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Asked Viewed 2020 times Translate

How to introduce yourself to a professor you want to study under in *grad school*?

I will be applying to Psychology Ph.D. programs this fall, and I was wondering how best to introduce myself to PIs I want to work with. For example:
- What should I include in an email?
- What should I say about myself? What should I say about them?
- What questions do I need to ask them?
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Kimberly’s Answer

I've had success emailing a professor to ask if they had 10 minutes to spare for a meet & greet. Just state your intentions, they are used to this scenario and shouldn't find your request unusual. Here's a sample email:

Dear Prof. XXXX

I'm a grad student in the XYZ Program. I'm interested in (include what you would like to do or what draws you to this prof.) After reviewing your background and field of expertise, I was hoping to benefit from your knowledge. Are you able to meet for 10 minutes sometime this week?

Good luck and remember they were in your shoes before too.

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

Email the Professor
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Zach’s Answer

Hi Alexandra,

I've completed an MA in Communication and definitely remember the stress of applying. Hopefully whatever program you decide on offers opportunities for connecting with different professors when you first start and gives guidance on how to do so. Most grad programs are chaired by one or two professors who you can contact with questions like this.

However, I would highly recommend you reach out to professors (possibly those grad program chairs) at the universities you are considering to get a sense of who they are and what the program is really about. What is listed on the website and in reviews isn't always the same thing a professor will tell you.

Regardless of when you are meeting with the professor your questions and reasons for meeting should be well thought out and reasoned before you reach out about a meeting. That way you can share with them why you are hoping to get some time with them. I would list specific reasons that you want to meet with them, not just that they are experts or you want to learn more. If you are reaching out because they are experts in a topic you are interested in, tell them. If you are reaching out because you are trying to learn more about the grad program, tell them that. Just be sure to do your research, be true to yourself, and clear about your intentions.

Lastly, a bit of unsolicited advice about grad schools that I noticed when I was applying: some grad schools are focused on producing more professors/researchers and employ faculty who are strong in the skills of publishing, pedagogy, and teaching; other grad schools lean more towards professional development and employ more faculty with business acumen and connections. Obviously there are blended schools too, but there does seem to be a tilt at many. Consider what you want to get from the professors before you make any final decision and reach out to professors in those programs to gather more insight into their abilities, expertise, and background.

Ask the hard questions and don't accept equivocal answers, these people (the professors in your grad program) are capable of having a major influence on the rest of your career/life and this is your opportunity to interview them....once you select a grad school remember you're paying to be there, you are the customer and should get as much from the purchased product (education, professors, school resources, etc.) as you possibly can.

Hope that was helpful, I'll get off my soap box now :)

Thanks so much, Zach! Stay on the soap box as long as you like...this is all really helpful! Alexandra C., Team

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Hanleigh’s Answer

Hi! I think the email should be used as an introduction, but you should try to meet with them face to face. In the email, that is your opportunity to introduce yourself by stating what program you are in, and you should briefly state that you are interested in working with them because you feel like your research interests in line. After, you request to meet in person. When you meet in person, you make sure you are familiar with the work they have done. You should also bring your resume and be able to express what your research and career goals are.