The prof is quite famous (lots of publications and even a Wiki page). His doctoral advisor is also quite famous (still is part of the faculty of the university that I want to apply to). Would a recommendation letter have a significant impact on my application?

Alternatively I can get a letter from another prof which will be probably a little stronger. Which option would be the best for me? Basically would the other prof's letter carry more weight since he got his PhD from the university I am applying to.

I am applying to a top 3 institution, (if that makes any difference).

Thank you all in advance.


2 Answers 2


As a tiebreaker, it might be nice to have a strong letter from someone who went to the target university, especially if it has a highly specialized or unconventional program.

However, yours is not such a marginal case. You stand to benefit more by getting a letter from a professor who knows you closely and can say positive things about your research ability.


If the professor can truly vouch for your skills, knowledge and motivation then fine.

So if you have attended a course given by that professor then yes. Otherwise I would say no, as you should use referrees that can vouch for your attributes, and not use someone as a referee « just because they went there ».

  • I have done 2 courses with that prof (earned highest grade possible), but the only problem is that I haven't done any research with him.
    – Reid
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 5:55

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