Finding a research supervisor
Graduate students in research-intensive programs (i.e., one that requires a thesis) will often need a faculty supervisor. We strongly encourage you check with your graduate program of interest to see if a supervisor is needed, and to find a supervisor at the time of application if necessary. This will increase your chances at admission and allow for a better and more productive graduate student experience.
Finding a Supervisor
There are a few ways you can find a supervisor:
- If you are an undergraduate student at Memorial, consider the senior courses you are taking or have taken that interest you the most. If the subject matter is something that you can envision studying further independently, talk to the course instructor about either supervising you for a master’s project or advice on who might be looking for graduate students in that area.
- Talk to current graduate students about their experience working with their supervisors or other faculty members in your discipline. If you do not know any current graduate students, try contacting the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) Executive.
- If you completed your prior degree at a different university, you have a few options. Try reviewing the faculty directory on the departmental website. They should offer a list of all active faculty members, their research interests, publications, current and past graduate students, and contact information. Try looking at the faculty directors of multiple departments that might be related to your field of study.
- Do a search using www.yaffle.ca using the key words that best describe your research interests. The search results should yield several names of faculty members in your area of interest along with their contact information. You can also search for faculty members who are specifically seeking graduate students and willing to supervise. Please keep in mind not all of Memorial’s graduate supervisors are listed on this site.
- Contact the Graduate Officer of the academic unit or program you are interested in and ask for suggestions on faculty members who might be looking for students. Graduate Officers can also provide important information on admission and program requirements, the application review process, and funding awarded for students in research programs.
Contacting a Supervisor
When contacting potential supervisors, it is important to make a good first impression. We suggest you take the following steps:
- Review the faculty member’s information online and become familiar with their research. Consider their publications as well as those of their graduate students.
- Write a concise introductory email to the faculty member you would like to work with. Introduce yourself, your academic credentials (GPA, academic awards, research experience, etc.), and the kind of research you would like to pursue and the reason for it. Tailor your email to the individual recipient and do not send a general email to multiple faculty members.
- Use formal salutations (“Dr./Professor” followed by last name) and close (“Yours sincerely” followed by your name and contact information). Attach your current CV and transcripts.
- If you have your own funding (e.g., external scholarship), specify the source and amount you have been awarded.
- Advise them you have applied for a graduate program at Memorial University and ask them if they might be interested in serving as your supervisor for a program.
- Ask for further discussion by phone, videoconference or in person (if possible).
- If you don’t receive an immediate response, do not be discouraged. Faculty members might just need some time to review and get back to you, especially in the middle of a busy semester or during the summer if they are in the field or away at a conference.
Questions to Ask a Supervisor
When communicating with potential supervisors, it is important to discuss a few topics in addition to research interests and plans:
- Most full-time graduate students in research programs must be funded. Ask about funding levels for your program and options for scholarships in your field.
- Ask about potential start date for your program and whether they might be away on research leave at any point during your study period.
- Discuss the work of the faculty member’s current and past graduate students. What kind of research are current graduate students doing now, and what kind of careers do former graduate students now have?
- What kind of professional skills training opportunities will you have as a graduate student? Will you be able to publish, present at conferences, and network with peers?
- What is the faculty member’s supervisory style? Do they meet with graduate students frequently or expect graduate students to work fairly independently?
If at any point in this process you have a question, don’t hesitate to reach out. The School of Graduate Studies and our 60 academic units across all of Memorial’s campuses are committed to making admissions as clear and seamless for you as possible. In addition to our Graduate Officers who can serve as invaluable resources for you, our dedicated team of professional staff are available to answer any question you might have within one business day.