A research student using a pipette

How to email a potential supervisor

Tips and templates for how to ask an academic to supervise your research project.

Compose your email carefully

  • Use your ANU email address; by policy, ANU staff can only communicate with ANU students through your ANU email address.
  • Use an informative, brief subject line.
  • Use formal language (no emoticons, abbreviations, etc.)
  • Address a potential supervisor as Dr (appropriate for anyone with a PhD) or Prof.
  • Be direct. Introduce yourself and your reason for emailing.
  • State if you are interested in a course project, an honours project, or a masters project.
  • If you are interested in a specific project or topic mentioned on the website, explain why.
  • If relevant, mention a paper you read and why it was interesting to you or a question you have.
  • Ask to schedule a meeting and suggest several times that suit you.
  • Acknowledge that the potential supervisor may be busy and provide them the opportunity to suggest alternate times.
  • Sign using your legal name, as well as any name a staff member may know you by.
  • Attach a CV and your Statement of Results (from ISIS). 

After you email

  • Don’t take it personally if the potential supervisor doesn’t respond immediately! Researchers travel, teach, do research, supervise students, serve on university committees and are very busy.
  • If you don’t hear back in a week or so, you can send a brief, polite follow-up email.
  • You should respond promptly if the researcher emails you, thank the supervisor for the response, and respond to any questions.
  • If the potential supervisor asks to be addressed by a first name or signs an email with a first name, you can address future emails using the potential supervisor’s first name.

Email templates



From: random@gmail.com
Subject: Research

Hi Joe,

I want to do research! J Im a grt student and want to learn more. What do you do research on?

TX, Student Name



From: u1234567@anu.edu.au
Subject: Potential research project

Dear Professor Surname,
I am a year in degree at ANU and I am writing to ask about opportunities for Honours research projects in Semester 1 of next year. I did a research project on topic with names in course. Expression of interest in the topic. I am especially interested in your previous work on describe a paper or talk.

I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you time period, but please let me know if a different time would be more suitable. I have attached my CV and statement of results to this e-mail, but if there is additional information that I have not included that you would like, I would be happy to provide it to you. Thank you for your consideration.

Ambitious Student

Modified from UC Santa Cruz How to Email a Research Professor.


From: u1234567@anu.edu.au
Subject: Potential research project

Dear Professor X,
My name is Name, and I am very interested in becoming involved in research in Subject Area. I am a X year student, and I have taken Courses and Additional Experiences. I have attached my CV and statement of results. My goal is to Goal.

I have reviewed your staff profile and am interested in the work that you have done. I was intrigued by your journal article, "Article Title." It Additional Information about Topic. I would like to get involved in research in this area because it will help me to better prepare for Goals.

Would it be possible to meet with you to further discuss Topic and my possible involvement in research? I am available Days and Times, but please let me know if a different time would be more suitable. I look forward to hearing from you.


Modified from UC Irvine Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.