A supervisor is a faculty member who mentors graduate students and for most of our academic programs, you will be working closely with a faculty supervisor. Many research-based graduate programs expect students to identify a prospective supervisor prior to applying for admission. It is best to check with the graduate program you will be applying to, to find out if this is expected.
If that is your case, you will need to identify a potential supervisor in your desired field of research.
To look for supervisors you need to:
- Visit the department website, and look for research areas and faculty listings
- Review faculty member profiles to find potential supervisors with research interests similar to your own.
Once you think you’ve found a match, talk to them so you can get a sense of what they might be like to work with.
Things to consider when looking for a supervisor:
- Expertise – are they working in your area of research?
- Experience – have they supervised many graduate students?
- Availability – how often will they meet with you? How do you get in touch with them?
- Research/publishing – how often do they publish? How active is their research?
- Personality and interpersonal skills – how well will you work together?
Also, consider making contact with the program or department graduate coordinator from the program. The graduate coordinator will be able to answer questions about program requirements, the admission process, supplemental materials, funding opportunities and the process for finding a supervisor within their department. They will also be able to advise you if a particular faculty member is accepting new students.
After that, develop a short list of supervisor based on the area of research as well as current projects.
When your list is complete it’s time to contact them.
Approaching a faculty member by email is the most common first contact. Be sure to tailor your email message to each faculty member. Your goal is to create a great first impression.
- Use proper letter format, formal salutations – Professor/Dr. (last name) and close with “Yours sincerely” followed by your full name and contact information.
- Attach your CV and most recent transcripts.
- Inform them what program you are applying to.
- Highlight any research experience.
- If you have funding, advise them of the source, the value and the duration.
- Let them know why you have chosen them, why your research interests are a good match. Refer to specific published articles (by the professor) that interest you.
- Offer an opportunity for further discussion, (teleconference, video conference, or perhaps a meeting in person).
- Finding a supervisor from University of Waterloo (2019, October 07). Retrieved July 30, 2020.
For more information on how to apply see the Steps to Apply section.