When you apply for a Master’s or PhD program that requires you to find a professor who will agree to supervise you, your statement of research intent may be the most important component of your application package.

CALDO universities and our professors receive many requests from potential graduate students each day asking them to be their supervisors. It is a challenge for professors to read through all of these requests, much less respond to them.

Therefore, if you want your request to be successful, you must ensure that it captures the professor’s attention, and that it convinces the professor that you are a serious candidate.


  • Use proper letter format, formal salutations – Professor/Dr. (last name) and finish with “Yours sincerely” followed by your full name and contact information.
  • Let them know what program you are applying to.
  • Tell them why you’re interested in graduate studies, include career goals, and be sure to highlight any research or leadership skills.
  • Inform them if you are considering to apply to funding, advising 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.
  • Articulate a research idea in your statement, and while it does not need to be fully conceptualized at this point, it should be reasonable in terms of its scope.
  • Explain your proposed research idea in a few paragraphs (1 to 2 pages).
  • Offer an opportunity for further discussion, (teleconference, video conference).
  • Proofread your letter and have someone else proofread it for you. Poor grammar and spelling errors will reveal quite a bit about your academic abilities and attention to detail.


  • Don’t send form letters as most faculty members will recognize and delete those without responding.
  • Don’t send a mass email to dozens of universities.
  • Don’t demand an immediate response or hassle the people you contacted too soon.

When you have several professors you are interested in, you can either:

  1. Write an individual letter to each supervisor of your choice or;
  2. Write a more general statement of research that may be applicable to different professors, introducing yourself and describing what you plan to do for your research project.

For more information on how to apply see the Steps to Apply section.