In my country recommendation letters to enter the equivalent to an MBA or PHD are just a suggestion, not necessarily, and/or irrelevant. In some cases they are shunned because they are considered related to nepotism. The only time they are needed is when applying abroad.

The question is: Why are recommendation letters considered important (if they are) in your universities and how is that importance measured?

  • Related answer of mine, about the different expectations about recommendation letters in different countries. Oct 24, 2019 at 17:21
  • 2
    I think you need to make this question more specific by telling us which country you are interested in. As you've noted in the question, the importance (and use) of recommendation letters varies a lot by country.
    – Flyto
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:34
  • @Flyto rather than being interested in 1 country, I want to see the differences between countries and arrive tot he general consensus.
    – deags
    Nov 27, 2019 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


In some other places, such as the US, no one would likely view them as nepotism unless they came from a relative.

The purpose is to give the receiving institution an independent evaluation of the candidate from someone, such as a professor, who is in a position to know both the background and the likelihood of success of that person. Usually the recommender has some standing in the academic or professional community and who can be trusted to give an honest evaluation.

In many places, such as the US, they are all important, outweighing many other factors. It is unlikely you would be admitted to a program based only on letters, but very difficult without good and supporting letters. Don't neglect them if you are applying internationally.

  • 2
    "In other places, no one would likely view them as nepotism unless they came from a relative": In my country too recommendation letters are frequently viewed as a form of nepotism, from whoever they are written. Actually, almost any sentence containing the word recommendation is looked suspiciously. I'd say that only recently, for a few selections, recommendation letters have been accepted, but it's not a generally accepted practice around here. Oct 24, 2019 at 17:31
  • @Buffy would I be right in guessing that you are writing this from a US viewpoint? If so, I suggest saying so in the answer.
    – Flyto
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:35
  • @Buffy I too suspect you are from USA. Can you share which (with certainty) other countries you are mentioning? In the rest of America (minus Canada) recommendation letters are generally suspicious due to problems of corruption, discrimination and nepotism.
    – deags
    Oct 28, 2019 at 16:56
  • @deags, sorry I can't offer details, but this saddens me immensely.
    – Buffy
    Oct 28, 2019 at 16:58
  • @Buffy It's alright. You offered the reasons why such letters matter in your country at least, meanwhile for other countries it also stands why it's exactly the contrary.
    – deags
    Oct 28, 2019 at 17:42

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