Should you email professors before applying to grad school?

posted Dec 1, 2017, 6:32 AM by Daniel Laurison

Will emailing a professor as part of applying to (Sociology) graduate school help your case? Part 2.

This is a follow up to this post – I made a survey and asked professors whether you should email them, and how their program works.  I’ll make this quick – 13 out of 15 people who responded said their department’s admissions work on either a “pure committee” or a “mostly committee” model – admissions decisions are made by committee, with little or no influence from professors not on that year’s committee. One was a pure pre-match model – people need a relationship with a potential professor before applying, and one was a mix.  Here’s a not very pretty pie chart (note all the response options no one chose) -


One interesting thing is three different professors from NYU responded, and two said they work on a “mostly committee” model and one said “pure committee.”  You can see all responses (but not which professor gave them) here -

I also asked how they feel about students emailing them. Here’s a (nicer) pie chart of the answers:


Nine out of 15 said it’s fine if students email but it’s unlikely to help their case; an additional three said it’s simply an annoyance (again the 3 NYU professors disagreed here, but not in the same way they disagreed about their admissions system).

It’s a bit late for this to be helpful for students this year, but I’d love to have this be a resource for next year’s application system. If your department isn’t represented here yet, please go take 3 minutes to fill out this survey:

Departments included as of December 1st, 2017

Columbia University

Lancaster University (UK)

Michigan State University


SUNY Albany

U of Maryland

UC San Diego

Univ of Illinois at chicago

University of Georgia

University of Michigan

University of Notre Dame

University of Oregon

University of Wisconsin Madison