How to Email Professors

This portion is written by Abdullah Al Maruf, PhD (University of Toronto).

Year of Publication: 2019

©PBSCU Any unauthorized use of this article, including copying or editing is prohibited. If you want to use the article, you need to take permission from us: or from the author and you must mention the author's name and the group's name in all cases.

Some important points about your first E-Mail

First E-Mail says a lot about you.

Follow these instructions:

Advice for Prospective Research Students [Reference for the image] 

Some advice:

Read this valuable advice:

How to Email Professors and Virtually Guarantee the Response:

'Dear Sir Or Madam' Is Not A Smart Way To Apply For Fellowships Or Jobs:

"আমি ২০০ ই-মেইল দিয়েছি, কেউ রিপ্লাই দেয় না"

যারা ই-মেইল করে কানাডা প্রফেসর মেনেজ করেন, তাদের সবারই একটা সময়ে এটা হয়। প্রফেসর এর পেপার পড়ে, সুন্দর করে ২০ টা ই-মেইল দিলেন, কোন রিপ্লাই নাই। মনে মনে প্রফেসর গুলাকে দুইটা গালি দিলেন যে ভাব নেয় শালারা, তর দেশে যামু না। তারপরে একটু পাশের দেশের দিকে নজর দিলেন। পরে মনে হইলো, ও আমার তো GRE স্কোর নাই, ইমিগ্রাসান টাও দরকার। অকি, আবার কানাডা এর প্রফেসারদের ই-মেইল দেয়া শুরু করলেন। আবার দিলেন ২০ টা ই-মেইল। কোন রিপ্লাই নাই। ধুর শালা, এদের নিজেদের মনে করে কি! কিন্তু আপনি ভুলে যান, অল্প কয়েকটা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় এর দেশে কত হাজার স্টুডেন্ট ডেইলি ই-মেইল করে।

"ই-মেইল ওভারলোড" এই শুরু সেখান থেকেই। যেহেতু আপনি বিরক্ত, আপনি সেইম ই-মেইল ১/২ লাইন পরিবর্তন করে গন ই-মেইল দেয়া শুরু করেন। আইডিয়াটা এরকম মেইল দিতে থাকি দেখি কি হয়। এইভাবে গন ই-মেইল এর রিপ্লাই কেও দেবে না, আপনার ইমেল যাবে ডাইরেক্ট স্পাম ফোল্ডার এ। এভাবে আপনি ই-মেইল করলেন, নানা গ্রুপ এ যেয়ে পোস্ট দিলেন, আপনি ২০০ ই-মেইল করেছি, কেউ রিপ্লাই দিলো না। আসলে আপনি ভালোভাবে ই-মেইল দিয়েছেন মাত্র ৪০ টি।

এটা কাটানোর উপায় কি?

This potion has been compiled by Afnan Bin Helal


1. How should I Ask about Admission, Fellowships or Assistantships in Email?

Asking directly that I need admission or funding is a very bad idea. It does not show that you are interested. You have to frame your sentences properly indicating your interest in school and program. Honestly, do not try to just create a fake interest or impression by saying your school is good, blah, blah, blah. Be genuine and write sincerely what you know about the school and what kind of research is at school. Do some homework about school, read the department website and research area, program info. You have to indicate that you are interested in the school because you like so and so stuff and you would like to be part of it. For funding, you may ask like “I like to do research in this area, how is the funding situation for new students in this area ?”. “ Do new students get any assistantships in first semester ?”. By phrasing it this way, you are not being desperate. It is asking in general. Most of the times, professors say, once you arrive here, meet me and we can discuss funding information.

2. What should be the Subject line for Emailing professors for Graduate School Admission?

Subject line is the most important piece of email. Most the emails are not even opened by professors; they just look at subject line and delete them. The main reason is, they get so much email from university, students, research, etc. If you put in subjects like ‘Hello’, ‘Hi’, ‘How are you?’ , ‘admission’, ‘scholarship’, etc. The chances are your email is not even read. They will just delete it. Here are some sample subject lines to email professors for admission:

The key word to mention in subject line is PROSPECTIVE STUDENT. The trick is, no professor would throw away any email if it has prospective student because, you are a potential student to the university and they will read it and reply or forward it right person if they do not know. Think about it, prospective students are the future customers for the School.

