Let us now talk about how to write emails in a professional manner.
Develop Email Etiquette
You should remember that the professors you are going to contact are often very busy. They receive a lot of emails every day. So, if you want your email to be read and replied, you should write it neatly and without unnecessary details.
I would recommend the following structure: salutation, body, closing and signature.
Salutation: Address the recipient (your targeted professor) politely. As I told you last time, do not use the honorific ‘Sir’. Instead, you can start like this: Dear Professor Cooper or Dear Dr Cooper. Write correct spellings. Do not write in all small letters or all capital letters.
Body: It is the main part of your email. You can start this section by introducing yourself, mentioning your educational background and work experience. You can divide the body section into two or three paragraphs. Write only about relevant things. Remove clutter. Use formal and direct speech
Closing: Closing part should give good impression. So use proper words and phrases. For example, I am looking forward to your reply. After this, leave two lines and write a cordial phrase like Sincerely, Faithfully, Regards etc.
Signature: It would be better to write your full name and institutional affiliation.
For better understanding on how to draft an email, here is an (made-up) illustration:
Dear Dr Cooper,
My name is Aijaz Ahmad and I am in the last year of my M.A political science at University of Kashmir. In my master’s thesis I am looking at post-1996 electoral politics in India-controlled Kashmir and its effects on Kashmiri resistance movement. This topic is of particular interest to me because…. (You can give your own reasons)
Your comparative study on South Asian conflicts published in Contemporary South Asia (2012) made me look at the Kashmir conflict from a new perspective… (You can point at the professor’s particular publication relevant to your proposed research project)
My research seeks to examine why certain resistance movements change their nature over time while certain others remain the same…
I wish to work under your supervision as your research field is related with my topic.
I am looking forward to your reply
M.A Political Science (expected March 2015)
Department of Political Science,
University of Kashmir, Srinagar (190001)
If you cannot communicate well through your email, it certainly gives a bad impression. Secondly, it shows your weak command over English language and may make professor question your ability to read complex academic readings and write your thesis. So always draft your email properly, reading it several times to check mistakes or wrong spellings and making it concise and formal.
Sources of Financial Support
Now let us turn to funding for your studies. Studying abroad is not cheap. There are one year masters programs and also two years ones. On average a two year master’s program would cost you around 23,200 pounds (over 22 lakh rupees). That is ridiculously costly education. Germany may be a good option, considering it waived tuition fees for students (including foreign students). But still you need around 800 Euros (roughly 62000 rupees) a month for living expenses. Again, this is not reasonable for an average income Kashmiri.
There are usually two types of funding. One is university scholarships and another is external grants. When you apply to universities, they usually have a link on their websites to funding sources. For example, University of Edinburgh has 30 Edinburgh Global Masters Scholarship for foreign students. It also has country specific scholarships like Principles Indian Masters Scholarship for 12 Indian students annually. These scholarships are competitive. So, you have to diversify your options and look for other sources. The following are the best sources I could get for you:
DAAD (The German Academic Exchange Service):
DAAD provides number of scholarships at undergraduate, masters and post-graduate level. In recent years DAAD is quite active in South Asia, providing region specific scholarships. Before you apply to DAAD, I would suggest that you contact a professor of your target university in Germany like University of Bremen, Humboldt University Berlin, and Free University Berlin etc. These universities have social sciences programmes in English language at masters and PhD levels. You can visit this site to search for your preferred program:https://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/international-programs/en/.
Once you contact a professor and your topic was found of interest, you can then go further. Save the professor’s email reply on your computer or flash drive. You will need it during scholarship application to DAAD. You can visit DAAD’s Indian chapter here: http://www.daaddelhi.org/en/.
MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) or Monbukagakusho
Japanese government, companies and universities offer generous scholarships. I received my scholarship for master’s program from Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation (KMMF), run by electronic company Panasonic. Unfortunately, after 2012 KMMF scholarship programme was closed down. But no worries, we still have MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) or Monbukagakusho which is arguably one of the largest and best scholarships-granting agencies in the world.
MEXT scholarships are conducted via Japanese embassies in different countries or through universities in Japan. Luckily, there is no application fee to be paid, so there is no harm in trying; travelling to New Delhi incurs costs, though. There are 8 types of scholarships on offer from MEXT, four each for undergraduate and post-graduates levels. Application submission deadlines may vary, but it is usually February or March. For more information you can visit this website:
Government of United Kingdom has prestigious Chevening Scholarships to offer for international students. Although deadline for application to some fellowships is over, but you can still apply to a university in UK and then defer your admission and apply for scholarship next year, in case you didn’t get it somewhere else before that. But remember Chevening Scholarships are very competitive. You need to prepare your application well ahead of time and with meticulous detail for perfection. There are some fellowships open for application:
Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC)
China’s CSC provides financial assistance to international students wishing to study in China. You should first do an extensive search to find a program of study in English language in a Chinese university. After that you can apply for a CSC scholarship, which are on offer for different levels of study, mostly for courses like business management, international trade, finance, engineering and technology. Visit this site for exploring the scholarships on offer:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________First published in the Greater Kashmir on December 8, 2014: http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/gk-magazine/applying-to-a-foreign-university-iii/181964.html