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Requesting a Faculty Mentor Letter of Support

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Guidelines for Faculty Mentor Letters of Support

All VPUE Student Grant proposals must be accompanied by a letter of support written by a qualifying faculty member. Your faculty mentors provide crucial guidance and support as you focus your ideas and work on your project. 

Eligibility of Faculty Mentors

At least one of the mentors must be a qualifying faculty member who  

  1. is Academic Council faculty OR University Medical Line faculty OR is approved by a department or interdepartmental program (IDP) as a qualifying honors/capstone advisor.
    • Typically has the Stanford title of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Senior Lecturer or Senior Fellow
    • In Arts disciplines (creative writing, film/drama, arts practice), Lecturers are eligible
  2. Has their own active scholarly or creative agenda closely related to the main disciplines and methodologies of the proposed project.
    • Interdisciplinary research projects and creative arts projects are strongly encouraged to draw upon the knowledge and guidance of multiple mentors. 
  3. Is available to provide consultation, training, and advice throughout the funded project timeline.

For more information on eligibility, see Faculty Eligibility Guidelines.

Due Date for Faculty Letters

Before you confirm your application in the Grant Application Portal, you will submit the faculty mentor's name, title, and email. As soon as you do so, the faculty mentor will receive an email with instructions for uploading the letter of recommendation. You may include up to 2 additional references for your application (for example, a secondary mentor, a field contact). 

It is your responsibility to provide your mentors with at least three weeks' notice before you enter their names in the application portal.

Letters are due at 11:59pm on the day of the letter deadline. Check each grant webpage for the grant's faculty letter deadline.

Where to Send Faculty Letters

Faculty should check their email for a notification with the subject line "Letter of Recommendation for VPUE grant applicant - [Student Name]". This email will contain a link with instructions for uploading your letter. If faculty have any questions about this process, please email

Content Guidelines for Faculty Letters supporting research, arts, or senior synthesis projects

These mentorship letters are extremely important to VPUE grant review processes. They allow VPUE staff to provide vital feedback to grant recipients to help them avoid pitfalls during their research. The most helpful mentorship letters include an honest and critical evaluation of the student’s written proposal, which includes the following:

  • a frank, scholarly evaluation of the proposed project, its feasibility in the time indicated and its potential significance
  • an indication of the student’s level of independence and ownership of this project within the faculty mentor’s broader scholarly agenda
  • suggestions on how the plans could be modified or improved
  • an assessment of the candidate's ability to carry out the project
  • an outline of future interactions between the student and the faculty mentor

If the project involves human subjects, faculty should comment on the steps taken to insure safety, and the progress of the student acquiring IRB approval for the project. The research procedures should be the least risky that can be performed consistent with sound research design.

Furthermore, if the project involves fieldwork away from campus, the faculty letter should assess the student's level of preparation for such work. This includes methodological training and a comprehensive awareness of safety and ethical considerations.

Content Guidelines for Faculty Letters supporting presentations at conferences

The letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor should explicitly endorse the research that you are presenting. It should provide an assessment of the conference and comment on the relevance of the conference for your work.

Feedback from Faculty Letters

The grant application and decision process is intended to be educational for the students.

VPUE does not share the specific content of faculty letters. We do aggregate faculty mentor suggestions with those of grant reviewers when giving feedback to students. Candid faculty evaluations are vital to the quality of this feedback process.

If Faculty Mentors Have Questions

If your faculty mentor has questions about preparing a letter of support or how to upload the letter to the Grant Application Portal, ask your mentor to email