Example Email To Professor

email to professor
Writing an email to professor as a grad school applicant can seem daunting, but should be fun! Here’s how to ensure you start off on the right foot.

First, if you haven’t read through our “Should I contact a professor before applying?” post, do that now. In all likelihood you don’t need to contact any faculty before applying to graduate school. If you’ve already read through it and decided you need to send an email to professor, then read on!
Many timid students fear faculty contact. They feel like they’re wasting their precious time and are desperately afraid of appearing stupid. They also tend to over-estimate the power any given faculty member has in the grand scheme of things. As a consequence professors are regularly inundated with truly awful emails inquiring about graduate student openings. What makes an email awful? Primarily lack of information, often only 3-4 generic lines. Applicants often assume that this type of email is less likely to annoy them.

 

Example Email To Professor: BAD

“Dear Professor XYZ,

My name is Jane Doe and I’m planning on applying to the University of XYZ for my PhD this coming year. I have looked over your research page and am very interested in several of your current projects. My background is in _________  and I’d like to stay within that subfield for my graduate education. If accepted, I’d be very interested in coming to work with you, and was wondering if you would be accepting any students this year.

Thanks so much for your time,

Jane Doe


 

What’s wrong with this? Well, ironically, it’s a massive waste of that professors time. There is no useful information about the applicant. What’s the faculty member supposed to respond with? Most won’t take the time to respond at all. You need to be aware of how busy faculty are and how many emails they get every year. If you’re seriously interested in working with someone, approach them with the same courtesy you’d offer a close friend. Give them all the information they might need or want, be specific about what you’re asking them, and be assertive about your expectations.
The general rule to follow is this: only email someone if you legitimately have questions you wish to ask them that can’t be answered any other way. If this statement describes your situation, your email will reflect that.

 

Example Email To Professor: Good

“Dear Professor XYZ,

I am a student at XYZ College with a major in xxx.  I just graduated this May with a [4.0 GPA]. I have experience in our college’s [summer program in xxx/internship program in xxx/Honors College/etc.]. In addition I’ll be spending this next year honing my xxx skills at an internship with xxxx. Attached to this email is a copy of my detailed CV.

I am planning to attend graduate school in xxx, with a focus on xxx.  In one of my classes, “xxx,” I had the chance to read your article, “xxxx.”  I really enjoyed it, and it gave me a lot of ideas for my research direction. I’ve tried to get exposure to this topic through various research opportunities this last year, including xxx and xxxx. I am excited about the prospect of delving further into the subject in graduate school. My hope is to utilize my skills in (python, wet labs, fluency in latin, etc) to contribute to this area.

I have been exploring graduate programs with opportunities in this field, which is what drewn me to University of XXXXX.  I am particularly interested in exploring the question of [field specific technical details] and your department/lab/group has [unique detail about that specific group]. Because your department/lab/group is one of the only places in the world I can study this topic with such depth, I’m very excited about the potential to join your group.

I wanted to get in touch with you directly to see if you were planning on accepting graduate students for Fall 20XX admission?  If you are, would you willing to talk to me a bit more by email or in person about your research plans?  I have explored your department’s graduate school website in detail, and it seems like an excellent fit for me because of its emphasis on xx and xx. I still have a few specific questions about xxx and xxx that I’d like to talk to you about, if at all possible.

I know you’re very busy, so I appreciate any time you can give me.  Thanks very much.

Sincerely,

John Doe


Why is this email good?  Because it conveys that you are serious and well qualified and most importantly gives them something to remember about you.  It shows that you have done thorough research and utilized all the freely available information on the website before writing them.  It outlines your specific plans, which have yielded specific questions.  It shows that you are familiar with the professor’s work and that you respect their time.
All of these attributes will make your email and name stand out, and dramatically increase your chances of getting a timely, thorough, and friendly response. Ultimately helping you to build the kind of relationship that leads to great advisement.
If the professor doesn’t respond in a week or so, send a follow up email gently reminding them of your initial email, and asking again for their response.  If they ignore you again, that’s not a great sign.  That said, Professors are busy and distracted, and it may take a little extra effort to get through, wait another 3-4 weeks and try again. If you still don’t hear back, best to move on. You don’t want to work with a professor that can’t be bothered to discuss their work with students!

