How to Write an Email to a College Professor

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How to write an email to a college Professor. Writing an email to a college professor can be difficult for some students because of how knowledgeable the professor could be when it comes to writing and his high standards. As a college student, you will probably have to learn how to write an email to a college professor for various, reasons such as getting clarification on an assignment or reading requirements or scheduling a meeting. Email dialogues and online writing tasks can help students develop literacy and language.

In this article, you will learn how to write a clear, concise, and effective email to a college professor that would yield results.

Understanding The Purpose Of The Email

Before you understand how to write an email to a college professor you need to know and understand the purpose of the email, this will help you to use the appropriate tone to get the response you need because the messages you send will differ in their formality depending on your purpose.

There are several reasons why you might need to email a college professor, most of them are:

  • Asking for clarification: It’s important to email your professor as soon as possible with any question regarding any lecture or assignment you are confused about. In writing this email you will have to be clear and straight-forward with your questions, this will help your professor quickly understand the email and respond efficiently.
  • Requesting feedback: You can email your professor requestion for feedback on a completed assignment. When asking for feedback on an assignment you need to tell him about the work you’ve completed and area you will like him to focus on, this way he will know how serious you are to improve and raise your performance.
  • Seeking help: If you want to email your professor seeking help with a course material, you’ll need to tell him the problem you are facing with the course and what you have already tried. This will help your professor to suggest the right material or study strategy/plan to help you succeed.
  • Arranging a meeting: If you want to arrange a meeting with your professor via email, you have to tell him the reason for the meeting and times that you will be available, it will help you professor know the reason for the meeting and will also show that you respect their time.
  • Reporting an absence: When reporting for an absence in class to your professor via email, you’ll have to tell him the reason you were not in class, and you can also ask him for any material or assignment you missed. Writing your email this way will let the professor know how serious you are with your education.
  • Expressing gratitude: When writing an email to your professor to express gratitude, you have to tell him exactly how he helped you and how grateful you are, this will help the professor know how grateful you are and also make your relationship with him stronger/healthier.
  • Request for Information: If you are interested in learning more about scholarships or admittance but are not a student at the college, you may also email a professor there. Be sure to include your request in the email and express your gratitude if he can assist you.

After identifying the purpose of your email, you’ll have to set a goal for the email; if you want to ask for clarification your goal might be to understand how a particular Math assignment question was solved. Setting a goal will help you send an effective email that will yield good result.

Understanding the purpose of your email is very important when writing email because it helps you to convey to message effectively to your professor.

Crafting The Subject Line

Crafting a good subject line is very important when writing an email because it helps the professor/receiver to know the content of the email by just reading the subject line. A good subject line can also encourage the professor to open the email and also create a positive first impression.

Examples of subject line include:

Student of 2019: Seeking information about scholarships
Student 2021: Artificial intelligence research question
Request for Office Hours Appointment
Follow-up on resume submission

Tips For Crafting An Effective Email Subject Line

  • Consider the length: When writing an email subject line, consider its length. Even if a shorter subject line is more likely to hold the professor’s attention, your subject line needs to reflect your email’s content. If you want to use a short subject line, make sure it provides enough detail that will make the professor wonder what your email has to say.
  • Interpret the sense of importance or urgency: If a subject line reflects a sense of urgency, the professor is more likely to open the email.
  • Correct spelling, grammar and limit punctuation: When writing a subject line make sure it’s free from grammatical error and its well punctuated.
  • Things you should avoid when writing subject lines:
    Use of ‘Urgent e.g., “PhD Studentship Info needed, URGENT!”
    Excessive exclamation points!!!!!!!!!

How to Write an Email to a College Professor

Writing the Email Body

The body of the email comes next now that You are aware of how crucial it is to understand the purpose of the email and create a strong subject line. The email’s body is a crucial component because it contains the message you wish to send to the professor; as a result, it must be well-written and error-free.

  • Proper Greeting (Salutation and Name): Now, you must begin your email body with the proper salutation, such as “Hello” or “Dear,” as “Hi” and “Hey” are too casual given that you are addressing your professor. The salutation is followed immediately by the professor’s name and title, followed by a comma. “Hello Professor Smith,” is an example at the beginning of this article.
  • Remind the Professor who you are: Professors usually have lots of students, so it is crucial to provide your name and the name of your class before requesting something. This way the will know who they are helping and also ensure a faster reply.
  • Keep it short and simple: After the greeting/salutation and self-introduction, you then have to make your request; the reason you are writing the email, make sure to keep it short and simple, professors are usually busy.
    Example: I was wondering if you might suggest some reading materials for me because I found the algebra class to be difficult.
  • End the Email: End your email by thanking your professor for their time and adding “Sincerely” or “Best regards” before your name.
    Example: “Thank you for your time, sir and have a great day”
    “Best regards,
    James Wilson”

Put yourself in the professor’s position now and read the email and ensure that it doesn’t contain any disrespectful language.

