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Are LORs by adjunct professors less influential than LORs by professors?

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Hi all,


I was reading different threads in gradcafe, and in one thread that discussed about adjunct professors I got the impression that they are not as 'influential' as professors.

I'm an undergraduate and is going to directly apply for a PhD, but would LORs by adjunct professors be weaker than those by professors? My undergraduate thesis advisors are both adjuncts, but they know me the best both in and out of class and I was thinking of asking for LORs from both of them.

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Someone can argue against this, but unless the professors have been in the field for a long, long time and hold a bit of importance, I don't think you should purposely go out of your way to look for these "influential" professors. Even then, that depends on how well they know you too. You wouldn't want to go out on a whim and find someone without having an actual working/academic relationship with them. Like you said, your professors know your profile the best, and can provide the clearest insight as to whether you are going to be a suitable candidate for whoever you end up working with.


Of course, being a student myself, I can't share what bureaucracy arises during the process where the graduate committees review applicants. If someone is able to detail an in-depth look on who you are, however, I'm sure that will be much more useful than a generic LOR.

You want LORs that play to your strength, and nobody knows you better than your thesis advisors!

Edited by Jay's Brain
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They may be "less influential" in the sense that it's likely that fewer people know these adjuncts and therefore their word may carry less weight than a famous professor. Note: the distinction is about how well known a person is, not their employment status, despite the obvious correlation. 


That said, the best letters will come from the people who know you best and can write you the most positive detailed letter. You don't want a "did well in class" letter from a famous person that can't say anything specific about your accomplishments and fit with the school and degree you're applying for. You'd much rather have a strong detailed letter from someone not as famous. So, you should only bring this factor into consideration if you are deciding between two similarly strong letters, one from a well-known author and one from someone relatively unknown.

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