How to Connect with a Faculty Advisor

Approach faculty with respect.

Before you approach professors, prepare yourself by already being familiar with their research:

    • Contact professors during their office hours or via email (but do not send a general email to a whole list of professors).
    • You may want to interview other students who have worked with the professor.
    • When you introduce yourself, discuss your interests, qualifications (relevant coursework, past experience), and expectations. Have your résumé and transcripts ready.
    • Professors get lots of email. It is easy to overlook an email message. When and where possible, consider talking with professors instead of emailing.
    • Your letter (or conversation) should express why you want to be a part of this professor's research. Professors typically like to work with undergraduates, but they cannot say yes to everyone who asks; make it easy for them to choose you.
    • If a professor says their lab is full, if you are talking rather than emailing, you might follow up with questions like:

        • "When would be a good time to come back to ask again?"

        • "What do you look for?"

        • "Are there particular skills I should cultivate or courses I should take first?"

        • "Can I shadow someone in your lab so I can see the work students are doing?"