Mentoring Awards

2024 Outstanding Mentoring Awards

Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor Award Deadline: April 15, 2024

Outstanding Graduate Program Community Award and Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award Deadline: May 15, 2024

The Graduate School recognizes the critical role that inclusive, high-quality mentoring plays in MSU’s research and educational missions. The Graduate School Mentoring Awards help to recognize graduate programs, faculty mentors and doctoral students whose practice exemplifies the Foundational Values for Graduate Student and Faculty Mentoring Relationships and who make exceptional efforts to sustain the rights and fulfill the responsibilities outlined in the MSU Guidelines for Graduate Student Mentoring and Advising.

There are 3 separate award categories:

Outstanding Graduate Program Community Award: This award recognizes a graduate program/department that fosters the Foundational Values and proactively works to meet their students’ educational and extended professional development needs. This might include (but need not be limited to) some of the following activities: impactful orientations and annual progress reports, sustained career and professional development programing, a rich intellectual climate as evidenced through colloquia, seminars, etc. The program will receive $5000 from the Graduate School in 2024-25 to support graduate program activities.

Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award: This award recognizes faculty whose work with graduate students exemplifies the Foundational Values through ensuring that their students meet program expectations and milestones, and providing multiple enriched career and professional development opportunities (through, e.g., research experiences that go beyond the requirements of the dissertation, professional development and networking opportunities, community engagement experiences, enhanced teaching preparation, collaborative research/ scholarship/ creative activities). Two awards will be available this year, one for an assistant/early associate professor (2-3 years in associate rank) and one for advanced associate and full professors. The mentors will receive $1500 from the Graduate School in 2024-25 to support mentoring activities.

Outstanding Doctoral Student Mentor Award: This award recognizes a doctoral student who has already demonstrated the capacity to be a strong mentor. This student will have engaged in sustained mentoring activities at MSU that help other graduate or undergraduate students succeed in their own research. These activities could be related to, e.g., a course, a lab, a community research project, field research, and/or support programs. The student will receive a $1000 fellowship award. The student must plan to be enrolled in spring or summer 2024.

Nomination Process

Nominations must be received by April 15, 2024 (May 15, 2024 for Faculty and Graduate Program Awards). Nominations for these awards must have 3 supporting documents. The primary nominator/s must ensure that the packet is complete before submitting it to the Graduate School. Nominating letters can come from current or former MSU graduate students, undergraduate students (in the case of the Doctoral Student Mentor Award), faculty members, or administrators. A total of 2 letters (as described below) can be submitted.

  1. Each award requires a primary nominating letter. This letter can come from an individual or a group of individuals. The nominating letter should clearly articulate a) how the program or individual fits the criteria for the award, b) what activities best exemplify the program or individual contribution, and c) what the impact those activities have had for the success of students. Maximum 5 pages.
  2. Each award also requires a second letter of support that can speak to the fit with the criteria and describe the contributions to mentoring. If the primary nominating letter is provided by students, the support letter should be from faculty or administrators familiar with the nominee’s mentoring activities; if the primary nominating letter is provided by faculty or administrators, the letter of support should be from students. Maximum 5 pages.
  3. For nominations for the individual awards: a CV for the nominee is required. For program nominations: the current Graduate Handbook should be submitted as a PDF (if no online version exists) or a link must be provided to an updated handbook. Handbooks must be current (i.e., updated within the last academic year).

The packet should be submitted via e-mail to:  The e-mail subject line must clearly identify the name of the award for which the nomination is made, and the body of the e-mail must identify the individual or program being nominated.

Selection Process

The Graduate School will convene a selection committee with representation from the following groups: college graduate associate deans, graduate program directors, Graduate School associate deans, COGS representatives. The committee will evaluate the nominations and make a recommendation to the Dean, who will make the awards.

 For questions, please contact Kirsten Tollefson, Associate Dean, Graduate School (

Winners of the Graduate School Mentoring Awards