Contact potential supervisor- please help!


I am currently a master's student in the UK and I'd like to apply for a PhD in Canada. It's a very good university and the competition is absolutely fierce so its quite intimidating, with all the brainiacs over there... In the application process it says I need to contact a potential supervisor, who will then decide everything.. there are no set projects or anything I can apply for, it must basically come from me.. I found only one person who may be interested in the same topic, but I am reluctant to email him- English is not my first language and I haven't got much experience in writing official letters/emails like that and there are no templates for these on the internet that I could find that would give me some idea about the tone or structure (what to include, the format, etc.). The thought that one email can decide everything is a lot of pressure- I need to create a one good letter!! Any ideas??
Please, if there's anyone out there who has any experience in this, could you give me some advice?
Thanks very very much!!! :$


Hi KatSvo
I've been through a similar thing before.
I would say, you're English seems perfect! Certainly good enough for a letter or email. I might suggest sending a letter if you have time.
I don't think you need to look around for particular templates, just ask your current uni for some of their letterhead stationary, write the Profs address on the left (or is it right?!), type it nicely etc.
As for contents, just say why you are writing, what you are currently doing, your brief academic history, current research interests and what you would like to study under him/her and why. Some sentences like "I would be really grateful if you would consider proposing me for this blah blah." Also attach a CV of course. Don't try to be too formal, just polite and get the facts across.
If you are worried about your English, just ask a friend to read it before you send it.
You'll be fine!
Hope that helps!


Yes, just write this person. I had similar experiences, I found somebody with the perfect topic+working style and it took me many (many!!) weeks to find the courage to write him. So now he is my supervisor. Few weeks ago I talked to his assistant about how I got here for PhD and I told her, that I just knew his work and contacted him. And she replied that it is a real compliment for a scientist to get people because of his good reputation. I have never seen it like that before, but it is true.
Don't worry about the language, you will learn it better and better. I think language is just transmitter for what you really have to say.
And: Don't be afraid of the brainiacs, you are probably one of them ;-) Most people never judge others as hard as themselves.



I had the same thing and he is also now my supervisor! Your English seems fine, and ultimately it is the strength of you project idea which matters. And remember...academics are (mostly) human too...some of the most intelligent lecturers at my university are also the nicest and most approachable. Good luck!