I will be applying for Ph.D programs in mathematics and hence I'll be needing letters of recommendation from my professors. There are two or three professors with whom I have a lot of academic interaction and which are also famous in their research areas. As such, having a recommendation letter from them can significantly increase my chances of selection.

Now my question is: Since I’ll be applying to 5–6 universities, is it appropriate to ask for that many recommendation letters from the same person? If not, then how many recommendation letter is considered to be “normal number” to ask for?

I would be very happy if some of the professors here, who themselves write recommendation letters can tell their experience.

  • Applicants to medical school typically apply to a dozen or more schools and need letters sent to each one. Certainly, you're not asking for the professor to write 6 separate letters, right? Just a single LOR, printed out six times, and mailed to six schools. If you feel it's a hassle, you can provide addressed and stamped envelopes to the professor to assist. – Compass Nov 12 '14 at 17:24
  • @Compass a single letter of recommendation will not create any problem. But most of the universities send their own recommendation form to the recommenders, that's why I asked that whether it'll be okay if the professor is asked to write 4-5 different recommendation letters (though more or less same in content). – user24232 Nov 12 '14 at 17:56
  • Can you give us an example form? I recall having a few short question sheets asking generic questions in addition to the letter, but nothing that was considered a noticeable amount of work. – Compass Nov 12 '14 at 18:00
  • @Compass ya, that's true. most of the letters are short, but again i was more worried about the number of such letters. – user24232 Nov 12 '14 at 18:16
  • Well, you should be able to consult with the professor whether they have issue with filling out the six questionnaires then, but the letter-writing itself will take the same whether its one school or one dozen. – Compass Nov 12 '14 at 18:17

Is there some reason to think that the professors will need to write different letters of recommendation for the different universities? If not, then the additional incremental effort of sending the same letter to several different places is minimal. Though I am not a professor, my role is similar, and I, at least, do not mind when somebody wants me to send the same letter to a handful of different locations. If you were applying to 20 places, that might be a different matter...

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    Somewhere out there, a professor has a Mad Libs Letter of Recommendation. I just know it. That being said, I believe some professors do tailor their message differently. For example, research medical schools and primary care medical schools look for different attributes, so an MD writing a LOR may cover different things. – Compass Nov 12 '14 at 17:28
  • thanks for the answer. actually most of the universities ask the recommenders directly for letter of recommendation and all them have different forms for it. that's why i was asking that is it ok if a professor has to fill the recommendation letters for 4-5 different universities. – user24232 Nov 12 '14 at 17:54

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