The Crucial Role of Contacting Professors in Grad School Admissions

By - Nov 30, 07:39 AM Comments [0]

Since 2006, has helped over 5,000 applicants get into their dream schools. In the 2022-’23 admissions season, we helped earn admission into Ivy League STEM programs, elite humanities PhD programs, and Master’s programs at all levels. In this video series, we provide comprehensive advice from our consultants, all of whom have gotten into (and completed) PhDs from elite programs in STEM, social sciences, and the humanities.

When applying to graduate school, especially for Ph.D. programs, an essential step that distinguishes it from undergraduate or professional school applications is contacting professors at the programs you're interested in. This often overlooked tactic can significantly influence your admission chances. In this installment of Gurufi's 'Getting Into Graduate School' series, we delve into why reaching out to professors is vital and how to do it effectively.

Why Contacting Professors Matters

  1. Demonstrating Interest and Fit: Contacting professors shows that you're proactive and genuinely interested in their program. It also helps you gauge whether the program aligns with your academic interests and career goals.
  2. Building Relationships: Establishing a connection with faculty members can provide you with an advocate within the program. Professors often have a say in admissions decisions, especially in Ph.D. programs.
  3. Research Alignment: For Ph.D. applicants, aligning with a professor’s research area is crucial. Demonstrating that your research interests complement theirs can make you a more attractive candidate.

How to Contact Professors

  1. Research Thoroughly: Before reaching out, research the professors' recent publications and projects. This shows that you're informed and serious about your interest.
  2. Draft a Concise Email: Your initial email should be brief yet informative. Introduce yourself, explain why you are interested in their work, and articulate how your research interests align with theirs.
  3. Be Specific: Mention specific aspects of their work that interest you. This personalized approach shows that you're not sending generic emails to multiple professors.

What to Include in Your Communication

  1. Academic Background: Briefly mention your academic history and any relevant research experience or achievements.
  2. Research Interests: Clearly state your research interests and how they align with the professor's work.
  3. Purpose of Contact: Articulate why you are reaching out to them specifically and what you hope to gain from the interaction, such as insights into the program or feedback on your fit for their research group.
  4. Ask Intelligent Questions: Pose questions that reflect your understanding of their work and the program. Avoid questions that are easily answered by a quick website visit.

Impact on Admission

  1. Informed Application: Conversations with faculty can provide insights that help tailor your application to highlight how you would fit into the program.
  2. Advocacy: If a professor is impressed by your potential, they might advocate for your admission, especially in small, competitive programs.
  3. Standing Out: In a pool of similarly qualified applicants, having established a rapport with faculty can give you an edge.

Special Considerations for Ph.D. Applicants

For Ph.D. programs, where research focus and advisor fit are paramount, these contacts can be even more critical. You're not just applying to a program; you're seeking to join a specific research group or project. Demonstrating your fit and enthusiasm for a professor's research can significantly boost your candidacy.

Gurufi’s Assistance

At, we specialize in helping clients craft compelling personal statements that resonate with admissions committees. Our experience extends beyond essay editing; we provide strategic guidance on all aspects of the graduate application process, including how to effectively communicate with potential advisors.

In conclusion, contacting professors is a strategic step in the graduate school application process, especially for Ph.D. applicants. It demonstrates your initiative, helps assess fit, and can significantly impact your admission chances. For further assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to us at, where we can help refine your approach and strengthen your overall application. Stay tuned for more insights in our series, as we aim to guide you successfully through the maze of graduate admissions.



For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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