I have applied for a Ph.D. position and I had to suggest two referees who will write a letter for me. Previously one of my professors had written one for me so I write her name again. The system is you need to meet her in person and then she will write one in front of you and send it to the university. After applying I came to know she had taken sick leave for the whole week and she asked me to meet next week. But the last day of letter submission is this week (Friday). I had written her mail about my problem and urgency but she did not reply. In this case, what can I do? I had some other referees too but she is a big shot that's why I put her name in the submission form. Should I write the Ph.D. coordinator regarding this?

Update: I wrote the program coordinator and she replied that one recommendation letter is enough to make a decision.

  • The strict rules should be relevant to the recipient not really to the candidate and his her referee. In this case it seems ethical enough to work just remotely. I did not get that rule anyway, it seems to protect the candidate....
    – Alchimista
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


Use a different referee, time is now not on your side and she did not plan to be sick.

If she is not capable of replying to emails she might be very sick so have some respect.

You might consider sending her reference late with a note of explanation but I suggest you send the initial application fully complete. Many times the first stage of the sorting process is « is it complete » and only those that are get to the next round.

  • I already submitted the application (the last date was 3rd January) and for referees its 10th January. And she never replies back to any mail. So I always have to contact the assistant when she is available and when we can meet. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 10:07

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