Is applying to your research professor's grad alma mater an advantage?

<p>I was wondering how much a grad school favors students who in undergraduate worked with a professor who got his PhD from that respective school. What about if the professor did a postdoc at that school? What about if the professor got his PhD from that school, but worked in another research group than the one you plan on joining?</p>

<p>I know that it's not as important as the quality of research, GPA, GRE scores and everything, and I assume that it can make a difference when two applicants seem equally qualified but one of them worked with an alum. But what if applicant A is slightly better than applicant B, only that applicant B is supported by an alum? Can this alum make applicant B seem more attractive?</p>

<p>There are never really "equally qualified" applicants. Yes, all the top applicants have good stats, but after that, admission is about "fit" with the program, and some applicants simply fit better than others.</p>

<p>You're trying to make one variable make a difference in your hypothetical scenario, and it won't. </p>

<p>Here are some more variables:</p>

<p>What if the professor was hated by all and sundry in his graduate program or postdoc?
What if the professor writes the applicant a lukewarm letter?
What if the current faculty don't know the professor at all? How would they know s/he was an alum?</p>

<p>See?</p>

<p>It also depends on the relationship between the LOR writer and the adcom. As Prof X mentioned, if your LOR writer shows some... hesitation towards a particular program but is up for others, it's a red flag.</p>

<p>The competitive applicant with the reputed, respected advisor who is an alumnus of the school maybe has a better chance than the same, equally competitive applicant in an alternate universe where the same equally reputed, respected advisor got his PhD from some other institution.</p>

<p>

If the current faculty don't already know, I expect a professor writing a letter to an alma mater would include something to the effect of "As an alumnus of this program, I know [student] is/will...."</p>

<p>The operative word in Kryptonsa's post is MAYBE. </p>

<p>I still counsel the OP to refrain from speculating about variable factors, since they are, by definition, variable. </p>

<p>I've received LORs from alums of my program who recommend their current students for admission. In many cases, these letters made no difference whatsoever. They certainly did not tip an applicant one way or the other.</p>