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I aspire to apply in the US for graduate studies. All universities require at least 3 letters of recommendation. I have secured all of them but one is from a lecturer that just served as my master thesis' co advisor. Should I ask a letter from a more senior faculty member or someone who taught courses that I participated in? I have been in substantial touch with just two professor during the whole of my studies.

Edit: lecturer here stands for a regular faculty member of the university.

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  • Does the lecturer have a doctorate?
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 15:27
  • Yes, the lecturer is a regular faculty member, though to a university different from the one I studied in
    – Prelude
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:08

2 Answers 2

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Yes, if the lecturer is regular faculty and holds a doctorate then, for US applications they would be an appropriate letter writer.

The letters are relatively important in the US, compared to some other places. They need to honestly and confidently predict success of the candidate in their doctoral studies. A person with whom you have worked closely is in a better position to do this and be believed than someone, perhaps more senior, who doesn't know you well. I would think that a co-advisor on your thesis would be in a good position to make judgements and has the experience to make a valid prediction, having gone through the process themselves.


Note to the worldwide audience that "lecturer" means different things in different places/countries. I would hesitate to ask for a letter from someone who doesn't have a doctorate as they may not have the background to judge what it takes for success.

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Generally, it is a good idea to ask senior academic staff (i.e., lecturers and professors) for a letter of recommendation. I think asking anyone with a PhD (i.e., post-Docs and higher) is generally OK.

It's even better if you get those letters from people researching or teaching within the field of study that you want to continue.

Having said that those letters of recommendation only matter if it is a tight race between a few candidates and the spots are limited. In many cases, they don't really matter that much. Don't get me wrong, if they ask for N letters, get and submit those letters.

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    This is good except for the idea that letters don't matter much. In the US, they matter a great deal.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:24

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