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Tips for reaching out to prospective advisors

  • Address them by a professional title (“Dear Dr. xxx”)
  • Indicate why you are specifically contacting them. In a couple of sentences, show that you have spent some time learning about their research interests. In some cases, you might only have learned a little bit from their website and be interested in learning more (that’s ok). In other cases, you might be more familiar with their work (e.g., have read some papers or have seen them give a presentation) and have a very specific interest in their lab.
  • Make a clear request. Do you want to know if they are looking to advise a student next year? Do you have questions about their future research? Would you like to meet with them? If you are asking for a meeting, suggest some things that you would like to talk about.
  • Provide additional information. Attaching short CV and/or unofficial transcript is often useful. In a sentence or two, you might also suggest some skills and experiences that you would bring to their program.
  • Show respect for their time. Faculty members often get many requests. You might suggest a 30-minute meeting and offer to arrange the logistics (make the phone call or send a meeting link). Be prepared with specific questions.
  • Ask to speak with other lab members. Talking with current or former students, postdocs or staff members is an excellent way to get a more holistic view of what it would be like to be a member of the lab group.
  • Put your best foot forward! Proofread your email before sending. A second pair of eyes can help – consider asking a friend or mentor read your email and the materials you plan to send.