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exitiumax

When to ask?

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Hi everyone.

So, I am currently in a Master's program and have come to the decision that I would like to pursue a doctoral degree. My current school didn't require any post-secondary exams so I have yet to take the GRE. Because of this, I will have to wait until next application cycle to apply to doctoral programs. This current program will end in May. I was wondering when I should inquire about potential LOR's for doctoral programs? By the time next application cycle comes around, I fear the professor will not be as familiar with my work or ability as a student. Further, asking now seems rather odd. Has anyone faced a situation like this where they intended to take a year off between degrees? Any suggestion? Thanks in advance!

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I would say that now is premature to ask. You could ask for a meeting with your professors to discuss post-graduation plans at some date near when you actually graduate, and you might mention your PhD plans and your hope that they would support your application.* You don't need to worry as much that everyone is going to forget you between May and December of the same year, professors aren't that forgetful. In the meanwhile, work on actually establishing the kinds of relationships with them that would make you memorable and allow them to write strong letters on your behalf. 

*Alternatively (or additionally), if you plan to stay in the same area as the school after you graduate, you could just as easily arrange a meeting some time in October to ask for a letter in person when it becomes more relevant. 

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If you're nervous your professor won't be as familiar with your work, one of my PhD colleagues gave me the best little advice - and so obvious, I don't know why I didn't think of it - - I know: prepare a little package of your documents/potential application - Writing Sample, rough Statement of Purpose, transcripts, vitae, etc. To that end, I would concur with fuzzy logician that now would be a little premature, for anything but feeling the waters to see if there would be interest. But preparing something like this would certainly be all your professors would want or need, if you have been a diligent, active student in your program, regardless if you haven't worked with your prof. recently.

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