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Choosing the Right PhD Supervisor: Tips for First Contact and Meeting


Read about significance of choosing the right PhD Supervisor and tips for your first contact and a successful first meeting to get a PhD admission

PhD Supervisor – Importance

PhD Supervisor

PhD Supervisor


Finding the right PhD supervisor is just as important as all the research that you are going to be undertaking. The occupation of the PhD supervisor is to help guide you through your PhD program, providing insightful advice and constructive criticism whenever you need it. They are the ones that you rely on to help keep you on the right path so you can ensure that your complete all your research in a proposed timeline, usually 3-6 years which is the average duration of a doctoral degree.

PhD Supervisor – Duties and Role

  • Prospective PhD supervisors should be a person you have some sort of positive interaction with during undergraduate or postgraduate studies. This can include your old Master’s supervisor, a dissertation advisor, or even a previous lecturer.
  • A person from the department you are applying to that seems to fit closes with your proposed research interests.
  • A person who has had success supervising other doctoral candidates with similar research themes.

Things to Consider when Choosing a PhD Supervisor

  • You will be working with this supervisor for the extent of your PhD degree so it is important that you find a PhD supervisor that you can get along with. Hostile communication between a supervisor and the student can only lead to catastrophe. You should be able to trust that your supervisor has only your best interest in mind.
  • If you ever have the opportunity to meet with a potential advisor before committing take the opportunity. A good way to find out if a certain supervisor is going to be a good fit with you is to meet them and discuss their own research in the area. This is a time for you to really get a good feel for the supervisor so don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Question their previous research and how many other applicants they have under their supervision. Ask them question regarding student funding and other opportunities to see how well versed they are in the whole supervisor role.
  • Your supervisor does not necessarily have to be from the same department that you are currently studying in. The importance of a supervisor is that the student feels comfortable going to them for advice. Sometimes a student will have that one teacher that leaves a lasting impression on them. As long as both the supervisor and student agree that they can work together towards the proposed research goal then it is a good fit.

Additional Tips to Ensure the Perfect Supervisor:


All your research has paid off and now it is time to approach the perfect supervisor and see if they would be willing to work with you. Below are some simple tips to make that first impression:

  • Always make sure to call them by their proper title. Don’t call a doctor professor and vice versa. They worked hard to gain those titles. If you cannot take the time to address them properly how are you going to convince them that they should work with you?
  • Everyone enjoys when someone gives positive reviews about their work. Discuss your potential supervisor’s previous research work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Supervisors like applicants that seem intrigued and well versed in research.
  • Don’t send out mass emails or generic emails. There is too much room for error and if a mistake does occur that is one of the quickest ways to be dismissed from consideration.
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Do not bother or harass potential advisors. Advisors are usually busy and you are not the only applicant that is trying to get a place in their team. Always be polite and wait for a response.
  • PhD Supervisor

    PhD Supervisor

    Know your purpose. One of the first questions when meeting with a potential supervisor is why you are here and how you plan to accomplish your goals? You need to be prepared and know the answer to these goals. Your job is to make your PhD Supervisor believe in you. You can’t do that unless you know for sure where you are going.