I’m applying to grad school and two weeks ago I asked three people for recommendation letters, two from employers and one from the professor. There’s no specific deadline, but I’m hoping to get accepted quickly in order to be eligible to start classes in the fall. Now, my entire application is complete, except for the one recommendation from my professor. I sent a follow-up email, to which she said that she’ll complete it in the next two days, which was great. But it’s now been a week since that email, and nothing’s been submitted. I sent an email responding to that saying thank you and offering more info if necessary, and have not heard anything back. What should I do? Should I wait, email her again, or ask someone else? I have some other people I can ask, but the problem is that I have no way of accessing the link as the university sends out the link with the application. I don’t mind waiting at all, but my concern is that if the professor decided to back out of it and I have to ask someone else, I want to give the new person as much time as possible by sending them info now. Help?

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    substitute the word professor in the title by human and this question "suddenly" becomes totally off-topic (anyway asked every 3 days here) and solvable by common sense ;-) btw professors are only human :-) Jun 1, 2019 at 21:54
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    Can you clarify if you actually have helpful advice or not? What should I do? I don’t really care about how useless or “off-topic” you think I am for asking this. I understand that professors are human and I’m not holding anything against her. I would just like to know what to do as the next steps from here because, as human as she is, my grad school will only wait for so long.
    – Dan Ameral
    Jun 2, 2019 at 2:03
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    @user847982 - if this is "asked every 3 days here", why not close it as a duplicate? I too thought the same and looked through many related questions with similar titles, but none that could fairly call a duplicate (maybe I missed it).
    – cag51
    Jun 2, 2019 at 16:02
  • @cag51 Yes, before I posted this I kept searching and searching for an answer as I usually don’t like to be the one to post these questions, but I couldn’t find anyone who had the same situation as mine. Others all involved professors who never agreed to the recommendation letter in the first place.
    – Dan Ameral
    Jun 2, 2019 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


Ask someone else now. Provide a specific date, e.g. June 10, by which you need the reference and explain why. You can almost certainly add another referee to your application. If, for whatever reason, you cannot add another referee, cancel the one that's outstanding as soon as another professor has agreed.

If you can add a referee without canceling one, write to the professor who has already agreed and give her a deadline, also explaining why. (NB: Professors are necessarily pretty good about meeting deadlines, and often abysmal at those things that do not have deadlines. This from extensive research on a sample of one, namely Yours Truly.)

  • Thank you so much!! I will definitely try that. Your advice offered me a lot of relief :)
    – Dan Ameral
    Jun 2, 2019 at 19:10

Is it possible to talk to her in person or by phone? Personal contact is better than "nagging" e-mails. Further, this will give you the opportunity to stress how urgent and stressful this is for you, and will allow you to gauge her reaction and maybe you can better assess if she will come through or if she is looking for an escape.

If this is not possible, then I think you should you should write to her with something like this:

Dear Professor, Sorry to pester you, I know you are busy, but I need to ask for an estimate on this letter of recommendation. Do you think you'll be able to submit it by [Tuesday]? If not, or if I don't hear from you, I'll have to look for another recommender. Regards, --Name

And then on [Tuesday] you reply to your own mail with the below (or you can jump straight to this, up to you)

Following up on this. I appreciate your stated willingness to write a letter of recommendation, but given that you have not been able to do so after several reminders, I think it would be best if I found another recommender. Thanks anyway. Regards, --Name

Of course, you might want to make sure you have another recommender lined up before you wave off this professor.

  • Thanks so much! This is very helpful :) I unfortunately do not have her contact info via phone, so I’ll look into those sample emails you provided me. Thanks again for all your help! :)
    – Dan Ameral
    Jun 2, 2019 at 19:13

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