I am applying to an MSc program where I need to find an advisor prior to applying. I spoke to a potential advisor earlier this week for 45 minutes. She told me to take the holidays to think about it and to contact her in the new year and, if I’m interested, we could look at filling out the scholarship application (it requires a research proposal so she would help with that).

The scholarship application is due at the end of January. The application for the actual program is also due at the end of January. There is a specific form to fill out for the applications. I would like to ask 2 professors for references, however, nothing is “set in stone” for the applications. Maybe, for whatever reason, the potential advisor suddenly decides not to take me on, or I end up sending in the application after my referees give their reference.

Basically, I’m worried my referees would send in their part without my application. How should I ask for the references in an email?

1 Answer 1


I would tell them this.

I'm thinking about applying to a master's program and for a scholarship. The deadline is the end of January, so I have to decide soon. If I decide to apply, would you be willing to provide a letter of reference?

Here are the links: ...

I've also attached copies of my unofficial transcript and my resume. You have my permission to discuss any of this in any letter you decide to write.

Most of your instructors will likely have acted as references in the past and if it's just an LOR you need, they know how to do that. Give links to the program and scholarship pages so they can confirm the details of what's required.

  • would it be appropriate to send them all of the required documentation in the first email or wait until after they have agreed to be a reference?
    – aspire94
    Dec 22, 2017 at 16:48

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