I am applying for a PhD programme in the UK. All the universities I'm applying to require me to obtain two academic references.

I asked my MA supervisor and course tutor for the reference request. One of them promptly replied and happy to write me a reference and the other one did not respond.

I am sure that the one who replied will write a strong recommendation letter for me and I also believe that the other one would also write a fairly good reference letter.

After three weeks of no reply from the tutor, I sent a gentle follow-up email by forwarding the previous email I sent. I indicated the deadline of the application (all pretty much soon, one in 4 days, the other is in a week from now) and also attached my personal details about my course result which he taught and the reference letter he gave me last year so hopefully, he can refer to it when being requested by the universities. (I obtained pdf version of reference letter from him last year)

And now 3days has passed after my follow-up email and still no response.. I am getting anxious as the deadline for my applications is getting too close.

I am not sure to chase him again because probably he does not want to write a reference and I don't want to give him the impression that I am pestering.

So in this case, what I want to know is

  1. chase him again by sending the 3rd follow-up email in a gently way as possible?

  2. submit the application with just one strong reference letter?

  3. find another referee (unfortunately, there are no suitable people I can ask who can write a good reference.)?

What should I do?

I am very frustrated now.

Update: The referee finally responded to my email today 14th January. He agreed to write a reference letter. Pheww!!

  • Phone him or the department admin office if you can. Perhaps he has been away -- if he's in the UK he's likely to have had the past two+ weeks off for the Christmas holidays. – astronat Jan 9 at 17:33
  • Yes. I know. I sent a follow up email about 3 days ago and got automatic reply that he's away until 7th January and repond to his emails on return but still no reply from him. :( Anyway, I will contact the department and send an email again tomorrow. Nothing to lose although it can be pestering. – Y Park Jan 9 at 19:39

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