How To Cold Email A Professor

Cold emailing a professor can be very daunting, especially for students who seek a research professor or wants to further their studies abroad. Research has proven cold emails to be an effective channel that works only if one follows the right process or procedure. Many students avoid cold emailing because of the fear of rejection but this should not deter their pursuit of academic success. Cold emailing can be used to initiate contact or build a kind of work relationship between a student and a supervisor.

Below are guidelines to help you write a cold email:

Keep it formal

Remember that salutation is vital in a formal letter/mail and also you are not writing to a friend but a professor. So, your email should start with “Dear prof. Jayden (it has to be his/her last name)”, and end with yours sincerely, thank you, or Looking forward to your response. If the professor or supervisor does not know you too well, use your full name and end with a signature.

Introduce Yourself

Address the professor, mention your name, university, year, and what you major in. Also briefly explain the purpose of your email, it could be an interest in their field of work (research) or a request.

Informative Subject Line

Your subject line should be catchy and free of spammy phrases, emoticons, or slogans that may arouse distrust. You can capture your reader’s attention by describing or recognizing their works such as; awards they may have received for their hard work and input in the academic environment and beyond, paper presentation, or grants.

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Be Concise and Appreciative

Let your emails be neat, concise, and exact. Your recipients should be able to get the essence of the email they receive because they might be busy people. Don’t make them search for the actual point. Show appreciation to your audience, you can say” Thank you so much! I am grateful” this doubles the response to your request.

Make it Short and Actionable

Professors do not have the luxury of time to read lengthy messages, so keep your message short and precise to get a quick response. Specific action gets a higher response rate, so, you can ask to schedule a meeting with them. You can say: I can come during office hours between 11 a.m. -1 p.m. (if the Prof. is within reach) but if he is beyond your reach, you can say: I could send you an email with my questions.

Be Confident

The tone of your message should portray confidence and respect. No one likes to read a rude message. Confidently express yourself in your email.

Cold emails can be difficult to send at first because you are not familiar with the person, but with time it can become very effective. Find a sample effective cold email below:

Mail Subject: How can I help?

Dear Prof. ABC,

I hope my email meets you well.

I am Juliet Inyang, a business enthusiast and social entrepreneur from Nigeria. I am an emerging researcher with a deep interest in high-quality interdisciplinary research. My research interest on “purchasing behavior of persons with disability” seems to create an intersection with the disciplines of Business (Marketing) and Social work (Disability studies).

I came across your profile on google scholar and after studying your profile, I was happy to learn that despite our different disciplines we share similar research interests (health studies and social inclusion). Even more intriguing are your publications in top refereed journals. I find the article on “people with disability behavior in UK stores” particularly interesting. It would be an honor to have a discussion with you on how to extend the application of your findings to the African scenario

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To this end, I am reaching out to make a connection with you and to offer my time and skills to work with you on any aligned research projects you might have.

I have enclosed my CV in this mail to further equip you with my background and I will be very happy to discuss further with you at your earliest convenience.

Thanking you in anticipation of your response.

Best regards

Juliet Inyang


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9 thoughts on “How To Cold Email A Professor

  1. I just read your very useful tips on subject and there is really no way out than to comment. I must first thank you for providing these guides which will be most useful as I begin my descent into a PhD research admission.
    I will stick to your site for other materials on academics.
    I am most grateful.

    1. Hi Tyna,

      checking if there was any luck with your search for Ph.D. research admission; hopefully, I could leverage some of your experience.


  2. Wow this is wonderful and I’ll surely use it as a guide henceforth.
    However I’m curious to know if it would suffice for a phd application or just Ms, and if it won’t, what are the required additions to make it suitable for a phd supervisor.

    1. This is perfect for a PhD. Keep in mind that a PhD is research-based. So your cold email should contain your research interest, demonstrate that your interests align with those of the supervisor, and then show that you have done some background studies on the supervisor before reaching out.

    2. No that’s not what I’m saying. By all means, you can use it for Masters. Just ensure that you have all the necessary documents. Success!!!

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