Dos an Donts of Emailing your Professor in 2 Minutes

DO have a clear subject line: “Research Proposal Idea,” “Question About Class,” “Question About Your Research,” etc.

DO start off with a formal greeting such as: Good morning/afternoon, Greetings, Dear Dr. _, etc.

DO tell them who you are! For example: “Hello, my name is John Smith. I am in your course REL101, the 10 am MWF session of “Intro Religion.”…..

DO give them a bit more information if you don’t know them! For example: “Hello, my name is John Smith, I’m a graduate student at Harvard University. My research interests are contemporary political philosophy, critical race theory, and psychoanalysis, particularly the works of Franz Fanon and Sigmund Freud.”

DO tell them a specific reason you are emailing them. Some examples: “I’m reaching out because…”

-I missed your class last Friday and I’m wondering if I could meet you in office hours or email you some questions I had about the reading

- I’m interested in your research/area of study and I was wondering if I could schedule a meeting with you to discuss the field…

-I was reading you recent Article, “X,” and it made me wonder about….

-I noticed that we share an area of interest. I was wondering what you think about: a particular author, a particular subfield, etc.

DO Include your personal statement and CV if you are asking for a letter of recommendation

DO use proper grammar and reread your emails.

DO end the email with a professional signature: Best, All the best, best regards, etc.


DON’T spam them. If they don’t reply, wait one week to send a follow up email.

DON’T send a massive email chain. If you have to send more than three emails back and forth (so six in total), the topic is probably too complex for email. Zoom them or schedule to meet in person.

DON’T miss an appointment you schedule unless you absolutely need to, make sure you tell them at least a few hours (preferably one day) in advance.

DON’T wait until the last minute to send people emails about letters of recommendation (the more in advance you tell them, the better!)

Additional Tips

-Make sure you follow up with people if they do not respond the first time!!! It is very possible the email just got buried or they forgot to press “Send.” That is very common. Again, just wait 7 days.

-Don’t be afraid to cold email people you do not know. Again, just follow these guidelines, be formal, introduce yourself and consider reading their work before you reach out.

I love philosophy, history, and social justice. I help students succeed with academic consulting.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store