 

 

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Example Email To Professor

email to professor July 10th, 2016
Writing an email to professor as a grad school applicant can seem daunting, but should be fun! Here’s how to ensure you start off on the right foot.

First, if you haven’t read through our “Should I contact a professor before applying?” post, do that now. In all likelihood you don’t need to contact any faculty before applying to graduate school. If you’ve already read through it and decided you need to send an email to professor, then read on!
Many timid students fear faculty contact. They feel like they’re wasting their precious time and are desperately afraid of appearing stupid. They also tend to over-estimate the power any given faculty member has in the grand scheme of things. As a consequence professors are regularly inundated with truly awful emails inquiring about graduate student openings. What makes an email awful? Primarily lack of information, often only 3-4 generic lines. Applicants often assume that this type of email is less likely to annoy them.

 

Example Email To Professor: BAD

“Dear Professor XYZ,

My name is Jane Doe and I’m planning on applying to the University of XYZ for my PhD this coming year. I have looked over your research page and am very interested in several of your current projects. My background is in _________  and I’d like to stay within that subfield for my graduate education. If accepted, I’d be very interested in coming to work with you, and was wondering if you would be accepting any students this year.

Thanks so much for your time,

Jane Doe


 

What’s wrong with this? Well, ironically, it’s a massive waste of that professors time. There is no useful information about the applicant. What’s the faculty member supposed to respond with? Most won’t take the time to respond at all. You need to be aware of how busy faculty are and how many emails they get every year. If you’re seriously interested in working with someone, approach them with the same courtesy you’d offer a close friend. Give them all the information they might need or want, be specific about what you’re asking them, and be assertive about your expectations.
The general rule to follow is this: only email someone if you legitimately have questions you wish to ask them that can’t be answered any other way. If this statement describes your situation, your email will reflect that.

 

Example Email To Professor: Good

“Dear Professor XYZ,

I am a student at XYZ College with a major in xxx.  I just graduated this May with a [4.0 GPA]. I have experience in our college’s [summer program in xxx/internship program in xxx/Honors College/etc.]. In addition I’ll be spending this next year honing my xxx skills at an internship with xxxx. Attached to this email is a copy of my detailed CV.

I am planning to attend graduate school in xxx, with a focus on xxx.  In one of my classes, “xxx,” I had the chance to read your article, “xxxx.”  I really enjoyed it, and it gave me a lot of ideas for my research direction. I’ve tried to get exposure to this topic through various research opportunities this last year, including xxx and xxxx. I am excited about the prospect of delving further into the subject in graduate school. My hope is to utilize my skills in (python, wet labs, fluency in latin, etc) to contribute to this area.

I have been exploring graduate programs with opportunities in this field, which is what drewn me to University of XXXXX.  I am particularly interested in exploring the question of [field specific technical details] and your department/lab/group has [unique detail about that specific group]. Because your department/lab/group is one of the only places in the world I can study this topic with such depth, I’m very excited about the potential to join your group.

I wanted to get in touch with you directly to see if you were planning on accepting graduate students for Fall 20XX admission?  If you are, would you willing to talk to me a bit more by email or in person about your research plans?  I have explored your department’s graduate school website in detail, and it seems like an excellent fit for me because of its emphasis on xx and xx. I still have a few specific questions about xxx and xxx that I’d like to talk to you about, if at all possible.

I know you’re very busy, so I appreciate any time you can give me.  Thanks very much.

Sincerely,

John Doe


Why is this email good?  Because it conveys that you are serious and well qualified and most importantly gives them something to remember about you.  It shows that you have done thorough research and utilized all the freely available information on the website before writing them.  It outlines your specific plans, which have yielded specific questions.  It shows that you are familiar with the professor’s work and that you respect their time.
All of these attributes will make your email and name stand out, and dramatically increase your chances of getting a timely, thorough, and friendly response. Ultimately helping you to build the kind of relationship that leads to great advisement.
If the professor doesn’t respond in a week or so, send a follow up email gently reminding them of your initial email, and asking again for their response.  If they ignore you again, that’s not a great sign.  That said, Professors are busy and distracted, and it may take a little extra effort to get through, wait another 3-4 weeks and try again. If you still don’t hear back, best to move on. You don’t want to work with a professor that can’t be bothered to discuss their work with students!

 

 

Email to professor made easy!

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