I am a master student expected to graduate in April. I want to work as an R/A for my thesis advisor after graduation and want to do a PhD afterwards. However, the entire school is closed and I cannot meet him in person. When I asked him about meeting after the corona is over, he said “don't worry about graduation, you will be able to graduate online”. It seems that he does not want to meet me, which makes me feel very depressed and anxious. My only option now is to write an email. I want to talk with him over several things:

  • Is my thesis good enough that justifies doing a PhD? If yes, is it possible that I publish it with him being coauthor?
  • Is it possible I become his R/a? Even if my thesis is good, that is not a guarantee.
  • What can I do to improve PhD chance?
  • Will he write me a letter of recommendation?

I think that asking all of these in one email is not a good idea. So I am thinking to start it with the email:

Dear Prof.A,
I am very grateful for your advices for my thesis. Without you I would not have been able to graduate. I learned a lot from you and now that the thesis is finished, I discovered my passion for research and realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have some questions, I would be very grateful if you can answer them:

  • do you think my thesis is good enough justify me going to phd. If it is good can we coauthor on my thesis and publish. That sounds a bit too arrogant from my part, so I do not know how to word it.

  • Is it possible I become your r.a. Your research is very interesting and you taught me so much during our time working together . I wish to learn more from you.

  • Do you have any advice for me to get into good Phd school?

thank you so much again!

Can you give me some advice? I am very depressed and anxious to the point I cannot move for many days.

  • 4
    "It seems that he does not want to meet me" Not to me, at least not from what you are saying. Chances are he means what he writes. Mar 10, 2020 at 0:25
  • 3
    There is no such thing as "coauthor on a thesis". Do you mean split the thesis out into papers? Mar 10, 2020 at 0:25
  • 2
    The question is confusing -- if I am understanding you right, the general question behind your question is whether the strategic components of PhD advising (career guidance, RA funding, perspectives and opinions on the quality of one's thesis work) can be discussed online or must necessarily be talked over in person. This would be a rather interesting question. Mar 10, 2020 at 0:27
  • Hi, darij grinberg, yes, it is partly my question. It is something I have to do rather an option, because the school is closed and I do not know when it will be opened again. I am graduating soon as well, then the semester is over and maybe he will just ignore my email after graduation since he will be very busy in the summer, I suppose.
    – FARRAF
    Mar 10, 2020 at 0:31
  • 5
    He may not have time to deal right now with anything other than the immediate problems of turning a traditional physical campus into an entirely remote school. He has students worrying about whether they will be able to graduate on time. He may have been counting on in-class finals, and has to work out what to do without them. He may be preparing on-line material to substitute for the lectures he had planned for the next few weeks. If you can possibly delay this until things have settled down, do so. Mar 10, 2020 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


“don't worry about graduation, you will be able to graduate online”

In this context, I would translate your advisor's thought process as:

This student sounds like they are anxious and worried about graduation. The best way I can help them worry less is to simply tell them not to worry.

Nothing there about wanting to meet or not. Indeed, if your advisor does not want to meet in person, it's more likely to stay out of the public and help contribute to reducing disease spread.

I think it's fine to write an email with some bullet points about things you'd like to discuss further. Thank them for reassuring you about graduation, but make it clear that there are in fact things you could use advice on besides just a path to graduating.

Then you can ask whether the professor would prefer to discuss those things over email, to meet via phone or video chat (like Skype, Google Hangouts), or to meet in person.

Be as patient as you can be, because this is likely a stressful time for everyone. Your advisor may not be able to meet or respond right away - don't let that worry you.

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