Third letter of rec from a program administrator?

sphysic13
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Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:41 pm

Third letter of rec from a program administrator?

Postby sphysic13 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:55 pm

I am a current 2nd year master's student who will be applying to PhD programs in the upcoming year. As expected, I need 3 letters of recommendation. Here is the background for my first two letter writers:

1)Master's thesis advisor. Taken a class with this professor and performed well. They have also been my research advisor over the last year and I know will attest great things to my research abilities and the different grants that I have received for our projects.

2) Undergraduate advisor. I took classes with this professor and performed well. I also did very big research which was published, selected for a feature, presented orally at a conference, and they have written other letters of rec for me, which I have had the opportunity to read myself and know that it is a very solid letter attesting to my academic and research abilities.

3) I am considering asking the program administrator of my current master's program. I figured I already have two professors attesting to my research and academic abilities. I have worked closely with this administrator as I have served on various leadership committees amongst the program and have received departmental and school wide awards. I am hoping it would be acceptable to have my third letter not be academic focussed but to give insight regarding my leadership and organizational skills.

Would letter #3 be a mistake? Should I be trying to find someone else? I have heard that it does not look good to have 2/3 of letters coming from undergrad institution, but I have only worked closely in research at my current institution with one person, and the person who I have worked next closest with has been the administrator. Any feedback/ suggestions appreciated.

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Nishikata
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Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: Third letter of rec from a program administrator?

Postby Nishikata » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:12 pm

I am hoping it would be acceptable to have my third letter not be academic focused but to give insight regarding my leadership and organizational skills.


I think it is acceptable, but you are applying for a doctoral research position. Imagine you are the prof reading the application, a letter showing how you are good at organizing a study trip to Poland, for example, is not going to convince much of his decision. It only works if the prof reads the other two letters first, and this one would only be the icing on the cake. I think it will come out neutral, but a neutral card is not good in a competition.

Would letter #3 be a mistake? Should I be trying to find someone else?


You must be trying to find someone else who can write about your research skills. A co-author of your paper, for example. The added value would be greater, I think. It is always good to have 4-5 people willing to write for you, so that you can choose which ones are suitable for each application.

If you have tried to no avail, then it won't be a mistake. There's just no other option left and you need to submit the application.
If you don't try, that will be a mistake.

rjones21
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:47 pm

Re: Third letter of rec from a program administrator?

Postby rjones21 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:05 pm

100% do not get from an administrator. It will be looked poorly upon. I have been told that the only letters that are read are the ones where the recommender is either a professor or a researcher at a national lab.




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