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No rec letter from home university.


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Hello everyone, Im in the process of applying to several biology PhD programs (top ten programs) and I don't have any letters of recommendation from my home university. Im currently a senior but I spent all of my summers doing research at other universities and my entire junior year abroad. I havent done any research at my university and havent taken any small science classes. I feel that the letters I provide from other universities will be very strong but I'm afraid it will end up hurting my application if I don't have one from my university. 

any thoughts on this?


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I'm not sure that you need a letter from your home university. If you have three letters from professors who directly supervised you in research, I think that might be very strong and good enough. If you are doing an honours or senior thesis at your home university though, you should ask that advisor to be one of your three letter writers. Even though that person might have only supervised you for 2-3 months, they must know enough about your academics to write about why they chose to supervise you as well.

However, if you don't have that and you don't have a strong letter writer from your home university that taught you classes, I would say it's better to have a strong letter form a research supervisor outside of your school than a letter that only says you did well in their classes from within your home school. You can show academic ability on your transcript. Also, if you achieved a lot of things while on research projects (papers etc.), that would imply strong academic ability. Your research supervisors would have seen enough of your work to also comment on how much knowledge you have in the field.

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