Tulane Home Tulane Shield logo linking to site home page

How to E-mail Your Professor

Like with any form of communication, there are do's, don'ts, and proper ettiquette. Here is how to properly and respectfully address your professor.

Do's

  • Use the subject line– write a brief, specific description of your objective, such as, “Absent for ENGL 1010 9/15/19.” Be sure to include the course number in the subject line, as your professor may have multiple classes.
  • Use a greeting– refer to the syllabus for a proper title. Not sure how to address your professor? The safest way to start is with “Dear Professor __________.”
  • Be concise– your message should be brief and clear.
  • Use proper grammar– you want your professor to view you as a serious student. You’re not texting a friend or writing a caption for Instagram.
  • Acknowledge any and all replies– if your professor answers your e-mail, points you to a resource, or agrees to write you a reference, acknowledge them with a thank you in reply. Your professor will appreciate your good manners.
  • Sign with your full name and a thanks or regards.
  • Remember that e-mail is forever– once you send it, you can’t take it back.

Don'ts

  • Use a high school e-mail address– Sk8rboy420@e-mail.com is not appropriate at the university level. Always use your Tulane e-mail address for class correspondence.
  • Forget to proofread– mistakes might be misinterpreted as humor or an insult.
  • Expect an immediate response– professors run on different schedules than students. Twenty-four hours is a standard window of time for an e-mail response during the business week. Professors are people, too, so don’t expect one to answer an e-mail during a holiday or at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night.
  • Debate your grades– unless you have been specifically directed to use e-mail for grading topics or issues, don’t. Instead, reach out via e-mail to schedule a one-on-one appointment during office hours and discuss grade questions face-to-face.