I recently finished my Masters in Urban Planning in Belgium (Bachelor in Architecture) and I am looking into continuing for a PhD in the same university with the same professor who supervised my Masters thesis. I am, however, a bit lost on how formal or informal the email should be. He recently sent me positive comments about my thesis paper and I feel he would be a good supervisor for extending my research with the Phd. Can anyone offer some advise on how I the email structure should be?

Thank you!

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    why an email? Why not a informal meeting to fell the waters? Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 12:55
  • First ask him if he has the same feelings for your PhD. You might be misunderstanding his comments as a gesture for PhD. Ask him if he is willing to have you as PhD students, then ask him if you should email him or apply on proper channel. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 16:30
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    I'm with @FábioDias. Just walk to their office and say "hi, masters was fun. can we do for a phd now?". If walking there is not possible, frame your email as this.
    – Gimelist
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


I've recently been in the position where my MSc thesis supervisor informed me about a possible PhD topic and suggested to apply. From this experience I would say that having an open discussion is best - of course depending on your relationship with the supervisor. You should present your case for wanting to pursue further study (this also helps to decide for yourself) possibly first by e-mail, however nothing beats a discussion in person. Academics are generally quite busy, so writing a long, serious e-mail is not the best approach. Adding a familiar face to your conversation will work better!

First bases: Are you aware of PhD opportunities at the university/with your supervisor? Can you address a specific project of his/of the department that you are interested in?

The great deciders: Ultimately, a PhD is dependent on available funding. If your potential supervisor or you can secure funding for the proposed project (or best case - funding is already available), then you can apply for the position without a doubt. Of course, when a position has been funded usually the department will advertise to the world at large at which point other candidates will also be considered.

In any case - good luck!

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    If I'm honest, if you are not comfortable asking your ms advisor regarding a phd position, shouldn't you consider a different advisor? Because this is one of the most obvious, expected, conversations ever :) Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 19:55

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