I said yes to writing a letter for my advisor who is getting nominated for a mentorship award. Now I am stuck and not sure what to put into the letter or how to organize it. Might anyone have advice for me on what such a letter might contain? A search for samples to get me started has not yielded much since this letter goes in a direction opposite of the usual.

2 Answers 2


Because you're being asked for a letter of recommendation for an award given to a faculty member for good mentoring, this letter is going to look very different from the kinds of letters of recommendation written for students applying to graduate programs, faculty applicants, etc.

For your letter, the goal should be to show that this faculty member has been a good mentor to you and other students. You can best make the case for this by describing in detail how the faculty member has mentored you. How does he or she interact with you? What do they say when you're struggling with something in your research? Do they ask you to discuss your long term goals as well as your short term plans?


Here, I would share my personal experience. It's hard for students to write a really good letter supporting an advisor because they have not been in the shoes of a supervisor and are also inexperienced in writing such letters.

I was requested to write a similar letter for one of my supervisors and I agreed. To make it easy, my supervisor drafted a letter that met the purpose of the letter for them and sent that to me in a Word file. I was free to modify the letter to reflect my views. I made some changes and I added some more information and my perspective on why my advisor should be promoted/nominated. Their letter helped me to articulate my thoughts as well as remind me how they have supported my overall career. In the end, letters become higher quality as well as easier for me to write. So, if you are comfortable, I suggest requesting the advisor to draft a letter that he wants you to write and make necessary changes so you are comfortable to sign the letter.

FYI, even though I found asking for a draft letter is common in academia, I am not sure if this is standard and acceptable practice.

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