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  About the free  IELTS Speaking test preparation classes at Macquarie University Update:19/7/2024 As of this date, this is now a premium course with certificates after achievement. Premium means an extra charge($25 )  to obtain the certificate after course completion. Macquarie University is offering free online IELTS speaking test preparation classes to help assist international students who are interested to study in Australia/ abroad achieve their desired IELTS score. The free online classes are very profitable as it provides opportunities to interact with other learners and practise your fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation skills. The course is also very beneficial as it will enable applicants to learn how to self-assess their own responses and identify what they need to continue to work on so as to be successful in their  IELTS Speaking test. The course aims to provide applicants with all techniques and strategies examiners at looking for so as to be able to improve pe

How to Successfully Contact a Potential Master/PhD Supervisor

How to email potential supervisors

An Ultimate Student Guide to Study Abroad: How to Contact Potential Supervisors Successfully, Sample Cold Emails and Guides

Once you have decided to take that bold step to further into the academic world, searching for Higher Degree by Research(HDR) studentship positions (PhD, Masters) around the world, the first thing to do is to identify a Potential Supervisor, someone who is ready to hold your hands and guide you towards that academic independence. It is necessary to contact prospective supervisors to discuss the suitability of your research interests in relation to theirs. Like I said before, in almost all Australian Universities(including most other Universities abroad), there is a need to get approval from a potential supervisor in research degree programs ready to supervise you before lodging an application for that program. In some universities, your advisory team could be made up of two to three advisors.

You must keep in mind that, these people are among one the busiest people you will ever meet. Apart from the busy job life itself, they got lots of ongoing projects, students under supervision, lectures, markings, and seminars and equally receive thousands of emails from students like you around the world asking for studentship positions. With this busy schedule, only a few emails from students around the world asking for studentship positions would get a reply. The rest would end up in the trash box.

So in order to capture their attention and avoid your email being sent into the trash folder, your (first) email must be very captivating, explicit, rich in content and well-planned showing a genuine interest in your academic pursuit and your already acquired academic and research capabilities. With good planning ahead of time, you will be surprised how much response you get from these researchers who are interested to work with you. This guide will provide you with all the tips you need to successfully captivate the interest of your potential supervisors and get a response. At end of the post are sample cold emails for you to explore or download. So how to contact a PhD/Masters supervisor? In another word, how to email potential PhD/Masters supervisors?

A good approach to emailing a potential supervisor might be "email formatting" ie good mail presentation, style and content. Let's broadly look at these aspects in two ways:
  • ⌦  A Rich Email Content And 
  • ⌦ The Content Presentation /Structure

Let's now look broadly into the above two aspects or ways to successfully email a potential supervisor when asking for a studentship position. We will start first with the strategies on how to construct rich and captivating email content before looking at the next strategy which is how to present or structure this rich content to be more captivating, hence, creating a reason for your email to be given the attention you seek. 

A. Rich Email Content(How to construct rich and captivating email content)

The rich email content approach is more about the content of your email, ie quality of your email, the inputs of your email, the captivating subjects such as your academic achievements, skills, experience, knowledge about your research area and relationship with the current program you are going in for etc... These are all essential elements that your email must contain. 
Tips: Things to take note of when contacting potential supervisors:

#1 Search for the supervisors

     The very first thing to do is to go through the school database and search for those supervisors that have common research goals with you. Most Universities have databases or portals filled with supervisors' portfolios and all the necessary academic details you need to know about them. Make sure to single out all those who match your research interests.
    some lecturers even have their own websites. Go through it and try to understand their research interest.

    #2 Be sure that your research interests are aligned with his (Common Research interests)

      One of the errors must students make is that they do not care to find out if the supervisors they are contacting have a research area that is aligned with their area of expertise. Most supervisors hesitate to read or even reply back to such emails.

      #3 Have good background knowledge of your area of interest.

         Having well-equipped knowledge in your area of expertise or interest is the first stricken point to captivate your potential supervisors. This is the area they want to see more as this will enable them to be able to judge your already-acquired skills and potential. You must keep in mind that, there are thousands of other students around the world sending emails to him for the same position, so ask yourself what makes you special? and try to differentiate yourself from others.

         #4 Prepare a well-planned/very captivating research background of your area of interest

          Before sending your first email, make sure to have planned a brief but explicit
           research proposal about your area of interest. This should explain why you are best suitable for the position you are requesting for. Usually, I recommend students to do a cover letter and make a well-formatted draft in Microsoft Word, well-planned and revised. If possible ask for a friend or a lecturer from your current university to cross-check. If you have not read this post yet about how to write a captivating research proposal make sure to check it before preparing any research proposal

          contacting potential phd supervisor example email

           B. Content Presentation/Structure( How to present or structure that first email)

          How to email potential PhD or Masters Supervisor:

          After all the above considerations, you are now good to go. Before you send that first email that will leave an everlasting impression, and win you the research student position you wish to get, this is what you must take into further consideration :

          Mail content presentation approach (Structure of the email)Make sure to subdivide your email into three subcategories :

