Three Components of Writing an Email to a Professor at a Target School

Application Strategy

Three Components of Writing an Email to a Professor at a Target School


E-mailing university professors is an component of deciding where to apply as well as a great way to help with your application. It can be a way to gain "insider" information about your target school (for example, if you want a professor to work with is planning on retiring soon) and can also build a rapport that might help once the professor in question decides who to accept as a new student. In this blog we'll look at the three key components of writing such an email. Let's get started!


1) Show that you've done your homework! What is it that drew you to this professor? A recent article or book? Perhaps a lab they run or research project of which they are in charge? Whatever it is, make sure to talk about what aspects of their work excites you and why it is that you are interested in working with them. For example:


"Dear Professor Smith,

Your book Book That I Like Some has Played a huge role in my academic own development and has contributed to my decision to pursue a career in academia. I was fascinated by the way you interrogate your sources and how you are able to so many disparate connect documents into a coherent statement about the fears and desires of 20th Century German society.


2) Introduce yourself and you own interests. It's important to connect your interests with that of your possibly soon-to-be advisor. The greater confluence they see with their own work the more it will make sense to them to accept you as a student . This aspect of the email can dovetail nicely with the previous point. For example:


Your book has also helped shape my own interests. As an undergraduate at University X, I wrote a senior thesis about the influence of Buddhist mythology on German conceptions of historical change. At several points along the way I found myself consulting your work in order to help conceptualize my own. I especially appreciated your chapter on German Freemasons and the way you used their speeches to understand how they saw the world and interpreted changes in their society.


3) Ask questions about applying to their university. You've already shown that you've done your homework and introduced yourself, now you're ready to ask for advice regarding possible next steps. It's important to ask whether the professor is accepting new students (maybe they are about to go on sabbatical or spend a year abroad doing research). In my personal experience, it can also be helpful to ask about suggestions for other possible contacts at other institutions. It was actually a professor at Harvard who, in responding to one of my e-mails, suggested that my project would fit perfectly with a certain scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is almost wholly due to that email exchange that I ended up where I am today, so be on the look out for serendipity!


I'm very excited about the possibility of pursuing my graduate studies at the University of Y. Not only does your department have incredible scholars whose work aligns with my own (yourself, Dr. F and Dr. G), but your library also contains the largest collection of German language Buddhist literature in the world. Do you think that my project would fit well at your university? Do you plan on accepting students this coming academic year? Finally, do you have any suggestions for other institutions where my project might fit as well?


Okay, so let's put this all together and check out our email!


"Dear Professor X,

Your book Book That I Like Some has Played a huge role in my academic Own Development and has Contributed to my Decision to Pursue a Career in Academia. I was fascinated by the Way you interrogated your Sources and How you were able to so many disparate Connect Documents into a coherent Statement about the Fears and desires of 20th Century German Society. I had no idea that the movement was so Occult Prominent in Fin de siècle Germany!

Your book has also helped shape my own interests. As an undergraduate at University XI wrote a senior thesis about the influence of Buddhist mythology on German conceptions of historical change. At several points along the way I found myself consulting your work in order to help conceptualize my own. I especially appreciated your chapter on German Freemasons and the way you used their speeches to understand how they saw the world and interpreted changes in their society.

I'm very excited about the possibility of pursuing my graduate studies at the University of Y. Not only does your department have incredible scholars whose work aligns with my own (yourself, Dr. F and Dr. G), but your library also contains the largest collection of German language Buddhist literature in the world. Do you think that my project would fit well at your university? Do you plan on accepting students this coming academic year? Finally, do you have any suggestions for other institutions where my project might fit as well?


Sincerely,

Charles Cahill