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I am applying for Masters programs and I am trying to get my letters of recommendation squared away. One of the professors I asked has failed to respond to my emails. I sent her an initial email a month ago, and a follow-up email at the beginning of this week. This professor seems like my best option for a recommender, so I'm very reluctant to try to find someone else.

I truly cannot think of a reason why my advisor/professor would decline to write me a letter, but I wish she would at least answer yes or no. Should I continue to contact her? Should I try calling during her office hours? See if I can set up a Zoom appointment with her? Or, should I find someone else, even if this would just be someone I took a single class with?

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  • When are the letters due? Jan 21 at 20:28
  • This is a very common topic in our archives, but surprisingly not a duplicate (that I could find), since (1) OP has already waited a whole month and (2) the professor has not agreed to write yet; this is not a case of someone agreeing to write and then going dark.
    – cag51
    Jun 15 at 3:06

2 Answers 2

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Since this professor was your advisor, and also had you for several courses, this is a situation where it is certainly reasonable to expect a response from her (even if the response is that she can't write the letter for some reason). You have waited a substantial amount of time and sent multiple emails, so I would suggest following up with a phone-call (or ZOOM/Teams call, etc.) or a visit to her office. It is certainly reasonable for you to escalate to closer forms of contact to get a response here.

Knowing academics like I do, there are a million reasons that she might not have responded. Perhaps she has just forgotten about it and has an inbox so clogged that your email is lost in the mess. Perhaps she is under the mistaken expression that you are going to take longer to finish your program, so she has plenty of time. It is possible that there is some reason she can't write you the letter, but if there is then she can certainly explain it to you rather than being non-responsive.

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There may be some reason that the professor can't contact you. If you call the department office you might learn something, but you can have a message delivered and be assured that the professor actually gets it.

A month is a long time.

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