11 Tips to Follow While Writing an Email to Professor

Guest Post by Reader A about Tips to Follow While Writing an Email to Professor for Admission.


Email to Professor for Admission (Tips)

  • As I said, check out their homepage and get an idea of what research they do. Check out their most recent papers and read the abstracts of some (slim chance you would get the whole paper anyway)!


  • Prepare a short concise CV stating your experience and exposure. Don’t keep superfluous information like your 10th 12th percentages, GRE/TOEFL scores, some sport trophy or a fancy-dress competition u won in junior school or that you won the Fresher’s pageant in your freshman year.
    • Keep only that which shows that you have the requisite potential for continuing a research on his project.
    • Mention your overall GPA, if its decent, else not (or convert it to 4-scale, looks better.
    • Limit this CV to two pages. Attach this CV with your mail. (Resume Format India vs USA)
    • The cute-little paper clip symbol beside your mail may assure them you are just not another spammer, that you are serious and might stop your mail from getting deleted!
    • State your interest in their work and how you got to know about them (the papers you read!) and what work would/could do under their guidance.
    • Keep off those jargons out of your CV. They’ll know you are an empty pot clanging about.
    • If you do have to mention them, you should be able to justify them.
  • Be humble in writing email to professor for admission, but don’t be desperate. Like acting too flatteringly, being servile or overtly officious. Don’t give them the impression in your email to professor for admission that all your hopes are pinned on their reply.
  • Behave as if you have other options while  and you are trying out them all for size. But yeah…keep a check on the attitude….too much of it screws it too.
  • Keep it simple, informal and sweet! And don’t ask for funding at the first go. Just say you are interested to work on their project!
  • Never mail two profs from two different departments in the same university. I’d like to add that it’d be better if you don’t mail two professor’s from the same university simultaneously. Wait for sometime, if they don’t reply, mail the next.
  • Address them as “Professor”. Don’t send out ones that start with “Sir” or “Madam” that indicate copy-pasted jobs. Write as if the email is exclusively meant for them. ( Read this –  Golden Rules of Writing Effective Emails. )
  • Indicate you are interested while emailing professors for admission for PhD or MS and PhD, because it’s assumed that MS students won’t take their research seriously. (Reason: PhD needs a mandatory thesis and research record, MS mostly doesn’t )
  • If professor’s gives you a seemingly positive reply in their email, mention their names in your app ( some apps ask you the names of the prof you would like to work with) and/or in your SOP.
  • If you mention their name in SOP and application, be sure what you boasted about in your email to professor for admission matches what you say in your SOP. Like the mail states you want to work in VLSI and it transforms to AI in your SOP. That’s inviting rejection. Sample SOPs
  • Don’t mail on weekends.  By the time they check it on Monday,your email will be piled upon by a ton of other emails from students like you. And it will be deleted. Mail them on weekdays, during working hours. THEIR working hours,not yours!

That’s all I can think of for now.

Enough with the tips on writing email to professor for admission.

Never be disheartened if they don’t reply back. They get tons of mails and most of them ignore them. I myself had to send out so many before I got a reply.

Current ratio of replies?

Send out 30 to 40 emails and expect one reply. And that’s considered high. So don’t give up, be an optimist and stick at it. Good times will follow!

Email to Professor’s : Series

Following series of articles will give further information about contacting professors before Graduate School Admission ( Both Masters and PhD Degree).

  1. How to contact Professor for Graduate School Admission
  2. Think Twice Before Contacting Professors via Email for Admission
  3. 11 Tips to Follow While Writing an Email to Professor ( this article )
  4. Email Template to Contact Graduate School Professors
  5. Sample Letter to Get Funding From University in USA
  6. I Sent Email And Got Favorable Response From Professors
  7. Reply from Professor is Disappointing About Grad School Admission


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  1. I mailed some Professors. One of them replied as He don’t have openings now but encourage you to apply nonetheless.Is it a positive reply or negative. What should I do if a professor don’t reply? May I contact other Professors of that university? Please suggest me something friends. HSB, please give your input.Thank you.

  2. I got admission with Illinois Institute of Technology for MSC in IT(Spring 2012) but with no assistanship. What do you guys think I can do to get funding cos the tuision fee is much $34,000. Can I still mail a prof. for reacher and defer the admission for fall 2012 so that i can get funding. Pls, help me suggest what i can do. thanks.

    1. Am also going to IIT, Chicago for spring 2012 and I got a fellowship worth 9500$ per annum that is half of my tuition fee.

