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I am currently a MS student at EE department at my final year pursing my thesis. I could not publish any of my works yet however I am willing to submit one journal paper for publishing at the end of the next December. In addition, I have an excellent GPA at my bachelor study ( > 3.70/4.00) and a current 4.00/4.00 GPA in MS program. Moreover, I have an assistantship experience.

I want to get accepted in a fully-funded Ph.D program in the US or Canada for the next year, I have researched some universities requirements which I meet. And I asked my supervisor politely to be ready to write me a recommendation letter when I start applying to the universities. He said to me that he can do so, but he totally does NOT advise me to apply now, but be more 'realistic' and apply for the next year since I have no work published yet. He said that I have a very low chance to get accepted, but I find such reason of not applying unreasonable. When people apply to the Green Card, they have also a very low chance of getting accepted, and I am not sure of this low chance's percentage; is it 5% 10% or 35%? He said that I have to E-mail professors working in these universities to have a Ph.D position, but they most probably will not answer my mails due to my empty published research budget. I asked him if writing about my intended paper topic briefly in the 'Statement of Purpose' will help me in this situation, but he said that he does not think so.

All in all, he is a person that I respect a lot and very experienced instructor in his work area as well as helping his own students to go for top-univiersities in US & Europe. But, I think that I either need to persuade him to write a recommendation letter or being more clear with me. Frankly, I am also afraid of arguing further with him since he is considered to be my boss,leading to undesired consequences.

What should I do? BTW: the universities in the US/Canada ask for three recommendation letters which means that I have to be in contact with two more professors as well. I also consider and accept doing my Ph.D in a top-university in Europe, but English-speaking country is my first priority. Unfortunately, applying to US/Canada in the next year will make me wait one more year to start the program. This might not be bad if I gain a real industry work experience at the same time? But forcing my conditions is what I don't like.

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  • Do you have a compelling reason not to wait? – Buffy Oct 21 '20 at 14:54
  • Currently, there is a GRE exemption due to the pandemic period in US universities. Moreover, I am not sure about when my research paper will get accepted. We are aiming a powerful journal such as IEEE Transaction, but who guarantees its acceptance after may be 6-7 months? I am worried that this wait could have no meaning. – control is illusion Oct 21 '20 at 15:18
  • B.T.W: I am currently an integrated Ph. D student, and unofficial MS student. I will transfer my program to MS in the next semester, the reason is that my research group project was canceled due to conditions out my control. Do you think this may also make me not to apply now ? – control is illusion Oct 21 '20 at 15:24
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    Your adviser doesn’t seem to have said he won’t write you a letter, just recommended that you wait a year to maybe get a publication. Or so I understand. If that’s the case you could just ask him again, tell him that you appreciate his advice and that yes, a publication would make your application stronger, but that you’d still love to try now. I’d think he will shrug and write you a letter. – gnometorule Oct 21 '20 at 15:46
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    @control: My best guess would be that he has your best interests at heart, and just shared that what you already have + a publication would be a stronger application. I wasn’t there and don’t know him, your relationship with him, and your circumstances. Generally, I’d try to not interpret others actions and words too much. Just tell him friendly and calmly what you would like, as long as he agrees that you at least have some chance this year as well. – gnometorule Oct 21 '20 at 16:35

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