Admissions Process

Contacting professors at top schools

If you are applying to a particular graduate program, should you contact professors at that school to let them know you’re applying? It probably doesn’t hurt to do so, but realistically, professors at top schools get contacted by dozens to hundreds of applicants, that many of them don’t enjoy getting even more of such email. Many of the emails they get also sound nearly identical, and sound like this:

Dear Professor,

My name is XX. I’m a senior a YY university, and am very interested in applying to your MS/PhD program.

[[Something about your research.]]

Are you taking on students this year, and if so would you be willing to take a look at my
application and let me know if I might be a good match for you research group?

Name of Applicant

Sending these emails to professors probably doesn’t help much. Maybe in very rare exceptions your email will stand out and the professor will actually read it, but most professors get so many emails that they delete it without reading it all the way through. (This might be less true at lower-ranked schools, where the professors might get fewer emails.) So, it’s unlikely to be a good use of your time to be sending these emails, and we advise you to focus your energy on writing a strong application instead (or on doing research that you can then talk about in your application).

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