I would like to apply for following PhD studies in the Nordic countries, particularly in the field of Computer Science. The problem that I found is that it says in the admission procedure that "before applying one should get a Professor or Researcher that agrees to supervise the applicant".

I have checked up the personal webpages of the Professors and I have found their topics of interests, publications and so on. I like a lot of the topics in which they make research, but I do not really know how to address an email to them asking if they would agree to supervise me. Particularly I have the following doubts:

  • Should I make a small research article putting my ideas about one research interest of them? The problem here is that I believe I would not have the enough time to go through a lot of papers made on their reseach groups. What can I do if do not have the enough background? Time is running fast for submitting the application and I do not believe I would have enough time to study in deep their research.

  • Should I send my CV and ask to a specific Professor that I have interest in following PhD studies under their supervision, and if it would be possible if he or she to send me some open question or open research task so that they could see that I will manage to do it well on his or her research group?

I will transcribe what the ad specifically says:

  1. You must do your best to find a suitable supervisor at the department who agrees to supervise you. Please see the research pages of the department, and especially the descriptions of the research groups.

  2. You must agree on a study plan, a research plan and a financing plan together with your (found) supervisor, and submit an application to the steering committee of the department's doctoral programme.

also about the supervisor it says:

A student who wants to become a PhD student should start the application process by finding a supervisor at the department, who works in the field of interest of the student and who is willing to supervise the student. If the student is unsure of which supervisor to contact, he or she may first contact the research coordinator of the department who will steer the student in the right direction. Generally, a supervisor is a professor and/or principal investigator employed by the department.

For what I read it seems, at least to me, that one should really have in mind a good research proposal before applying, am I wrong? or only with an email will suffice to contact the potential supervisor?

What should I do in this situation?



If you have a specific potential advisor at a university, start by sending a brief (and polite, of course) email. Ask whether she would be willing to take a new student and say a few words about your background (what you did in your bachelor/master, where and with whom). Thus you can show that your background is compatible with the advisor's research. If you manage to add a few words about how you liked something specific about the advisor's recent work, that will certainly be a big plus. End by thanking the supervisor for her time and say that you are ready to provide more info if necessary. The advisor can then help you get through the formalities if she sees a potential in you.


You might read these:

If the student is unsure of which supervisor to contact, he or she may first contact the research coordinator of the department who will steer the student in the right direction. Generally, a supervisor is a professor and/or principal investigator employed by the department.

Contact the research coordinator at first and kindly follow these steps.

  1. Prepare your research proposal and CV that state your research interest.
  2. Write an email that explains these points:

    • State your intention to apply to his/her University.
    • Explain why you apply to his/her University?
    • Inform them that his/her publications caught your attention.
    • Explain your research plan, inform them that you attached your research proposals.
    • State your appreciation if they give their guidance.

Wait for response from them. If their response is positive, they will be questioning you more detail about your research as part of the pre-selection process.

  • I have upvoted this answer because it is precisely what I did myself, and it worked. The department head (research leader) knew of a potential advisor who was looking for a good candidate in a specific field. Deal done. Good luck! – ALAN WARD Jul 9 '15 at 17:33
  • Well done. It was based my own experience. – hepidad Jul 10 '15 at 4:23

From my experience in Sweden, what most professors weight the most to evaluate a candidate is the research experience. Make sure you include a list of all your projects, with a brief explanation of what you did; and a copy of the reports of the finished ones, if they are not very big. Glancing at your profile, I see you have been published, that is very good, make it visible!

Grades are (usually) not very important, but be prepared to promptly produce a transcript if requested.

Of course, common sense applies, a large dump of stuff is more likely to get ignored or deleted than a well distilled selection.

Best of luck!


I would suggest you have a very good research proposal. Go through your proposal and then contact the professor(s) who also have interest in what you are interested in.

Ensure that the email is well thought out and avoid all unnecessary spelling errors.

The email should also include your academic achievement as it relates to that of the professor(s).

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