Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Medicine

Referee Guidelines

Use this page to determine how many referees are required for a new faculty appointment and obtain resources for soliciting letters of recommendation.

The Department of Medicine Faculty Affairs no longer solicits reference letters for new faculty appointments.

Use the chart below to determine whether the solicitation of reference letters is the responsibility of the Division or the Dean's office. In cases where the Division is responsible for obtaining reference letters, the referee list should always be reviewed by the DOM FA before the referees are contacted.

Required Referees by Appointment Rank (for New Regular Faculty Appointments)


# of Required Referees*

Who Contacts

Lecturer (PT/CS, NTE)None required-----
Adjunct (CS, NTE)None required-----
Instructor (FT/PT/CS, NTE)None required-----

Assistant Professor

FT/PT/CS, NTE4 external **Division
FT, Tenure Eligible4 externalDivision

Associate Professor

PT/CS, NTE5 external**Division
FT, NTE5 externalDivision
FT, Tenure Eligible6 externalDivision
FT, Tenured8-10 externalFSM


PT/CS, NTE6 externalDivision
FT, NTE6-8 externalFSM
FT, Tenured8-10 externalFSM

* Internal referees are optional and may be included in addition to the required number of external referees, but their statements are not weighted as heavily as those of external referees. All referees must hold appointments with a rank at least as high as the proposed appointment.

** If the appointment is on the Clinical Scholar track, referees from within Northwestern University but outside the Department of Medicine (or at least outside the Division) may be used. However, referees from outside NU are preferred and their statements are weighted more heavily than internal referees. If internal referees are used, it is best to obtain them from multiple departments and at least some of the referees should be from outside NU.

Soliciting Reference Letters

When the responsibility for soliciting offer letters rests with the Division, please follow these steps:

  1. Ask the candidate to complete the referee table to supply a list of referees who can be contacted for letters of recommendation. We recommend that the candidate supply more than the minimum number of referee names, as referees do not always respond in a timely manner.

  2. Submit the list of referee names to the DOM FA for review to ensure that the referees are appropriate for the proposed appointment.

  3. After the DOM FA approves the referee list, contact the referees via email to request letters of recommendation. Past experience suggests that three weeks is a realistic timeframe within which to obtain the letters, and this is best accomplished by first giving the referees a two week deadline. Then on the date of the deadline, contact any referees who have not responded and extend the deadline another week. You may wish to use the following resources to solicit reference letters:

    Sample Letter of Solicitation:

    Solicit reference letters via email using this template.

    Referee Data Spreadsheet:

    Enter referee data and then import it into the above letter using mail merge.

    Appointment Criteria:

    Attach the appropriate appt criteria for the proposed rank to your email.