Contacting Professors

Contacting Professors You Want to Work With


Should you email grad school professors?  This can be appropriate, but could also be a detriment. Some get several hundred emails each year from prospective graduate students.


No, don’t do it …

If your intent is focused only on trying to get your name in front of the professor to get an edge for admissions, don’t.

If you are considering sending one email to a large list of professors, don’t.

If you’re seeking info about the program, contact the graduate admissions office or program director, rather than a faculty member. 


Yes, it could be appropriate!

If you have a genuine interest in working with certain professors based on your knowledge of them and what they do, then it could be a good connection. Have a real reason; don’t make up something.



Only after you’ve thoroughly read their web pages, know their research, and have a well-thought out reason for the contact.

You want to write a concise email: brief so they’ll actually read it, but not so vague that your interest seems unfounded.

Explain that you plan to apply to their program based on its strengths in …..  
Mention what research (or courses)  caught your attention.
If you’ve studied what this professor is researching or known for, mention that. 
You can briefly discuss your future plans and introduce your questions about how your interests in a particular area might fit with the professor’s current research agenda.

Some say to not include your resume/CV as it’s too much; others say to include it as more information that the professor can read if the pofesor is interested, and leave if not interested or disinclined to take the time.

Look for the balance between being interested and enthusiastic, and being professional and grounded.


More Great Resources

Check out Jacquelyn Gills’s blog, the Contemplative Mammoth, for a great email example and further info on this process:

And Karen Kelsky’s Blog, The Professor is In, for more good info on this topic: -