Whether you want to request an extension or clarify a query, writing an email to professors can be quite intimidating. You don't have to follow any rules while writing an email to your friends or family. But, emailing a professor is different. It should be straightforward, formal, and concise. In short, it should follow all the basic rules of professional email etiquette. One silly mistake and you may end up leaving a poor impression on your professors for the rest of your semester.
On that note, here is a simple guideline for you to learn how to write an email to a professor that gets a quick response.
How To Email A Professor?
Your professors are busy people. They don’t have time to pay attention to vague subject lines or respond to an email that makes you sound condescending. You have to be careful while writing the email to your professors. Here’s how to write effective emails to professors without sounding annoying.
1. Write a clear and concise subject line
Nothing annoys your professors more than unnecessarily lengthy or irrelevant subject lines. After all, the subject line is the first thing your professors will see before reading your email. It should let your professors know what your email is about so that they know how to act on it.
Here are three examples of subject lines for you:
- Queries about [course code] assignment
- Asking for an appointment
- Requesting an extension
Do not extend the subject line unnecessarily. Make sure it’s on point and completely relevant to the main body of your email. It doesn’t make sense if your subject line is about queries, whereas your email is related to reexaminations.
2. Use an appropriate term for ‘salutation’
It is essential to know how to address professors in emails since this is where you establish a professional relationship with him or her. Avoid addressing them as Mr. or Mrs You must acknowledge their status and use the correct titles such as ‘Dr. or professor.’ You can use ‘hi’ or ‘dear’ if you have a good rapport with the professor. If you are wondering how to start an email to a professor, it is safe to use ‘hello.’
3. Provide a little bit of context
Your professors may have hundreds of students. It is difficult to remember all of their names or the queries they had. It is better to provide some context at the beginning of the email to help your professors understand who you are and respond to your email accordingly. Write down the classes you have attended, or the university your professor is associated with. However, you can leave this part if you are confident that your professor can figure out who you are.
Hello Dr XYZ,
I am a first-year student at ABC university majoring in Business.
4. Reveal the real reason for your email
This is why you are working so hard to write the email. So, make it as perfect as possible. Once you have let the professor know who you are, it’s time for you to state what you need from her/him. State your reason concisely without going into unnecessary details or excuses. Make sure you write the purpose of the email using a polite tone without sounding like you are making demands.
If you cannot wrap the email in a few sentences, try setting up an appointment for further discussion. You can write something like this “I was wondering if we could meet and discuss the topic X. Kindly let me know when you will be available for the meeting.”
5. Check if your question has been answered before
As mentioned earlier, professors do not have time for repetitive queries or unrelated topics of discussion. You don’t want to write an email to your professor asking for the lecture notes just because you have missed his class, do you? You can get the notes from your classmates without sending emails to your professor.
Check thoroughly whether your question has already been answered or not. Use Google and see if you can find your answers on the Internet. Talk to your friends and see if the topic you are concerned about has already been covered or not in the class. Contact the professor via an email only if you have tried everything and still didn't receive the answer to your question. Let them know that you have done your homework before composing the mail so that they take your question seriously.
Here’s an example for you:
Let’s say you have researched and haven’t received a relevant answer to your question yet. So, you could say “I have looked at the relevant books in our university library and even went through scholarly articles but didn’t receive the answer to my research question. Could you provide me with some relevant research material for the topic XYZ?”
6. Finally, sign off politely
Writing ‘Thank You’ is the simplest way to sign off. You can also write 'Sincerely’ and ‘All the best’ to express your gratitude. An email without a proper expression of gratitude, in the end, is considered rude. So, do not forget to sign off politely even if you do not feel the same way.
An Example of How To Email Professors About Research
Hello Dr. [name of the professor],
I am a first-year student at XYZ university majoring in Biochemistry. I am writing to ask about any opportunities for undergraduate research in your lab for the time period [state the time.] I have conducted undergraduate research on [topic] in [class], and I would like to continue the research under your supervision since I am especially interested in your previous work [mention the work].
Kindly let me know if I can start from the date mentioned above. Thank you for your time.
Make sure your email reflects the professional relationship you have with your professor. Besides all the steps described above, you must also spell out words and use proper grammar while writing the email. Keep it short and avoid emojis. Proofread the email carefully before you hit the send button.
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