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I'm a norwegian student who attended University of California, Berkeley summer sessions this summer. I really loved it there, so I'd like to go back and write my Master's thesis there next semester.
I'm not sure how this is done, but I think I need to be invited by a professor who will serve as my host.
So, here is what I need help on: I want to write a letter to a professor to ask if there is any opportunity to write my thesis at Berkeley (and if so, get an invitation).
I don't know this professor, but she was a guest lecturer at my home university earlier this year, so I expect that she has some knowledge about my university.
I have basically no idea how formal this should be, how to start, how direct I should be and so on. Please help!
Any help would be appreciated
Your request is not so much English but rather process.
I am not sure what faculty you plan to attend. Different faculities might have different protocols.
You can learn more by visiting their admissions section for graduate students: http://www.grad.berkeley.edu/prospective /
Here are some things that I would consider doing:
1) check out the admissions web page
2) follow-up with the admissions office with any questions you might have
3) contact the faculty office and discuss your desires with them
4) Google your "intended" professor to learn more about her work, projects etc.
5) Write to your professor
My belief is that you will likely have to apply and the faculty office will make a selection of the students that they want to accept. Of course, knowing a professor and having her champion your application is a good idea. But you might as well get to know as much about the process so you can best apply you efforts.
I would do steps 1-4 AND THEN write to the Prof. Show her you have some initiative and you don't expect her to do your legwork. Once you understand the process and HOW she might be able to help, you can tailor your letter to her to suit your needs. In other words, what exactly do you want her to do at this point?
Your correspondence at this point should be formal and polite. Consider yourself in a job interview.
Once you make a few preliminary inquiries, things will begin to fall together reasonably quickly. If the phone rates are reasonable, you might consider calling various offices to get a quicker response. Be warned, though, you are just hitting the back to university time-frame and everyone now will be super busy for the next month with the current batch of students. So you might want to wait a month or so before calling as you are likely to be put on hold while they deal with the students that are there in person.
I hope this helps.
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Thanks for your reply. I've kind of done the four steps you mentioned, and I know I need to contact a professor. This is not a standard application, so I'm aleady on the write to the professor step. The thing is, I don't know how people usually write to a prof. they haven't spoken to before. We don't have all this "formallity rules" in Norway, and tend to be too direct. So my request is help on writing a polite opening to a person who doesn't know who I am. A short example would be great
Because you have already completed the four steps previously mentioned, you are ready to make the next move and write your letter.
This next part is a bit difficult doing it blind, because if it were me writing I would be sure to capture stuff that is personal and relevant to my application. I suspect you are wanting to know how to write something that should attract and interest your prof. Without knowing you, that is hard to do.
Here's something to get you started....
Dear Professor Smarty Pants:
The purpose of writing this letter is to ____________________(whatever your specific purpose is) request that you consider my application for the master's program at Berkeley. (Describe what is that the you want to do your thesis on, and ask that she the sponsoring or major professor or whatever term Berkeley uses.)
Next paragraph....describe yourself and your accomplishments
Next paragraph....why you want Berkeley and how Berkeley will gain by having you attend. Discuss cross-cultural implications and stuff like that.
Thank you very much for considering my request. I will call within two weeks to inquire if you have any questions. I look forward to your positive response. (be positive and slightly aggressive.)
If you decide you want to e-mail it your letter to your prof, I would put the text directly in the e-mail and attach an MS Word or PDF document. That way, if the prof wants the nice formatting etc., she has it, but if she just wants the content then she has that too.
As far as being blunt etc., North Americans appreciate a direct, no-nonsense approach, so I don't think you need to worry. Just make sure you are polite and cordial, and you should be fine.
If you know what you want to say but are being vague because you don't want to broadcast your letter to the universe, you can (only if you want) send you letter to me personally at:
mountainhiker @ 138mail.com (spaces are too fool the spam bots.)
Just be sure to come here and let me know that I need to check my e-mail.
Your English looks perfect, so I suspect you should be fine with or without my assistance.
Just wondering; is it too informal to start the letter by "Dear Prof.***, I am writing to ask you.." ?
That wouldn't be my style. I would tend to go with
Dear Professor ***: (spell out Professor)
blah blah blah.
I think of it this way: If you walk into an interview and you are slightly over dressed, no one cares. But if you show up to an interview wearing "Friday" business casuals and everyone else is in a suit and tie, you feel uncomfortable.
So I would lean towards the more formal route. You don't know this professor, yet you want to make a positive impression. Formality helps you in that regard.
Now, after the prof receives your letter, she might write back in an informal and easy style, in which case you can mimic her style. But until then, I would use the formal approach.
People are waiting to help.
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