I emails professor A about a chance to study with him, and he answers that he's on leave next academic year so not accepting new students, and I might want to check professor B. Should I mention to B that A refers her to me?

More specifically, I think that A is best suited for me. Should I be honest in saying that I have email A first? I think being honest upfront will set a better expectation from him, thus saving time for both.

Below is my intended draft:

Dear Prof. B,

To introduce myself, my name is X, from country Z. I'm writing this letter to ask you if you are planning to accept new students this year. I have asked prof A about studying with him, but he has kindly refer you to me since he's on leave next year.

From reading your profile, I can see that our interests align in many aspects. My interests can be divided into two main categories, which mirror yours:

  • The cognitivism in Daoism and Buddhism's epistemology
  • The physicalism in Daoism and Buddhism's metaphysics/cosmology

In case you are interested, here is a proposal I crafted for your reference.

Do you think the program could be a good fit for me? Would there be an opportunity for me to work with you as a grad student?

Best wishes and regards,

Both A and B are in the same school in Canada.

  • Sure, why not? Personal contacts are always a good thing! Do you know the first prof well? Maybe he can also tell the second prof about you and your achievements?
    – user111388
    Mar 29, 2020 at 17:15
  • 1
    no, actually not. Just replace B with A in the draft email, and you get my email to A
    – Ooker
    Mar 29, 2020 at 17:22
  • What is this proposal you talk about? A published paper? Maxbe you could write a sentence what it is about so that the reader is interested in opening it.
    – user111388
    Mar 29, 2020 at 17:30
  • 1
    The proposal is about my observations and topics that I would like to study. I don't have a published paper unfortunately, but I have a blog in my language about these topics, and many people compliment the perspectives it provides. I'm not sure if that's good enough? You can read it if you want
    – Ooker
    Mar 29, 2020 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


The letter is fine, but I'd actually suggest that you replace this:

I have asked prof A about studying with him, but he has kindly refer you to me since he's on leave next year.

with something like the following:

Prof A has referred me to you as being a good fit for my research interests.

There is no real need for the rest of it, and might be inferred without saying it directly.

But, your original is fine, also. Good luck.

  • 5
    Although it's already in your suggested formulation, it might be good to emphasize that the correct wording is "referred me to you", not the OP's "refer[red] you to me". Mar 29, 2020 at 18:03
  • 1
    @AndreasBlass, good catch. The alternative is "Recommended you to me".
    – Buffy
    Mar 29, 2020 at 18:05
  • 1
    Great imrpovement. Perfection is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
    – corsiKa
    Mar 30, 2020 at 1:25
  • in case B doesn't reply to me, can I ask A to remind B to take a look at my email?
    – Ooker
    Apr 1, 2020 at 1:57
  • You should, perhaps, ask A for advice.
    – Buffy
    Apr 1, 2020 at 11:07

Chances are, the referee has told/will tell anyway. Just be upfront about it.

  • 4
    How likely is this? I suppose these stuffs are trivial so they don't need to announce to the other that "Hey, I just refer this guy to you"?
    – Ooker
    Mar 29, 2020 at 17:23
  • 3
    @Ooker I expect this type of casual conversation is unlikely at the moment, as many people are working from home. If everyone were in the office as normal, this is the type of thing someone would certainly mention to another if they passed each other in the corridor. Mar 29, 2020 at 17:35
  • I don't think you need to disclose the referral, which 'be upfront' seems to imply. However, it certainly wouldn't hurt and may even help, so it'd be silly not to mention it.
    – Matt
    Mar 30, 2020 at 19:10

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