Currently, I am doing a PhD and I want be a guest speaker at one of my previous universities. The topic of my PhD is very similar to what I studied at the university and therefore, I want to give a small talk to the students there. How can I ask the authorities at my previous university to do the same?

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    Convince the staff member responsible for inviting guest speakers to invite you.
    – user2768
    Jan 17, 2018 at 9:56
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    @user2768 Just because a standard talk about your research is not suitable for students doesn't mean that you can't give a good talk about if it is tailored to this audience. Das: You could try to contact the alumni organization of your old university. They sometimes organize exactly this sort of talks from alumni to show students possible career paths. Usually they prefer speakers from industry, but if you can give a good, accessible talk about your PhD research, I don't see why that couldn't be of interest as well. Jan 17, 2018 at 10:27
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    Das: Can you clarify why the university might want you to give a lecture? Perhaps they have a course that invites guest speakers or maybe the alumni organises such lectures as noted by @ChristianClason
    – user2768
    Jan 17, 2018 at 12:48
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    I want to be the plenary speaker at the biggest conference in my field! ;-) Jan 17, 2018 at 17:52
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    I'm surprised nobody has addressed the elephant in the room so far: Do you expect to get paid (by which I mean of course, reimbursed for travel costs)? (And you shouldn't think of "authorities": a university consists of people -- indeed, that is the origin of the name -- and you need to address a specific researcher. Presumably if you studied at the university, you had an advisor or a professor you had contact with -- why not try them?) Jan 17, 2018 at 23:16

2 Answers 2

  1. Find out who organizes the relevant seminar. Often there is a website listing talks and a contact person. If you can't find this information, just pick someone from the faculty who is likely to be interested in your talk.
  2. Either email that person yourself, or get someone (e.g. your advisor) to introduce you. Introduce yourself; say you are interested in visiting the department and/or giving a talk; indicate what you would like to talk about; and specify what dates work for you. The following email is a good start.

Dear So-and-so,

I am visiting Madeuptown the week of Sextember 47th and would be interested in visiting the University of Madeuptown underwater basket weaving department. I am currently a PhD student in underwater basket weaving at Fictitious University advised by John Namedrop and I have been working on the use of new wicker weaving materials, which may be of interest to the students in your department. Please let me know if you would be interested in arranging something.



I have been the organizer of a computer science group seminar (in the US) and I regularly received such emails. Indeed many of them were much more direct than this.

Most likely, you'll be invited to speak. However, it is possible that they are unable to schedule something suitable at the time you specify. (If you don't get a positive response, then leave it at that. I.e., don't pester them.)

It's worth a try if you are interested in giving a talk. The worst thing that could happen is that your email is ignored.

If you are lucky, they may offer to cover some of your expenses. However, don't bet on it if you are "self-inviting."


This answer assumes that you wish to give a talk at a different institution than your current one. The fact that it's one of your earlier institutions is only mildly related.

Usually, giving a talk at a seminar is not a problem. Simply find the relevant ongoing seminars and their organizers: they might have a free time slot. If you see no seminars online, contact the researchers corresponding to your interests, and take it from there.

However, asking for the reimbursement of the travel costs is or might be a problem for you: it would require substantially more time or effort on the part of the organizers. Why would they give themselves an ulcer?


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