I have contacted so far 5 supervisors for my master program that I want to enroll in ( applications open late September and admission January 2017) .

I emailed various faculty in the most polite way possible. Introduced myself, showed that I am interested in pursuing a research career in their field, talked briefly about my achievements but only one supervisor replied. I am not sure why is this happening ? I have attached my transcript ( I am not a high GPA student but I received excellent grades for my thesis and seminar courses).

  • I emailed them this week ( and one hardcore researcher last Friday)

what could be the reason ? note : I am intending to apply for the biomedical engineering program (one I really want to pursue) , most students have engineering undergrad however , I have a biotechnology degree. Could that be the reason? the department said my biotechnology degree is acceptable for that admission purposes.

  • 2
    Questions about slow faculty responses come up a lot; there are tons of discussions about it if you look around. Here's one recent one I posted in, for example: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/75998/…
    – Jeff
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:20
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    I suspect 1 out of 5 might actually be a pretty good average given the medium (email). At least, in the US this is certainly true - I'd consider 1 out of 5 to be really good, as it's effectively an informal "cold call". I wouldn't give up hope, but I'll leave it to people more deeply familiar with Canadian norms in this area to respond.
    – BrianH
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:22
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    I don't normally point out bad grammar and spelling. But since you're asking why your emails are getting ignored, it's worth mentioning that this post has quite a few minor errors. If English isn't your first language, consider having a native speaker read over important emails before you send them. It absolutely makes a difference.
    – user37208
    Sep 9, 2016 at 21:52
  • I will be waiting for a week or so before following up. Also, I feel that 5 potential supervisors is rather a small number, I guess i should email at least 10 to increase my chances!
    – Emma
    Sep 10, 2016 at 1:55
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    I only reply to sincere emails as opposed to those that are just fishing. In other words, once I know you are spamming people, I don't waste my time replying. Also, if you deliberately conceal your GPA, then I won't reply. Lastly, your low GPA may be the main reason. I tend to look at project mark and mark for relevant subjects as well. However, most staff members tend to use GPA as a filter. If you are serious, write a sincere email and tell them how your strengths make you a good research student on topic X. Jan 9, 2017 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


I don't know if this applies to you, but it might help: I receive quite a few e-mails from prospective graduate students. I am looking for new students, but I delete most of the e-mails that I receive without reply. My reason is that most of the e-mails are obviously form letters that are sent to multiple professors with no indication that the student knows or cares about my own research interests. If they didn't spend the time to assure that I might be a personal match with their interests, then why should I waste my time replying?

I don't know if this is your case, but I do recommend that you spend the time (up to 30 minutes per professor) to get to know their research interests based on their websites and their publications on Google Scholar. Only e-mail people whose topics seem similar to yours. (This might eliminate several professors.) When you do e-mail, one paragraph is all you need: you just need to explain directly to the point how the professor's research interest match your own.

Of course, I can't guarantee that anyone will reply you if you do this, but when students do, I always reply them and enter into a serious e-mail exchange. Actually, even if the student's interest doesn't actually match mine (or they pointed out an old research area that I no longer pursue), as long as I see that they made a sincere effort to know my research (again it takes up to 30 minutes per professor), I always at least give them the courtesy of a reply (though I can't guarantee that anyone else might).


Supervisors and researchers get flooded with emails during this time of the year due to prospective graduate students. That's why it's often recommended that you contact them 4-6 months in advance,

It's more often than not that your email gets lost in their inbox than them reading it and deciding that it's not worth replying to (especially if your experiences are related to the field in question). Some useful tips will be to wait it out for a week or so and if they still do not respond, then send them another email politely asking if they got your first message, and include the first message in that follow-up. If they still do not respond, then they might be REALLY busy or it could potentially mean that they won't make the best supervisor...

Don't send them too many emails or it'll just irk them more should that be the case.

Be sure to also include "Prospective Graduate Student" or something similar in the subject line so that they know it's not some random email.

Hope this helps in some way or another!

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    For an overwhelmed professor at the beginning of a semester, one week is not an extraordinarily long period of time. Sep 10, 2016 at 4:32

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