I just began my PhD this week. There is a very important event that will take place next month and there are some stipends for attending PhD students, but the deadline to apply for such stipends is in one week. As usual, it is required that the supervisor writes a short "support letter" to the program chair.

The thing is that I just started my PhD something like five days ago, and this is my first time working with my supervisor. I have experience with the topics that will be covered in the event and I consider it is important for me to attend.

With this in mind, should I ask my supervisor for a letter?

I was thinking in asking him for his opinion rather than the letter, would this be better?

Thanks in advance!

  • 8
    I think you should ask your supervisor "do you think it would be a good idea for me to go to this?" rather than more directly asking "can you write a support letter for attending this?". If he responds enthusiastically, then ask for the letter.
    – Thomas
    May 6, 2017 at 19:16
  • Thanks for you answer @Thomas, that makes sense to me. I think I will approach him like you propose, saying additionally why I think it would be a good idea. Thanks again! if you write this as an answer I will be happy to accept it.
    – Daniel
    May 6, 2017 at 20:57
  • @Thomas - Could you move that to an answer? May 7, 2017 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Rather than just ask for the support letter, it may be a good step to simply ask if your supervisor thinks that the event is appropriate for you to participate in, given your knowledge of the topic and ability to prepare for the event (if applicable, I'm not sure if the event is something you would have to prepare for, like a conference). Your supervisor may be happy that you are demonstrating such enthusiasm and effort early in your program of study!

Since the deadline is short, I would offer to draft the letter for him. This will help with the timing, plus it will help since you have not worked together very long. This will ease the burden of the task, which he will also appreciate. Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for your answer! I think I will approach him this way. The thing of letting him know I can write the letter for him is a great idea. Thanks!
    – Daniel
    May 9, 2017 at 6:42
  • Glad to help! I wrote a blog post on drafting our own reference letters. I don't know if it would be helpful, but just in case: academiccareerclinic.com/single-post/2017/01/31/… May 9, 2017 at 15:47

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