Oct 13, 2008
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Hey all,

I know this question is a little silly, but I just wanted to ask, because I'm a neurotic premed, just like you.

I've asked the person who taught my History of Dance class for a LOR. I just wanted to make 100% sure: In the case of a letter from a "professor," that means someone who taught you a course, NOT necessarily someone with a doctorate? I ask because this person has the terminal degree in his field (Dance): a MFA. I just don't want to somehow run into a school saying "oh, your non-sci letter doesn't count because an MFA is not a doctorate."

I figure the answer is that this letter is perfectly legit, but again, I'm just checking.

Thanks!
 

apumic

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It won't "not count" most likely but typically a "nonscience prof" means an academic prof, so your LOR from that person may be given significantly less weight. I'd suggest going w/ a PhD-level prof and not a dance prof. I certainly understand that hx of dance is probably an interesting course and may be quite difficult (some of my hx of music classes BLEW o-chem out of the water in terms of difficulty), but I'd be concerned as to whether a med school adcom would realize that or just see the course as being a blowoff course.
 
Oct 13, 2008
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It won't "not count" most likely but typically a "nonscience prof" means an academic prof, so your LOR from that person may be given significantly less weight. I'd suggest going w/ a PhD-level prof and not a dance prof. I certainly understand that hx of dance is probably an interesting course and may be quite difficult (some of my hx of music classes BLEW o-chem out of the water in terms of difficulty), but I'd be concerned as to whether a med school adcom would realize that or just see the course as being a blowoff course.
Although it's not advice I like to hear, that is a very good point. My history of dance class was actually pretty rough when taught by this dude (lots of papers/research papers), but it is a joke class when taught by the other lady in the dept.

Apumic is probably right, but are there any second opinions? Perhaps known adcomm folks could chime in? =)
 

rHinO1

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I wouldn't be too concerned with your professors degree. If he is teaching a college level course, you did well in his class, and most importantly he knows you well enough to write a strong letter then you should get it. Really it is all about whether or not you have a better alternative available. If you took another class from a PHD that knows you equally well then you should get that letter. If you feel your hx of dance class professor knows you better than your alternatives, and he will write a better letter then I would definitely get that letter.

I understand why you are a little concerned, but worrying about ranking masters<post-doc<adjunct prof<assistant-prof<prof (=?= MD) probably is less important than the content of the letter.
 

Tippyboat

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Why not use it as a supplemental letter? Get another non-science letter in an academic subject from a professor with a Ph.D..
 
Oct 13, 2008
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I would prefer a Ph.D, but the last Ph.D. I had for a non-science course was first semester of freshman year, with the exception of another prof who I asked for a letter, but I'm not sure how good hers will be. (The other 4 courses, I just realized, were all taught by people with masters-level degrees) I was considering doing 5 letters; 3 science, 2 non-science, but that seems a little superfluous to me. Thanks for the suggestions =).
 

LizzyM

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The standard letter from a non-science professor is going to describe how long the professor has known you and in what context (in this case, you took the course "History of Dance". Then the professor will describe a little about the course including the required assignments and your performance on the assignments. Ideally, the professor will include some information about your written assignments, your class participation in discussion, your ability to accept criticism or challenges to your opinion, (some of the stuff that doesn't always come uop in science classes). The professor then writes about a few of your personal characteristics that make you well suited to medical school and closes with some information about the period of time they've been at that school, or that school and other schools (often mentioned by name) and how you stack up compared to other students and the bottom line that you are most highly (or highly , or very highly) recommended for admission to medical school and that the professor would be delighted to have you as a physician someday in the future. If the writer is a member of the faculty of your college, the degree (MFA or PhD) doesn't much matter, the academic title (Instructor, Lecturer, Assistant Professor, etc) might be noted but isn't very important. People with a long history of teaching are generally considered more credible so if you have a choice between a newly credentialed teacher and someone who's been at your school for decades, pick the old dude.
 
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The standard letter from a non-science professor is going to describe how long the professor has known you and in what context (in this case, you took the course "History of Dance". Then the professor will describe a little about the course including the required assignments and your performance on the assignments. Ideally, the professor will include some information about your written assignments, your class participation in discussion, your ability to accept criticism or challenges to your opinion, (some of the stuff that doesn't always come uop in science classes). The professor then writes about a few of your personal characteristics that make you well suited to medical school and closes with some information about the period of time they've been at that school, or that school and other schools (often mentioned by name) and how you stack up compared to other students and the bottom line that you are most highly (or highly , or very highly) recommended for admission to medical school and that the professor would be delighted to have you as a physician someday in the future. If the writer is a member of the faculty of your college, the degree (MFA or PhD) doesn't much matter, the academic title (Instructor, Lecturer, Assistant Professor, etc) might be noted but isn't very important. People with a long history of teaching are generally considered more credible so if you have a choice between a newly credentialed teacher and someone who's been at your school for decades, pick the old dude.
Thank you very much! I'll definitely make sure to have this professor talk about the things you've mentioned, especially how the course was taught and what-not. I always felt like I knew what I should suggest to science-LOR-writers, but not non-sci. Thanks again =)
 
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I'm not quite sure if I understand this "non-science faculty LOR". Does the committee letter that my advisor sends out count as a non-science faculty LOR? I received a lot of AP/IB credit in high school and have only taken one non-science class which was English 2 Freshman year and my teacher only had an MS. What do I do?
 

rHinO1

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I'm not quite sure if I understand this "non-science faculty LOR". Does the committee letter that my advisor sends out count as a non-science faculty LOR? I received a lot of AP/IB credit in high school and have only taken one non-science class which was English 2 Freshman year and my teacher only had an MS. What do I do?
You need to check the websites for each school you are interested in, but most that I have seen will accept a committee letter in place of the usual 2 sci & 1 non-sci letters. People like myself (and apparently Flowrate) attend schools that don't offer committee letters so we are stuck running around to get each individual letter that we need.
 
Oct 13, 2008
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I'm not quite sure if I understand this "non-science faculty LOR". Does the committee letter that my advisor sends out count as a non-science faculty LOR? I received a lot of AP/IB credit in high school and have only taken one non-science class which was English 2 Freshman year and my teacher only had an MS. What do I do?
The non-science LOR requirement is usually when you have to send in LORs in lieu of a committee letter (as in my case -- we don't have a committee for letter-sending ;)). However, the requirements for a committee letter seem to be pretty strict in some cases, requiring, say, 4 LOR's. Check with your advisor about what's required. Also, sometimes that non-science LOR is required as part of the comm LOR packet, in which case you need to hit up that freshman year prof or take more non-science courses.