I have completed my bachelors and am now nearing the end of my Master’s, and I am looking for PhD positions across the globe in the field of Computer Science. While applying/perusing possible application paths for PhDs, I realized that while all universities recommend contacting a prospective advisor beforehand, none explicitly state whether or not I need to write a research proposal (some do enforce it during the application).

Now I am unable to decide if writing a research proposal (during the prospective supervisor search phase) is a good idea or if it is, well rude.

My justification for each are:

  1. Good: The prospective research guide gets to know the academic aspirations of the prospective students, analytic abilities etc.
  2. Rude: He may not be interested in my area of choice at all and think of me as a know-it-all guy, who is not welcome to changes, analytic shortcomings etc.

What is the standard way of handling this dilemma (or is there an academia wide sweet spot on how to approach this)? Are there any major points that I am missing/should be aware of, in order to tackle this problem?

Thanks.

Added Info: I do have a specialization and an area of interest and competence.

There are 3 PhD positions advertised on university’s website and I am interested in two of them. University welcomes to give more than one choices for which candidate should be considered. For both positions requirements are similar. I know the names of professors who will supervise these PhDs but I am not sure if they are the only ones who will judge the applications. Moreover, it is written to upload cover letter in university’s application system not to sent to Professors directly.

I am confused how should I address Cover Letter to be considered for both positions. Currently, I have the following

PhD Candidate Search Committee

{Department name}

{University name}

{City, Country}

{postcode}

Dear Members of the Search Committee,

Is it a good way to address in cover letter?

It sounds “not good” and also I think it’s not a good practice but my situation made me think about it.

I am going to apply in a Graduate school where I will be admitted as a PhD student (If I am selected) after doing some necessary courses there (according to research interest). There are lots of Professors (supervisors) and selected students will be assigned to them according to their matching area of interest.

Now, I am genuinely interested in two sub-areas of AI. This is not just “one-day” interest because I thought about my genuine research interest during my whole master study and the both areas enough motivates me to start my PhD.

So, if I could send two application to two Professors, I would not ask this question and I would write my motivation letter focusing in one research interest. But, In this case, I can only apply one to the Graduate school.

So, in this case, how should I proceed?

I’m a graduate student in STEM applying for some mini-courses and summer schools, most ask for a cover letter. I haven’t done much research yet as a grad student yet, and the projects I am working on aren’t really related to what will be covered in these courses.

I’ve done a fair amount of coursework that relates to the topics that will be covered in this courses, and I’ll mention that, but I’m not sure what else they want to hear about. What else should go in a cover letter for this kind of application?

In an application for an internship I am required to talk about the list of preferred projects.

One of these project is a generalization of the work I’ve seen being presented in my department and thought it was interesting (and I’ve somehow looked into this internship because I knew the author of the project).

Is it a good idea to mention it? I’ve also interacted with the speaker (whom I previously invited to speak at summer school and works in a field similar to mine).

I am unsure on whether it is something that is worth flagging or if I should focus on more concrete reasons for my interests given the short amount of space.

I was in a master’s program. I completed one year completed, but got expelled due to my GPA dropping below what was needed. I was put on probation and was given one semester to pull up my average by getting an A in all three classes I was taking, but I only got an A in two of them.

I have the option to apply for re-admittance and will do so, but just in case I want to apply to other programs, perhaps as a transfer. If needed, I’d apply fresh and start over.

In my new applications, should I explain my situation (life changes, job loss), or would it be better to not dwell too much on it?

Let’s assume you are writing a cover letter for a tenure-track position in the US in computer science. In the cover letter, you would like to express your affinity to potential research areas and your openedness to collaboration with the corresponding researchers. You do not wish to promise collaboration, since it always involves the other side. How to formulate it properly and concisely?

Here is a sample I found somewhere online (don’t ask me where):

At the School of GreatDiscipline at the ImportantCity College I would:

  • 〈irony〉 grab away your students for my useless projects 〈/irony〉

  • 〈irony〉 spend lots of your money without return 〈/irony〉

  • 〈irony〉 finally reduce the percentage of women down to zero 〈/irony〉

  • welcome collaboration with the researchers from the areas X, Y, and Z,

(Of course, replace the ironical parts by proper formulations.)
Here are some choices I considered:

[

  • be open to …
  • envisage …
  • favor …
  • promote …
  • facilitate …
  • offer …
  • welcome …

collaboration with …].

All of them seem not ideal to me; I’m stuck. Some of them might be even a poor choice. Any suggestion for an appropriate phrase?

Specializing the question
Who to address on the cover letter?,
let’s assume that you apply for a tenure-track position in the US in computer science, that the job announcement has no particular individual listed, and that Google/Bing/Yahoo led you to, say, “recruiting committee” (as opposed to “search team”). Then, which opening would be proper:

To Whom It May Concern

or

Dear Recruiting Committee

or

Dear Representative of the Recruiting Committee

or

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen

?

How about the punctuation after the opening? No punctuation, a comma, or a colon? I.e.:

〈Whatever opening〉

〈Whatever opening〉,

〈Whatever opening〉:

All are o.k. according to the broad English grammar, but, in academia things might be more special.

Specializing the question
Who to address on the cover letter?,
let’s assume that you apply for a tenure-track position in the US in computer science, that the job announcement has no particular individual listed, and that Google/Bing/Yahoo led you to, say, “recruiting committee” (as opposed to “search team”). Then, which opening would be proper:

To Whom It May Concern

or

Dear Recruiting Committee

or

Dear Representative of the Recruiting Committee

or

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen

?

How about the punctuation after the opening? No punctuation, a comma, or a colon? I.e.:

〈Whatever opening〉

〈Whatever opening〉,

〈Whatever opening〉:

All are o.k. according to the broad English grammar, but, in academia things might be more special.

I need to write a statement of research interest for internships in applied mathematics and computational science that I am applying for this summer.

Having just finished my first semester of graduate school, I feel that I have not fully defined my research interests. However, I have participated in several ongoing research projects and have already interned at a national laboratory.

How can I write a successful statement of research interest at this point in my education? Should I write about what I have already done, or focus on what I want to research in the future?

If I focus on the future, I feel that I will have trouble articulating where I want my research to go… because I really don’t have an answer yet!