As a matter of recommendation letters, how do US admissions to MS programs generally look at LoRs from employers as opposed to those from academics? And how are recommendation letters generally weighted in the application process? I know the paradigm varies by institution, so I'm just looking for an idea.

Preface: I worked full-time during my undergraduate studies and admittedly at different jobs, so I feel that I haven't built any particularly strong relationships with faculty at my institution. I do, however, feel that the individuals I've asked to draft letters at my employer could provide reasonably strong recommendations (they are supervisors).

The program itself isn't traditional: It includes an industry internship with a relevant project and paper as opposed to a research/thesis component, though candidates can register for directed research as a part of the electives.

If I can provide any more pertinent information, please let me know!

  • Related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/59548/20375
    – Roger Fan
    Dec 28, 2015 at 20:37
  • What kind of MS programs (class-based or research)? In what subject? In how strong a department?
    – JeffE
    Dec 28, 2015 at 22:49
  • @JeffE M.Sc. Biotechnology, mostly class-based with an internship component instead of research/thesis. Program itself is through our college of medicine, quite a good department in an RU/VH university.
    – CKM
    Dec 28, 2015 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


For graduate study, what the committee looks for is primarily ability to do research. You need LoRs that highlight that aspect of your work. If no faculty can attest to it (or you in general), a letter from a previous boss at work might do.

  • 1
    I would almost certainly agree, normally, but from the program documentation below there is no research component to the degree, almost akin to non-thesis MS. "Students will have to complete a practical internship and theoretical assignment which will both require the successful application of the knowledge they have acquired during their formal training. Required are: (1) an internship with a written and an oral internship report, and (2) a review paper providing an overview of recent advancements in an area of [industry] of the student's choice."
    – CKM
    Dec 28, 2015 at 20:54

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