Email Samples to a College Professor

Below are some email samples to a College professor:


Subject: Question about the Literature assignment

Dear Professor Smith,

My name is James Wilson, from First Year, Literature Class. The assignment you gave us is to be printed and not to be sent to your email on 25th February. Most students are confused.

Could you please verify the correct means of submitting the assignment?

Thank you so much for your time.

James Wilson.


Subject: Literature, First Year: Class attendance

Dear Professor Smith,

This is James Wilson, from Literature Class, First year. I am writing to apologize for my absence in class on Wednesday, as I had a doctor’s appointment that day.

I am sorry for not informing you on time. I will also do my best to look through the materials you provided for this class and ask my classmates to share their notes.

Thank you for you for your time and understanding.

Best regards,
James Wilson.


Subject: Literature, First Year: Request for An Appointment

Hello Professor Smith,

I am a student in your Literature, First Year class, my name is James Wilson. I had some trouble coming up with a topic for my research paper, so I’d appreciate the chance to talk to you about it when you’re in the office.

Please let me know when you will be available; I’m available at any time.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your reply.

James Wilson.

Proofread means read (written or printed material) and mark any errors, courtesy of Oxford Dictionary. It’s important to proofread your email and if possible, have someone else look at it over before you send it, as they say two heads are better than one. This way you would be sure the email is free for errors.

Etiquette And Best Practices

When writing an email to a College Professor, your tone should be polite and respectful so as to ensure your message/request is understood the right way.

Using a professional tone when writing email to your professor, shows him that you respect him well and will also strengthen your relationship with him. You should also avoid using CAPs all through, as it’s kind of improper.

Additionally, using slangs or overly casual language isn’t advisable and could destroy the relationship you have with the professor.

In general, using a professional tone and proper Capitalization as well as being polite and respectful are necessary when writing to a college professor.

When addressing the Professor in your email you should use their title and last name (not first name), don’t use the Professor’s first name unless he permits you to do so.

The best way to format an email is to do the following:

1) Use clear and Concise Paragraph: Like the examples I gave in the email body section you should make the paragraphs clear and concise instead of combining your message in one paragraph.

2) Avoid long blocks of text: As I previously stated, you do not need to provide all of your information in one paragraph, avoid writing long blocks of text because they can be confusing and difficult to grasp.

Now that you are aware of how crucial email etiquette is, you can use it to improve your relationship with the professor and your chances of receiving a favorable answer from him or her.


Follow-Up Emails

Follow-up emails are only sent when your first email is not responded to, thus they serve more as reminders. When sending a follow-up email, you should wait at least 48 hours after sending your initial email.

Here are common mistakes people make when writing follow-up email:

  1. Being too pushy: No one likes to be disturbed, not even professors, sending many follow-up emails not too long after the main email can be considered being aggressive. And it may cause the Professor to disregard the email.
  2. Failing to reference the previous email: Never forget to reference the previous email unless the follow-up email will be useless. Also, referring to the earlier email clarifies the email for the professor, who can then respond positively.
  3. Sending the same email again: Sending the same email again as follow-up can be frustrating to the professor.

Subject: Follow-up about [Request for appointment] 

Hello Professor Smith,

I hope all is well. I wanted to follow up on my email from 16th March about my request for an appointment. I understand you have a busy schedule, but I wanted you to help me come up with a research topic.

I greatly appreciate your time. Thank you again in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you soon!  

James Wilson

Thank-You Emails

Thank-you email is usually sent to thank the professor for a positive response. Thank-you emails are crucial since they leave a positive impression on the professor and raise your chances of receiving future assistance from him.

Here is an example:

Subject: Thank You

Dear Professor Smith,

I appreciate you taking the time to see me yesterday. I also want to thank you for the suggestions and assistance with my research topic.

Thank you again for your time and advice.

Best regards,
James Wilson.

FAQs on How to Write an Email to a College Professor

Can I use informal language in my email to my professor?

No, your email should demonstrate your professional relationship with your professor. Hence, you should not use informal language when writing an email to your professor.

How should I address my professor in the email?

When addressing your professor, you should begin by saying “Hello” or “Dear”, followed immediately by the professor’s name and title.

How long should my email to the professor be?

Your email should be succinct and to the point. Emails with only one sentence as long as they have a salutation and signature are acceptable.

What should I do if the professor doesn’t respond to my email?

If your professor fails to respond to your email after 48 hours, you should then send a follow-up email. This could prompt your professor to respond to you if they unintentionally missed your email.

Is it appropriate to ask for an extension on an assignment via email?

Yes, it is appropriate to ask for an extension on an assignment via email. However, it’s crucial to be respectful and professional in your request.


In Conclusion, it can be challenging to write an effective email to a college professor, but with practice it will be easier as long as you follow the guidelines in this article. Do leave a comment if your have any additional questions about emailing a college professor.


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