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LORs - preference for tenured vs. non-tenured professor?


matchedup
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I have a question for those of you who might be more familiar with the procedure. Is there a strong bias towards LORs from tenured professors, when it comes to the admissions committee reviewing applications? I have been considering, all along, asking the professors who know me best to write my LORs, but after browsing some threads on this forum (admittedly, not from the Linguistics section) I wonder if I should, for my 2nd and/or 3rd letters, ask instead more senior professors in my department. 

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Just my personal experience: for my LORs, I chose professors (one full professor and two assistant professors) who knew me best - and having two non-tenured professors definitely didn't hurt my results!

However, the tenured professor is also pretty well known and well respected within our subfield, so having a glowing recommendation (her words) from her was probably crucial. And one of the assistant professors has personal connections at a couple of the universities I applied to. So ymmv.

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Just my personal experience: for my LORs, I chose professors (one full professor and two assistant professors) who knew me best - and having two non-tenured professors definitely didn't hurt my results!

However, the tenured professor is also pretty well known and well respected within our subfield, so having a glowing recommendation (her words) from her was probably crucial. And one of the assistant professors has personal connections at a couple of the universities I applied to. So ymmv.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience! It really helps put things in context. 

 

I am in a similar situation to yours - one is a full professor, the second is an assistant professor, and the third one is unclear (in the sense that I could go either way, depending on how my situation unfolds over the next 6-ish months). The full professor is quite well-known in specific topic X in subfield Y, and the assistant professor went to grad school at one of the places I am applying to. 

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What matters most is that the letter is the strongest it could be. That means choosing the writers who know you the best. The tenured/non-tenured thing doesn't matter, as long as we are talking about tenure-track faculty. It might matter a little if we're talking about visiting faculty or postdocs, who have a greater chance of disappearing from the field and/or being unknown, but they would also be people who normally wouldn't be around for that long because by their nature their jobs are transient. If your writers have connections at the schools you are applying to or they are famous, that is great. People tend to trust the word of someone they know. It's of course not a requirement, you can get into grad school without a letter from someone famous. I would only think of that as a secondary concern, if you had to choose between two possible writers, one well-known and one not, who are otherwise identical.

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What matters most is that the letter is the strongest it could be. That means choosing the writers who know you the best. The tenured/non-tenured thing doesn't matter, as long as we are talking about tenure-track faculty. It might matter a little if we're talking about visiting faculty or postdocs, who have a greater chance of disappearing from the field and/or being unknown, but they would also be people who normally wouldn't be around for that long because by their nature their jobs are transient. If your writers have connections at the schools you are applying to or they are famous, that is great. People tend to trust the word of someone they know. It's of course not a requirement, you can get into grad school without a letter from someone famous. I would only think of that as a secondary concern, if you had to choose between two possible writers, one well-known and one not, who are otherwise identical.

 

Thank you, fuzzy, for replying! This has helped me realize that I was worrying too much about secondary factors. I will go with the professors who I feel know me best, and who could best talk about my research abilities. 

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