Recently I applied for a summer research internship in a lab in South Korea. This was the reply from the prof.

Dear Student,

Thank you for contacting me for internship.
You have worked with an excellent scientist, Dr. Manhattan, which draws my attention. With his recommendation letter, I am willing to host your internship in my lab. What you shall study, unless you have something else particularly in mind, will be numerical calculation similar to what is in the attached paper.

Best regards,

Professor X

What does he mean by "host"? Does it mean funding? How do I go on about asking him politely about it?

  • 1
    Did you give the professor a recommendation letter from Dr. XXXX already?
    – Nathan S.
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 6:02
  • @NathanS. No, The prof. I have to get recommendation letter from is attending a seminar in a different country and would return in a few days and give the recommendation letter. Thus I have mailed the prof. that I will be sending the letter in a few days. Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 6:07
  • 1
    "host" usually means making space in their lab and giving you access to a bit of their time. Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 14:39
  • 44
    "I feel it is rude to ask him directly": Get over that feeling now. It's not rude to ask for clarification when you're unsure about something. If you are afraid of appearing ill-informed, you will not do well in academia.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 16:38
  • Try to reflect on how this issue is of your making -- if you needed the investigator to fund your stay, you should have included a direct question about funding in your original contact. It's not rude to ask for clarification now. Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


What does he mean by "host"?

Host means (at a minimum) that you can work in the lab - the professor will provide space for you during the internship.

Does it mean funding?

It is ambiguous. This partially depends on what you asked for in your original letter asking for an internship.

How do I go on about asking him politely about it?

Being hired is still contingent on a good recommendation letter from Prof XXXX. Assuming you can wait for that letter, I would ask about the terms of the internship after the letter is delivered when you confirm that the professor has received it and is still interested in hiring you for the internship. You still need to confirm that you are interested in working on the topic in the provided paper.

Asking about a list of different things can take off some of the stress around asking about funding directly. You can, for instance, ask about dates of employment, expected hours, whether there is a travel or housing allowance, and whether there is a stipend. You might also ask about whether you'd work with others in the lab and expectations for publishing.

  • 2
    The only caveat to asking multiple questions together, is that if you are only truly interested in the answer to one of them - you risk getting back answers to everything except that one thing.
    – Bilkokuya
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 11:31
  • 3
    @Bilkokuya I agree - although questions about expectations, travel costs, housing, etc, can be just as important as the stipend.
    – Nathan S.
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 14:08

How do I go on about asking him politely about it?

Usually, the academics have their own funding, and it is not usually rude to ask them for some money. Thus, you can simply go with this:

Dear Professor,
I am honored by your kind comments. I am willing to study under your supervision.
I would like to ask one thing. Is it possible for you to cover my expenses partially? I need this knowledge to state a budget to my supervisor for my potential visit.

Pratik Patnaik

This kind of mail is perfectly fine, because almost everyone in academia usually depends on funding for research visits.

  • 1
    Great email template - perhaps this would open the door to only partial funding? Maybe it could be 'Could we discuss the terms of the employment regarding salary?'
    – user97709
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 15:43
  • Thanks. As I am a 3rd-year student and I haven't done any internships abroad yet, I thought it was rude to ask them for funding directly. My previous internships have been through research programs by universities who fund students directly and it is not the responsibility of the Professor. I will ask him about funding or stipends for the lab when I send him the recommendation letter. Also I liked the template. Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 16:53

Ask directly

You need a clear answer, and it's rather important for everyone involved that there is no misunderstanding. So you do have to explicitly ask about the funding.

What did you ask for initially? From the message you quoted, it seems that you asked for X and the professor responds that yes, they're giving you that.... but if you did not ask for funding, then it does imply that you asked for a non-funded position and that you were okay with that. In particular, the wording about 'hosting an intership' generally implies an unfunded position. So in this situation it seems possible that funding can be arranged, and it's also quite possible that they will refuse.

In any case, although it would have been far better to explicitly ask for this earlier, it's still better to resolve this issue (one way or another) sooner instead of waiting.


He’s written that he’s offering you an academic internship to work on a numerical calculation similar to the example he sent you, WHILE you continue your studies. You must be a Ph.D candidate, and as such, you more than likely can have up to three “internships” or rotations with different faculty members within the department to help you choose what your area of study and subsequent dissertation will be. Since your tuition and fees are covered as part of your acceptance into the program, the internships allow you to earn money for your room and board while simultaneously allowing you to pick a professor to work with towards your doctorate. Each professor you work with has applied for and been awarded research monies that include funding specifically designated to pay an intern who will hopefully become their graduate research and/or teaching assistant.

I would not ask the professor directly, rather I would reach out to the office of the Dean of Student Affairs, or Dean of Graduate Studies to find out what is involved in accepting an internship, i.e. what your commitment entails in terms of time and deliverables, what the pay rate and pay schedule is for internships, and what grants are available to help with a relocation. If those details seem reasonable, go get that recommendation. Just my 2 cents.

  • 1
    I agree that it's likely the stipendium is not organized by the prof or institute. However I would advise against contacting anyone directly without beeing refereed to. But you can use it as a good excuse "Can you introduce me to the contact at your institution who would be responsible to coordinate with handling expenses, internship payment and visitor accommodation?"
    – eckes
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 0:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .