During my masters degree, I was a teaching assistant for undergraduate course 'X' two times. The professors in charge of the course are titled 'Senior Lecturer' - they are not research faculty.

How would my PhD application look if I had a recommendation letter from one of them?

Bear in mind:

  • I have worked extensively with them: meetings, created lecture content, handled student issues, etc.
  • I have two other LoR's from research faculty.
  • The other options I have (for my third LoR) are: Undergraduate faculty (from a different country) or graduate faculty who's courses I took, but did not interact very significantly.


  • Was the undergraduate course X basic or very specialized? Does something about teaching this course say something about your research potential (e. g. you had to research a lot with them because the subject is very new)?
    – user90948
    Apr 6, 2018 at 15:52
  • Is this person a PhD holder?
    – Dawn
    Apr 6, 2018 at 15:54
  • @user90948 - It was a course that involves specialized software used to model chemical processing plants/ oil refineries. Honestly, I don't think it says that much about my research potential. I and the undergrads often sat together figuring out issues in the software and discussing engineering/ thermodynamics.
    – user80756
    Apr 6, 2018 at 16:23
  • 1
    @Dawn, yes. From a top school (if that matters).
    – user80756
    Apr 6, 2018 at 16:25
  • The fact that this person has completed a PhD from a top program means that he/she can speak with authority in your letter because he/she knows what it takes to succeed as a student and researcher in that environment. So I agree with the posted answer that this is a good choice.
    – Dawn
    Apr 6, 2018 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


(I'm assuming that the application form says you need three letters, but does not specify more). As you already have two letters, I think a third one from teaching faculty is completely okay. Most PhD programms do not expect you to have collaborated with three different researchers before admission.

Make sure they mention your work ethic in their letter (that is, if your work ethic is good), about special knowledge you have because of teaching this course (if any) etc. If they can say those things, this is more significant as a letter from faculty you didn't interact with.

However, if you also did serious research with the undergraduate faculty and you have a good relationsship with them, consider asking them.

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