I'm about to contact a potential PhD supervisor which has been suggested by my current masters supervisor. They should know each other very well since they've worked on multiple joint papers before. Currently, I have a recommendation letter from my masters supervisor but I don't know if I should provide it in the first Email. I don't know if recommendation letters are something the PhD supervisor would explicitly ask for later in the process or not.

So, is it a good idea to just blindly provide a reference letter on the first contact, hoping it would impress them more?

  • 2
    No!! Just mention about your Master's supervisor. If he/she has recommended you to contact your expecting PhD supervisor, then write those sentences.... If not, then just mention that you have heard many good things about him/her research and his/her group from your Master's supervisor and also seen his work as he/she was a joint author in your Master's supervisor publications.. something like this,....
    – Kay
    Sep 6, 2017 at 2:51
  • 1
    It depends. Some potential supervisors give specific advice on what they want from a potential PhD student to be able to decide if they are interested or not on their website. If a website states something like "If you are interested in this project for your PhD, please send me a CV, motivation letter and two reference letters." then you should probably do just that.
    – skymningen
    Sep 6, 2017 at 10:50
  • @skymningen That would be a "call for applications". While I agree with you, doens't seem to be the case (and that would have clear instructions). Perhaps the OP can clarify. Sep 6, 2017 at 14:40

1 Answer 1



As a PhD student, I received tons of "potential phd candidates" offers on my mail, merely because I had an institutional mail. For professors, this is way, way worse. Cold e-mailing with attachments is a bad idea. It would end up on the spam/ignored folder.

Matter of fact, do not contact him yourself, ask your MS supervisor for an introduction e-mail, because coming from a known sender, it will have more chance of being read. Introductions are always better than cold calling...

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .