I've done my masters in CS/Artificial Intelligence. My thesis work is related to Human-Robot interaction, that involves robotics and psychological theories.

I did that project because it seemed to me as more interesting, I'm still interested but during my masters studies I have realized that I am more interested in machine learning, deep learning and its applications in so many domains. Which is why I'm highly motivated to pursue my PhD in machine learning, specifically deep learning.

I do have theoretical concepts about machine learning, image processing and good knowledge about research process (working as research assistant currently). I'm quick learner and have good CGPA as well, few conference in different research area. What I don't have is any research project or publication in this area and hence I don't have any proposal prepared so far.

Now I want to contact professor showing my interest in Deep learning. My question is since I don't have a prepared proposal, how do I approach him? Do all professor expect the proposal attached at first email or Can I prepare proposal while being in touch with him with little bit of his guidance.

Should I spend like a month and prepare proposal or would it be better if I just contact professor and with his guidance I can be more focused and save my time?

3 Answers 3


the answer depends a bit on the culture of your country and even on the individual professor you are adressing. If you would contact me, sending an e-mail containing more or less the question posted would be sufficient to get an invitation to talk about potential research topics and about how to proceed.

At least in my position, the answer is more dependent on whether I have an idea on how to finance your position - so if you have ideas about this (grants, ...), you should include such information.

  • Thanks OBu. Actually, when I searched about how one should contact professor about PhD, many people suggested that you should not be wasting professor's time and your email must show that you have already worked in his area or else professor won't even bother to reply. and they also suggested I should not mentioned anything about funding. Although, I have partial funding so finance is not really an issue. For me the issue is will he be ok to supervise a guy who has not done any work in that specific research area, in which he's going to to PhD. I'm asking generally.
    – Ray
    Nov 6, 2015 at 6:54
  • It really depends on the professor (and the culture of the country you are living in, of the university culture, etc.). Maybe you know someone working with the professor whom you can ask about his/her preferences. For me, it is more important to see that someone is ambitious and willing to work in a topic. Previous work is a bonus, but not a must have. In fact you worked in a related field and this raised your intereset - it's a good start. I think I would consider taking you ;-)
    – OBu
    Nov 6, 2015 at 8:26
  • Your reply is quite motivating. Thanks OBu. I wish to find a professor like u :). By the way I'm targeting Germany (very less tuition fees, huge industry) and surrounding countries. i.e. Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Norway.
    – Ray
    Nov 7, 2015 at 7:45
  • I know that there are different opinions on how privacy should be considered in this forum, so maybe you want to contact me using [email protected] - but I can not promise anything ;-) .
    – OBu
    Nov 10, 2015 at 15:09
  • Thanks OBu for leaving the contact. I've sent you an email :-)
    – Ray
    Nov 12, 2015 at 17:50

At least some professors will be quite willing to have a more general chat about potential PhD ideas. And given your position, I think you should seek out someone friendly who is willing to do this. This is what will be most useful for you.

If possible, approach someone you are already connected to. Since you have studied in a closely related field, a professor you already know might be able to have a conversation about machine learning PhD ideas, or they might be able to put you in contact with someone who would be happy to talk.

However, I think even if you contact professors completely cold, you have a good chance of someone being interested in talking about this.

  • Thank you dan1111. Now I'm not going to be hesitated to contact professors :) I'm in Malaysia and targeting European universities, so I don't have anyone I'm already connected to.
    – Ray
    Nov 7, 2015 at 7:46

In the U.S. at least, at the admissions stage, you don't need to have a well-formed PhD research proposal all baked and ready to take out of the oven. Advisors expect a student to spend some time choosing and defining a topic. If a student arrives with that already done, that's a nice extra.


You must log in to answer this question.

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