Frequently Asked Questions - References

The following is a list of frequently asked questions relating to references. If your question is not answered on this website, please email gradstudies@sfu.ca.

* Modifying or Deleting Referee Information (Instructions for Applicants).pdf
Please follow the instructions provided in this document on how to modify or delete referee information in the online application system.

Reference Questions

Is it possible to change my referee information, delete a referee, or add an additional referee after I have completed my application?

  • Yes, it is possible to update your referee information, or delete and add a new referee, after you have submitted your application, as long as the referee in question has not already submitted a reference. Please follow the instructions above on how to modify or delete referee information.
  • Most Graduate applications require three references, however, some departments/programs may allow up to a maximum of five. If you don't see an option to add an additional referee in the reference section found in step 3 (uploading supporting documents), please contact your prospective department.

What kind of information do I need to provide when I submit my referee's information?

When submitting a referee's information the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requires some background information about the referee in order to provide Admissions Committees with enough information to make an informed decision about the applicant. These include:

  • Name
  • Position
  • Organization name
  • Address (work or home)
  • Phone number
  • Email address 

My referee is not receiving the email or has said that the link in the email is not working.

If your referee is not receiving the email, first check your application to make sure you entered their email address correctly. If there is a mistake, please update the email address according to the instructions above on modifying referee information and then send them a reminder email.

If your referee says they have not received the email and the address is correct, please ask them to check junk/spam inboxes. If the issue persists, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies, gradap@sfu.ca

If the referee says that the link within the email is not working or any other technical issues persists, contact the Office of Graduate Studies, gradap@sfu.ca

My referee is having issues with the online reference process and would like to submit the reference another way.

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies prefers that referees use our online reference system to provide reference letters. We do, however, accept sealed hard-copy references sent by mail directly to the program office at the address below and electronic references sent by email to gradap@sfu.ca

Note: Emailed references must come directly from the referee, not from the applicant, and hard copy references must be sealed in the original envelope, preferably with the referee signature across the seal in order to be valid.

Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Maggie Benston Student Services Centre 1100
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5A 1S6

What criteria should I use when selecting a referee?

Referees should be able to make a recommendation regarding your potential performance in a graduate program.

An academic referee should be a professor or instructor/advisor who has taught you or worked with you during your previous studies and is able to comment on your academic ability and suitability for the program to which you are applying.

A professional referee, if used, should be a person in a managerial position whom you believe can adequately assess your work ethic and commitment in the workplace and how they believe it will carry over to your ability to undertake a graduate program.