How to Write Cold Emails to Professors for Scholarships

Have you been offered a scholarship abroad to study your dream course? If that is the case, “Congratulations!” However, you will notice that in some institutions, especially in Europe, you may be required to contact a professor who would agree to supervise you before proceeding with the scholarship process. They ask you to do that because they don’t want you stranded once you fly in for your study. Note that not all the courses will require you to contact a professor before processing the admission, mostly in Art and Humanities, and this is because you will be given a professor who will supervise you. This article shows you all you need to know about a cold mail and how to write an impressive one to professors for scholarship.

What is a Cold Mail?

Cold emails are those unsolicited emails you send to a professor, business, or organization without having any prior interaction or relationship with them. This means that you are just contacting them for the first time. Cold email is commonly used for marketing purposes to get leads, or it is also perfect for promoting products and services. Cold email relies on targeted messages, personalized subject lines, and compelling and attractive content to catch the receiver’s attention and encourage them to act or give feedback, whichever the case may be.

Sending a cold email to a professor asking for supervision means that you are reaching out to a university faculty member who you have not had any relationship with or established any connection with. Still, you want to work with them as your supervisor for your academic research or thesis. This is standard practice in a graduate school where students can initiate contact with potential supervisors who work on research relevant to their interests.

Many schools require that you must secure a professor who is interested in supervising you during your graduate studies before you process your admission. When sending a cold email to your potential supervisor, it is required that it must be professional, and respectful and your message should be clear. You can also attach your CV and research proposal, increasing your chance of getting accepted by the professor. You should also note that professors receive tons of cold emails in different subjects, so make sure your message stands out and demonstrates a genuine interest in their work.

Cold Emailing Etiquette

While writing cold emails can be a tedious task, you must have some cold emailing etiquette at the back of your mind before you begin composing that email. Here are some of the etiquettes you should master to make your email stand out and increase your chance of getting accepted by the professor.

  • Start with a greeting: You must begin your email with a polite greeting, such as “Dear professor [Last Name],” or “Hello professor [Last Name],”
  • Introduce yourself appropriately: After greetings, the next thing in line is introducing yourself to the professor briefly. The introduction should contain your academic background, the current program you are attending, and what you intend to achieve with their guidance.
  • Be concise and professional: Don’t make the email too long. Keep it brief and straight to the point, appropriately outline your goals and tell the professor how their guidance can help you accomplish them. Remember to avoid giving out irrelevant details.
  • Highlight mutual interests: Before writing your cold email, research the professor’s work. If you find any research interest, mention it in the email and also explain briefly how it relates to your own goals.
  • Show that you have done your research: Before you begin writing your cold email, ensure that you have done enough research on the professor’s work and publications. In the email, you can mention specific papers or projects that got your attention.
  • Show gratitude: Express appreciation for the professor’s time and consideration, and thank them for considering your request.
  • Use a professional closing: It is essential to end your email correctly. This will show that you are serious about the whole process. Use this “Sincerely” or “Best regards” followed by your name and contact information.
  • Check for errors: Before clicking the send button, proofread it, and check for possible mistakes either in spelling or grammar.

How to Write Cold Emails to Professors for Scholarships

By now, you should know what cold emailing is about, why it is needed, and the etiquette you should follow while writing it. In this section, we will be taking you on the steps of writing a professional cold email to a professor for scholarship or supervision. Below are the steps to follow;

1. Researching the Professor

The first step is to adequately research the professor’s interests, ongoing projects, previous projects, and publications. The main goal here is to write an email that shows that you are aware of the professor’s expertise and how to correlate or align with their scholarship goals.

Here are some reasons why it is important to research the professor’s profile before sending a cold email:

  • Relevance: When you research a professor properly, it can help you locate a professor whose interest aligns with yours. This will increase the chance of successful collaboration and ensure that you only work on a project that interests you.
  • Personalization: By researching a professor, you can address your email to them personally and show that you have taken the time to learn about their work. This can significantly affect whether or not they are interested in working with you.
  • Productivity: If you fail to conduct proper research on the professor, you might end up sending or proposing research that they are already working on or familiar with the ones they are doing. This wastes their time and also yours and can decrease your chance of getting accepted by the professor.
  • Professionalism: When you conduct your research appropriately on the professor profile, you have shown a level of seriousness about working with them. This can set you apart from other applicants or researchers who send generic emails without doing any background checks or research.
  • Etiquette: It is essential to respect the professor and their time by demonstrating that you have familiarized yourself with their work before sending a cold email. This can also help you avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications in the future by establishing clear expectations from the beginning.

