I'm doing a master's, and I plan to start a PhD next year. All the admission processes I've checked so far require two or three recommendation letters. My question is: should I ask my advisor and co-advisor for them? On the one hand, they are the ones who know me the most and who certainly have the most writing material for the letters. On the other hand, I've been wondering: if I get a letter from each of them, could this be seen as biased by the evaluators? Also, another related question: my co-advisor has a PhD, but is not currently employed as a full-time professor (he recently finished his postdoc). Should I only ask professors for LORs, or is it OK to ask him too?

  • Clarification: Are you staying at the same university? Is that why you're worried about getting the letters from your advisors? Even if that were the case, I would think that LoR's from them would be beneficial.
    – Van
    Oct 25, 2019 at 0:14
  • No, I'm not staying at the same university. The reason why I'm asking is because my advisors and I have been working together for some time now (I participated in an undergraduate research project with them during college, which is something I mentioned in my statements of purpose), and I'm afraid that maybe because of this long-term relationship their judgement might be seen as biased by the evaluators. Oct 25, 2019 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


It's absolutely fine to ask for reference letters from both of them. Be aware that they may be somewhat redundant if you worked on the same project with both of them. So if referee A worked on project 1 with you and referee B worked on project 2, it would be much better than if both worked with you on the same project.

To clarify - it is expected that you get letters from your advisors. In fact, not getting letters from the people who worked most closely with you in an academic setting will send all sorts of wrong signals to people reading your application. They may assume that you fell out with them or had some other issues that prevented them from recommending you.

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