Emailing a professor or tutor for the first time can be a daunting task. From my experiences at University, students aren’t educated on how to compose a well-constructed email that is both professional and affable.
Remember than your academic tutors are there to help you, and they are happy to hear from you if you need any help or advice. It’s important that when writing an email to an academic, you communicate clearly with them so they understand exactly what you’re asking and can give you the best advice.
So, I’ve set out some clear guidelines on how an academic email should be written, which would have been extremely helpful to me in my early years at University!
To send or not to send
Firstly, consider whether you need to send an email. It is possible that you can acquire the information required from looking at your syllabus, timetable, or other course materials.
No personal email addresses
Use your University email address to ensure that you are maintaining professionalism.
Nail the subject line
A short and clear subject line will help the receiver immediately understand the topic of your email, what you need, and when you need it.
Greet the individual
Always start an email with an appropriate and respectful salutation. Double check their name and title before sending an email and ensure that your greeting is followed by a comma.
Academic staff have a large cohort of students and so it is important to inform them of your year and course of study. This will guarantee that the recipient has all the information necessary to give you a quick and comprehensive reply.
Specificity is the key
The email content should get straight to the point. It should state who you are and your relationship to the recipient, explain your situation in no more than a couple of sentences, and suggest how the recipient can help you to address the problem. Keeping it simple will ensure that it is easy for them to reply with all the information that you require.
Clear, concise and formal
As well as being specific, you need to adopt an appropriate writing style that is clear, concise and formal. Address the recipient using their title; use academic language as appropriate, excluding slang terms and emojis; and be polite, avoid making demands.
Before signing off, thank your tutor for their time and sign off with ‘Kind regards’ followed by your full name and professional signature (if you have one).
Check before you send
Finally, be absolutely sure that you proofread your email before sending it. This will save you from any embarrassing typos and certify that it is easy to understand.
Academic email example
Subject: Prevention into practice paper- zoom meeting request for Wednesday afternoon
Dear Professor Jones,
I am a 4th year dental student, and I was hoping that we could arrange a zoom meeting to discuss the upcoming ‘prevention into practice’ essay (due on January 1st).
I am planning to write about improving the general and oral health of a 3-year-old child with dental caries. I have attended the lectures and completed the required reading, but I have some questions that I would like to ask before I begin writing.
Will you be available this week for a zoom call? Wednesday afternoon would be best for me, but I am happy to adapt my schedule if you are not available then.
If we cannot arrange a meeting, do you have any textbooks or research papers about early childhood caries that you can suggest?
Thank you for your time.