I'm applying to a Ph.D. program which asks for 3 to 5 recommendation letters. I have four professors strongly in mind who I'm sure will give me great recommendations, however I'm struggling to pick a fifth one. I can find people who can attest to my abilities (I graduated in top 1% and was my department's honoree), but they will either have to be from other departments or an internship supervisor.

Some of the questions I have are:

  1. Do I need a fifth reference if the requirement is 3 to 5? Will not having it lower my chances?
  2. I am applying for a Ph.D. program in film, however all my recommenders have either an M.F.A. or M.A. None of them have a Ph.D. themselves. Will that be an issue? M.F.A. is a terminal degree and most professors of film have it. In fact, I've never personally studied under a film professor with a Ph.D. I should also add that the program I'm applying for is a hybrid program which combines theory and production.
  3. Before transferring to a 4-year university, I attended a community college. Should I ask my CC professors for a reference or would that somehow look bad for my application? I personally love my CC, but am aware of the stigma.

Thank you so much for responding!

1 Answer 1


If 3 to 5 are acceptable then stay with the 4 you have : quality over quantity...

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