So there are two professors at my university that have the same name (the only differences are their titles), and incidentally they both know me well enough to write my letter of recommendation, and I also have no other option. Does this affect my application?

Edit: Thank you all for your answers! They have the exact same name and this is confusing even for student at the school, and may I add even their title are kinda similar (one is Assoc. Prof., doctor in clinical psychology and the other is doctor in psychology).

  • 4
    They share both first and last names?
    – Sursula
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 7:11
  • 2
    Are they closely related, or is this just coincidence?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 7:13
  • 11
    Statistically this has to happen on occasion. There are a lot of Smiths in the world. Also Lees and Wangs and Nguyens.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 18:56
  • 4
    Do they have the same first, middle, and last name ? Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 19:43
  • 1
    Ah, yes, the possibility of sock-puppet letter writers! :) Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


Clearly, this situation is prone to cause confusion. However, you should be able to easily avoid this of by informing whoever processes your application in an appropriate space, e.g.:

  • Please note: The authors of both my recommendation letters happen to be named Alex Smith. This is coincidence; they are distinct persons.

  • Recommendation letters: Alex Smith (astrochelionologist), Alex Smith (theoretical lepidopterologist).

I cannot imagine that anybody would even subconsciously hold this against you as long as they know what the situation is. If anything, it makes your application more memorable.

The only exception I can think of is if the two professors are related or married, in which case somebody might consider them not sufficiently independent, but then again many professors at the same department are not completely independent either. (Mind that I do not consider this a valid reason to consider your application less good, just something that others might think.)

  • 10
    Dang, I see I studied the wrong thing in grad school. Wow, astrochelionologist.
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 18:52
  • 2
    The astrochelionologist is presumably an experimentalist. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 21:44
  • 2
    Paleoastrochelionologist. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:29
  • 3
    Quantum Paleo... Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:30
  • 1
    "The authors of both my recommendation letters happen to be from..." -- either say the authors happen to be, or the letters happen to be from.
    – nanoman
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 4:46

I would say it won't affect your application in any way.

Certainly, the professors would include their titles along with contact info such as phone numbers and emails in their letters of recommendation.

Now, as you mentioned that their titles are different, that would suffice.

  • 3
    That leaves open the possibility of a single person with two appointments
    – Jasen
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 7:33

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