I've sorted out a list of professors from few Canadian Universities and I've sent customized emails after reading their papers and detailing in short on why I am particularly interested in their research and how it relates with my goals. This took a lot of time for just one email. Most have replied by saying they don't have suitable projects in their labs or are not accepting Masters students. I am bit worried now that I am nearly towards the end of my list of potential supervisors. Should I find more professors and broaden my research area of interest, as suggested by some senior friends? I am an international student and don't have any publications although I do have research experience. Could my lack of publication be a factor for all the rejections? My average GPA is 3.6/4.3 and my field is Biology.

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    Why only a few universities, and only in Canada? Diversity not just with respect to professors, but also with respect to university and location. – ff524 Jun 20 '16 at 20:44
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    Have you run your customized emails past your current research supervisor before sending? – Nate Eldredge Jun 20 '16 at 20:45
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    Aren't Canadian PhD students admitted by departments, rather than by individual professors? – JeffE Jun 20 '16 at 22:33
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    For a Master's, especially, you should probably be applying to departments rather than specific professors. Professors rarely have much control over admissions, and are likely to intervene only for extraordinary candidates who they really want in their lab. Masters' students are unlikely to meet that bar. Also, for a Masters, the specific professor is less important than for a PhD, since you can change advisors for the PhD. Different fields may vary, but it seems likely that you're wasting your time pestering professors. – iayork Jun 21 '16 at 12:37

No, do not keep emailing the professors.

Often professors get too many emails, and they may not have the time to reply. It might have been helpful to see a sample email. What information were you asking them? What were you expecting out of emailing them?


Professors are quite limited with funds and resources (or already have a full team). The likelihood that someone who emails out of the blue to be a suitable choice is slim. Some places probably need a commitee to hire, as a safeguard against discrimination and errors.

You are far better off looking for universities with open positions, I think, or strengthen the connections with professors who already know you (and might write a recommendation letter for you).

Also, publications are way better than grades, research experience is very valuable (at least in maths, I suspect other fields are similar).

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