I asked my professor to supervise me. I took several courses with him. He replied to me that he is confused about whether he will have enough time to supervise me. He is extremely busy though! I wanted to ensure that I will take minimum time. Is it okay to reply in the following way?

"My previous collaborative research experiences will help me to work independently. I believe that I will require minimum time from you"

2 Answers 2


To me this sounds like a polite rejection. Depending on your culture this may differ.

If you push harder, likely either you will find a stronger rejection (though this isn't necessarily a bad thing, just confirms where you stand), or in a worst case scenario you will convince them to supervise you but you will never receive the supervision you need and find yourself like many of the question askers here who can't get advice from their advisors when they need it and find themselves lost in academia.

An active supervisor is much more useful to you than a "best professor" who never answers your emails.

I would probably respond with something like, "It sounds to me like you think you are too busy to take me on as a student, and that I should find someone else to supervise me. Is this correct, or should we plan to speak again in (several weeks/a couple months) to discuss?"


It is "okay" to say something like that. But words aren't likely to be very effective in such situations. It would be better if your previous collaborators could intervene on your behalf here, assuring the professor that you are capable of carrying on independently.

He is right to be cautious. If he can't give you the help you need when you need it, it is you that will suffer.

While you continue to try to convince him, you should probably also look at other options.

  • @Byffy He is the best professor in the department. What is the best way to ensure him politely? Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 13:07
  • @Simpson's Paradox I would show them my previous work/publications to show them that I am autonomous or accomplished. For example, if you wrote an entire MA thesis after only three or four meetings with your supervisor, that would give the new professor the idea that you won't need so much of their time. But really think if you won't want that much of their time. Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 14:24

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