more I know about how you’re qualified for the position, the more I can customize the letter for you.
  4. Attach an up-to-date resume/CV that includes information about your background such as major fields of study, honours and awards, volunteer experience, and employment history. I welcome information about extracurricular activities, activist involvement, and community service. The more I know about you, the stronger the letter will be. Word or PDF files, please.
  5. Attach an unofficial transcript (a screenshot would suffice). If you took a class with me, remind me which class, and a brief description of what you learned.
  6. For file attachments, please use an informative and unique file name such as “Han CV 2015-12.pdf” not “my resume.pdf.”
  7. Keep the email thread together so our communication could easily be traced. This means you should always reply to my email quoting my earlier email to you. You should never start a new email with a new subject line unless you’re starting an entirely new topic of conversation or the email thread has grown so long that it has become unwieldy. See this email etiquette #10.
  8. Please remember that I consider a reference request to be a formal and professional correspondence. Don’t send such request from your smartphone (I can see the “sent from iPhone” signature, you know) as though it’s an afterthought and you couldn’t be bothered to sit down and draft the email. Please proofread carefully. Correctly spelling my name is always a good place to start. 🙂

Good luck!