I worked with a graduate professor at my undergraduate university (which I just graduated from this year) on a couple of projects in my final year. On one of the projects, I worked with him as a paid research assistant. I used the other project as my 4th year research project for course credit (so did not get paid) and that project is being submitted for publication. Although, I was just one member of a team of about 10 people on that project. My supervisor was very nice and helped me out a lot. Actually, on my first contact with him he offered to discuss my future plans with me and offer some advice (which he did and was very helpful).

I had my last contact with him in May via email, just after we finished the second project, when I thanked him for the opportunities he provided me. We exchanged a couple of brief emails back-and-forth, and that was the last time I spoke with him. I have spent the past 6 months trying to figure out what I would like to study in graduate school (I was stuck deciding between 2 programs). Now I believe I know where I want to go and what I want to study.

Earlier this year, my supervisor mentioned that he knows some people at the school I would like to apply to (for this program, I need to contact potential advisors ahead of time). He briefly mentioned some names that I had since forgotten.

I would like to get in contact with my supervisor again and ask:

  1. for the names of the researchers he mentioned; and

  2. to use him as a reference in my applications.

However, since it has been so many months since we've spoken, I am worried that this would be considered "rude" as I am only contacting him to get something from him.

How should I go about contacting him and how should I frame my email as to not sound greedy or selfish?

  • 7
    Just a comment on your perspective: I want to be clear that you are not greedy or selfish. This is part of the supervisor's job, and something he has expressed interest in discussing with you. If you worked with a professor outside of class, I would not be hesitant to contact him several years after the work ended. Several months is nothing!
    – Dawn
    Nov 7, 2017 at 18:12
  • I just received and responded to a recommendation request from a student whom I last taught eleven years ago. It's OK.
    – Bob Brown
    Nov 21, 2017 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


Just send email. Ask him to "remind" you of the names of faculty he knows at your proposed institution and ask whether he would be able to write a "strong recommendation." It'll be OK.

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