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This is in the U.S. I am a graduate student, and an undergraduate student who I mentored in an independent reading project has asked me to write her a letter of recommendation for an internship outside of the university.

For some context, I am the organizer of the program at my university through which undergrads apply to do these projects, and this program is advertised on the university website.

I haven't been able to find any information on who can use the letterhead on my university's website, thought I'm sure it's buried there somewhere. I was only able to one other question about this on here, and it was about an undergrad using the letterhead for a personal matter.

  • Do you physically have access to the letterhead? (I.e., a .docx template.) If so, what instructions were there when you obtained it? If not, perhaps you should ask someone for it and see what instructions come with it. – Thomas Jan 23 '19 at 2:03
  • It's probably OK. When I was a grad student, they sold the paper stock and you could just buy it. My take would be just do it under the Grace Hopper theory of easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Also what they don't know doesn't hurt them. But I wouldn't try to represent yourself as an agent of the college either and would be low key about it (academics can be stuffy about PI versus not). Make it clear in first para, your role as a student yourself. – guest Jan 23 '19 at 4:27
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    Allowed by whom? – JeffE Jan 23 '19 at 11:31
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Yes, letters of recommendation are official university business, so you can use letterhead. It would be unusual if you did not.

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Letters of recommendation are within the scope of official business, so it would usually be normal for this to be on university letterhead. However, since you are only a graduate student, and not a regular staff member of the university, I would recommend that you should first check with the relevant professors/administrator in your Department to make sure you are authorised to write letters of recommendation at all. The Department might prefer for letters of recommendation to come only from academic staff, in which case they might decide to bump the request up to someone higher. When in doubt, ask the senior people in your Department.

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  • I agree, in general, but it also depends on whether you are writing representing the university or representing only yourself. If you are representing the university, then the university has a valid interest in knowing what is written and why. So, I think that asking is required here. And the answer might, validly, be 'no, don't do that'. – Buffy Jan 23 '19 at 11:30

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