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Can a TA Write a Letter of Recommendation? — The Answer

Can a TA Write a Letter of Recommendation? — The Answer

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You’re filling out an application for an internship, a job or further education when you hit that requirement about recommendation letters.

Sure, you have people who can write one for you, but maybe the requirement is multiple letters.

Maybe you only have two professors you can ask and you need three letters, or maybe one professor is just too busy.

Maybe you had a great relationship with a teaching assistant, and you’re wondering if you can ask them instead.

Keep reading to find out whether you should ask your TA to write this for you!

Can a teaching assistant write a letter of recommendation?

A TA can write a letter of recommendation if the application is for a nonacademic position and does not specify a professor. However, if the application is for graduate school, little weight is usually given to a TA’s recommendation, and you should ask professors to write letters for you.

Disadvantages of asking a TA for a letter of recommendation

First, as mentioned above, if the application specifically asked for recommendations from professors, you should not include a letter from a TA.

Another situation in which it is best not to ask a TA for a letter of recommendation is if you are applying for graduate school.

Opinions vary somewhat on this, but in general, the consensus seems to be that a TA’s recommendation cannot help your graduate school application very much and could hurt it.

The reason is that admissions committees simply do not value the opinion of a teaching assistant compared to a professor.

As an admissions committee sees the situation, a professor has sat on thesis and dissertation committees and taught and mentored many students.

They will see a professor as far more qualified to assess your readiness for graduate school than a TA.

At best, a committee might give only a little bit of weight to a TA’s recommendation. At worst, it could actually hurt your application.

Writing recommendation letters is a normal part of a professor’s job, so don’t turn to a TA because you are too intimidated to ask or assume that your professor has no time to do it.

The professor will let you know if they cannot write the letter for some reason, but they will not think that your request is an unusual one.

Advantages of having a TA write a letter of recommendation for you

There are many other situations outside of academia where you may need letters of recommendation, and in those cases, a TA who knows you well might be a better choice than a professor.

For example, you might be applying for an internship, a job or a position as a Peace Corps volunteer.

These are all positions that want recommendation letters that give them insight into who you are, and whether or not the writer of the letter is a fully qualified academic is not really an issue in these situations.

In fact, a TA may write a better letter than a professor who is busy and distracted.

If you do need a letter of recommendation from a professor but it is your TA who would really be able to speak to your outstanding qualities, consider talking to both of them about working on a letter together.

The TA could supply information to the professor about your work while the professor could still write the letter from the position of someone who is better qualified to assess your abilities.