When choosing a recommender for a graduate fellowship application, do people generally request a reference letter from the professor in whose class they received A's? I am considering asking one of two professors for a reference letter for a fellowship application. I took a 1-credit professional skills course in which I received an A in, and in the other more academic 3-credit course, I received a B. However, I have had a few conversations with the professor who teaches this 3-credit course. Generally, in any circumstance regarding a fellowship application, which recommender would people generally choose, the professor in whose course they received an A in or the professor whose office hours they have visited?

  • I wonder this too. Of course, I do have classes in which I received an A in and had some interactions with the professor.Could we perhaps attach a resume and maybe a cover letter of some sort to help the professor should he agree to write you a LoR?
    – User1915
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


You want a recommendation from somebody who can speak to your strong qualities. This means faculty members you have interacted with; the more substantial the interactions, the better. However, you also want the interactions to have demonstrated your existing skill and future potential.

If you took a one-credit class from a professor and have had little interaction with them otherwise, they probably cannot write you a strong letter. The one-credit class probably had more limited interactions between you and the instructor. if you were very active in class, that would be good. But if you were not an extremely active questioner and class participant, that means the professor will have very limited basis for evaluating you (especially since one-credit classes tend to have rather little homework on the basis of which you can be evaluated).

In contrast, a professor you have taken a full three-credit course from and also interacted with outside class will probably have a much better idea what your skill level and potential are. The downside is obviously that you earned a lower grade in the class. Unless you had a lot of in-class interactions with the first professor, I think you should get in touch with the second professor and simply ask them whether they can write you a strong recommendation. If they say they cannot, I would go with the first professor. Otherwise, I go with the second professor.

  • First - second - first etc. It's confusing. Could you edit and say "The A Professor" or "The one-credit professor"? Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 8:13

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