As the title says, I received an email yesterday, presumably I am in Cc of the email that my professor wrote to the university I am applying to. In my understanding there is always some mystery about the letters. But what exactly is the norm here? Does anyone care?

  • 2
    Was it "cc" or was it "bcc"? You say "presumably"... The recipients might care if they can see your name, but they won't see it if you were "bcc"'d. Please clarify. – paul garrett May 31 '18 at 12:55
  • 1
    bcc. but I thought sender and actual recipient always see everyone in cc and bcc, only bcc don't see who is in cc? I am confused.... – user93441 May 31 '18 at 13:00
  • 1
    Everyone can see who is 'cc'-ed. Only the bcc-ed recepient knows that (s)he is bcc, other receipients have no information about him/her. So you have nothing to worry about. :) Good luck. – AppliedAcademic May 31 '18 at 13:02
  • just tested it out in the same email system, you are correct. apologies. i can't personally see if its cc or bcc but i she confirmed it was bcc – user93441 May 31 '18 at 13:04
  • 1
    I always provide a copy of my recommendation letter to the person I’m recommending. This is in the context of post-docs in the group applying for jobs, so slightly different, but not that different... – Jon Custer May 31 '18 at 15:27

It is becoming more widely accepted that people have the right to be aware which information is kept on them by various organisations, to request access to this information and in some cases to request this information to be deleted (see e.g. FOI for UK, GDPR for EU). So by cc'ing you in, you professor acknowledged your right to access the same information about yourself that (s)he is sharing with the third party.

No, it does not reduce your chances — it is perfectly reasonable for professor to show the recommendation letter to the candidate, if they wanted to, and in some places it is even required.

  • In some "jurisdictions," maybe? Seems like an unusual use of "legislations" to me. Maybe it's a Britishism? – Azor Ahai May 31 '18 at 14:23
  • @AzorAhai No it's just me being dumb. Thanks - corrected. – Dmitry Savostyanov May 31 '18 at 14:47
  • Hell, in many cases the recommendation letter is written by the candidate ;-) – Flyto May 31 '18 at 15:09
  • @Flyto Well, I wanted to mention this, but at least sometimes people to grumble on it. – Dmitry Savostyanov May 31 '18 at 15:21
  • 1
    In the U.S., people have, as you said, the right to see their recommendation letters, but they normally waive that right. This practice is so standard that a recommendation for which that right has not been waived might not be taken very seriously. So the OP would have a good reason to worry if this had been a cc rather than a bcc. With a bcc, there's no problem. – Andreas Blass May 31 '18 at 18:05

Your comment clarifies that you were blind-copied (BCCed), not open-copied (CCed). That means that the college you are applying to would have just received a regular letter-of-recommendation with no apparent CC in the list of recipients (i.e., the do not know that this professor copied you into the message). As to whether this is normal, there is no standard here; it is a matter of discretion. Professors sometimes give a private letter-of-recommendation without disclosing to the student what they wrote, and sometimes they copy the student into the letter, so he/she can see what they wrote. When copying the student into the letter, some professors do this via blind-copy, so that the college does not make a negative inference about the candour of the letter.


I would say NO, it does not reduce your chances. Why would you think it would? A letter of recommendation is no secret. Even though it seems from the comments you were in BCC (so nobody can know).

Maybe think about it this way: You have certain qualities or capabilities. You professor obviously thinks that these qualify you for what ever he is recommending you. So there are no secrets anyway. You and your professor knew your capabilities and now the receiving party knows as well. It should not be a surprise to anyone, that you know why you are recommended.

  • 7
    As to why it would: The committee may think the professor did not write a wholly accurate letter of recommendation because they also sent it to you (e.g. did not fully describe your flaws; overly praised you, etc.) – Azor Ahai May 31 '18 at 14:22
  • 1
    I agree with you, but I am not sure if adcoms do, so I was curious. In the end I don't really care either way – user93441 May 31 '18 at 17:37

Your Answer

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