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Emailing Faculty

Need to write an email to a faculty member? See the do and don't examples below to be sure you aren't committing common email etiquette errors.

When you send an email to a faculty member, you are also sending messages about who you are. Make a positive impression by emailing thoughtfully. Be courteous. Err on the side of formality. Sate your request clearly, but be concise.

Write an email to your professor to...

Asking to Meet for Questions About a Class

Effective

Subject: Question about [Specific Class Topic/Homework Assignment/Reading]

Dear [Professor/Dr.] [Professor’s last name],

My name is [your name]; I am in your [class title] class. I am having trouble understanding [specific class topic/homework assignment/reading]. Unfortunately, I have a regular conflict with your office hours, but would greatly appreciate some guidance on this. Would it be possible to set up a time to meet with you, at your convenience? I am available [dates and times during the week during which you are available].

Thank you,

[Your name]


Not so effective

Subject: Hi

Hey [Mr./Ms.] [Professor’s name],

I was wondering if you could help me. I’m having trouble understanding stuff from your class and want to get an A. What should I do?

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Asking to Meet for a Recommendation Letter

Effective

Subject: Recommendation Question

Dear [Professor/Dr.] [Professor’s last name],

My name is [your name]; I am in your [class title] class. I am enjoying the class so far, especially [aspect of class you enjoy].

I am applying for [job/school/scholarship/etc.], and since I enjoy your class and would like to continue in this field, I would greatly appreciate meeting with you at your convenience to discuss the possibility of receiving a letter of recommendation from you. Unfortunately, I have class during your office hours, so I am wondering if we could meet at another time. The letter is due in [length of time at least 3 weeks from email date]. Would it be possible for us to meet? I am available [dates and times during the week during which you are available].

I have attached my resume for your convenience, if you would like to see it.

Thank you,

[Your name]


Not so effective

Subject: Can I Have a Letter of Recommendation?

Hey [Mr./Ms.] [Professor’s name],

I was wondering if I could get a letter of recommendation from you. I’m applying for [job/school/scholarship/etc.], and it’s due next week. Please let me know if you can do this.

Thanks,

[Your name]

Asking to Meet for General Conversation

Effective

Subject: Informational Meeting

Dear [Professor/Dr.] [Professor’s last name],

My name is [your name]; I am in your [class title] class. I would greatly appreciate the chance to meet and speak with you about [topic you are interested in—professor’s research, career path, etc.], as I [am interested in the topic/am looking to potentially pursue this line of work/have a background in the topic/etc.].  Would it be best for me to come in during your regular office hours, or would you be available to meet for a one-on-one appointment? I am available [dates and times during which you are available], and would love to get coffee, meet in your office, or meet at some other convenient location for you.

Thank you,

[Your name]


Not So Effective

Subject: Meet Up?

Hey [Mr./Ms.] [Professor’s name],

I was hoping we could meet up to chat about your work. Are you free next week?

Thanks,

[Your name]