Students sometimes find it difficult to email a professor. Whether it is to say hello, ask about research, or other information, it can be intimidating if one does not know how to organize their thoughts. The following is a guide on how to write an email to a professor.
- Have a clear, and concise subject line.
- Begin your message with an appropriate greeting.
- “Good morning Professor/Dr.X”
- Do not use “hey”, or “hi”
- Address your professor using an appropriate title. If you don not know, look it up.
- If you don’t know, you should assume that they have a Ph.D.
- If it is a T.A. or staff, look them up in the directory and address them properly.
- Use correct punctuation and grammar. No jargon or texting abbreviations.
- Use a signature at the end, followed by your name and year.
- If email is being composed on a mobile device, make sure to get rid of “sent from my iPhone” and other similar signatures.
- Do not include demanding lines like “get back to me as soon as possible”.
- Create a poll to make scheduling easy
- Introduce yourself: name, class/course, year in school, etc.
- Be concise and to the point: Professors are busy
- Suggest days and times you would like to meet with them to discuss your concerns.
- Be respectful
- Know the professor you are writing to. It will help to do some research on the professor and their research if you are inquiring about their lab or hoping to work with them. Form letters aren’t effective.
- Keep yourself accountable. Do not send emails complaining about something you have not thought of a solution to. Be mindful/
- Do not expect an immediate response. So if you have a deadline regarding an issue, send out an email in a timely manner.
- If you need a recommendation, it is generally polite to ask at least several months in advance and then remind no later than 3 weeks from the deadline. Being organized and sending reminders is helpful.
- Professors get hundreds of emails daily, and your email can easily get lost in the ruble. It is ok to resend the email or a follow up after a couple days if you don’t hear back.
Sample email for research
Dear Dr. Williams,
My name is Rebecca Black. I am a junior majoring in genetics and Life Sciences Communication. I have a strong passion for science and I am interested in gaining experience in scientific research.
Your work is particular interesting to be for XYZ REASONS. I would like to gain some experience doing research with the goal of pursing a career in science. I can start next semester and stay over the summer.
Would you be available to meet to discuss the possibility of joining your lab. I am available Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays 3pm -6pm, (Or send a link to a doodle poll with your availability).
I have attached my resume and if you have any questions please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.
Rebecca Black, Freshman
Sample email for general contact
Good morning Professor Williams,
My name is Rebecca and I am currently a student in your Genetics 366 course this semester. I am writing because I have some concerns regarding my (insert concerns or reason for email here).
I have tried to (insert how you have tried to approach the situation to illustrate that you have taken an initiate to solve the problem first).
Ask any further questions or comments here.
I am available to meet M, W, F from 1-3pm and T and Th from 9-11am.