writing email for university

7 Tips: How to write an email to a college admissions office

Emailing a college admissions office is no time for spelling errors or etiquette mistakes - this guide and sample email will keep your college emails professional and on point.

Email is such a fast and efficient way to communicate that it's easy to forget basic etiquette and professionalism. If you're not sure how to write an email to a college admissions office, this guide and sample email will keep you on the right track. WeAdmit's simple tips and suggestions will have you sounding professional and staying in the admissions office's good graces, and our college admissions office sample letter will show you how it's done.

Learning to write a professional email to a college admissions office isn't just a formality. Many colleges are teaching courses in professional behavior , including email and social media, because it's a vital skill when moving into the job market and advancing in your career. Plus, although texting and social media have become major ways of communicating on college campuses, a Bowling Green University study found that email is still the primary way students communicate with their professors. Developing professional email skills now will not only help you get into your perfect-fit school, those skills will serve through college and beyond.

Here are seven tips to keep your emails on point:

1. Keep the format clean

A solid college email should start with a formal greeting, preferably with the recipient’s name and title, and end with a sincere send-off. Keep the font size and color legible while avoiding frequent use of emojis, formatting, or images. If the email is difficult to read, it will not come across as if your student takes the email or its contents seriously.

Additionally, make sure the email’s subject line is clear and direct. “Questions Regarding the Economics Major” is much better than “asking about a few of your majors.”

Finally, make sure your student is sending any college-related emails from an appropriate and direct email address, such as [email protected] This will help prevent their email from ending up in a spam folder or being disregarded for its lack of seriousness.

2. Make a good impression by demonstrating real interest

Many of the emails you'll send to a college admissions office are about information you need, such as your application, your financial aid, the major you're interested in, and scholarships you want to apply for. That's fine! But remember that the college is looking for people who are going to become part of their community, who participate in all aspects of college life, and who genuinely want to be there.

One of the intangible aspects of college admissions is demonstrated interest . It doesn't show up in an application, but it can give you an edge over other applicants. It simply means, "show the college you're invested in being a student there." You do that with campus visits and meetings with department chairs, but when that isn't possible, a well-written heartfelt email that asks good questions about the school can get the admissions office's attention. Put the focus on the school and how you'll be a strong and active part of its community, rather than always focusing on what the school can provide for you.

3. Don't be too casual

We all have a way of talking with our friends via email and text using abbreviations, emojis, slang terms, and shorthand. When it's time to email a college admissions office (or, later, a professor, a job recruiter, a co-worker, or your boss), leave the slang and abbreviations out. Write your emails in your natural voice, as if you're having an in-person conversation. But don't forget that it's a conversation with someone you should treat with respect. Use complete sentences, and proper capitalization and punctuation. Address the person you're emailing as Mr. or Ms., or, if appropriate, Dr. (if you know they have a PhD, it's a good idea to go with Dr.), and their last name.

Keep your email brief and to the point, and make sure you proofread it before you send it.

4. Don't be too formal

I thought we just said don't be too casual? We did. But a common mistake is to go too far in the other direction and write like you're reciting a speech or giving a sermon. There's no need to use big words or stiff, awkward expressions. That's not how you would talk in person, so don't do it in an email!

Also, never use a form email that you've simply filled in the blanks. The college admissions sample email in this article is just to give you an idea of what your email should look like before you write your own. There are plenty of form emails online, and trust us when we say that college admissions staff can spot them a mile away. Your goal in the admissions process is to stand out from the crowd, and a copy-paste email is never a good look.

5. Be polite and respectful

It might seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Approaching your college admissions journey with humbleness and gratitude will serve you better than being rude or entitled. Even if the college has genuinely made an error (it happens!), be kind and polite. Inevitably, you will miss a deadline , forget to send paperwork, or otherwise misstep, and your gracious behavior will reward you when you need help from the people in charge of accepting you to college.

6. Think before you send

Sometimes the best college admissions email is one you never send at all. If you have a question about the school that's answered on the school's web site or in an FAQ, or even on a student forum somewhere, there's no need to ask an admissions official about it. Don't be afraid to do some research and find the facts about admissions that you need.

If you're further along in the admissions process, you might be following up on an earlier email that hasn't received a reply in a little while. Of course, when you're waiting for your acceptance letter or financial aid package, a single day feels like forever. Still, don't pester admissions every other day. In general it's a good idea to wait a week or two before sending another follow-up email (unless the matter's especially urgent, in which case it might be time to just pick up the phone).