3. Why is it important to have a good subject line for emailing Admissions or Professors?

I started my first Graduate (MS) class and the professor handed out the syllabus. The guidelines on the first page under contact section, “ Email Subject should at least say the COURSE NUMBER and some relevant info, if not, Emails will be deleted as SPAM”. I thought to myself “ Oh MY GOD ! none of my emails were read”. Just imagine the situation from a professor perspective, professors teach two to three classes and students they interact with can vary anywhere from 50 – 200, also they are in all the faculty email listings, they get emails from University, Personal emails, advertisement emails, etc… The reality is, there are way too many emails for them to open, read and validate. On top of this, there is a virus threat. So, NO ONE really opens the email if they see anything that is not familiar or really meaningful. Please avoid the subject line as I stated in the beginning. It is same case with admissions department. A university strength can vary from 10,000 to 70,000. Imagine how many people would be applying ? at least 30,000 to 200,000. Admissions do not take time to read every email that does not say any appropriate info about seeking admission. They just delete or put in other list and review later. Overall, the point is, email subject is very critical. In fact, personally I do not read any email if I do not see proper subject line, because I get so many emails…

4. How important this is to put Professors’ Research Information in Email?

Your email should clearly demonstrate that you have a complete understanding about the professors research area and what he actually does in that area. The key thing to understand is, every professor specializes in particular research area and they have research grants only related to that particular research area. They can only consider you for funding, if you are interested in the research they specialize in. When you write an email to professor, you should mention about research and use some technical jargon related to his research area. You may only do that if you have read few research papers that they have written. So, if you can read few research papers of the professors and mention about them in the email, it clearly shows that you have done your homework and they will be interested in at least replying to you. You should try to write your technical interests and be able to tie to back to the research area of the professor. You can mention about your research papers or technical presentations. If you have none, just show your interest by doing some homework about topic. For instance, you may say, “ I am very interested to pursue research in Neural Networks and their impact on real time decisions.” You have to do your homework and write as much research info as you can.

5. Does it really count; English, Grammar and Punctuations in the Email?

I have seen students write emails without using proper English, especially grammar and punctuations. If you do not write email without proper English, it clearly indicates your incompetency and lack of good writing skills. Professors do NOT want to even reply to these kind of emails. They are academicians, writing good English is mandatory to succeed. The expect someone applying to Graduate school to have proper writing skills and ability to articulate your ideas properly. So, be careful when you write email. Do not use chat language like ‘c u then, hw r u ?, life gud…’ . You have to write proper English with proper capitalizations, punctuations, and grammar. If you do not have these, you may not get positive response. In fact, in one of my first graduate classes, one of my professors told us that he will not respond to emails that do not have proper English and we may get negative points too. So, be careful!

6. What to investigate and take action accordingly if my email goes unanswered?

There are many reasons an email might go unanswered. Here’s a list of some of the more common reasons.

They never got your email:

Email does go missing in the ether and can get eaten by a spam filter without anyone realising it. If you don’t hear back in 2-4 weeks, it’s fine to try again. Just review the rest of these points first, and make sure you’re writing the clearest email possible. Choose a clear subject line that doesn’t look like spam.

The email is completely incoherent:

I hope that everyone reading this will avoid this one, but it’s surprisingly common. Some people send off an email with so many misspellings, missing words, and other problems that it’s impossible to figure out what’s going on without taking a great deal of time and energy. Not a high priority for people with a lot else on their plate.

The email is very vague:

Some people send a very general email “I want to learn about Wicca: tell me everything.” Some people have a generic answer they cut and paste to this kind of email – a list of good resources, places to start, discussion forums with lots of people who might have a spare moment to answer. (This website is my partial answer to this.) But if someone doesn’t have that set up, they might not answer.

The email is asking about something the reader can’t offer. For example, someone might ask about training in a totally different area of the country. Again, many people now have a simple reply they can paste in with information on how to find groups in someone’s area, but if they don’t, finding that can take quite some time.

The person is not online much:

It can be easy to forget, but there are lots of people out there who do not live online. Many spend only a few minutes on email most days, or focus on communication with close friends and family, and spend most of their time doing other things. Some people may not have email at home, or might have computer problems, or just be out doing other things.

Whatever the reason, it often means that someone may not answer vague or general emails – and just focus on the very specific ones related to their group.

