1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Profs asked me to send motivation letter

  1. Jul 23, 2015 #1
    Recently I have been contacting profs from different research groups about the possibility to work my PhD research in their group. Again, the e-mail I have sent to them only asked if there are open positions in their research group as well as asking for a brief description of the position. I have not indicated that I will 100% apply for the position, for the moment I just want to have multiple choices of my future PhD topics and later decide on myself which of them I will apply to. However, all profs who have replied my e-mail always directly asked me to send them the application documents (e.g. transcripts, CV, letter of motivation, and contact to referees) without giving me the information of which positions they are offering. I have not received all transcripts from the administration office of my current department and also I can't prepare a convincing letter of motivation in only days. Is it indeed a common thing in an application procedure to a PhD program that the prof will not tell you their offered position unless you officially apply for the unknown position? What do they mean when they ask you to provide them those documents, are they only needed to adjust the positions to your background without considering you applying to the program, if so why need a motivation letter and referees? I haven't replied their e-mail, I actually want to say that for the moment I'm merely interested in knowing what positions they have but that seems to make me sound not serious in applying, so I have been holding their e-mail for now. What should I do?
    Probably it will be different if their location is within reach from my place so that I can probably ask for a personal talk to discuss about the position, but in my case they are from various countries.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2015 #2
    The position is a grad student in their group.

    If you can't read their papers and their web page to figure out what that means, they may not be inclined to answer every inquiry with a detailed explanation.

    You need to prove to them you are worth investing the effort of a sales pitch if you want to hear the sales pitch.
  4. Jul 23, 2015 #3
    As I wrote above, I'm merely interested in the title of the topics. Of course I know their website, but in the open position section, it is written that if you are interested in knowing the available topics you should contact the group head, which was what I did. Some of the groups I contacted do provide the list of positions, but I remember those were the same list I saw about one year ago, therefore I think it is safest to think that those position might already be taken and the site is somehow not up to date.
    By writing a motivation letter? But what should I write if I only have a vague idea of what they do in research (yeah I know I can figure it out from their website and publications, but I have my own field of interest, and I don't know if this research field belongs to the available position), what my logic is telling me is that you can write a comprehensive PhD level motivation letter if you know what you are going to do in your research.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  5. Jul 23, 2015 #4
    As is the case in all human interactions, it is your job to convince the other party that you are worth the time and effort needed to provide the detailed reply that you seek.

    Apparently, you have not done that yet. You need to make a strong case that you are a student worth their time and interest. I would recommend sending a resume or CV with all initial inquires regarding a position. A good GPA, a high Physics GRE score, and co-authorship on a paper or two in a relevant field should catch their interest.

    Professors may not have time to answer queries from every mediocre undergrad. Prove you are a candidate they are interested in, and they will reply.
  6. Jul 23, 2015 #5
    I think this makes sense, I should have a bit "shown off" in front of them, which means I just need to wait for the administration office to issue my transcripts. But what about the contact to referees, what should I write to them about the missing referee, because they seem to assume that I'm applying for their position, while actually I'm still considering them as being on equal chance for me to apply with the other groups. I have been involved in a research but we are still waiting for the paper to be published.
    Actually it's European system, most students applying for a PhD will already have owned their bachelor (undergrad) and master degrees.
  7. Jul 23, 2015 #6
    This is not common at all. You shouldn't send CV, motivation letters, etc. just to know which positions are open. Make it clear to the profs that you're not soliciting, but that you are just inquiring. And if the profs are not helpful, maybe there are other ways of finding a good collection of positions.
  8. Jul 25, 2015 #7
    Yeah I think you are right, but for now at least I will give him my CV and transcripts just to show that I'm worth telling his offered PhD topics. Because if I do not give any official document, it make me look like not serious enough to pursue the position. Although in fact for now I can't be serious yet as I do not know what topics offered to me.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook