Jump to content

Do I email prospective advisors directly or go through the department?


Recommended Posts

Well, exactly what the title is. Should I email the director of graduate studies and the department first and then contact the specific individual or can I skip straight to that person?

Edited by warpspeed
Link to post
Share on other sites

There is nothing stopping you from going straight to a potential advisor. If you've thoroughly researched the program and its faculty, then you've likely identified a few whose research interests align with yours. Extend an initial greeting letting them know that you've read [insert paper here] and are really interested in their work. Mention when you plan to apply to the department. If they respond and tell you to go through a gate keeper (program coordinator), then go back that route. However, you've already opened the door and gotten your name in front of them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would email the potential advisor. Unlike the common advice here, I don't think you need to indicate that you've read his/her articles or book in an initial correspondence. Just demonstrating that you are interested in pursuing that area of research because it goes well with your particular interests (and say what both of these are) is enough. Or, I should say, it worked for me both times I applied. I had never read any of my current advisor's work when I first emailed him. But I knew enough about his work to know that we use similar theoretical frameworks and methodologies and that my research would fit nicely with the research of his other grad students. All that "I read your paper on X and found it so fascinating" is just sucking up, which I guess could be to your advantage but isn't necessary (do you really want to work with someone that you have to suck up to over and over? I sure as hell don't and wouldn't).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I would email the potential advisor. Unlike the common advice here, I don't think you need to indicate that you've read his/her articles or book in an initial correspondence. Just demonstrating that you are interested in pursuing that area of research because it goes well with your particular interests (and say what both of these are) is enough. Or, I should say, it worked for me both times I applied. I had never read any of my current advisor's work when I first emailed him. But I knew enough about his work to know that we use similar theoretical frameworks and methodologies and that my research would fit nicely with the research of his other grad students. All that "I read your paper on X and found it so fascinating" is just sucking up, which I guess could be to your advantage but isn't necessary (do you really want to work with someone that you have to suck up to over and over? I sure as hell don't and wouldn't).

Seconded.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd agree most strongly with rising_star. I don't think reading a few papers is a necessity for e-mailing a prospective PI; it's nice for your own knowledge, but I never said, "I read such-and-such and want to be part of your lab."

What I did do, however, was identify a minimum of two or three PIs at schools I was interested in. I then sent them an e-mail that said, essentially, "I'm interested in your work, I've done (insert related work) in the past, and--as I'm an applicant for this cycle--I was wondering if you're currently accepting graduate students." After I applied, I then referenced these professors in my statement of purpose to give the sense of continued interest in the program.

Long story short: don't go through the department, e-mail directly if you're interested in. You'll likely get mostly one-line responses, but you'll occasionally get a really helpful response (a PI in my current program, for example, wrote a two-paragraph rundown of his colleague's research interests I might be interested in).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.