          Introduction, body and conclusion(Note you do not need to write down these subcategories in your email, it is just a format that you need to demonstrate through paragraphing)

            (1) Introducing yourself :

                 👉 Start with an email etiquette

              Do not make your email look like spam. That is an email that you have composed to be sent randomly to all professors around the world seeking academic study positions.
              To avoid this, always start your email with "Dear Professor or DR" followed by his name and greetings. Lecturers do not want to read emails showing no dedication and personal efforts.
              Ex. of  a good start should be like "Good Day Dear Prof "M" etc..,

                  👉 Introduce who you are

              State your current qualifications, that is:
              •  Degree and grades,
              • Number of publications,
              • English language scores,
              • Current university and your current location 
              • And briefly highlight the reason for your email :
                For Ex. "I would like to apply for the position of a PhD studentship under your supervision at the University of X. 
                Upon visiting your research website, I found your research interests to be closely related to my own field and thus captured my interests.
                 After carefully investigating your research topics and your publications, I am confident about your professional skills....., I like these concepts in this your research paper"... etc...

                You must give him/her the impression that you have seen his works and publication papers, you know well about him. All this is proof to show that you know exactly what you are searching for.

                 (2) In the body paragraph :

                          👉 State your main goal

                    That is, expatiate on the reason why you are contacting him and why you are interested in his works. if possible introduce your funding status or how you intend to secure funding. (Australian universities have highly competitive scholarships available for all eligible international students. Once you secure supervision, there is a possibility for an available competitive scholarship). Find out more about scholarships in Australia and tips on how to apply for one from this post How to apply successfully to Australian Scholarships.

                          👉  State your current research and academic background.

                     Demonstrate how your research interests are related to his field of expertise. keep in mind that most supervisors can only easily supervise people in their field of expertise. Let him know about your most recent publications and how that is related to some of the concepts in his own research works.

                         👉 State your most current experience

                    If available, maybe some internships and demonstrate how that has improved your professional skills, and leadership and how it can impact your working with him.
                    For Ex: 
                    "with previous and ongoing experience, I think that I can be an ideal candidate for the PhD position in your group, and strongly believe that I can make a positive contribution to your lab/your research group" etc...

                    (3) In the conclusion paragraph :

                            👉  Finally, end your email with another sign of good email etiquette
                        For Ex: ...
                        "I would greatly welcome an opportunity to discuss with you regarding my qualification & experience and the position in greater insight. 
                                        Thank you for your consideration, and I am looking forward to seeing your reply please".
                             Kind regards,

                            Yours sincerely future student, 

                            Your name

                          Do not forget to attach :

                         Your resume, CV, academic transcripts and certificates, an English Language Proficiency Test
                        ( for those who have English as their second Language)
                          With a well-planned, explicit email demonstrating genuine interest, knowledge in the area of interest, outstanding qualifications, research skills, and good formatting email, there is a high chance that you will receive a response to your request.

                          Are you having problems contacting a potential supervisor in Australian Universities or elsewhere? Find other helpful materials below including sample cold email examples, free online courses on how to write an impressive CV,  research proposals and personal statements

                          how to email potential PhD supervisor

                          A compilation of Cold Email samples from a list of Universities

                          Find below a compilation of cold email samples, tips and examples from a list of Universities. Explore and download for your use. This should however serve just as a practical guide, do not plagiarise.

                          University cold Email samples, guidelines and examples

                          Check out this free online course on How to Succeed at: Writing Applications, from the University of Sheffield, an institution that stands among the top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence. The course provides an opportunity to learn how to make a positive impression when writing your CV, How to write a brilliant personal statement etc...

                          For sample research proposals, tips and examples, find details here. This includes a compilation of sample research proposals across different Universities in different fields. And find here free online courses, guidelines and examples on how to write a research proposal for a strong application. The guidelines and examples are from top Australian Universities. Explore and download.

                          Other related links mentioned in this post you should equally check:

                              Don't hesitate to leave a comment below, tell us about your experience in applying for a scholarship abroad, your difficulties and how we can assist you if you need any help. 
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                              1. Replies
                                1. Thanks.we appreciate you visiting our webpage and glad you find it helpful

                              2. Replies
                                1. You are welcome, we are glad you find this helpful!

                              3. Very helpful. That is so thoughtful of you. Thanks a lot

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                              5. i find the article to be clear and direct to point. my problem is a situation where you have less research papers, how do you present them to be captivating to a potential supervisor.

                                1. Hi Raymond. Thanks for the comment. The whole process is still same. Though many publications is an added advantage, having at least one publication especially in a good international Journal is good start. Just make an effort to do a research on the previous works of this supervisor and make a connection in your email. Cheers!

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                              9. I think the best way to contact a Ph.D. supervisor is by email. In this email, you need to write a concise and professional letter to your supervisor. law essay writing service is providing help to the students in their essay writing work.

                              10. Hello good evening for this explicit explanations. Please I am a graduate of electrical engineering from a polytechnic. Please is there any hope of me securing scholarship to forward my studies?

                                1. hi, Sure! As long as you meet the requirements and you are eligible, there is hope my friend!

                                2. Thank you so much for the important information.


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