I've recently finished my Master's. I'm going to apply to some PhD programs, and I need another recommendation letter. I'm thinking of contacting my ex-advisor in my Master's to ask for a letter. Even though I switched to another advisor after having worked during my first year with my ex-advisor, we got to develop some preliminary research together, and he got to know me reasonably well, I think. He was also my professor in two classes in which I did very well.

Do you think this request is advisable or adequate? If you were in my ex-advisor's shoes, would you hold any resentment against me for switching? The reasons I switched were mostly due to differences in research ideas. He seemed to have accepted the switch on really good terms at the time, but I can't know for certain what he thought of it. I also wouldn't like to lose my contact with him, and I'd like to propose resuming the research with him during the months I will be waiting for the application result.

Edit: I think it's worth mentioning that my ex-advisor and my current advisor don't get along very well. They have some sort of a slight personal quarrel for reasons that I don't know exactly. However It's nothing serious to the point they would cease to say hello when seeing each other in the department, or something like this.

  • An interesting challenge, best of luck! Nov 12, 2021 at 4:45

1 Answer 1


Yes, just ask him. The reasons were not personal, they have gotten to know you, just ask them if they can write the letter. You'll never know for certain what somebody thinks of you and the things you do. Just be polite and ask. Don't specifically mention the switch.

Especially given that you want to remain in contact and possible do some additional research with him, there is no harm is asking this.

  • Thank you for the answer. Perhaps I should also mention that my ex-advisor and my current advisor don't get along very well, for some reason that I don't really understand, and this contributed to my worries about contacting my ex-advisor. I think I'm going to add this as edit.
    – jonesy
    Nov 12, 2021 at 8:16
  • It's good to add, but it doesn't change my answer.
    – Jeroen
    Nov 12, 2021 at 11:27

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