Writing Professional Emails

Engaging in professional communication with your professor is a good habit and it helps ensure that they have a good impression of you. Many students have difficulty using email effectively. If you are having trouble figuring out how to put together an email to your professor, you can’t go wrong with the template below. Whether you are in my class or any other class at the college, this template should work well. I have also included an example email.

Addressing and Header Information

Your official school email address.
Your professor's email address, as listed in the syllabus.
"Carbon Copy" - list anyone else you want to see your email, such as an advisor or coach. A good "rule of thumb" is to Cc anyone you mention in the email.
"Blind Carbon Copy" – like Cc, but without letting the person you are sending the email to know that you have included other people. A good "rule of thumb" is NOT to use Bcc in most situations. Warning: Some email systems do not keep Bcc blind, letting the person in the "To" field see all recipients.
Start with your class and section. Then write the topic from their perspective. "Class" makes a terrible subject, because your professor teaches many classes and nearly all student emails are about one of those classes in some way.

Email Template

Replace the information in brackets below as appropriate:

Subject: [class number and section]: [your issue]

Dear [Title, use “Professor” to be safe if you do not know] [Last Name],

I am in your [time] [class name] class on [days class meets]. I have checked the [syllabus/assignment instructions/rubric/textbook/class resources] for an answer, but it does not adequately answer my question. I need some additional help with [your issue].

[Second paragraph explaining your question. Describe where you looked for answers, what you found, and how that information is not enough for you to have a clear answer to your question. You may also include other relevant aspects of your situation.]

[OPTIONAL third paragraph where you propose answers or next steps.]

Thank you,

[Your First and Last Name]

Example Email

From: examplestudent@tcstudents.tusculum.edu
To: kdmiller@tusculum.edu
Subject: SPCH 101-100: Hospitalization during late work window

Dear Dr. Miller

I am in your 9 am Public Speaking class on Monday/Thursday. I have checked the syllabus for an answer, but it does not adequately answer my question. I need some additional help with answering questions about hospitalization during the window for late work.

When I checked in the syllabus, it said that I could turn in a late presentation for partial credit as long as it was within 7 days of the original due date, but the syllabus does not address what happens if an injury or illness prevents a student from turning late work in during this 7-day window. I planned to turn in the presentation I missed during this late-work window, but I was injured at a game and had to stay in the hospital overnight. This hospital stay caused me to miss getting my late work in before the end of the late-work window. I have already completed and turned in the assignment, and I have attached a note from the hospital to this email to show that I was admitted and stayed overnight.

I know that I cannot receive full credit for the assignment because I did not complete it prior to the deadline but, considering these circumstances, can you accept my presentation and grade it as late work for partial credit even though I have submitted it after the 7-day window for late work?

Thank you,

Example Student