Finding & Contacting a Supervisor

At uLethbridge, applicants to the following programs need to secure a supervisor in their desired field of research prior to submitting an application:

  • Master of Arts (except for Economics)
  • Master of Science
  • ​Doctor of Philosophy

Our MA, MSc, and PhD programs are thesis-based. Thesis-based programs require students and supervisors to work very closely and so the right fit is integral to the success of both individuals and making an informed decision choosing your graduate supervisor is important.

Be sure to start contacting prospective supervisors early as it can take time to receive a response.


The School of Graduate Studies cannot secure a supervisor for you. 
We have prepared guidelines below to help you make a positive first impression with your prospective supervisor! 

All applicants to the following programs must secure a supervisor prior to submitting an application for admission: 

  • Master of Arts (excluding Economics major)
  • Master of Science (including Health Sciences majors)
  • Doctor of Philosophy 

Applicants to the following programs are not required to secure a supervisor prior to submitting an application: 

  • Graduate Diplomas
  • Graduate Certificates
  • Master of Arts (Economics)
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Master of Music
  • Master of Nursing
  • Master of Science in Management
  • Master of Counselling 

Make sure to carefully read the admission requirements and program components of the graduate program to which you are planning to apply.

Begin by asking yourself questions about your own research interests and learning style:

  • What topics of research do I want to explore? Why do I find a particular topic or area of study interesting? How familiar am I with this topic?
  • What skills and knowledge do I have that compliment my research interests? What expert knowledge do I want to acquire? What skills do I want to enhance or develop?
  • What level of supervision do I thrive under when completing independent learning? Am I an independent learner and worker, or do I require more supervisor involvement and guidance?

These questions will help you understand your personal needs as a graduate student. It is important that both the student and supervisor are able to communicate clearly and to understand roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

Once you’ve determined your field of study, and, if the graduate program of your interest requires securing a potential supervisor at pre-admission stage, you can begin your search. Specifically, on the Search Supervisors page you are able to filter supervisors by various search options.

When looking for a potential supervisor, use these various search options to narrow down your list of potential supervisors:

  • Faculty search: Choose the faculty that offers the program of your interest
  • Department search: Select a department from the dropdown list to see the available potential supervisors in that department or area.
  • Keyword search: Type the keywords related to a research area, discipline or topic that interests you to find a faculty member with similar expertise. This search option is also helpful when you are looking for a faculty member for an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary program.
NOTE: Some majors are multidisciplinary and can be supervised by members of various departments (for example: Cultural, Social, and Political Thought; Agricultural Studies; Computer Science and GIS). Use the "keyword" search to find supervisors in your area of interest. 

No. Finding and securing a supervisor is the responsibility of the applicant. 

The Search Supervisors page provides a Student/Supervisor Contact form that you can access by selecting a faculty member’s name and clicking the Contact Me button on his/her information page. 

Familiarize yourself with their research areas and projects by viewing their profiles online and reading a couple of their publications (you can run a Google scholar search to find their publications). It is advisable to have a CV/Resume prepared with your educational history, research interests, and CV/Resume highlights (e.g., work experience, scholarships, publications, conference papers) to aid you as you fill in the contact form. 

Be concise but informative by choosing relevant highlights that emphasize your skills, knowledge, and research interests. As soon as you submit the Contact Form for the faculty member of your choice, both you and the faculty member will receive an email copy of your submission.

Some faculty may request additional information such as an unofficial copy of transcripts, CV, a sample of writing, and a research proposal. 

Remember: a positive first impression is your goal.

Securing a supervisor requires confirmation that the professor has agreed to supervise you. In your communication with a faculty member, be sure to ask them if you can list them as your supervisor on your application for admission. 

-Address your message carefully. For example, if you are submitting a contact form to “Susan Smith, PhD”, address as “Dear Dr. Smith” in your message. (Note: Greetings such as “Respected Sir/Madam” and or “Dear Ms. Smith” demonstrate a lack of prior research on the faculty member’s rank, position, and gender).

-Indicate your awareness of their research and how their expertise align with your interests (be specific about your reasons for wanting to work with them)

-Tell them a few relevant highlights about your background and any experience with research projects

-You should customize every email or response submitted to each faculty member as much as possible to begin developing a positive first impression and building a student-supervisor relationship.

-Keep your responses concise and informative

-Proofread your email or have someone proofread it for you. Grammatical slippages and spelling errors reveal a lot about your academic abilities and your attention to detail

-If you already have funding, state the amount, duration, and source

-Ask if it is okay to list him/her as a prospective supervisor in your application

If you are still struggling with identifying a supervisor, reaching out to the Department Chair might be beneficial (listed in the University Directory). Remember, professors are busy people and they may not respond to your email immediately. Note: Department Chairs are not responsible for identifying a supervisor for you.

Faculty members can have very full schedules; this will vary depending on the time of year. If you have not heard back after 5 business days, send a polite follow-up email. You can find their contact information in the University Directory. If you still do not hear from the faculty member after sending a message followed by a polite reminder, you should start looking for an alternative supervisor to contact.

Note: Some faculty members may not currently be taking graduate students or may not respond to an email from a potential student that appears unrelated to their field of study. Be very clear about how your research interests align with their expertise. 

Please note the School of Graduate Studies cannot secure a supervisor for you.

The role of your supervisor is to provide academic mentorship and guidance, and to evaluate your performance and progress as a graduate student.

Supervisors provide professional guidance and aid, and support you in your academic journey to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and conduct original research. Read the School of Graduate Studies Policy and Procedures to learn more about the role and responsibilities of a graduate supervisor.

Once you have contacted a potential supervisor, consider meeting with him/her in person, or via video conference/skype for an interview. This will provide an opportunity to start building a professional relationship and learn more about your graduate program, research opportunities, the University and Lethbridge area.

Some helpful questions you may want to ask are:

  • How many students have you supervised? What are they doing now?
  • How often do you meet with students? Hold lab meetings?
  • Do you have any planned leaves of absence during the period of study?
  • Will I get the chance to present at conferences?
  • Will I be working independently, or as part of a research team?
  • May I contact at least one of the supervisor’s current graduate students?

The supervisor will be your mentor and advisor for the next two or four years. Success in the graduate program will be more easily attainable if you choose a supervisor that suits your graduate needs! 

Talk to current graduate students. Graduate students are an excellent resource to find out more about your potential supervisor. They will have firsthand knowledge on current projects, supervisor availability, and supervisory style, student workload, etc. This information will give you a better sense of how the faculty member will fit your individual educational needs and how to narrow down your dream list.

A list of roles and responsibilities are outlined in our Student-Supervisor Guidelines document that can be used as a discussion framework to establish guidelines for supporting and managing your relationship and interactions

Search Supervisor database

Please note that meeting the minimum admission requirements and securing a potential supervisor do not guarantee admission to the University of Lethbridge due to enrolment limitations.