How to write a Cold mails.

What should a cold mail contain?

Your email ought to:

  • Contain a descriptive subject line be brief and to the point maintain a formal tone.
  • Address as "Dear Dr. Smith," and conclude with "Sincerely, Your Name" avoid using titles like Mrs. or Ms.
  • Refrain from employing slang, abbreviations, or emoticons.
  • Address the qualifications sought by the professor showcase your relevant experience if inquiring about a research opportunity.
  • Clearly express your interest in the particular research group (after reviewing the professor's website) elaborate on why research aligns with your goals request a meeting.

A good cold email:

  • Begins with brief introduction to the purpose of your mail.
  • presents our interest in the work of the person/organization
  • Further, you write about your skills and how they are in coherence with the work you are applying for.
  • Mentions a call of Action (What lies ahead)
  • If applicable, asks for a short meeting as per their office hours.
  • Has a maximum of 250-270 words.
  • Step 1: Get familiar with who you are mailing, what they do and what they want.

Proper Salutation

Initiate your email with a proper salutation. The recommended formal and customary way is to start with "Dear Professor [Surname]" or "Dear Dr [Surname]." Avoid addressing individuals as "Dear Dr John" as it is not commonly used; instead, opt for "Dear Dr Smith."

I found it necessary to mention, albeit it's somewhat embarrassing, that when addressing or referring to a female faculty member, it remains "Professor [Surname]" or "Dr [Surname]," refraining from using "Miss," "Ms," or "Mrs."

When making a request, ensure a polite tone by phrasing it as "Please could you..." or "Kindly take a look into..." or "I'd be really grateful if you could consider..." Avoid language that comes off as demanding, such as "Do the subject registration for me" or "Open that elective option for me."

The aforementioned point about politely framing requests is applicable not only when communicating with faculty members but in all situations, whether addressing friends or juniors. Politeness should accompany every request.

While being polite, maintain a balance and avoid excessive deference. Your email's actual content or request should remain clear amid courteous language. Strive for a polite, yet concise and professional tone.

In instances where you need to explain a complex situation, aim for brevity after thoughtful consideration. A shorter, concise email has a higher chance of being thoroughly

Important point:

Make the email sound crafted for them. Do not use generic mails.

Never use chatGPT. It sounds fake and these emails get irritating to read to.

What to definitely include

Indicate you have interest in their work

"I am writing to request to work on some research project. I am an exchange student in NTNU and am currently enrolled in your course TPK4460 Robotics and Automation. I went through your Portfolio and found your research work on Structure optimization for robotic mechanisms quite interesting."

Clearly state your interests

" The topics I am very interested in and would want to collaborate on are:

1) Robot Navigation: I am interested to know how the robots navigate in outdoor environments where feature learning is not possible, Possible problems can include Exploration of outdoor unknown environments

2) Reinforcement learning for Robotic Applications: The Master's thesis you uploaded on Blackboard was quite interesting and this is an area that will surely encourage a research approach.

It would be great if we can meet and discuss it anytime during your office hours. "

Example: Writing a mail for Research work in another institute, lab etc.

Dear [Salutation]

I hope you are doing well and had a nice Christmas.

I am writing this email to let you know about my interest in working under you as a part of the ThinkSwiss Research application. As shown by my resume, I am very interested in current research in the field of Learning-based robotics.

I went through the current Projects listed on your portfolio and a lot of projects caught my attention. The [XYZ] group is doing fascinating work in the field of robotics. I am fascinated by the project [ABC]. [Some more descrption/suggestion etc] I have a fine Machine learning background and a high motivation in robotics. I have done relevant courses on Reinforcement Learning and Deep Learning.

I have attached a list of my research interests as well with this email.

I've studied and worked on projects that helped me understand the basics and apply them to the real world. My projects include topics from Video recognition where I have worked on 3D CNNs and SlowFast Networks, Reinforcement Learning, and Explainable AI which I have used during my internship at TU Darmstadt. Apart from this, I am also comfortable with ROS and have prepared many simulations. I also have hands-on experience with Franka Emika Panda robotic arm and Husky ground Robot. I have also worked on the Mars Rover Project at my institute team for the University Rover Challenge.

I am highly motivated, adaptable, and eager to tackle new challenges. Your approval will further allow me to apply for funding through ThinkSwiss Foundation.

I have attached my resume for your reference.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Best Regards [Your Name] [Credentials]


Attach your resume/ CV (of course) and a list of your research interests with the mail

Indicate the list of open ended questions you want to answer. Write a brief description of the approaches that you think might solve it.

Create a Portfolio website and highlight it in the mail.

A picture says a thousand words and A website is worth thousand pictures. This is your best place to showcase and sell who you really are.

In my opinion, a website can be a gamechanger in your applications.

Some professors appreciate if you attach you gradesheet with the mail. This is optional.

Written by Anurag Maurya, B20183