Credential File FAQs
Credential files include letters of recommendation and other supporting documents that help students with a professional job search or application to graduate/professional schools. If you have completed at least 15 credits at MSU Billings, you are eligible to use this service.
1. Who establishes a credential file?
This service is available to all majors and is an important element of the application process for Education majors seeking teaching positions. Students going on to graduate and professional schools also find it convenient to have all reference materials in one professional document.
2. What’s in a credential file?
The file contains your educational summary and contact information as well as a record of your work history, special skills, and employment objectives. In addition, letters of recommendation from professional reference people complete this snapshot of your skills & abilities.
3. How and when should I start a file?
It’s wise to start compiling file data before your senior year so that you have time to gather information, secure references, and produce a flawless packet of materials. Pick up a printed copy of the file forms at Career Services (LIB 100) or click here.
4. How will I use my file?
When you apply for professional schools or employment, Career Services will send your file to prospective employers when either you or they request it. Call or email us. You can have your file sent 10 times for the initial fee, and additional files for additional fees thereafter.
5. How is a “portfolio” different from a credential file?
A portfolio is a dossier of your very best work: artifacts from student teaching and other professional experience that demonstrate your teaching skills.
6. What about my transcript?
Transcripts are not part of the credential file. Official copies are available from the Registrar’s office, 406-657-2158.
Early in the application process, send an unofficial transcript with your application materials, and if an employer is serious about hiring you, you’ll be asked for an official transcript sent directly from the University.
The Registrar's office can tell you about the fee for official transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are available free from the Registrar or print a copy from the web.
A 2002 MSU Billings survey of 255 Montana school superintendents, funded by the Northwest Association of Employment in Education, had a 58% response rate.
When asked about the importance of the origin of the file, whether it is sent to the employer by the University or by the student, Montana educators responded:
74% OF K-12 HIRING OFFICIALS PREFER THE FILE TO BE MANAGED BY THE CAREER SERVICES OFFICE; 11% PREFER A FILE MANAGED BY THE STUDENT.
Establishing a file with Career Services also enters your name in a database of job-seekers, released to prospective employers upon request.
Confidential vs. Non-Confidential Files
A confidential or closed file contains letters of recommendation that the student may not review. Letters in an open or non-confidential file may be reviewed at any time by the student. You may establish a file of either status.
The student always controls the content of the file and may, in writing, add or delete letters of recommendation at any time. In either case, the file materials are, however, the property of MSU Billings and originals will not be released to the student.
The NWAEE survey also asked MT educators for their preference of confidential/non-confidential file:
69% OF K-12 HIRING OFFICIALS PREFER A CONFIDENTIAL FILE; 19% HAVE NO PREFERENCE; 12% PREFER A NON-CONFIDENTIAL FILE.
At MSU-Bozeman and University of Montana-Missoula, the credential
file policy allows only for the establishment of non-confidential
Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations may review Policies & Procedures.