Acceptance and Refusal Letters

Formal offers of admission for all applicants a graduate program wishes to admit are generated through the online application system, eVision. We encourage graduate programs to supplement this letter with a program-specific letter, which can be appended to the G+PS letter in eVision. Program-specific letters should focus on items that are not covered in the formal letter from the Dean of G+PS, such as information about supervision, program contacts, funding, orientation, etc.

Your program-specific letter is an important marketing tool. The results of surveys done by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, corroborated by results of other similar surveys at other institutions, showed that graduate students make decisions about where to attend graduate school based on personal as well as academic factors. All contact with prospective students is a chance to help them feel connected to UBC and make them feel recruited and welcome.

Important Elements of Program-Specific Acceptance Letters

What Why
A very warm welcoming statement Helps the student feel welcomed
Mention of some of the outstanding/excellent features of your graduate program including outstanding and/or award-winning faculty, award winning graduate students, state-of-the-art facilities, unique focal points of the department Sets UBC apart from other institutions the student might be considering; gives the students lots of good reasons to select UBC; provides an ego boost (I'll be joining such an accomplished group of students - I must be pretty good)
Congratulations on getting accepted and on achievements thus far Ego boost - a long-tested and very effective marking strategy
Notification of financial award One of the first and most significant questions is answered for students right away. Gives UBC significant competitive edge
The names and contact information of people who can help the student get adjusted, including the grad advisor. Every effort should be made to include contact information for currently attending grad students in the program Provides sense of personal contact. The vast majority of respondents to G+PS surveys indicate that that they value advice from students currently in the program more highly than advice from anyone else. Give them a way to get that advice!
Conveyance of what it’s like to be a student in the program (what is the atmosphere like? how do grad students fit into the picture? For instance, if faculty and grad students call each other by first names, mention faculty members by first name in the letter) As students go through the decision making process, they almost always select the institution that has given them the clearest picture about what it is like to be a student there. If they can envision themselves as a student there, they will often select that university

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies recommends the use of a personalized program-specific letter rather than a very general one. Please look through our collection of samples.

Feel free to use one or more of the samples or to cut and paste sections of various letters to create a customized program-specific admission letter that works well for your program.

Additional guidance for addressing the minimum funding requirement for PhD students in your program-specific admission letter is available in the Handbook on the Minimum Funding Policy for PhD Students.

Important Elements of Refusal Letters

A standard notification of refusal of admission is available to graduate programs through eVision. For graduate programs wishing to send decline letters through other means we offer the following suggestions:

What Why
A very warm welcoming statement Helps the student feel welcomed
Regret that we were unable to accept  the student Gives a sense of personal connection
Assurance that application was carefully and completely reviewed Conveys that the decision was taken seriously and with due care and diligence
Congratulations on achievements thus far Makes the student feel good about him/herself, leaving a positive perception of UBC and reinforcing notion that application was thoroughly reviewed
Competition was very keen Leaves perception that UBC is an excellent university which attracts the very top students; lets students know that although they were not among the very top, they are still strong students
Best wishes for future Polite closure and conveys sincerity of regret

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies recommends the use of a personalized letter rather than a very general one. Please look through our collection of samples.

Feel free to use one or more of the samples or to cut and paste sections of various letters to create a customized refusal letter that works well for your department.