PhD Admissions: Emailing Potential Advisors

A great way to initiate contact with a potential advisor is by introducing yourself through email! If you are applying to programs where you don’t need an advisor lined up, then you don’t necessarily have to do this step. However, if you are applying to programs where you are expected to have an advisor before you start, this step is especially important. Here are some of my tips for emailing potential advisors as well as the email templates I used:

PRO TIP #1: Make sure there are at least TWO professors whose research aligns with yours at each program you apply to! Only having one is risky because you never know what could happen (e.g., they could get a new position at another university and you don’t want to move with them).


PRO TIP #3: Read at least one recent article by your POI (professor of interest) so that you can mention their work in your email (e.g., one that was published in 2018 or later).

PRO TIP #4: Check the lab/program website BEFORE emailing POIs to make sure it doesn’t already say whether they are accepting students. Also check a professor’s personal website (if they have one).

PRO TIP #5: I sent out emails mid-late October, which I think is a good time to do so. By this time, professors will probably have a sense of whether they will be able to accept a student into their lab. However, if you want to email earlier, that’s also fine.

PRO TIP #6: Don’t be afraid to send follow-up emails if your POIs don’t respond the first time! I sent a few follow-up emails after 2 weeks and received responses from everyone. Also be sure to send the follow-up email in the same thread that you sent your initial email so your POIs can see your previous attempt to reach out. I had a 17/18 (94.4%) success rate with the following email templates, so I hope they work as well for you all!

Initial POI Email Template (Part 1)
Initial POI Email Template (Part 2)
Follow-up POI Email Template

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