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I recently finished my masters degree and I'm currently interning at the same university doing a research project. I'm planning to submit applications for PhD programs at other institutions and I've just finished my first application. The application includes a cover letter of 1000-1500 words. I've sent the cover letter to family members for feedback before I send it off who have given me great feedback regarding the style and language. Unfortunately, no one in my family is in academia and I would really like the thoughts of an academic since they're the target audience and they will understand the technical content of my cover letter. I was thinking of asking my current supervisor or perhaps my old supervisor from my masters program to give me feedback on the cover letter however I'm unsure if this is unprofessional or if I'm asking too much.

My question is whether this is an unreasonable request?

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It is, of course, a reasonable request (unless you believe your supervisor is unreasonable).

Furthermore, the supervisor of your master's degree ought to be among the first to write your LoR. There is nothing wrong with requesting him/her to review your cover letter.

  • He is very reasonable. They're both writing a LoR. Thanks for your input, it's appreciated. – HBeel Nov 30 '16 at 10:37
  • @HBeel Your welcome. You may also receive some valuable suggestions in the process. – Ébe Isaac Nov 30 '16 at 10:40
  • Agree with this 100%. My master's supervisor actually volunteered to read through my SOP for me, I expect yours will be happy to. – astronat Nov 30 '16 at 16:54
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This may be dependent on the academic field or geographic area, among other things, but in my community, being a supervisor is not merely about the research at hand, but also about guidance in questions regarding the (academic) career and well-being. This includes efforts to get the student's work the recognition it deserves (e.g. sending the students to conferences to present results, publishing papers), but also things like networking and help with applications.

So, I think that, at least in my community, you asking your (former) supervisor for advice on your cover letter is entirely appropriate. Just make sure you make it clear that you know it's still a favor you're asking, and give the supervisor a chance to politely decline your request.

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