2 answers

I am looking to apply to graduate school this year, how do I reach out to potential advisors?

Asked Sulphur, Louisiana

I am terrified to apply to #gradschool. I am a conservation biology student, and am looking to get into research and start grad school. I understand that the relationship between student and advisory can be very important in graduate programs, so how do I know if a program will be right for me? What if I don't know what I want to study, or have any idea what my thesis will be on? #conservation #wildlife #after-graduation #naturalresources

2 answers

Andrea’s Answer

Updated Rochester, Minnesota

Yes, the relationship between Grad student and advisor/advisor’s research interest has a big effect on career opportunities. Two ideas for finding connections:

  1. Ask around to people working in the field...where did they go to school? What Grad programs do they recommend? Local Dept of Natural Resources staff, Soil & Water Cons District staff, etc.
  2. Use Google Scholar to look up recent journal articles on topics of interest to you. Many are likely to have been authored by faculty (potential advisors) and their recent grad students. Then look up those faculty members on their University profile pages to read about their research interests.
  3. Reaching out to faculty can be tricky, the good ones are super busy! Some like to be contacted directly, some never answer email, some are always out of the office. Try contacting the faculty person’s support staff or the secretary of the department for insider information. They usually know what’s what and are happy to help.

Danielle’s Answer


Some academic departments, on their faculty/staff page, will have bios on the faculty members in the department, listing some of the research they do. If some topics strike you as interesting: read their publications, and go to their office hours with questions that show your true interest.

Some majors also have research for course credit, you can talk to your department academic advisor about how you would set that up, they might have some insider information about which faculty members in your department are looking for undergrad research assistants. Or, maybe a couple faculty members in the department who publish a LOT, and typically have multiple research assistants to help!