I'm currently applying for PhD programs. Are recommenders able to see other parts of my application, like the Statement of Purpose (SOP), transcripts, or CV, when they submit their recommendation letters? I'm asking because one of my professors, who assisted me with my SOP, advised against mentioning specific professors I wish to work with in the SOP. They suggested it might negatively impact my application if those professors are not actively involved in research. However, some of the universities I'm applying to require applicants to list preferred professors. I'm considering adding this information for those applications, but I don't want to seem unappreciative or contradictory to the professor who helped with my SOP, if they are able to see the SOP when I submit it.

Edit: I'm applying to schools in the US and Canada. This is for math PhD.

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    This is not in direct response to your question. Therefore I write a comment rather than an answer. I strongly suggest that you list professors you wish to work with, even if the requirements don't specifically ask for it. Doing so shows the people assessing your application that you put some serious thought into applying to this specific university and are not just sending them a copy of the statement that you sent to other universities. Nov 13, 2023 at 9:01
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    I'm pretty sure that it would be illegal for a US university to share that information without your permission. They aren't public documents, so privacy laws apply. Canada might be similar.
    – Buffy
    Nov 13, 2023 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Not typically, they're just submitting a letter, but I'd usually highly recommend sharing these things directly with your recommendation writers (or offering to do so); it'll help them tailor your letter to the positions you're applying to and therefore increase the quality of your letters.

I'm sure a professor can understand the logic of "this program requires applicants to list preferred professors", despite their advice. You could write them:

Thanks for the advice and for being willing to write me a recommendation letter, I avoided mentioning any specific professors except in my applications to A, B, and C that specifically require applicants to list professors they want to work with. Would it be helpful to you to have any of my application materials (statements of purpose, CV, transcripts) when you write my letter?

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