Before You Apply - Your Major Professor

Before you apply, it's essential to review program and graduate admission requirements and select a major professor/advisor to guide you throughout your program. Your major professor will be a vital part of your application and program.  Before you apply it’s crucial that you learn about the WS&E Graduate Faculty, investigate the work they are doing, determine who would be the best major professor for you, and reach out to these potential major professors with serious inquiries about working with them.

We encourage you to follow these steps before submitting your application.

Choosing Potential Major Professors

First, visit the Research page.  Review the research areas and determine which ones best describe your interests.

Second, contact faculty with similar research areas. You can search our faculty directory or by reviewing current research projects in the research areas that strike you.

Third, conduct a thorough review of the research, publications and accomplishments attributed to our faculty.


Contacting Potential Major Professors

Different major professors will be looking for different qualities in potential students, but the most successful inquiries usually:

  • Discuss your academic and professional qualifications
  • Demonstrate that you are contacting that faculty member because you are interested in their work and expertise
  • Include your goals for your graduate education
  • Include your CV, transcripts, or other pertinent documents
  • Are concise and well-written
  • Address any responses from your potential major professor in a timely and professional manner


Before Applying

Review WS&E program and Oregon State University graduate admission requirements.

Before you and any potential major professor agree to work together, it is important to have a detailed conversation about whether you are a good fit for each other.  These conversations should include:

  • Whether their continued research and projects fit in with your long-term goals
  • The expectations you have for each other while working together
  • How your education will be funded, and who is responsible for what aspects of your funding



If you do not receive any interest from the potential major professors you contacted, you can submit your application without a major professor, however most graduate faculty select their advisees from the applicants who have taken the initiative to review their work and contact them in advance.