  3. Tnx to you all Indians.
    I`m from Iran and have got a lot of helps from you.
    About mailing to Prof, I have to say that it`s a really demanding part of apply .I had e-mail to some Prof.s before having my exams and applying. But responded emails urged me to apply to the university and that`s the point the applicants should mention.
    Another point is that for you ” Indian Prof.s ” over there in the US can help you very much. They preferably respond to you as Indians .so, you need to show yourselves in the subject of the mail.
    I hope the best luck for you,

  4. I have always had one BIG doubt, what is a good subject line while writing email to professors. Something that is not desperate and doesn’t prompt them to delete it right away.

    1. Yes that is a good question!

      Dear HSB/AM,

      what must be the Subject line! It highlights the mail and can be previewed without opening the mail!

      1. @Manal: well….m undecided about that too. sometimes I go for “request for internship” or “request for info” n smtyms when I get frustrated or chicken out, i leave it blank!! 😀
        sorry cant help u on this! 🙁

        @Vijay: u got into Wichita rght?? why in d world do you need this info now?? 😀

      2. Yes, HSB please suggest some Subject lines too because everyone would look at the subject first then care to open the mail.

    1. Do you want to write a post without mistakes? When someone (reader) takes time to contribute what they have learned, you have to appreciate their effort.

        1. @HSB: thanks a lot, for the support!! 😀 m/

          @Ravi: aaargh!! its a gal! d whole world is so damned sexist!! 🙁

          @Vignesh: and now you. read my previous posts. i have clearly mentioned I shall be posting tips given by a professor X. and here they are. if u think you have better knowledge about writing mails than a prof, I suggest you stop wasting your time on commenting on posts of ciphers like us and write a “mistake-free” post yourself!! 🙂

  5. I would like to add that most universities in U.S.A offering graduate programs in fields like Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biology make it mandatory for students to be enrolled in a thesis course in order to get a M.S degree.

  6. What is the best time to mail the professors and get in touch….
    I’m taking GRE on 9th Nov and TOEFL on 11th Dec..

    How exactly one should approach emailing professors..?
    how long it should be..
    should it be like small essay with resume as an attachment..?
    If its like a small essay…
    What should be its body about..means.. the past educational life of the interests in future….. ??
    Thanks in advance..

    1. Hi HSB,

      I have the same doubt. When should one approach professors .. after the applications are sent (for future course) or before sending applications and include it in Sop? What is the main idea of contacting profs?

      1. hi. am aiming for the Ph.D. of spring/fall 2012 (whichever works out for the best with best opportunities) and I started approaching the professors for advisor-ship once I gave my exams (GRE /TOEFL) and decided on the universities where am going to apply. In my mail subject, I mentioned the course and the dept which I was interested in.
        In the content, I mentioned my scores first and then explained my interest in the concerned speciality. Mentioned about how I went thru all the faculty CVs of their univ and liked their CV the most becz of which all studies and publications of theirs. I also mentioned in depth abt what I loved about their studies and how I can contribute towards it.
        I also attached my USA style resume (the tips for which I found all thanks to HSB) and sent the mail hoping for a positive response. I got back a positive mail within 2 days.
        Their speed of responding is too good and even when are full for the course and can’t take any more students under them for advisor-ship, they mention it politely too. Even if u mail the admission officers of the universities, they are very friendly and helpful in guiding u as to how to go about things.
        Some prof show interest, then they ask you to apply to the univ and then get back to them. So I did the same. Best time to mail them would be Monday evenings in India which will be Monday morning for them and they will just be checking their mails. your mail will then be on the top of the heap and you will get back your reply from them sooner!!

        All the best and I will keep posting more stuff as and when things happen 🙂

    2. @shreyas: keep it shot and simple. dont write essays. Sahana has written it well and perfectly. Follow it!

      @sahana: thanks a ton!! helped me too!! 😀 🙂

  7. I had mailed to one of the profs. from UCB. He replied saying, “You are welcome to apply to our department for admission – the selection process is very competitive.”. So should I apply and see ? (I have relevant experience in this area.)

    1. @prashanth: i got xactly same replies from a couple or so of univs 🙁
      apply anyway and hope someone better doesnt show up!! 😀
      ps: what’s ur area?

        1. @ Prashanth, hi , I am also applying for nanotechnology. Could you plz tell me which univs are good for that subject? I have searched some univs but want to check with others who are applying for same subject. Thank you

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