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Hello all! So I'm going to be applying to some Biostatistics MS programs in the Fall and am not sure exactly who I should ask to write my recommendation letters. Right now, my plan is to ask my major advisor (I took his biostatistics class and TA-ed for it in a subsequent semester), my psychology research lab professor (I've been working in her lab for 4 years), and my choir director (at my university choir is a 1-credit class. I've been a part of the choir for 4 years and was our fundraising chair, vice president, and president consecutively in the latter 3 years.). I've chosen these professors because they know me very well and will all write very strong letters, however, I'm worried that admissions committees will want to see letters from more relevant disciplines. Should I sacrifice one (or more) of these strong letters for an average letter from a professor in the math or biology departments? Thanks!

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If you have a rough school list, look at their application requirements and see if they explicitly state who can write you letters. As a rule of thumb your recommenders should be people who know you as a future scholar/scientist. Some application portals will explicitly say if these people need to hold faculty (and not "staff") positions or certain degrees. If the wording is vague you can email their program director to double check.

Your first 2 look like solid choices (if you've worked in any sort of lab for years, the ad com would want to see a letter from that PI regardless of the specific research area). I think some, maybe not all, ad coms will consider the choir director a bit odd. If you believe the first 2 letters will be strong, I'd play safe and find an "average" 3rd recommender, who may not know you super well but is either a nice person or well known in the field. Again each school may want to see different things, some may even encourage you to include one LOR who can comment on your non-academic qualities. It's also never a bad idea to have at least 4 people ready to write for you, just in case one falls ill / ghosts you. Some applications will allow an optional 4th letter.

For your reference I was at an info session for Stanford's biosciences phd program, which irrc accepts an extra optional rec letter, so I asked if they'd like to see a letter from a community service organization that I'd worked with for 4 years. The answer was a clear no.

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