2. Crafting a Compelling Subject Line for a Cold Email

When you finish doing your background research on the professor, and you are set to start writing your cold email, the first thing to do is to develop or craft a compelling and captivating subject line for the cold email. This is because the first contact between you and the professor is the email subject line, as it is what the professor will see first, and as the saying goes, first impression matters a lot. If your subject line is captivating enough, it will lure the professor’s interest to keep reading.

3. Introduction: Building a connection with the Professor

Remember that a cold email to a professor for a scholarship should not be too formal or casual; make it semi-formal. The email should be able to establish a first-time connection between you and the professor because once this connection is created, it will increase your chance of being accepted. You should adequately introduce yourself to the professor, and the introduction should include your details, academic background, and achievements (if any).

4. Highlighting the Research Gap and the Research Idea

When writing a cold email to a professor, you must highlight the gap in the current research and your intended research idea and how it aligns with the professor’s expertise. You should know how to articulate these points succinctly but convincingly.

5. Request the Professor’s Supervision

The goal of a cold email is to get the professor to offer their support and supervision. Therefore, you should make a polite and straightforward request for the professor’s guidance in their intended scholarship. It would help if you asked the professor to supervise you and give them a convincing reason why he should lead you; while doing this, don’t be too.

6. Following Up After Sending the Cold Email

It’s not unusual for professors to receive tens or hundreds of emails daily, so it’s okay if they do not respond to your email immediately. After some time, if you do not receive any reply from the professor, follow your code email with another email to remind the professor about the email you sent earlier. Remember, while doing this, don’t come off too strong or sound desperate.

What to Avoid when Writing Cold Emails to Professors

While you want to write that mind-captivating cold email to the professor of your choice, there are things you should avoid to make your email appear professional and clean. Here are a few of them.

  • Generic language: Don’t use generic or templated language in your email; learn how to personalize your email to the professor. This will make your email stand out from the others.
  • Lack of research: Before you write to any professor for a scholarship, ensure that you have done your homework well by researching the profile of the professor. It would help if you showed them you understand their research area.
  • Asking for something right away: Avoid asking for scholarships right away. Build a rapport with the professor first and show them your interest in their work.
  • Being too informal or casual: Keep your tone professional and avoid using slang or overly casual language in your email.
  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes: Proofread your email for grammatical or spelling errors. Poor grammar and spelling can make you appear unprofessional and decrease your chances of receiving a scholarship.

Example of a Cold Email to a Professor Requesting Supervision for an Intended Scholarship.

In this section, we will write an example of a Cold Email to a professor for a scholarship so that you can see how it looks and also be able to write yours following the same steps that we have shown. Below is how the cold email should look like:

Subject: Introducing Myself – Request for Supervision for Intended Scholarship

Dear Professor [Last Name],

I hope this email finds you well and in high spirits. I am writing to introduce myself and express my interest in collaborating under your supervision for an intended scholarship opportunity.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is [Your Full Name], and I am an enthusiastic and highly motivated [current academic level/program]. During my educational journey, I have developed a strong interest in [area of study/research field], with a particular focus on [specific topic or area of interest].

Through thorough research, I have discovered that your work in the field of [area of interest] aligns perfectly with my academic aspirations and research goals. The depth of your expertise and the contributions you have made in the field genuinely inspire me. After reviewing your publications and achievements, I am convinced your guidance and mentorship would be invaluable in fostering my growth as an aspiring scholar.

Currently, I am in the process of applying for a scholarship opportunity [mention the scholarship name if applicable] to further my studies in [academic level, e.g., Master’s or PhD program]. Given your extensive knowledge and experience in this field, your mentorship would significantly enhance my chances of securing this scholarship and contributing meaningfully to the area.

I would be grateful for the chance to discuss my research interests and learn more about your ongoing projects and potential openings for supervision. I am particularly interested in [specific project/research area] and its potential for contributing to [mention potential impacts or benefits].

I have attached my resume to provide a detailed overview of my academic background, research experience, and relevant skills. Additionally, I would gladly share any other supporting documentation or writing samples at your request.

Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to the possibility of working under your esteemed guidance. Should you require any further information or have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact me by replying to this email or via phone at [your contact number].

I appreciate your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Phone Number]


Sending a cold email to a professor for a scholarship can be overwhelming, but don’t be carried away with excitement, relax and follow all the rules and steps listed above in order to increase your chance of getting accepted by the professor.


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