How to Email a Professor for Master or PhD Positions: 9 Mistakes to Avoid

There are hundreds of “How to email a professor for master and PhD positions” email samples available on the internet to contact professors. Unfortunately, most of the existing online guidelines for this topic e.g., how to email a professor for supervision, how to email a professor for master studies and how to email a professor for PhD studies are bogus and written by blogger who don’t even hold a BSc degree. That’s alarming and it can deliver a bad first impression to the potential supervisors resulting in ruining the dreams of many students. In this article, we have evaluated an email sample for emailing professors which was published on a bogus website. It is full of the mistakes as shown in the following paragraphs. Let’s discuss these mistakes and learn how not to email a professor for the master’s and PhD supervision and admissions.

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1. Missing a formal salutation

Greeting sir? That’s not a right way to address your potential supervisor when you write the very first email. It shows disrespect for professors to receive a generic email without their name and proper courtesy. They have worked hard to be at a position of professor that’s why always use salutation and name with a title such as Dear Dr. Name or Dear Prof. Name.

2. Personal pronoun mistakes

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The personal pronoun ‘I’ is always written with a capital letter in standard English. How can someone write ‘i’ in a formal email? Never write ‘i’ in a formal email, it indicates that you don’t have sufficient English language skills. When it comes to master and PhD supervisions, professors are looking for candidates that have good command in English for understanding scientific literature and writing the research papers.

3. Requesting for supervision or funding in the first paragraph

When you email a professor for master’s or PhD supervision and scholarships. You must avoid asking a professor for supervision in the first sentence without proper introduction and demonstrating that you are a well-qualified and suitable person for the professor’s lab. First of all, you have to emphasize your skills and expertise that the professor is looking for. After that, you can request for MS and PhD research supervision.

4. Unclear research interests

As mentioned in this email to a professor sample, the word ‘field’ is a wide area of research and branch of study. You should select the specific keywords here. At a time, professors are working on many different topics. You should mention a few research interests which apply to your expertise and professor’s research area.

5. Complete name of research group

Always write the full name of the research group and the departments. It will show that you are not sending the same email to multiple professors.

6. Specify university name

Never forget to write the full name of the university and avoid using abbreviations. If you don’t specify the university name, it means that you are sending similar emails for master and PhD supervision to multiple professors of other universities. Professors have a lot of experience and they can easily understand either this email is specially written for him/her or it’s a generic email. They only respond to the emails, which shows that the applicant’s motivation and email aren’t generic.

7. Mistakes in mentioning work experience

I have worked in two top Oil Refineries“. First, how the professor will know that the refineries were the top ones? Always write the complete name of your workplace. Another mistake is, I had a wonderful industrial experience. How does email shows that the applicant has learned anything from his/her previous jobs?

You should relate your skill set and work experience with the current projects and research area of professor.


8. Don’t sound desperate

Don’t write the word ‘soon’ in the first email. This shows that the candidate is desperate. That’s why some professor even doesn’t bother to reply.

9. Avoid being annoying

As point 9 of the above image shows, the applicant is impatient. It will make your email annoying. Once, you introduced yourself properly. Next, highlight your research interests and relate it professor’s ongoing research projects. In the end, you can politely request for master or PhD supervision but don’t sound like you are begging.


Be careful when emailing a professor for MS and Ph.D. supervision request. Your email will be your first impression, therefore, you should be very profession. We have published several articles and guidelines which discuss how to write email to professor for master and PhD scholarships, supervision and admissions. 

These articles cover each and every single detail when it comes to emailing a professor. 

If you have some questions, please feel free to ask in comments below. Thanks for reading this article and share it with your friends so they can prevent these common mistakes.