Communicating Effectively with Faculty

Do you have a question for a professor that you don't quite know how to communicate? Have your past communications with faculty members been ineffective? Are you unsure of why professors have not responded to your email messages?

The following communication tips and examples will enable you to create successful messages to faculty, and in turn, get the responses you need.

 Guidance for Email Etiquette:

  • Use your student email account when sending messages to faculty. Professors are more likely to open emails from reputable addresses.
  • Include a descriptive subject in the subject line (e.g. "Question about paper"). It's always a good idea to incorporate the course name/number as well. Avoid urgent demands such as "Immediate response needed."
  • Begin your message with a respectful salutation: "Dear Professor __________,"
  • Make your email clear and concise, with focused and succinct questions. After all, faculty members get many emails every day. 
  • Ask for your professor's permission before sending an entire paper/document.
  • Do not use all capital letters. It's not a shouting match.
  • Do not use emoticons or smileys.
  • Avoid Facebook, text, and IM-ing lingo and abbreviations.
  • Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • End your message with an appropriate signoff (e.g. "Best wishes," or "Regards,"), as well as your entire name (no nicknames!).
  • Always ackowledge your professors' responses to your emails, and thank them for their time.

Examples: