Tips for finding a supervisor

You and your supervisor will be working closely together. Invest time at the beginning of the relationship and make a good first impression.

Before you start

Do your research. You should know:

  1. What program you want to take? Sometimes your field of study may have a different name at our university.
  2. What are the admission requirements for your chosen program? Remember some programs may have higher than the minimum admission requirement. Some programs may require additional documentation such as a GRE. Check what is required for your program.
  3. What area of research do you want to pursue? Are there professors doing research in the area of interest to you?
  4. You should identify one or two professors who are doing research in an area closely related to what you are interested in.


The more specific you can be in your first email the better success you will have. You should:

  • Read the Professor's webpage;
  • Check out any online publications that are available and read them;
  • Inform yourself about the specifics of the program to which you want to apply. 

Writing Tips

Professors get dozens of emails from potential students. If you want to get your email noticed, you must give the professor the information they need, quickly, clearly, and professionally.

  • Use proper titles – Dr. Smith;
  • Keep your email short, just three paragraphs, no more than 250 words;
  • Use complete sentences;
  • Use spell check.

Key Parts

Introduce yourself: Tell the professor in two or three sentences who you are. State your degree level and your research area. Give a clear statement indicating that you meet the admission requirements which includes your grade point average and, if required, your English proficiency test results. If you do not have proof of English proficiency, state when you plan to take an approved test.


Dear Dr. Smith,
My name is XX XX and I am from the University of XX. I am in my final year of a masters in Biology with focus on plant breeding research. My GPA is 86% and my TOEFL iBT is 100.

Make a connection and provide reasons to be considered: Use specific references to make a connection between the work that you have been doing and the research projects that the professor is working on. Important points to include:

  • Papers, journal articles, either published, accepted or submitted.
  • Conference papers given;
  • Scholarships won

My current research project for my master’s program is in canola breeding for fungus disease resistance and I have just submitted a co-authored article which was accepted by XXX. I have attached a brief research interest statement with more details. I was reading about recent work in genetically modified wheat on the website and it looks very interesting. I am interested in building upon my master’s experience and expanding my research into related areas. I have attached a copy of my C.V. for your review.

State your request; tell the professor what you are looking for.

I wish to begin a PhD program in XX in September YYYY and would be very interested in working under your supervision. I would appreciate if you could review the attached documents and let me know what the possibilities might be.