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Sample email template to Professors in USA for Graduate School Research

Some students have asked me to write an article explaining the format and give a template on How to contact professor for funding. This article is  continuation of previous related article Tips to email Professors for Grad School Admission. I recommend you to read the previous articles for the context.

Basic rules/ tips  to follow when you email Professors in USA for Admission or Funding :

Below are some of the basic things that  you have to remember when you email professors for either admission or funding. It is more important for you, if you are writing to a professor for the first time. 

  • Have good subject line (including Prospective Student in it)
  • No grammar or spelling mistakes.
  • Proper punctuations, capitalization, etc. Good English.
  • No long emails. Should be around 5 to 7 sentences or less.
  • Email only on week days ( think of weekdays in US)
  • Do NOT attach anything like resume or you research paper, etc. in first email as it can end up to into SPAM folder
  • Read few research papers published by the professor before emailing.
  • Use proper technical jargon related to their research
  • Refer to professor as “Dr. LAST NAME of Professor”. No Dear or Hi, etc.
  • Try to highlight the key research area or your project by bold or underline.
  • Do NOT refer to local companies or anything that is local to your country.
  • Do NOT ask directly if you will get funding in first email.

Sample email template for contacting professors in US for Research

Usually, professors with research are extremely busy and they do not have time to reply to emails. Your subject line should be very good, short and crisp indicating that you are prospective student and include the research info, etc. to be attractive that they open it and read it.  It has to be crisp and short.  Read Subject line to Professors for Admissions, Funding.  Do not assume that the other person/ professor knows about your country, companies, grading system, etc.  It has to be very generic and reflect US terms.  You have to be realistic, do not expect a reply right away or sometimes even reply most of the times…This is just your attempt to contact professors. Do not be disappointed.

The email should be very short and crisp. No long story or drama, they do not have time to read it. Usually, anything more than 5 lines means, they may not read it. Below is one of the format and templates…Anything between < >’ in below template has to be your text. I will list what it should have between them. Here is the template email to professors:
Subject : <proper subject line with prospective student and research info >

Dear Dr. < Last Name of Professor >,
< Brief sentence that when you are applying >.  < Sentence about you stating that you read research of the professor >. < Sentence about what similar stuff you have worked in your B.S / B.tech/ B.com or plan to work > . <Sentence about your are interested in the research area >  < Sentence asking about research opportunities >

Look forward to your reply,
<Your Full Name>

Example  email to Professor based on above template :

Imagine you are emailing Marketing professor about research opportunities.
Subject : Prospective Student Fall 2019 – Advertising Research Info needed.

Dear Dr. John,

I am applying to University of Wisconsin for fall 2019 for MS in Marketing. I have read few of your research publications on Advertising Research targeting online customers. I have worked on similar marketing project at school involving design and processing online customer data by surveys. I am interested in advertising research area and would like to know about research opportunities to work with you.

Looking forward for your reply,

The above email is just a sample, it can be written even shorter or longer including more technical stuff. It is just preference. I do not recommend just copy pasting the above, it is just to get you the idea. The shorter the better…because it is human perception, think about it for a second, imagine about your mood if you look at 5 line email vs 20 line email ?  The chances are, if it is short, you will say to yourself, “this is small, let me read it”. You would read it quick and reply. If not, you will say to yourself, “ this is too long to read and I will read and reply later”. Guess what ? if you do not read and reply right away, it just goes behind and never gets out….same is the case with busy professors.

Do you have any other sample formats or ideas?  Share your experiences contacting professors?


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    • Arad,
      There is no hard fast rule as such, it is up to you to be precise and short with few bullet points for easy reading…there is no need to send resume, having an attachment sends the email to spam sometimes, so I do not recommend attaching resume in first conversation.


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