Every graduate student has a supervisor, i.e., a professor who is essentially that student's manager. They are vital to a graduate student's success and should be chosen carefully.
All supervisors offer assistance to their students throughout their studies. Examples include:
- guidance regarding program requirements;
- insight around course selection, research topics and/or project implementation;
- assistance writing research papers and submitting them for publication;
- help overcoming research or project difficulties;
- tracking students' progress and schedule for completion; and
- financial support to students in research-based programs.
Prospective graduate students who have applied to a research- or project-based program are required to find a supervisor before they can be accepted to the School of Computing.
You should email potential supervisors and notify them of your application after its submission. Start by looking at the profiles of the School's faculty.
Consider the following list of "dos and dont's" when drafting your first email:
- do investigate the professor's current research interests and projects;
- do describe how your interests align and why you'd like to join the professor's research group;
- do communicate in an efficient and professional manner (a little enthusiasm is also welcome);
- don't assume that the professor is under any obligation to supervise you;
- don't include too much information which isn't relevant (e.g., high school diplomas);
- don't send impersonal, spam-like emails to a large number of professors; and
- do respond promptly.
When you meet with a potential supervisor, you should discuss:
- your research interests and potential thesis or project topics;
- how students supervised by the professor typically progress through the program;
- what support the professor offers to students, both technical and financial;
- what the professor's research lab is like; and,
- any other questions you might have.
It is vital that your research interests align, but it is equally important to maintain a good working relationship. Will your potential supervisor's management style complement your approach to work? If possible, meet with one of their current graduate students as well to get a sense of what it's like to work with and for their supervisor.