How to Email a Professor About Research Opportunities

17 min read

Email a professor

If you are a student trying to pursue your Ph.D. or Masters, you need to know the basics of how to email a professor for research opportunities. Email is the essential medium while approaching a potential supervisor for research opportunities or a scholarship program. 

Your email needs to be polished and concise. You have to put all the information about yourself which is appropriate for this particular program. Does it sound complicated? Do not worry. We’ve got you covered! 

The professors get thousands of emails every day from different students around the world. So your email must stand out from others and get selected. So here are a few tips that you should consider before and while writing a proposal email. 

Also, check out the sample email to get some ideas about how to email a professor for research opportunities.

How to email a professor for research opportunities: 8 tips to remember

Before sending your email to a professor for research opportunities, try to use these 8 tips as a checklist. This will guide your process and help you with the email more efficiently. So that, your email will be outstanding and suitable for the topic.

1. Find your desired program

First of all, you need to think about which program you want to take for your master’s or Ph.D and which university to choose. You can read Important factors on deciding how to choose a university for insight.

The Ph.D. program can be research-based, or it can be a professional doctorate as well. A professional doctorate program does not contain any research experience. Here is the elaborated description of the different types of Ph.D.

So, make up your mind about the program you feel is right for you.

2. Do a detailed research

Before sending emails to the professors, it is important to look for all the details that you need to know. Go through the university websites to search for your potential supervisors. Moreover, you should check their field of work and research projects so that you can match your choice of research with them. 

There are several ways to explore their work via reading their articles & research papers, or attending their webinar, conference, etc.

Before writing an email

3. Subject Line for the email

The first thing that will get noticed by the professor is the subject line of your email. Without a specific subject line, your email can get to the spam folder and remain unnoticed. You have to put the informative subject line so that the professor gets the purpose of the email immediately. The subject line has to be short, precise, and relevant. 

For example, the subject line can be:

Applying for the research opportunity.

Requesting for a Ph.D. Position

Requesting for a master’s opportunity in your research lab.

Inquiry about the master’s program in your department.

4. Body description:

Remember that all the information that you are putting here is going to be a deal breaker for you. So take your time to prepare an email. Here are a few points that are needed to check while writing the body of the email.

Keep it formal

Since you are writing a professional email, you have to maintain a formal tone. Do not use any slang, emoji, emoticons in any part of the email. Try not to use any unnecessary information, which is not required in this aspect.

Research opportunities for masters

How to address a professor in an email

You should not start your email by addressing your professor with “HI ____, or HEY ____’. Using words that sound polite is a mandatory thing when you write to your potential supervisor. For that, You can use Dear before writing the name of the professor. Do not use Mr/ Mrs as they are not appropriate.

For example,

Dear Professor X,

Dear DR. X,

Qualifications and experiences:

While writing the body of the email, you first need to address why you are writing this email in the first place. Then, you have to put all your qualifications and educational background chronologically. Write the experience or skills you have in the research field. If you have any published article or paper, then you need to write about it. In case you don’t have one, do not worry about it! It is not going to make a difference.

After that, you need to write about your interest in this specific research field. You can write about why your experience and interest are valuable for this research opportunity. If you have worked on this topic before, write about it. Or maybe read articles regarding this topic so that you can use precise details about your interest. 

It will help your professor understand that you are a dedicated student who has an actual interest in this research opportunity.

Write your contact information.

If your professor likes your email, they may want to contact you further; therefore, write down your contact information like email ID, contact number, address accurately.

Writing personal information in an email

Conclusion of the email

To conclude your email, you should use appreciative words that will make a good impression on you. Do not use any words that sound harsh. Keep it simple. Finish it by expressing your enthusiasm for this project. Attach your CV and other documents.

For example,

Thank you so much for your time and for reading my email about the research opportunity. Hoping to hear from you soon.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my application for the research internship for this project. I will be honored if I get the opportunity to work with you on this project.

How to write an email

5. Asking for a fund

If you ask for a fund for your Ph.D., you need to elaborate on your research topic precisely and all the costs estimation (if necessary). On the other hand, asking for a fund specifically for your master’s program, as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA), should be addressed clearly on the subject line. 

For this particular set of positions, you may need to add the Statement of purpose (SOP) with the email. Check out this blog to know how to write a statement of purpose.

6. Proofread the email before sending it

After writing everything, you need to check for any spelling and grammatical mistakes. Do not rush about the Email. Write the draft and re-edit it. Before sending it, check all the information thoroughly in case you missed something.

Higher studies

7. Word limits

As you can understand, your professor is an occupied person. Your email has to be direct. About 250-400 works might be good for you. Do not make it long by adding irrelevant information.

8. Wait for the reply from a professor

Last but not least, you have to understand that your potential supervisor is busy with various works. Keep patience! It is entirely okay if they do not reply to you immediately. It is going to take time. 

Even if they do not reply to you back, you should start looking for other options. Do not take it personally. Have patience, be persistent, and send emails to all the universities you like to get in. 

9. Email a potential supervisor Sample

This sample will help you to get an idea about how to email a potential supervisor. It contains the information you have to put in the body of the email, addressing the professor and others. Do not send this email. 

Subject: Applying for the research opportunity.

Dear Dr. X,

Hope this email finds you well. My name is _________. I have recently graduated from the University of _______ with a GPA of 3.8 in Microbiology. I am currently working as a research assistant at the University of _______ under the supervision of Prof. __________. I have published two papers on “ Presence of Microorganism in Rhizosphere soil” and “ Microorganism in different temperatures.” My research interest includes _________. (You can add other experience and skills here)

In my thesis, I worked on the topic “Environmental Microbiology.” And while working on my paper, I came across your research paper about ‘ Biotechnology and Environmental Biology”. I got inspiration from your paper about this topic. I have attended some of your webinars regarding this topic as well. Therefore, I wish to complete my master’s under your supervision. It will be great if I can work in your research program for my master’s program. I have attached my CV and my _______ documents with this email. 

I hope you consider me as a potential candidate for your program. Thank you so much for your time and for reading my email about the research opportunity. Hoping to hear from you soon.


Lara Stevenson

Contact number


These tips will give you an elaborated idea on how to email for research opportunities. Send emails to all the potential supervisors for your research opportunity. But, keep in mind that you should only apply to the program you feel interested in and genuinely prefer their research project for your master’s or Ph.D. 

You should always plan for a plan B and keep going. Good luck! 

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So, let’s summarize everything you read so far:

Infographics - how to email a professor about research opportunities

sadiali9- Blog Author
Bangladesh I am a final-year student in my undergrad program. I am an extroverted person who loves to make friends everywhere. I am passionate about my work and seek new opportunities every day.
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