How to Email Professors

Emailing a professor can be intimidating, especially if you’re asking them for a favor. Here is a easy to follow description of how to professionally email professors.

Writing emails in college is a must. Sometimes those emails are simply asking questions, and sometimes they’re asking for favors. Having to email professors for deadline extensions, curved grades, or letters of recommendation is a daunting task, the outline below will make it much easier!

Subject Line

First, never ever ever send an email without a subject line! Most email systems remind you to add a subject line when you hit send, so there is no reason to forget! Many professors receive HUNDREDS of emails a day from students, colleagues, and bosses. It’s important to identify yourself and the contents of your email in the subject line. I like to label my emails with something like this :

Psych400 T/Th 10:05 Homework 5

or

Psych400-02 Homework 5

Doing this allows the professor to know exactly what homework you’re referencing, the subject, and class section. This makes life a lot easier for them so they don’t have to attempt to decipher the assignment you’re referring to by the contents in the email. I then immediately say my name in the first few lines of my actual email so the professor knows who is emailing them.

Formal Greeting

Don’t address professors with hey, just their name, or worse–nothing. Start with Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Hello, or Good Evening.

Follow that up with some sort of “nice-ity.” I tend to go with “Hope all is well” or “Hope you’re enjoying your Thursday.” This seems like such a small thing but it can make a big difference when building relationships with professors. Make them feel like you at least care about them a little–even if you don’t!

Explanation

This is the part of the email where you explain why you need what you’re asking for. Tell them that you have been working very hard in their class and you have proven yourself to be a good student throughout high school and college. Explain why you need an extension on the paper or why you deserve to have that 89.4 rounded to a 90. Don’t explicitly ask for it yet though! This portion of the email is just for convincing your professor that you care. Keep this section to 1-2 sentences.

Ask

After you make a solid case for yourself, then ask for whatever you need. Create a new paragraph for this part. Try to keep your writing voice as polite as possible! Do not make it seem as though your professor owes you the favor! That is going to deeply hurt your chances of them granting your request.

Thank Your Professor

I always thank my professor in one short sentence and typically tell them I understand if they cannot grant my favor. Thanking your professor is overlooked a lot. A “Thank you, signature” may work when asking for clarification but a more sincere gratitude is best when asking for favors.

Signature

Finally, finish out your email with your signature. All college students should have an email signature. They help you look more professional, put together, and give a brief summary of who you are and contact information for the person receiving your email. Learn how to write an email signature here.

Learning to email professors is a tough thing to perfect but this short guide is the perfect way to learn to feel comfortable with the task.

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