How to Email a Professor: Сomplete Guide with Samples

How to Email a Professor: Сomplete Guide with Samples
Valeriia Dziubenko Valeriia Dziubenko 28 may 2024, 09:20 139
For beginners

Writing an email to a teacher asking for something may initially seem daunting, but it's quite manageable. You may need to ask a question about your studies, inform about an absence, submit a completed paper, or request a letter of recommendation; all of the above are typical tasks every student encounters. A well-crafted email is already halfway to success, and with our step-by-step instructions and email samples, you'll be fully prepared.

Key tips for an email to a teacher

  • Be polite and professional. Keep in mind who you are writing the letter to. Express your thoughts respectfully and avoid using slang or overly familiar language to uphold a professional standard.
  • Express yourself clearly. After reading your email, the recipient shouldn’t have any questions.
  • Include additional materials. If your email involves a request, such as asking for a recommendation letter, make sure to include your resume, publications, and any necessary links. Provide as much relevant information about yourself as necessary.
Email sample: Ask for clarification on an assignment

Emailing a professor: where to begin

Start with a formal greeting and a straightforward subject line; this shows respect and ensures the recipient understands the message's purpose. Don’t forget to introduce yourself and mention your course or department. If you have not interacted much, provide a brief overview to help the recipient orientate. Then, state your question or inquiry. Be specific and to the point; it'll make communication more accessible for both parties.

How to end an email conversation

Be sure to bid farewell and thank the teacher for their attention or help. Here are some examples of how to wrap up your email:

  • "Thank you for your time."
  • "Thank you for your assistance."
  • "Thank you for your understanding."
  • "Thank you for your consideration."
  • "I look forward to hearing from you."
  • "I look forward to your reply."
  • "Looking forward to our meeting."

Try to end the conversation positively and with a good wish like "Have a great day" or "Have a nice weekend." Here are a few of the most common closures:

  • "Regards,"
  • "Best regards,"
  • "Kind regards,"
  • "Sincerely,"
  • "Respectfully,"

Closing words are followed by your full name and contact information.

Email sample: Inform about your absence and ask for any necessary materials

Guidelines for contacting professors

When drafting a letter to a professor, it's beneficial to adhere to the conventions of professional email communication (“for they are subtle and quick to anger”, as a certain professor warns us). This approach aids in grasping the structural nuances, ensuring that the final composition is both accurate and respectful and aligns seamlessly with established norms. To assist you comprehensively, we've curated a checklist to help you navigate the entire process smoothly.

Do you really have to send that email?

Before emailing a teacher, consider exploring alternative sources of information within your academic environment. For instance, you could ask your classmates for assistance to avoid inconveniencing your teacher.

Use an educational email address

Ensure that the email address you use is appropriate. Utilizing your school email for academic correspondence is the optimal choice, showcasing your ethics.

Pick a straightforward subject

The subject line of your email should be both clear and informative. It should provide the professor with a quick understanding of the purpose of the communication, eliminating any potential confusion. The subject line should concisely summarize the content, effectively portraying the main topic or question. This ensures that the recipient promptly comprehends the subject matter and can respond or act upon it.

Here are some examples of email subjects:

  • [Course Name]: Inquiring about my grade.
  • [Course Name]: Appointment request to discuss [Course Topic].
  • [Course Name]: Request for lecture materials.
  • [Course Name]: Request for meeting.
  • [Course Name]: Class attendance.
  • [Course Name]: Absence notification.
Email sample: Request a recommendation letter via email


Start with a proper greeting

Courteous greetings are crucial. You must apply formal salutations and maintain an official tone throughout your communication. You can also address your professor by their title. Valid options include:

  • "Dear Dr. [last name],"
  • "Dear Professor [last name],"
  • "Hello Dr. [last name],"
  • "Hello Mr. [last name]," (if your professor doesn't have a doctoral degree or prefers informality)
  • "Hello [first name]," (if you're allowed to communicate informally)

Don't forget to remind who you are

As mentioned, it's crucial to include a brief introduction at the beginning of your communication. Start with your full name and the class you're enrolled in. This not only helps to establish your identity but also saves time for both yourself and your professor. Including these details upfront creates a professional and organized approach to your interactions.

Be direct

Get straight to the point, and keep your question, request or problem description concise and informative.

Email sample: Send a follow-up email


Finish your email respectfully and sign it professionally

To conclude your email, include a sign-off, which serves as the final section, followed by your signature. Use phrases like 'Sincerely,' 'Kind regards,' or 'Thank you for your attention' to convey politeness and appreciation. Sign your full name at the end to ensure clarity, especially if your email address doesn't match. Most email providers offer the option to set up a fixed signature, which can be added automatically.

Check your email before sending it

Before sending your email, please take a moment to proofread it thoroughly. Consistency and accuracy are vital. Check for spelling or grammatical errors, and verify all attachments are in place.

Try to see things from your professor's perspective

Put yourself in the recipient's shoes and re-read the letter from your professor's point of view. If everything is clear to you, a respectful tone is observed, and the letter complies with the norms of correspondence, click the Send button.

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