How to Email a Professor Regarding Research

Your email should:
  • have an informative subject line
  • be concise
  • be formal: Dear Dr. Smith; Sincerely, Your Name
  • not use Mrs. or Ms.
  • NOT have slang, abbreviations, or emoticons
  • if applying for an opening:
    • address any qualifications the professor is looking for
    • demonstrate your experience
  • if asking for a research opportunity:
    • state specifically your interest in that research group (you need to read the professor's website)
    • explain why research is important for your goals
    • ask to schedule a meeting or say that you will be coming to office hours

Generalized from an email to a UCSC Professor

Hi Joe, 

My name is Name and I am a major in Major.  Is there space in your lab for an undergraduate?  If so, what is the pay rate?


General email to a STEM professor

Subject:  Meeting to discuss undergraduate research opportunities in topic

Dear Professor X,

I am a year student at university majoring in major.  How you found out about the professor's research.  Expression of interest in specific paper or topic.  I would appreciate the chance to talk with you about your research in topic of interest and about possible undergraduate opportunities in your lab.

My  experience in research experience or class, confirmed my intention to develop my research skills and goal. I know you are very busy. We could schedule an appointment or I can drop by your office hours on day and time.

I have attached my resume and unofficial transcript.  Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide. I look forward to talking to you soon.


Your Name


Generalized from an email to a UCSC professor

Subject:  Possible undergraduate research opportunities

Dear Professor X,

     I am a (year, major) at (university) and I am writing to ask about opportunities for undergraduate research in your lab beginning (time period). I have conducted undergraduate research on (topic) with (names) in (program or class). (Expression of interest in the topic). I would like to continue a path of research on (topic) and would ultimately allow me to (career goal). I am especially interested in your previous work on (describe a paper or talk).

I have attached my CV and unofficial transcript to this e-mail, but if there is additional information that I have not included that you would like, I would be happy to provide it to you. Thank you for your consideration.


Your Name
Email address 


From University of Virginia, How to Sucessfully E-mail Professors

Dear Dr. Smith,

My name is X and I'm a second year biology major at UVa. In my introductory and upper-level coursework, I've developed a passion for science and am extremely interested in pursuing independent research as an undergraduate. An extensive research experience will greatly help me consolidate my future career choice.

I am personally greatly interested in the molecular biology of stem cells. Recently I read your 2011 paper on the role of microRNAs in the differentiation of muscle stem cells and became fascinated by your work. In particular, I found it amazing that microRNAs can alter the fate of a cell in such a profound way. If possible, I would love to start working on a long-term project in your lab beginning this summer.

Would you be available to meet sometime this week to discuss your research? I would also be happy to volunteer in your lab for a few weeks before we commit to anything to see if this is a good match. My transcript and resume are attached in case you are interested. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,



Template from UC Irvine

Dear Professor X:

My name is Peter Anteater, and I am very interested in becoming involved in research in Subject Area. I am a X year student with a GPA of X. I have taken Courses and Additional Experiences. My goal is to Goal.

I have reviewed your faculty profile and am interested in the work that you have done. I was intrigued by your journal article, "Article Title." It Additional Information about Topic. I would like to get involved in research in this area because it will help me to better prepare for Goals.

Would it be possible to meet with you to further discuss Topic and my possible involvement in research? I am available Days and Times. I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Anteater
Student ID