I am doing an undergrad in Computer Science, and am seriously considering entering in the honors program at my school. I fulfill all the requirements (certain courses, GPA, etc) and now I just need to find a professor that is willing to work with me.

An honors project at my school is a two-part process:

  1. First there is a Directed Study where the student and the professor work one-on-one to bring the student up to speed on the subject material that may be required for the thesis project. This happens over one semester like a regular course
  2. After the directed Study, the student sets to work on the actual project/research, and presents their findings whenever they have completed their project (usually two semesters).

I have read the backgrounds on all the professors in my faculty, and have identified half a dozen who do research which would be similar to my project.

My problem now is that I don't know how to "apply". I have prepared a one page "pitch" which talks about my background, my project idea, and why I think that professor would be a good fit (based on their research interests), which I was going to email to my half-dozen potential professors.

Is this too formal? Too informal?

Extra info:

  • I go to a Canadian University.
  • I study Computer Science.
  • I am away on an internship, or else I would go talk to the professors in person.

2 Answers 2


For what it is worth, I successfully 'applied' for a similar program as an undergrad simply by sending emails to the potential mentors. I used a one or two paragraph pitch, then asked if they would be willing to explore the possibilities. This meant that the professors could have agreed to meet me to discuss the project without committing themselves to anything. It also meant that if I had decided that I didn't want to work with a particular professor after meeting them in person, I had left myself an option to gracefully decline.

(I ended up with a very successful honors project in this way. Good luck with your endeavors!)

  • This is a good argument for keeping it informal. Thanks for your feedback. Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 17:41

An additional data point: Consider approaching the profs whose classes have intrigued you the most, and talk to them about what projects they have on their books, with no man power to do them.

Sometimes* they'll have fantastic projects even better than what you come up with, because they have expertise in the area.

(*) not always though!

  • 1
    But don't be afraid to talk to a professor whose work looks interesting—even if you haven't taken a class with them before!
    – aeismail
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 18:56

You must log in to answer this question.

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