Is it okay to propose a project, with a brief introduction to what you want to do as your master’s thesis project when contacting potential supervisors?

Specifically, I am interested in the work someone has done, and I have a similar project that I’d want to work on. Can I propose that in the introductory e-mail? Or should I say something like: “I have a project in mind related to the work you have done and I’d like to get your opinion and hopefully conduct my research under your supervision.”

What if, for whatever reason (except that my proposed project is silly), the professor rejects me and/or doesn’t even reply given the time constraints faculty members are bound to?

I mean, I wouldn’t blame them if they later read it and found that the project was cool enough and contacted me. And since I’d have already enrolled or taken admission in any other university, or maybe I got a job or whatever the situation would be then, they might wanna start working on it themselves, which is fair, since I did plant the idea in their head.

What would you do?

Location: Canada

Type: International Student

Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.A.Sc.)

Note: I am aware my project might be a long-shot bound-to-fail thing, but I am assuming here that the project the student wants to pitch is feasible.


Your assessment of the situation is accurate: Faculty members usually have very little time to spend on your e-mail and likely do not like to wade through a project proposal just to assess your introductory email. However, your proposed project could be a decisive asset – be it only by showing your commitment.

With that in mind, you can write a short email declaring your interest and mentioning your project in one sentence, like you suggested. However, add something along the lines of:

If you wish to know more, please find a sketch of the project appended.

(… and append your project). This way, the addressee can read what is essential in a minute, and if they decide that they wish to know more about your proposal, the information is already at hand.

  • "However, your proposed project could be a decisive asset – be it only by showing your commitment." I was wondering about this, and hence I asked the question. Anyway, I think you made a good point. If they want to, they can, since the information would be there.Thank you, Sir, for your help.
    – code
    Oct 16 '17 at 11:12

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