What the Colleges Say About Student, Advisee, and Other Letters


A statement from the chair and/or graduate field representative and/or director of undergraduate education assessing the candidate’s effectiveness as an advisor for graduate and undergraduate students


Letters from both undergraduate and graduate students (and/or postdoctoral associates)
assessing the candidate’s effectiveness as teacher and adviser:

  1. A sampling of students from a variety of courses should be asked to write letters expressing their candid, confidential opinions of the candidate’s teaching ability.
  2. Letters solicited from the candidate’s advisees assessing the candidate’s effectiveness as an adviser (a list of advisees may be obtained from the Academic Advising Center)
  3. The dossier may also include evaluations by teaching assistants and graduate students of the candidate’s teaching and advising/mentoring ability

Sample letters of solicitation sent to graduate and undergraduate students

A list of students whose views are solicited

A statement of how student evaluators were selected, the rate of response, and the usual rate of response in the department.


Internal Reviewer letters ( 3 to 6 letters)
These letters are typically requested from faculty within the university. All solicitations for referee letters must be done by the department chair. The role of evaluators is to
assess the candidate’s accomplishments, stature in the field, and future promise.

Include a cover page with the internal reviewers list and their contact information who were requested to write evaluative letters; include an example of the letter of request; indicate those selected by the department chair and those selected by the candidate; and indicate which reviewers did not respond. The letters should follow the cover page and a short, NIH-type bio of each reviewer should follow their letter. In the Chair’s request the Chair should ask the reviewers that they provide the full details of the contact he/she has had with the candidate through his/her career.

The candidate should provide a list of all current and past undergraduate and graduate student advisees with their degrees and actual or expected degree dates. List of all Advisees segregated into 2 categories (with degrees and degree dates): Undergraduate and Graduate

Evaluations from Advisees.

The department should provide 3-5 letters from representative undergraduate students and graduate students selected by and solicited by the department. A copy of
the request letter should be included as well as a list of advisees contacted. Students are sometimes reluctant to write a letter due to fear of reprisals. The Department may choose to redact student names from letters in this case, but must keep letters with signatures on file for verification upon request  in the case of an appeal.

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