We have a webpage dedicated to choosing a supervisor, so be sure to check this out when beginning your search.
Here is a breakdown of our top tips to guide you through the process;
1. Begin your search early, and know where to look
The University of Cambridge website is a great starting point. Most department webpages will have research pages or a staff directory. You can use these resources to find supervisors, their research specialisms, and contact details. For science-based programmes you can visit the laboratory website and find a directory of current and previous Master’s, PhD and Postdoc students.
Getting an objective view of what a supervisor is like will give you the best chance of finding the most suitable academic to supervise you.
2. Know what you're looking for
Checking a supervisor’s current work, for example by looking at their recent articles via Cambridge Open Access Repository, Google Scholar, Acaemia.edu or ResearchGate, will give you a good indication of whether they are suitable for your research interests. You might also want to check the topics and methodology of former and current students supervised by a particular faculty member.
3. Research when the best time is to contact your supervisor is
The appropriate time to contact a supervisor will vary by department and so we’d recommend checking the ‘How to Apply’ tab of your course webpage to find out.
While some departments prefer you to find a potential supervisor before you apply, others may ask you to only contact supervisors after your application is submitted. If you are struggling to find the information, visit the department webpages instead or email your department directly with your queries.
Some science-based courses will give you the chance to try different labs before settling on a particular research topic and supervisor. The course webpage will tell you if this applies to your course.
4. Reach out to them
There’s no right way to contact a supervisor or student but first contact is typically initiated by email using their institutional address. In some cases you may feel it’s appropriate to reach out on LinkedIn with an introduction and to network with similar students about their experiences. You may also find it useful to set up a call with a student or potential supervisor to get a feel for their personality and style of supervision.
5. Know what you are going to say
In your first message you should explain why you are interested in working with them, and attach your CV. It's also recommended that you comment on their research and highlight your passion for the research area that you want to explore.
This is where your own research will be important, as a supervisor will look for areas where your interests are aligned and reasons why they will be a good fit for your proposed research.