Careers: Use full titles when writing to faculty for the first time!

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We're starting to see a trickle of e-mails from newly minted BAs who -- having experienced a week of the Real World® -- are terrified and want to go back to the ivory towers of academia.

I think most faculty encourage prospective graduate students to contact them. One of the most important things in graduate school is a good working relationship with your mentor/advisee/chair. It behooves you to contact faculty who are working in the same geographical or topical areas at potential universities to see if they might be interested in your research project.

However..... and this must be said .... don't forget that you should be on your best behavior as well as most formal when writing to faculty that you don't know. This means writing your initial contact letter as if it were a paper letter.


  1. Start with "Dear Dr. X" or "Dear Prof. X." Whatever you do, don't write to us as "Mr. Y" or "Miss Z" -- we're not in grade school here. And don't use first names unless you are 120% sure that the faculty doesn't mind. Just because they use your first name isn't implicit permission to use theirs! It's better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Introduce yourself fully, including the name of the faculty you worked with at your alma mater.
  3. Don't use internet abbreviations: LOL, BRB, IMHO, LMAO, BTW, etc.
  4. Close properly: Warmly, Sincerely, etc.
  5. Sign with your full name
  6. Don't send from your gmail account with a silly name: surferd00d@gmail.com

I know it seems pretty stuffy but you want to get off on the right foot, right?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on June 1, 2007 12:25 AM.

Careers: Getting a PhD is just the first step was the previous entry in this blog.

Meta: In Japan is the next entry in this blog.

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