How To Email Your College Professor

College professor standing at green chalkboard with a student working on a math problem

More and more email is becoming the preferred way to contact a professor. It can be the perfect way for a student to ask a quick question or explain an absence. It’s also a great way to schedule a meeting outside of the offered office hours if they don’t work with your schedule. It’s important to know the right way to email your professors because it is a professional exchange. How you choose to interact shows your level of seriousness and professionalism.

Go To Your Syllabus When You Want To Email Your Professor

Your professor’s email will be located in your course syllabus. A course syllabus is a document that is given to you by your professor on the first day of class. Your course syllabus contains vital information about your class. It lets you know when exams, assignments, and papers are due. There will be class and school policies. It’s basically your map to everything.

What You Should And Should Not Ask

“There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.” ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Carl Sagan might have a point that there is no such thing as a dumb question and typically I would agree with this. However, unfortunately, there are dumb questions when it comes to students contacting their professors. Here are a few of the biggest, “What did we do in class today?”, “Did we do anything important in class today?” and “When is such and such assignment due?”

Professors hate these types of questions because they can be answered by your course syllabus. Your professors put in a lot of time creating their syllabi and it’s frustrating when students don’t consult them. Before emailing your professor review your syllabus as your question could be answered there.

When You Email Your Professor Address Them Correctly

How you address your professor via email is extremely important. If your professor has a doctorate, you should always address them as “Dr. Last Name”. If they don’t have a doctorate or if you are unsure whether they have one, it’s always best to address them as “Professor Last Name”. It’s as simple as that. Never use Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Tip: If you don’t know their proper title, check the class syllabus it should be listed there.

It’s okay to use a greeting, like “Dear Professor Johnson” or “Hello Dr. Johnson”. Also, be sure to start the email on a pleasant note. I like to use, “I hope this email finds you well” or “I hope you are having a good day”. Just keep it simple.

Body Of The Email

The right way to email your professors is to dive right in and get to your point quickly. Don’t waste your professor’s time. They don’t want to read through paragraphs of details and explanations. Be concise. If they have questions or need more clarification, they will reach out to you.

Student sitting on bed with open laptop in her lap sending a email to her professor

Be sure to have a clear subject. I like to include the course number in the subject to make it easier for the professor. Use correct spelling and proper grammar. If your email is filled with spelling and grammar errors, it implies you don’t care and are unwilling to take the time to write properly. Avoid slang and abbreviations. Be sure to proofread.

The Right Way To Close A Email

When you send your email, before putting your name, keep it simple. Also, be sure to thank your professor. Their time is valuable. I like to say, “Many thanks in advance” or “Have a great rest of your day.”

My closings look something like this:

Many thanks in advance.


Sensei (Global Business, MWF)

Here are a few good email sign-offs.

  • Respectfully
  • Sincerely,
  • Yours truly,
  • Appreciatively,
  • Best regards,

Your closing signature should always be your first and last name. Professors are extremely busy and have many students and classes, don’t assume they always know who you are.

Now that you know the right way to email your professors don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions or to get clarification. They are there to help you.