Interview Guide

How to Write a Solid Cold Email for Graduate School Applications

Let’s take a look at how to compose a strong cold email for graduate school applications. This post will provide you with 25 tips to help you draft effective cold emails that will elicit responses from professors.

But first, before we go into how to write cold email suggestions, let’s define cold email.


What is Cold Email?

Cold emails, also known as introductory emails, are emails sent by graduate students to professors they have never met in an attempt to secure a research post.

Cold emailing a professor can be intimidating, especially for students looking for a research professor or looking to extend their studies abroad. According to research, cold emails are an effective channel that only works if the proper process or protocol is followed. Many students avoid cold emailing because they are afraid of being rejected, but this should not prevent them from pursuing academic achievement. Cold emailing can be used to make contact or to establish a working connection between a student and a supervisor.


How to Write a Solid Cold Email for Graduate School Applications


We developed a list of 25 suggestions for writing a cold email that would elicit a response from the professor.

25 takeaway cold email tips:

  1. Email Address: Create an email address that includes your entire name.
    • 2Sexy4Luv@gmail – Wrong
    • JoyDelegiwa@gmail.com – Right
  2. Email Subject: Fall, 2023: Prospective Master’s Student | Prospective PhD Student
  3. Language: Avoid needless praises and get straight to business.
  4. There are no emojis.
  5. Don’t come across as desperate.
  6. Value: What unique value do you bring to the table?
  7. Time difference: 5 a.m. in Nigeria might be 11 p.m. in the US. Set your email to be delivered in the morning.
  8. Call-to-Action: Request that the lecturer schedule a Zoom appointment with you.
  9. Title (Prof vs Dr): All faculty in the United States are professors. Instead of Dr., address them as Prof.
  10. Alignment of Interest: Contact a professor only if you’re certain that you both interest alligns.
  11. Name: Address professors by their surname (surname). For instance, if a professor’s name is James McBride, your email should begin with “Dear Prof. McBride.” If they respond to your email and sign off with their first name, that’s an invitation to use their first name.if they reply

    “Hello, Adewale.

    Thank you for your interest in my research.


    Are you available to talk on Zoom?



    Then they realize they’d rather be called “James” than “McBride.”

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  12. Attachments: Academic CV, Transcript, and Test Scores (optional)
  13. Attach your publications to your CV as links rather than individual documents.
  14. Avoid emotions.
  15. Keep religion out of it: don’t close your email with “God bless you.” As a result, the professor may not be religious, which may be a turn-off.
  16. Avoid sending “Happy Easter” or “Happy Christmas” greetings to professors. You can send them emails wishing them a “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Happy National Day,” or “Happy Labor Day.” When you get here, you’ll understand better.
  17. Email Lenght: The length of a cold email should be between too long and too short.
  18. Proofread: Always proofread for typos and errors, You can use Grammarly’s free version.
  19. Write in the prof’s language: For UK professors, use British English; for US/Canadian professors, use American English.
  20. Check that your email includes the correct salutation and closing.
  21. Cross-check to be sure your cold email and CV are in agreement: Your CV indicates a passion for sports communication, but your cold email suggests a passion for health communication, which raises a red flag.
  22. Background check: Check to see if the professor is actively working in research and has not retired.
  23. Maintain a clean web presence: If the professor finds you interesting, He may conduct a quick search for your name. Do you think a professor will enjoy what they find if they search for you up on Twitter, for example, would they be happy with your activity on the internet? Be careful of what you post online.
  24. Be strategic: Applying to a few colleges with strong applications is preferable to apply to 30 institutions with weak applications.
  25. Grade: Don’t be concerned about your low grade. The grade is only one of many admittance requirements.


Reading the professor’s works relating to your interests and notifying them in a cold email is also a really clever method to approach cold emailing. This falls under the category of demonstrating an understanding of what the professor does.

However, when practically everyone who contacts the professor claims to have read their paper on xyz, it becomes tedious (IMO). So, in order to be distinctive, I advise individuals to spice things up or “deviate” from common conventions.

In my situation, I included “research questions” in my cold email, which the majority of people ignored.

Do well to Send it to as many people as you can. If they’re in the same department and school, I’d recommend scheduling the emails and sending one per week, so that if a professor responds positively, you can cancel the next email and proceed with the one that replies.


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About the author

Nnamdi Nwachukwu

An amazing writer with over 3 years of experience working in the Marketing, Education, and Sports firms.

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