I've been working as a TA for an on campus program for the last year and a half. The director really likes me; she has a Masters in Mathematics and runs the learning services program for the STEM programs but she doesn't teach or do research.

I'm planning on applying to Master's in Computer Science programs and want to eventually do work in mass education programs (like Khan Academy or Coursera). Would it be acceptable to ask for a letter of recommendation from her?

I figured it would be "different" in a good way; also, any other letters would be "average" at best. I was a good student but not much more in my classes.

  • 3
    "She likes me" doesn't say much. Has her experience with you given her confidence that you would succeed in a masters program in computer science? Can she give specifics that computer scientists would find convincing? That's what an admission committee wants to see. Sep 1 '15 at 15:58
  • @NateEldredge I believe that she has confidence that I will definitely succeed in the masters program but will probably put emphasis on my affinity to better education.
    – Steven
    Sep 1 '15 at 16:40
  • Master's in Computer Science — Which kind? Professional / course-based / terminal masters, or research / thesis masters?
    – JeffE
    Sep 1 '15 at 17:09
  • @JeffE Terminal Course-based masters looking to go into mass education/industry. Looking to work for a company similar to edx.
    – Steven
    Sep 1 '15 at 17:11

it depends on the university, for instance on my university the hierarchy of letter of recommendations goes like this:

  • Top priority: Faculty (same/different institution)
  • Mid: Staff (on same institution)
  • Low: High-school Instructors

Of course having faculty give you letters of recommendation is better. Just remember that "usually" you need 2-3 letters of recommendation.

I would suggest to use the letter of recommendation from this director that you mention, If and only if you cant get letters of recommendations from faculty.


This sounds like a good way to strengthen your application.

Also, there is something you can do to strengthen the other potential letters. If you get to know a professor from a class you have taken, by going to office hours at least once, to show interest in the professor's research, and share something about yourself, the professor will be able to write a slightly less cookie-cutter letter.

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