Some group leaders only answer group-related emails at specific points. Some do it once a week or once a month (unless a crisis or special event comes up, when it might be longer). Some only answer emails about the group when their next training opening comes along. The group I trained with used to save up emails until the next set of introductory classes was scheduled (which might be 3-4 months after the email), though they now send a brief reply with an idea of when the next class might be much more quickly.

7. Any Bad Example?

Here is that sort of email:

“Dear Professor xx, I am a student at XXX College and I’m thinking about graduate school on xxx and I’m getting in touch to ask if you can give me any advice or direction about that.



Another one;

Hi Professor, I’m applying for admission to your university for Fall semester, I’m want to know if you can give me funding?”

These are instant-delete emails.

8. I had clear guidelines, and I tried it in several potential ways but I am yet to get a response? What should I Do now?

Keep breathing, that’s the key. Even if your approach is right the fact is not many professors usually respond to prospective students applying to Masters Degree.

Here is an Example;

Dear Dr.X,

I, XXXXXX, am pursuing bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Anna University, Chennai, India. I am applying for MS(EE) program offered by XXXXX in Fall 2010. I am interested in joining your research group at the Multimedia and Networking Lab.

I studied your article “Hand Gesture-based Computing for Hearing and Speech Impaired,” which appeared in the IEEE Multimedia Magazine. I am currently working on a voice controlled robot for physically challenged persons. I am very much interested in the part that deals with generation of gestures from speech input. I would like to contribute to your work in that area.

Will you be accepting students into your lab for the year 2010? I would be glad if you could direct me to few other related publications.

Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

The email was good but the Professor replied;

You can touch base after you arrive here. However, I do not have any funding for Masters’ students.

9. What are the Basic rules/ tips to follow while emailing Professors?

There are some basics you have to remember before you start to think about emailing. Most of these apply for emailing professors for the first time. I have explained few of them in previous articles. I will summarize them and list them as rules.

· Have good subject line.

· No grammar or spelling mistakes.

· Proper punctuations, capitalization, etc. Good English.

· No long emails. Should be around 5 to 7 sentences or less.

· Email only on week days ( think of weekdays in US)

· Do NOT attach anything like resume or you research paper, etc( in first email)

· Read few research papers published by the professor before emailing.

· Use proper technical jargon related to their research

· Refer to professor as “Dr. LAST NAME of Professor”. No Dear or Hi, etc.

· Try to highlight the key research area or your project by bold or underline.

· Do NOT refer to local companies or anything that is local to your country.

· Do NOT ask directly if you will get funding in first email.

Three basic guidelines for emailing professors at prospective graduate programs:



“Dear Dr. XXX,

I am a student at XXX College with a major in xxx. I am a [junior] and will be graduating next May. I have a [4.0 GPA] and experience in our college’s [summer program in xxx/internship program in xxx/Honors College/etc.].

I am planning to attend graduate school in xxx, with a focus on xxx. In one of my classes, “xxx,” which was taught by Professor XXX, I had the chance to read your article, “xxxx.” I really enjoyed it, and it gave me many ideas for my future research. I have been exploring graduate programs where I can work on this topic. My specific project will likely focus on xxxx, and I am particularly interested in exploring the question of xxxxx.

I hope you don’t mind my getting in touch, but I’d like to inquire whether you are currently accepting graduate students. If you are, would you willing to talk to me a bit more, by email or on the phone, or in person if I can arrange a campus visit, about my graduate school plans? I have explored your department’s graduate school website in detail, and it seems like an excellent fit for me because of its emphasis on xx and xx, but I still have a few specific questions about xx and xxx that I’d like to talk to you about.

I know you’re very busy so I appreciate any time you can give me. Thanks very much,




Dear Professor Last Name or Dear Dr. Last Name,

My name is /First Name/ and I am a current student at /University or College Name/ . As part of my Undergraduate project work with Professor Dr.XYZ implementing x y and z methods using technologies, ….

I am contacting you because I’m applying to programs in Major this . My research interests are in A, B, and C…

From your web page I saw that that you have done research on project x and y. Because of our similar interests, your lab is one of the ones I am intrigued by at Graduate University. If you will be accepting any students into your lab for the 2007-2008 year? I’d be interested in hearing more about your particular lab and getting in touch with some of your current students.

If not, can you recommend other professors with similar interests who will be accepting students? If you are accepting new students, Please feel free to direct me towards your most recent research (manuscripts, etc) as well.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best Wishes,


DO’s and DONT'S


**This document is written from these documents**