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Thread: Profile Evaluation - LOR from Professor of Practice discounted?

  1. #1
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    Profile Evaluation - LOR from Professor of Practice discounted?

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    Hi urch,

    Would getting a letter from a Professor of Practice, who nonetheless has a PhD from a T7 and with whom you've done a research project, be a bad idea? For those unfamiliar, Professors of Practice are appointed to primarily teach (because they're good at teaching and the students love them) rather than do research (and hence their productivity is usually not so high). My other two letters will be stronger and from:

    1. A tenured associate professor, productive, up and rising in his field.
    2. A well-known full professor (top 5% IDEAS).

    For obvious reasons, I can't divulge too many details about my profile. I go to a well-known undergrad in the US, if that makes a difference regarding the professors' reputation. My other option is either 1) get a LOR from a professor I took a grad econ class with (though I didn't get to know them very well besides getting a good grade) or 2) do a one-year NBER/non-NBER RA stint to secure a good 3rd recommendation letter from an active researcher. The drawback of 2) is the opportunity cost of delaying the PhD by a year while my profile is probably already strong enough to not need to (?).

    Does anyone have any experience with using letters from professors who are not active in research? Thank you in advance for your thoughts and advice.

    nervousapp

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    Re: Profile Evaluation - LOR from Professor of Practice discounted?

    By "T7" I assume you mean top 7 PhD program.

    A letter from a Professor of Practice, or lecturer, is fine. The key is that the person can speak to your ability to do graduate level economics, or your work ethic, or your research experience. This usually comes across in a letter by way of comparisons to previous students.

    A letter from a professor who taught a graduate class is good, but less useful if all he/she can say is that you took the class. If you didn't get to know him/her, the letter won't be that strong. The class and grade will be on your transcript.

    Taking a year off of school to do research is a great option if you want some research experience, or want to solidify your desire to go to graduate school. Doing it just for the possibility of a stronger letter is not a good reason.

    I would also encourage you to get feedback from your other two letter writers on this. They know you and your options best.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation - LOR from Professor of Practice discounted?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbe View Post
    By "T7" I assume you mean top 7 PhD program.

    A letter from a Professor of Practice, or lecturer, is fine. The key is that the person can speak to your ability to do graduate level economics, or your work ethic, or your research experience. This usually comes across in a letter by way of comparisons to previous students.

    A letter from a professor who taught a graduate class is good, but less useful if all he/she can say is that you took the class. If you didn't get to know him/her, the letter won't be that strong. The class and grade will be on your transcript.

    Taking a year off of school to do research is a great option if you want some research experience, or want to solidify your desire to go to graduate school. Doing it just for the possibility of a stronger letter is not a good reason.

    I would also encourage you to get feedback from your other two letter writers on this. They know you and your options best.
    Thank you! I will for sure ask my other two letters for advice, but I also want to know what urch thinks. I donít know if this professor has placed anyone in PhD programs, though students that worked with her in the past have been admitted to high-ranking masters programs (not in econ but in math, finance, etc.)

    Regarding RA, Iím not sure if I NEED more research experience, since Iíve been RA-ing for 2 different professors at my school. The only things Iíll learn from an extra year RAing are probably more STATA/SAS experience and perhaps exposure to a different subfield of economics (though I can also gain the latter by just enrolling in grad school and taking field courses come my second year?). Do you think these potential benefits warrant an extra year RA-ing? I know someone whoís RAing at a top 10 and they say theyíre not learning much from the experience due to the kind of work they have to do, which is why Iím a bit skeptical.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation - LOR from Professor of Practice discounted?

    They will obviously be "discounted" in the sense that the letter would be more meaningful from a professor engaged in research at the same university. "Professors of practice" are essentially lecturers. I'm not saying that the letter will be uninformative or unhelpful in your application.

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