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Does this look good for a template letter to send out to potential advisors


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Looking for some constructive criticism about this letter, as you can see by my GRE score, English is not my strongest feature. I am not really even sure what the content of the letter should be, but I got a general idea from one grad school site. Hopefully indentation works.

Dr. A,

I am interested in entering the field of_____________, and I hope to find out if you have any room to accept graduate students into your lab. I looked into some of your work and found it to be very exciting; I especially took interest in the paper on_____________.(at this point I’ll take time to explain what was so interesting).

I am a good student with strong work ethic. I took the general GRE and scored a 460 on verbal and 710 on quantitative; I have not yet taken the biology subject GRE, but I will be taking it in October.

I currently hold a cumulative GPA of 3.797, and have taken many classes above and beyond the basic requirements for a biology undergraduate degree form (my college), including classes in math, physics, and chemistry. Furthermore, I have received over $10,000 in merit based science scholarships, over $8,000 of which came from the National Science Foundation’s STEM scholarship.

I have a great interest in research, and I have been involved in an ongoing project in circadian rhythm and metabolism. I have learned a bit about how a research project goes from an idea to reality, from the logistics of obtaining materials, to the care of a running experiment and taking data. I have also committed to assisting in a molecular biology research lab this coming fall to expand my research experience in preparation for graduate school.

I am also interested in learning if the department offers any support in the form of a stipend for graduate students who help out with research or teaching, and what conditions would need to be met for such a stipend. Also, if there is tuition funding by scholarship or research grant, I would love to hear about that as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and hopefully we will be in contact in the near future.


Student A

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I would suggest asking about funding after you get a reply. I think the e-mail is good up until that paragraph.

This is an exact copy of the e-mails I sent:

My name is _____ and I am in my final year of Mechanical Engineering at the University of ____. I am planning to pursuing a M.A.Sc. degree at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies starting in September 2011.

I am interested in the field of computational aerodynamics. I am currently completing a project that involves the use of CFD and wind tunnel testing to design the wing root fillet to reduce drag on an aerobatic aircraft (the Edge 540 V3). This is a full year experimental design project.

For my Masters thesis I would be interested in researching similar topics. I am contacting you regarding potential thesis topics. I have attached my transcript and curriculum vitae. If you would like any additional information please contact me.

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



I then attached my CV and transcript

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As brief as possible, and attachment free (is what I've heard from Profs). Most PIs I know get in the range of 50-100 e-mails per day.... If they have to dig through attachments (CV/Transcript, etc) or read through a long e-mail, it's not likely to catch their interest.

Additionally, I have found it's better to include some discussion of their research in the letter- ask some questions- instead of just talking about yourself. You're probably more likely to spark a conversation/get a response that way.

PIs seem to have a "sense" about template letters that get sent to them, and the most common response I've heard is to simply delete it. You want it to be as personalized as possible, while still remaining short and to the point.

I'd suggest going with:

Professor X,

I'm currently a senior undergrad at XXX interested in pursuing a MS. As I've been looking through the journals, your article on XX caught my eye, and I had a few (hopefully quick) questions about your research.

(insert a few short but insightful questions about their work here)

Also, do you currently have any room for new students in your group? The overall theme of your work makes me feel I would fit in quite well, assuming you are taking students for the XXX school year.


Your Name Here

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Yeah, title it "Potential student" or something like that. Can't remember what I did...

Just speaking from my experience I think contacting potential professors was extremely beneficial. Because of one professor I contacted, I was flown out to an open house for the "top applicants" or something like that. It was a great experience. I feel I probably would've been accepted regardless, as many professors I didn't contact beforehand contacted me after I submitted my application.

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  • 2 months later...

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