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

24 thoughts on “PhD Admissions: Emailing Potential Advisors

  1. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more about this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people do not speak about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!


  2. Thank you so much for your help. Your tips are really amazing! I hope you can publish more soon. I have just written my CV and need someone to provide me some valuable feedback on that. Would you please help me with this matter and, if possible, send me your email address? I would be greatly appreciative of your valuable help.


  3. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed!
    Very useful information specially the closing section 🙂 I deal with such info much.
    I used to be looking for this particular info for a very lengthy time.
    Thanks and good luck.


  4. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics? Thanks a ton!


  5. Thank you for your information! I am an international student and have a question.
    Is the last sentence of the follow-up email template grammatically correct? I do not see conjunction before “will you?” I would appreciate it if you could help me with English.


  6. Hello, thank you for this post! I am new to all this. I applied to a Master’s program in January. I thought for my particular program that it was not a requirement to secure a supervisor prior to applying. So I didn’t email any professors. Now people are hearing back and one successful applicant shared that I should’ve talked to a potential supervisor. Is it now too late to do that? or since I didn’t get rejection yet, I should go ahead and try emailing some professors? what would you advise? 🙂
    Thank you in advance!


    1. Hi! I don’t think it would hurt to email professors. The worst that could happen is that they don’t respond (which could be the case for several reasons, so I wouldn’t take it personally). Go for it!


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