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How to Find a Supervisor for Your PhD Program: Tips and Sample Emails

So, you’ve decided to pursue a PhD – congratulations! This is a significant undertaking, but also an exciting opportunity to delve deep into a subject you are passionate about and make a real contribution to your field.

One of the first steps in the process of applying for a PhD program is finding a supervisor. Your supervisor will play a key role in your academic journey, providing guidance, support, and mentorship as you complete your research and dissertation.

But how do you go about finding a supervisor and reaching out to potential mentors? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Identify your research interests and goals: Before you start reaching out to potential supervisors, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to study and what you hope to accomplish with your PhD. Consider your academic background, research experience, and long-term career goals to narrow down your focus and determine what type of supervisor would be the best fit for you.
  2. Research potential supervisors: Once you have a sense of what you want to study, start doing some research on potential supervisors. Look for professors or researchers at universities or organizations who are working in your area of interest and have a track record of mentoring PhD students. You can also reach out to your network of colleagues, professors, and peers to get recommendations and learn about potential supervisors.
  3. Reach out to potential supervisors: Once you’ve identified a few potential supervisors, it’s time to reach out and introduce yourself. This can be intimidating, but it’s important to be professional and respectful in your communication. Here are two sample emails you can use as a starting point:

Formal Email:

Subject: Inquiry about PhD Supervision

Dear Professor [Last Name],

I am writing to inquire about the possibility of working with you as my PhD supervisor. I am very interested in the research you are doing on [research topic] and believe that your expertise and guidance would be invaluable to me as I pursue my PhD.

I have a [degree] in [field] from [university] and have previously worked on [research experience]. I am confident that my skills and experience make me a strong candidate for your supervision.

I would be grateful if you could let me know if you are accepting PhD students at this time, and if so, if you would be willing to consider me as a potential candidate.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

Funny Email:

Subject: PhD Supervision Inquiry – No Pressure 🙂

Hi Professor [Last Name],

I hope this email finds you well and not too overwhelmed with the many, many requests you probably receive from eager PhD hopefuls like myself.

Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself and express my interest in potentially working with you as my supervisor. I am currently pursuing a [degree] in [field] at [university] and am really excited about the opportunity to dive deeper into [research topic] through a PhD program.

I think your research on [specific project] is absolutely fascinating and believe that your guidance and mentorship would be invaluable to me as I embark on this journey. Plus, I heard that you have a great sense of humor, which is always a plus in a supervisor (in my opinion).

I understand if you are not accepting PhD students at this time, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. If you are interested, I would love the opportunity to discuss my research interests and goals with you further.


you for considering my request and for all the amazing work you do in the field.

Sincerely, [Your Name]

  1. Follow up: If you don’t hear back from a potential supervisor after sending your initial email, it’s okay to follow up once or twice. Just be sure to give them a reasonable amount of time to respond and be respectful of their schedule. You can also consider reaching out to other potential supervisors if you don’t hear back from your top choices.
  2. Keep an open mind: It’s natural to have a preference for certain supervisors, but it’s important to keep an open mind and consider all of your options. Don’t be afraid to approach professors or researchers who may not be in your exact field of interest – they may have valuable insights and connections that can benefit your research.

Applying for a PhD and finding a supervisor can be a daunting process, but it’s also an exciting opportunity to pursue your passion and make a meaningful contribution to your field. By doing your research, reaching out to potential supervisors, and keeping an open mind, you can find the right mentor to guide you on your academic journey.

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