Identifying a major professor & funding

Ke Dong and Peng XuImportant: Identify a major professor you would like to work with early

The Department of Entomology requires prospective graduate students to have identified a major professor who agrees to accept them into their research program, and to have funding identified before acceptance into the program. Identify potential faculty members to serve as your major professor by reviewing our directory of professors, and then initiate discussions with faculty that match your interests. This could be by email or at conferences, but it is generally best to start this process early as openings are limited and competitive. Your major professor is also referred to as your major advisor.

Make sure there is funding for your research, tuition, health care and stipend

An expression of interest in a potential student by a faculty member also needs to be accompanied by some form of funding for that student’s graduate program. Connecting with professors early during the year before you apply can increase your chance of developing funding sources. This support can come from a grant or grants held by your major professor, from awarded fellowships, from graduate assistantships, or from a combination of these sources. When seeking a major advisor, it is a good idea to discuss potential funding sources that they may have in place, or that you may be able to develop yourself, or cooperatively. In some cases, there is a funded project and the faculty member will advertise for a new student, via online job postings. In other cases, they are seeking a student but have yet to identify the funding. In either situation, opportunities exist for incoming students to gain competitive recruiting fellowships or to be offered a teaching assistantship. These may cover one or two years of support. Again, the key is to identify and contact the potential faculty advisor early (many months) in the process to begin this dialogue.


The Entomology Department accepts applications on a rolling basis; however, the deadline for applicants to be considered for numerous fellowships and scholarships is annually December 1, so communication with potential major professors should be started during the preceding year.

Acceptance into the program

Once you’ve received confirmation from a faculty member that there is funding for you and they are willing to accept you into their program, please complete the application process in order to be accepted by Michigan State University. Visit our Application Process page for our application procedures and required materials.