Getting into college can be a stressful time, and you don't always get the answers you want to hear from the admissions office. It's ok to feel upset or hurt when this happens. Just don't send an email when you feel that way. Take a day to cool your emotions so your reply is always polite and respectful, even when you want to scream.

7. Sample college admissions office email

In this sample email, the person sending the email is reaching out for more information on a college's honors program. Note the tone: respectful, but not stiff. It draws connections between the student and the college, demonstrating interest, and includes a personal point (that she wants to try mountain climbing) to help Dr. Alvarez remember her. This student has suffered a setback, but doesn't speak bitterly about it, instead moving forward to other opportunities. She has researched and found that the honors program is run by Janet Alvarez, who has a PhD.

Dear Dr. Alvarez,

My name is Hannah Wilson, and I'll be a freshman at State University this fall. I was disappointed that I didn't win the Masterson Scholarship, but Mr. Klein in the admissions office told me I would still be eligible for the honors program. I noticed that last semester there were honors classes on agriculture in early human history. I'm considering anthropology for my major, and I was wondering if you knew which honors classes will be offered this fall. Is it possible to have honors class credits count toward a major if they're in the appropriate field of study?

I saw from the honors program website that honors students get to participate in extra activities together. I'd love to be part of the honors program, and I can't wait to meet the other honors students. I really want to try mountain climbing - I've never had a chance to do that.

Hannah Wilson

That should give you a good idea of how to approach any emails you send to a college admissions office, or any other email where you need to be your professional best. If you're looking for personalized help with the other parts of your college journey, from essays to test prep and more, try one of WeAdmit's free counseling sessions . A team of WeAdmit college counselors can guide you down the path to your perfect-fit school.

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College Admissions

How to write an email to a college admissions office: 3 sample emails.

There are many reasons to email an admissions officer. You may need to ask some clarifying questions about a specific program, you may need help understanding your financial aid package , or you may want to confirm the college has received every part of your application . No matter the reason, you must ensure that your letter to the admissions office is both professional and authentic. In this article, we will review several successful samples of how to write an email to a college admissions office.

When should you send an email to a college admissions office?

Most college admissions officers consider emails from high school students a form of demonstrated interest or the degree to which you express an interest in attending a school. Demonstrated interest is one of the many factors college admissions officers consider when evaluating your application.

It is the best way to show an admissions officer that you have done your research about their college and are eager to learn more. In fact, a study performed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that demonstrated interest was one of the most important factors in the college admissions decision process. As such, it is important that your email presents your best self.

Things to consider before writing your college admissions letter/email

There are many factors to consider when drafting your email. In this article, we will discuss several important strategies as well as review key factors such as: appropriate subject lines for college admissions emails, how to address the admissions office in an email, and how to ask thoughtful, well-researched questions.

Schedule a free consultation

Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your college counseling or career coaching needs., find your admissions officer.

If possible, locate the email of the admissions officer for your region. For example, if you live in Florida, you want to target the email to the admissions officer that reads for the Southeast. It is important to locate the admissions officer for your region since they will be the person reading your college application when you submit it. They should be familiar with your name and remember you positively.

Have a clear purpose for your email

Don’t email a college admissions officer without a clear reason. College admissions officers have busy schedules, especially during college application season. Be respectful of their time. Do not send a generic email introducing yourself. Be concise, and straightforward, and have a clear reason for emailing them.

Research your question before reaching out

Research your questions thoroughly before reaching out to them. College websites include lots of important information and frequently asked questions and answers. Make sure you read all of this information. 

If you reach out to a college admissions officer with a question that’s already been answered on the school’s website, the officer may doubt your ability to conduct your own research. Impress college admissions committees by asking precise and specific questions. 

For example, do not ask college admissions officers questions such as:

Rather ask questions such as:

writing email for university

Meet with our college admissions experts

Do not be afraid to ask questions about your required materials.

You can also follow up with an admissions officer to confirm they have received all of your materials, such as your test scores and letters of recommendation. This is particularly important as the application deadline approaches. For example, if you have sent in your SAT/ACT scores but haven’t received a confirmation email from the school that they received it, you can follow up with the school. The email should be detailed, concise, and professional.

