I have contacted a potential PhD supervisor and he sent me back a positive email and asked "have you contacted anyone else in the department or just me at this stage?".

I have replied to the email in a very short notice and stated that I have directly contacted him after careful consideration of the academic staff profile because I can more easily merge with the research theme he works on.

It has been 2 weeks but haven't received a reply, should I write a follow up email? If yes, what should I write in it?

  • 2
    I can more easily merge with the research theme he works on. and he sent me back a positive email, What's the reason you have not applied for the school?
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 5:41
  • 2
    So far you have handled this well. I know that it is hard to wait when you are excited about a possible collaboration. However, two weeks is not much time, when you think about what life might be like at the other end of the ethernet connection. Maybe give it another week or two, and then find some excuse to write again, such as notifying the person that your application to that school is complete (as an FYI), or asking a question about one of this person's papers. Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 17:46
  • scaaahu, I actually want to know whether he will be able to supervise me or not
    – Diar
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 11:59
  • If you want to know whether he would be interested in supervising you, I'd fill out the application form and see what hoops you need to jump through to send the application. If he hasn't responded when you finished doing that, I'd contact him again telling him that you are ready to send your application and want to know whether he would be interested in supervising you.
    – dimpol
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 13:20
  • @scaaahu, the OP may be applying for PhD in Europe, where in some places you have to contact the advisor before submitting the application. Its almost mandatory for all applications to have the support of potential PhD supervisors.
    – Jihadi
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


Whether it is a potential PhD supervisor, committee member, or employer I think it is important at this stage to simply send a polite kind reminder. I have been in many of these situations and did not know how to handle it properly. I found it worked best for me to send a reminder 1 week afterwards your conversation; best timing: first thing in the morning, avoid weekends; so you catch his/her attention without pushing/forcing the person. Send two/three reminders max (one per week) if there are answers at that stage drop it. That would be a short template of this form (short is important there)

Dear XXX,

I hope you are having a pleasant day. I was wondering if you had the opportunity to review my email sent out on xx.xx. I know you are particularly busy at the moment but I would be really grateful if you can please spare a few minutes of your time to read it through. Have a great day ahead.

Best regards,

First name Name

Regarding the formality, it depends, some people like to be called Prof. or Dr., other prefer to be informal after the first contact. Whenever in doubt, use the polite form. For the first sentence you can be more specific: winter, summer, vacations, back from a conference, etc.

For the salutation, it will depends on the first exchange of emails, again some people prefer to be more formal other less. You will often find "Best regards" "Sincerely Yours" "Yours sincerely" "Kind regards" "Best" "Cheers" etc

For the signature, also full name (first name + name) or simply your first name.

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