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In filling out my very first grad school application I've come across the Letters of Recommendation page. It says to list the "Title" of the recommender. Do I use Professor here? Or Dr.? I am stumped. Both of my recommenders are professors and that is how I refer to them, but I am just not sure which one I should be putting here since they have Doctorate degrees. I don’t want to make a mistake... I found this question which was sort of related, but also confused me even more. If the professor has a title like X-Y Professor of Z or Professor of X and Y, do I use that full title? Or should I just write "Professor" or "Professor of [subject]"?

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  • Another thing I should mention is that below, there is a dropdown list of options for "Relationship to you" and in there it says professor as an option. So this might lead me to think that I should list their full title as a professor rather than just "professor" or "Dr.," am I correct in thinking this? (However, I just tried typing the whole thing and it wouldn't fit.) – ECF Nov 23 '19 at 1:34
  • I've started using "Required Title" whenever I'm asked for my own title. (And for "relationship to the applicant" I always write "see letter".) – JeffE Nov 23 '19 at 18:01
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"Professor" is in some respects a more "advanced" title because many people who have doctorates are not professors. You may have writers who have a doctorate, but do not hold a professorship.

I would put "Professor," but in most places, it does not matter at all. (I've read that Germany for example is a stickler for titles, though.)

It would not be typical to include "Professor of [X]."

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  • Re Germany: yes, in Germany titles are somewhat more important, one might say "Prof. Dr." to talk/write directly to professors. But still, nothing bad is going to happen if a professor receives an automated email from the prospective graduate school asking for a recommendation letter which says "Dear Prof." instead of "Dear Prof. Dr.". – wimi Nov 23 '19 at 11:18
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Note that some countries (Germany and the Netherlands come to mind) only full professors are allowed to use the "Prof." title, i.e. it is incorrect (in these countries) to address the (equivalent of) an associate or assistant professor as "Prof.".

Of course, (as pointed out in other answers) nothing bad will happen if an assistant professor is incorrectly address as "Prof." in an automated e-mail requesting a LoR upload, but be aware that it may make the subject feel slightly awkward.

A mostly safe strategy is to stick to:

  • "Prof." for letter writes that are full professors.
  • "Dr." for other letter writers (as long as they hold a PhD).
  • If the letter writer uses a particular title on their personal webpage, use that.

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