I am an undergraduate student wanting to transfer to another institution for undergraduate studies. I am a research assistant for a professor at an institution that I do not attend.

Would the university which I which to transfer to, accept the recommendation letter from this professor? Again, I have not taken any courses with this professor, nor go to the institution where he teaches.

Related (except for Graduate Admissions): Copied Letter of Recommendation?

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    This (somebody you did research with) is by far the best kind of recommendation. – Peter Shor May 22 '14 at 11:49
  • Great to hear! But would a university accept it considering that the professor hasn't taught me in class and is at a different university than me? – A A May 22 '14 at 11:57
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    @AA The fact that the professor did not teach you and is in a different university from you should not be a problem. – Faheem Mitha May 22 '14 at 12:53
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    @AA They would prefer to have letters from people you've researched with, and as a last resort people who have taught you. You've got the priorities backwards. – Jonathan Landrum May 22 '14 at 13:08

The point of a letter of recommendation is for the receiving party to obtain third-party verification that you are, indeed, awesome. Generally speaking, people like to receive letters from individuals who know you well professionally. In most cases, teachers cannot write good letters, as they only know you as a face in the class, and never really got to know your work ethic, personality, and capabilities. A research advisor would be able to comment on all those things, and would be able to write a much stronger letter.

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    It shouldn't hurt, but I think it's only equal in this case. If he were applying to a research program, than a research advisor recommendation would clearly be much stronger, regardless of institutional affiliation. But he isn't applying for research... – Ben Voigt May 22 '14 at 20:08

In general. the criterion for a letter of recommendation is not "someone whose course you've taken.__ In general, the letter of recommendation is supposed to be written by someone who knows you well, and can testify to your strengths and weaknesses.

Unless there's a specific demand for a letter from someone who has taught you, you should not worry about the fact that your research advisor hasn't taught you. In principle, because a research advisor has worked more closely with you than a typical instructor would, your should expect to get a more useful letter from the research advisor, as OBu indicates.


The general answer is: "It depends on their rules regarding the admission process".

If they accept (or require) letters of recommendation, and they don't explicitely relate it to teaching relationships, they will take such recommendation letters into acount (and I personally would rate them even higher than a standard "this guy has great grades"-letter).

  • Thanks for the Response OBu. Universities require 'College Instructor recommendation' letters from potential transfers. I take that as "a recommendation from a college instructor"; which I would technically be providing. I guess my best bet is to ask the universities directly. – A A May 22 '14 at 12:14

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