Future Research Advisor

Decent Essays
― How to approach a potential graduate advisor in history programs

This guide is especially tailored for North American students interested in contacting potential M.A. or Ph.D advisors in history programs. *Other students in related fields may also find this useful.


Research your potential advisor. Most history departments in North America and Europe have websites as part of university portals. Take advantage of this as a way to research potential advisors. Departmental websites usually list crucial information about Professors (such as what you would found on their curriculum vitae) and normally provide their email contact information.

Make sure you have taken the time to select the right advisor. While undergraduate studies offer students
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Many students choose to do their graduate studies in different institutions from those where they completed their undergraduate work. It may be that as you are emailing a potential advisor, you are, for the very first time, making contact with them. First impressions, even if virtual, count.

Be succinct. aside from teaching classes, grading papers (yes, Professors grade too), preparing conference papers, writing journal articles, reviewing books, keeping track of the historiography in their field and so on, Professors also have to advise graduate students (often both at the MA and PhD levels). Hence, Professors are very busy. If you are going to email them, do not waste their time and yours. Be curtitious but also be precise in your intentions.

Show your potential advisor that you are a serious candidate. Aside from sounding professional in your email and being “straight to the point” you should also show your seriousness as a potential candidate by showing that you understand what graduate work represents and that you are ready for the task. You can achieve that by briefly mentioning past academic work experience and how this prepare you for graduate
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