Award Letter Best Practices

Writing a fellowship offer letter clearly communicates to students how much, when and what type of support programs intend to provide to them. It also informs the student of the minimum qualifications needed in order to receive support, such as full-time enrollment and good academic standing. 

Multi-Year Offers of Support 

Graduate Studies encourages graduate programs to package multi-year offers to recruit and retain the brightest and best graduate students. Below is the January 26, 2015, letter from Chris Calvert, former Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, that provides an overview of some good practices to follow in formulating letters for offers of support to prospective graduate students plus three multi-year offer examples.  All the offer letter examples are up-to-date as of January 2020.

Single Year Offer of Support 

Here are examples of single-year fellowship offer letters that include standard language you could use when awarding your Graduate Program Fellowships Allocation funds or other internal fellowship funds:

Any of the above offer letters may be amended for one quarter of support, if needed.

Additional Best Practices

Award letters should specify:

  • Full name of the student
  • Date 
  • Student ID number
  • Name of specific fellowship offered (e.g. the Earl C. Anthony or Edward Wickson Fellowship)
  • Type of fellowship: Stipend (or "living allowance"), Tuition & Fees, and/or Nonresident Supplemental Tuition
  • Amount of fellowship
  • Method of payment (e.g., paid in monthly installments through Student Accounting)
  • Effective period of the award (e.g. October 1, 202X, to June 30, 202X)
  • Your program contact information for questions (Award letters should not refer the student to Graduate Studies.)

We highly recommend that any subsequent changes to the fellowship be communicated to the student in writing, via a "revised" award letter. We strongly encourage hiring units to provide each employed graduate student with an appointment letter. For examples, see a sample GSR appointment letter or a sample TA appointment letter.


The Regulations for Graduate Students Receiving Fellowships (GS501) document is written for graduate students who have received an internal fellowship. It provides them with the general regulations, California residency regulations for tuition purposes, fellowship employment regulations, the process for an exception to policy, and tax information. We recommend you include this document with every fellowship offer for continuing and prospective students.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) resolution is supported by UC Davis.  The resolution states that prospective graduate students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15th; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this resolution.