Top tip: Finding and reaching out to a potential supervisor

Supervisors are faculty members who mentor graduate students in their research. As a comprehensive university with more than 2,000 potential supervisors, there is a high probability that UBC will have a supervisor for your research interests.

If you’re applying to a research-based master’s or a doctoral program, you might have to identify a prospective supervisor prior to applying for admission. It is best to check with the graduate program you will be applying to, to find out if this is expected. Most programs will have this information on their website.

Finding a supervisor

Use our Supervisor search tool to identify potential supervisors by keywords, program, role and last name. Keywords will be interpreted as OR options. To search for exact passphrases put the words in quotes, e.g. "solid state physics." By reviewing a potential supervisor’s profile, you can find out details such as theirsupervision history, a list of their publications, as well as a checklist of handy tips on reaching out. 

Our Research Projects search tool allows you to sort through a selection of faculty members who are looking for new graduate students based on their research interests.. They may have specified particular projects they wish to fill. Please ensure to review the departmental profile of each faculty member to learn more about their research interests and to ensure a good fit to your intended studies at UBC.

In addition to our Supervisor and Research Project search tools, there may be other ways to find a suitable supervisor. For example, for a topic such as Sustainability you can check the Sustainability Expert Finder to identify potential supervisors working in that area.

Reaching out to a potential supervisor 

Do your research. Start by viewing their profiles online and reading a couple of their publications to familiarize yourself with their work.

Be specific. Write a brief email to them indicating your awareness of their research and how it fits with your interests. If possible, refer to their publications. In the same email, let them know your intention to apply to their graduate program and express your interest in working with them. 

Show you’re serious and well qualified. Tell them a couple of strong points about your background and who you’ve worked with on research projects. 

Wait before following up. Faculty members are busy and they will likely not get to your email right away. That doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t received it or that they are ignoring you. Give them some time. Review that you’ve been compelling in your outreach, and think about a follow-up email if you haven’t heard from them in a couple of weeks. 

Make the ask. Finally, ask if it is OK to refer to them as a prospective supervisor in your application.