Blog > How to Approach Professors for a research program (includes Sample Email) by Sara Sultan PhD Scholar in USA

How to Approach Professors for a research program (includes Sample Email) by Sara Sultan PhD Scholar in USA

Email profs

How to contact Professors:

I’m writing this post on the request of a student and hope it benefits you all. Here are some tips to contact professors. But you should plan ahead of time. If you are planning to apply for the fall semester, usually deadlines are in late January. Only a few have in Feb and March. For that, you should be contacting professors in late November. Before Thanksgiving is the best time to contact. Let’s have a look at the whole thing.

1. Always do some shortlisting first. Go through the university website. Find a few professors according to your research interests and experience. 
2. Dig deep into their published work and ongoing projects. 
3. Look for the research group they are working with and find graduate students already working ad RA with them. Email the students, ask for recommendations, new projects and funding availability. 
4. Work on your CV and organize a research profile if you have a few publications and worked on several research projects. 
5. Find a way to connect your interests with professor’s or choose something from his domain which should be related to your experience somehow. It is not necessary that he should be working on the exact same topic as you but it should be relevant. 
6. Finally, write a decent and comprehensive draft to send him an email. It shouldn’t be too long and extra detailed but always give a nice introduction. 
7. Don’t forget to attach your Cv, research profile and statement of purpose or research plan in the email. Also if possible, you should have a portfolio on a website like Weebly, WordPress etc., where you can add projects, experiences, and recommendations. 
8. If you have publications, DO make a google scholar profile and research gate profile. 
9. Don’t directly ask for funding. If they accept you as a student in their group, let them talk about it later. 
Below I’m including a simple draft as an example:

Dear Prof. Trelles,

I hope this email finds you in good health. I am contacting you as a prospective student in your department. My research interests based on my relevant experience and research match your research area and I’m confident that I can contribute significantly to your research growth.

I’m Sara Sultan from Pakistan. I have earned an undergraduate degree in Physics and masters in Energy System Engineering (specialization in Solar Energy). I also conducted joint research at Oregon State University during my graduate studies as an exchange student. I am considering applying to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (Francis) Ph.D. program in Energy Engineering and would be interested in joining your research group.

I have achieved 'Excellent' in master's thesis (overall top thesis) with 3.5/4 CGPA (top in the Thermal group and overall 5th/30 rank). I have presented six research articles in international conferences and four articles are under review for journals. I was awarded research assistantship at during masters and have worked on nanoparticles synthesis & stability analysis of nanofluids and analysis of thermal energy systems (Solar water heating system, solar thermal power plant, and gas geyser optimization). I worked on analysis and efficiency improvement of a water desalination system employing the direct use of solar energy as my MS thesis which can be helpful in my Ph.D. studies. My detailed CV and research profile is attached to this email and I can provide more information about me if you want.

I find nanostructured materials fascinating research areas. As my Ph.D. research, I want to develop a graphene-based membrane for water treatment applications. High costs and low efficiency of desalination systems pose new challenges with time. I wish to discuss the possibilities with you in the days to come.

Are you accepting new students this semester? I would be obliged to join your research group.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Sultan | Energy Engineer
U.S-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy

National University of Science &Technology - NUST.
Sector H-12 Islamabad, 44000, Pakistan


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