This is about US PhD programs.

Is it a good idea to ask for a letter from a famous academic, alumni of the school you are applying, who will write there his opinion and research potential after interviewing you?

P.S. No prior interaction with this person.

  • 1
    It sounds like a bad idea to me, but I've heard of similar things being done successfully. – Thomas Dec 29 '17 at 23:57

No, not really.

An interview doesn't give anyone the opportunity to really address your actual skills and promise as a researcher. It could serve as an "additional" data point (the same way that alumni interviews at private US schools offer additional information), but I don't think someone who interviewed you, famous as they may be, would provide helpful feedback that couldn't be provided by someone else who knows you firsthand. (One of the things that a reference letter asks is "how long and in what capacity have you known the applicant. "I met her for an hour once" is not an answer that inspires a lot of confidence.)

(Then, there's the additional issue of arranging the interview—I doubt a "famous name" would agree to such an interview in the first place!)

| improve this answer | |
  • No. You should only get letters from those faculty that know you well as a person, not because they're a famous name. – Sean Roberson Dec 29 '17 at 22:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.