I sent an email to a professor for possible acceptance as a PhD student, but sometimes it takes too long to hear back.

I know another professor, that has a good knowledge (experience) with the first professor. Can I ask this second professor, in polite way, to contact the first one, and discuss with him whether to accept me as a student?

Is this possible? What should I say to the second professor?

  • 2
    Does the application process require a letter of recommendation? Here in the US, that is fairly common. That would be a perfect reason to ask.
    – mikeazo
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 11:38
  • @mikeazo Yes, It does. But this is another thing different. You need to contact some faculty member and get his\her agreement to take you as PhD student.This is separate part from the recommendation letter.
    – AlFagera
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 18:17
  • Are you suppose to contact the prof before or after you have already been admitted? If it is after, there is a good chance the prof has access to the admissions materials, including letter of recommendation. Another option would be, in contacting the prof, ask if they would like letters of recommendation. If they say yes, send the one from your current prof that they already know.
    – mikeazo
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 18:43
  • No before the admission, it's a part in the application form. But it seems, it is a good idea to ask if they need a litters of recommendation.
    – AlFagera
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


If you know the second professor well, there's no harm in hinting.

By "hinting", I mean, you're having a chat with Prof. 2, and you mention that you wrote to Prof 1 but haven't heard back. Ask for Prof 2's advice -- for example, "Do you think I should try sending him a second email?"

If you're lucky, Prof 2 will at this point offer to speak up on your behalf with Prof 1.

If not, during this conversation you will hopefully get vibes in one direction or the other, and will know whether it would be worthwhile to make the request.

The worst that could happen would be that Prof 2 says no.

By the way, I hope you have tried re-sending your original email. People are fallible, especially when it comes to answering email.

  • This exactly, the approach I followed yesterday, I told the second professor that, I applied to school XXX and facing an issue of getting potential adviser, he told me that, I know a couple of professors there, and he started by that one ( I named the 1st professor in my question), then he told me that he is a busy man, now he went to a conference he'll spend a couple of days there, and come, so you may expect to hear from him, in next few days. So, this really a good point, I couldn't know at all that professor, is on a conference, and I was thinking, about this now reply, as +ve or -ve.
    – AlFagera
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 5:06
  • 4
    Downvoted. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by being cagey. Just ask directly. They worst that can happen is the the second professor says no.
    – JeffE
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 21:53

Let us of think of it from the point of view of the second professor.

If I were that second professor, I wouldn't bother slipping in this kind of a recommendation to my colleague, unless you possess a very high standing in my eyes, i.e. I'm familiar with your academic work and I feel that your academic profile (which includes the ability as I judged, not just where-you-did-what-from) makes too compelling a case to be turned away. But in that case, if you could impress me that much with your abilities in a fair way, I would argue to myself that you are academically sound enough to also be able to impress the other guy in a similar, fair manner. In that case, you could really make the cut yourself too, even without my recommendation. On the other hand, if I slip in that recommendation, and the other guy is stupid enough to simply take my word for it, and hire you on the basis of my word, and he/she later finds that you are not up to the mark for him/her, it is going to reflect badly on me too. So, that's another reason in favor of not doing it.

So, I think it is best not to take this route. An additional disadvantage could be, that you risk creating an image of a person who is willing to advance in his/her career on the strength of his/her connections, rather than the fair way. And this is never a good image to possess.

Hope that helps :)

  • 5
    The same reasons could be used for not writing official recommendation letters for any job search or grad school admission. Would you write those?
    – JiK
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 11:22
  • @JiK - Please note that recommendation letters for application are an official procedure, whereas what OP is intending to do is totally unofficial and behind-the-scenes. There is a difference. That being said, I have had my concerns about the rationale behind the former as well, but that's a separate personal bit. :)
    – 299792458
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 12:32

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