If you sent me an email expressing interest to join my research group, you will not receive a personalized detailed response. If I have time to respond at all (not guaranteed), you will receive a template email that may have brought you to this post. The reason is that your email is not the only supervision request I have received. In fact, I receive an average of 1,000-2,000 such emails every year. Compare this number with the 1-3 new students I can admit in the same period, and you will see that I cannot spend one week (assuming about 5 minutes per message) every year answering all such emails. However, it is possible that you may be a good match for our research group and we may work well together. You can read on to find out what I am looking for in a graduate student. If, after reading the requirements, you believe that you have what it takes, you can send me another email that I may examine in more detail. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee this either as sending the proper email is a necessary but not sufficient condition to join my research group.
Professors are always looking for excellent, motivated, and hardworking students, ideally with some previous research experience. I really care for students who work with me and I want them to succeed. To increase the odds, I carefully screen the applications of students I consider accepting. And although the university and department post the minimum academic and English language requirements for admission, these are often not good predictors of research aptitude and potential. On the other hand, the best indicator is a track record of previous research experience, ideally supported by published work. Thus, I recommend that a potential candidate answers the following questions and provide the supporting information and material in your follow-up email to me:
- Do I meet the minimum admission requirements? You should check the corresponding pages listing the requirements imposed by the University of Alberta and the ECE Department. [In your email, list the minimum requirements and comment on how you satisfy them.]
- Do I have the background necessary to conduct research in the areas of artificial intelligence, energy systems, and/or their combination? Have a look at some of our recent publications to see what our research is about. [In your email, list one or more of the areas and list your past and current courses that are relevant to them. Do not forget to attach your transcripts and certificates to support your claims.]
- Do I have any relevant research experience? Think about summer research projects you have done as an undergraduate student or your graduate projects during a previous Master’s program. [In your email, comment on the relevance of your past experiences to the research direction of the ENTAIL lab. Do not forget to attach electronic copies of your publications or manuscripts submitted to reputable peer-reviewed journals and conferences.]
- Is my ability to communicate in spoken and written English strong enough to be able to write research papers and present them to academic and industrial audiences? It is important to be able to write and speak proficiently from day 1 of your studies. [If you are not a native English speaker, include a copy of your English language testing results with your application.]
- Are there any references that would help to make my graduate application strong? Think about your mentors and past/present supervisors, ideally people of high repute in our field of research. [In your application, please list at least two names of referees who can provide me with comments on your research history.]
Be very specific and selective in your answers! If you believe that you have a strong case to apply for a research position in our group, put together an application package using the list presented above and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “I read your blog post and I will be a good fit for the ENTAIL lab”.
I wish you the best in finding a graduate position that is right for you, whether it is with my research group or elsewhere!