I am from Spain and I recently graduated from a masters degree here and now I'm applying for a PhD in the US. I'm having a hard time finding people who will write me a letter of recommendation for my PhD application. I already have two (one from my thesis supervisor and another from a counselor) but I need at least one more and I'm running out of options. I did a couple of internships a long time ago (both in 2019) and I asked my supervisors but none of them replied to my email, they weren't very involved in the research so there's a great chance that they don't even remember me or the work I did, and I don't want to insist too much. Is it alright to ask coworkers or postdocs that supervised my work? I think I have these options:

Person A: Professor with whom I took two classes last year and was on my master's thesis' evaluation committee, so she knows me from class even though I didn't participate much but I got good grades, and she has read and evaluated my research work, but she doesn't know much about me in a lab context.

Person B: Lab technician with whom I worked recently during my master's thesis and can say good things about me and my work but will definitely be weaker than a professor's.

Person C: A coworker of one of the internships (long time ago) that supervised my work (she has a PhD). She remembers me and will say positive things but the field is not very related to my current field.

Who would better support my application? Any other suggestions?

Thank you so much.

2 Answers 2


Don't overestimate the importance of rank or academic status. A good recommendation letter (besides being positive) is one that says things about you that are relevant and useful to the person evaluating your application.

Whether the letter writer is a professor or not doesn't count much. So based on what you say in your post, it sounds like person B would be your best option.


For a doctoral studies application you want letters from people who can make a positive prediction about your likely success in research in your field. And research is more than lab practice.

I'd recommend the professor for that reason, but also because the readers will more easily relate to their perspective. The professor is more familiar with the entirety of your research and how it worked out. Also, the professor is the one that knows about what doctoral education is about, though it is likely different in Spain than the US.

Also see the answer for the US to the canonical question: How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X?

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