Email Etiquette: How to Communicate Professionally Via Email

Learning to communicate with your professors professionally can go a long way toward building a productive relationship with your professor now and will be a vital skill you will use in your career later. Here are some tips to help you create clear and professional emails.

General Tips

  •  Put your name, course number, etc. in the subject line of your email or in the first sentence of your email. Don't assume they automatically know who you are or which class you are taking!
  • If you don’t hear back in 3 business days, take the next step and go by during their office hours. Your email may have gotten lost in their inbox.
  • Use good grammar! It is much more professional and they will take you more seriously.
  • Avoid using text language and emoji's in your emails. These are electronic letters, not text messages.
  • If you are upset with your instructor, wait a day before you email them about your problem. This gives you time to cool off and clear your head to approach the situation rationally.
  • Double check the email. Read over it and be sure it actually sends.

Basic Professional Email Format

Greeting: (Hello, Dr. ____, etc.)

Introduce Yourself: Your full name, course name, class days and times, etc. (Unless you know the other professional well and trust they will know you by name).

State Your Question/Ask for What You Need: Be polite but clear. Make it obvious what you are asking/need from them. It’s within your right as a student to ask for support/help/feedback.

Say Something Positive: People who think you care about them or their class will be more willing to help you. Let them know you are focused on doing well in their class and understanding the content and not a grade grubber/annoying emailer.

Thank Them: Thank them for their time and let them know you appreciate them (even if you don’t)

Sign Off: (Thanks, _______; Best, _______; Sincerely, _________; Etc.)



Dr. Smith,

My name is John Doe and I am in your English 101 class on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12pm. I’m having some trouble getting started on my research paper for your class. I’m emailing to ask if you have any available time this week during your office hours to clarify a few questions I have and to discuss my paper topic. I think talking with you will really help me break through my writer's block!

Thank you so much for your time and I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.


John Doe

Asking to Set up a Meeting

Mr./Ms./Dr. ________,

My name is _______ and I am in your __________ class on _______  at  _________. I’m writing to ask if you have any available time to meet with me during your office hours this week to discuss ________. I am really enjoying your class and want to be sure that I am meeting all of the expectations you have for your students.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!




Asking for Grade Updates/Grade Questions

Mr./Ms./Dr. __________,

             My name is _______ and I am in your __________ class on _______  at  _________. I was looking on asulearn earlier today and saw that I didn’t have grades for _____ and ____ OR and saw that I had received a _____ on ______. I was hoping you could tell me a little more about what my current grade standing is in your class. I want to be certain I’m doing everything I can to do well in your course!

 Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!



 Saying Thank You

Mr./Ms./Dr. __________,

             My name is _______ and I am in your __________ class on _______  at  _________. I hope you are having a great week! I’m writing to thank you for taking the time to ________. I really think that your support helped me __________. I appreciate all of the hard work and time spend helping my classmates and I be successful!

Thanks again,