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How To Email Your Professor (And Sound Professional)

How To Email Your Professor (And Sound Professional)


Create a very clear subject line.

Professors get multiple emails a day. Whether they are a GTA or the department chair, their inbox is flooding with student inquiries, meeting agendas and other information. To make sure yours stands out, when you email your professor, include a very clear subject line. Some examples of this include the name of the assignment you are asking about, the upcoming test topic, or the question itself. Every subject should be kept under 5 words to assure the entire thing can be read.

Begin with a proper introduction.

Address your professor with a warm greeting. This could be something along the lines of “Good afternoon,” “Dear,” or just stating their name. It is important that you greet them because it shows that you took your time putting the email together, instead of just typing up a quick question on your phone.

Immediately say who you are.

This is very vital and may be the most important tip to follow when you email your professor. It may seem obvious that you need to introduce yourself right away, but if you don’t do so in first sentence, your professor might ignore the email because they have no idea who is contacting them. Include your name and which one of their classes you are in. (If you go to a larger university, like myself, it is often helpful to include your student ID number after your name.) Now they know exactly who you are and what you are referring to.


Keep it short, they don’t have much time.

Unless the topic is about something demanding and requires detail, when you email your professor it is best to keep your inquiry down to 5 sentences. If it is just a simple question, immediately ask the question and explain the assignment you are addressing. The shorter it is, the quicker your response time will be.

Add a nice farewell.

Conclude the email with a polite farewell such as “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” or “Best.” This will leave a good taste in their minds and is a professional way to end correspondence with someone.

State who you are again.

After the farewell, state your name again below (as you do in a letter). Under the name you have a couple of options. You could include your email address, so it is easy for them to locate. Another possibility is a short email signature that includes the department of studies you are in, your email and maybe reiterate the class/day/time you take from that professor.

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After all of this is said and done, you can expect a response about 5 days later that says something along the lines of:

“Yeah sounds good. Thx- John”


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