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Contacting Profs - Phrasing, Time etc. (UK)


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Dear all,


I'm currently in the application process, and am applying to some schools outside of the US as well (Canada, UK). In many of these schools, it is expected that prospective PhD students get in touch with their POIs. Currently, however, I'm stuck on how to approach this.


Obviously, I want to keep it brief and to the point, but don't I have to include some background about myself? Should I attach my CV and/or my proposal, or rather wait for a reply and then attach the documents they want?


Also, when is a good time to contact people? I figured I'd wait until after classes resume in the UK, so profs will be in the office, but I'm not sure about that.


Just as a reference, this is my current "blueprint":

Dear Prof. ...,

I am writing to you because I am interested in pursuing a PhD in the field of ..., more specifically ... I would be very interested in working with you, because ...


Are you currently taking on advisees? Would you be interested in supervising a thesis on the topics outlined above?

I am currently enrolled in the M.A. of ... Previously, I studied ..., and wrote my senior thesis about...



I don't know how to end it either, so am kind of stuck at this point.


Anyone in the same boat and willing to help?

Thanks in advance,


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When I applied to Canadian schools, I contacted profs before the application deadlines. I wrote a brief message, very similar to your template there. I did not attach any CV or transcripts but I did mention that I could attach them if they want. Usually, they will say something like "yes, I am taking students, and I encourage you to apply". They will see your CV, transcripts, etc. when you apply since in my experience, the application materials are distributed to all profs in the department that might be interested in you. Usually there is a place in your application to mention profs and also if you made contact beforehand, the prof will know to look out for and/or request your application.


Some things to remember -- in Canada, there is no April 15 deadline thing (but some big schools follow this to stay in line with US schools). Usually, when you get an offer, you will get a few weeks (~4 or so) to say yes or no and if you say no, then the prof will probably ask the next person on their list. You can always ask for an extension of course, and they will usually grant it if you are waiting to hear back from another school. This also means that at some schools, you can apply before the application deadline and you might even get an offer before the deadline in some cases. However, note also that Canadian schools tend to have later deadlines than US schools (Jan 15 is the first one I remember having) so the decision timeline is about the same as the US anyways.


Good luck!

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