How to write a letter to a college admissions office in 5 steps & what to include

It’s important to know when and how to email a college admissions office during the college application process. You will be evaluated on the quality and nature of your correspondence so it’s important to be prepared. Read the following tips on how to email an admissions officer before you reach out with any questions. 

If you are wondering how to start an email to a college, read on! In this section of the article, we will review several college admissions email samples and discuss how to write an email to college admissions successfully.

Address the admissions officer properly

Begin your email by addressing the admissions officer in a kind, proper manner. Don’t use slang or abbreviations that you might use with your peers while texting. Your writing should highlight your maturity and ability to communicate in a professional setting . 

Introduce yourself

Admissions teams receive hundreds of emails a day from prospective students so a concise email that simply gets to the point saves time and energy. Therefore, you shouldn’t spend a great deal of time introducing yourself. You are unlikely to increase your probability of acceptance by sending an email detailing your life’s accomplishments. Instead, write a brief sentence or two, providing your name and any relevant background information that may inform their answer such as whether you have previously spoken to them during the college admissions process at a college fair.

“My name is Hayley Hall and I am applying to Pomona College in the Fall of 2022. I am particularly interested in majoring in Engineering.”

Be specific

Once you have provided your name and relevant information, ask specific questions. Don’t ask generic questions you should already know the answer to from your college search .

Avoid questions like:

“What’s the acceptance rate for UCLA?”

“What does Yale look for?”

“How much does each credit hour cost for in-state students?”

writing email for university

Colleges provide lots of general information about the school on their website. Search the university’s website thoroughly before reaching out. If you ask for information that the college already provides, it might signal to an admissions officer that you haven’t done your due diligence looking for information on your own. Tweet

Instead, ask more detailed questions like:

“What types of companies does the College of Engineering have partnerships with?”

“When do most students start performing research?” 

“What would you say students are most excited about on campus?” 

These kinds of questions prove that you have done your research but want more in-depth information about their university. Your curiosity will bode well with an admission officer. It will signal you are seriously considering their university. Their answers will help you make informed decisions about the schools you are considering and potentially provide information for your “Why This College” essay !

Make sure to thank the admissions officer

You want to leave a good impression on the admissions officer. Therefore, you should thank the admissions officer for his/her help. Your email correspondence with an admissions officer is often your first communication with a university as a prospective college student. Take your emails seriously while maintaining your own voice. Try to keep your emails to a minimum; don’t email admissions officers every day as that can likely become burdensome as well.

List your full contact information

A college admissions officer will most likely email you back. It is polite, however, to give them the option to call you. This will also come in handy if they need to reach you urgently. Therefore, make sure to list your phone number at the end of your email. You should also list your mailing address. 

Sample email to college admissions office: 3 examples with analysis

Successful emails to admissions officer samples are professional, concise, and detailed. Let’s take a look at some sample emails to a college admissions counselor.

writing email for university

This email is polite and personal. It is also highly specific, with lots of key details and dates. The college admissions officer knows exactly who the student is and what they want. The email is very clear; the college admissions officer will not have to ask any clarifying questions before getting back to the student with the necessary information.

writing email for university

This email is friendly, organized, and to the point. The student presents several clear, well-researched questions that the admission officer is uniquely qualified to answer.

writing email for university

This is an effective email because it is detailed, thorough, and professional. The student clearly states who they are, what their questions are, and what sort of assistance and guidance they hope to receive. It is also clear that the student researched their academic programs thoroughly before drafting this email.

Why email a college admissions office?

Most college admissions officers consider emails from students a form of demonstrated interest or the degree to which you express an interest in attending a school. Demonstrated interest is one of the many factors college admissions officers consider when evaluating your application. It is the best way to show an admissions officer that you have done your research about their college and are eager to learn more. In fact, a study performed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that demonstrated interest was one of the most important factors in the college admissions decision process. As such, it is important that your email presents your best self.

7 extra tips on how to write a formal letter to college administration and mistakes to avoid

Be professional.

Always be professional. Address university admissions officers properly. Avoid slang and informal language. Always thank them for their time. Use a standard sign-off, such as Sincerely or Best Regards, and always sign your full name, along with your phone number.

Mistakes to avoid

Review your social media and online presence carefully. Now that you have reached out and the college admissions officer knows your full name, they will likely look you up. Also, always use a professional email address. Make a new one specifically for college correspondence if necessary. 

Keep it brief

Be respectful of their time. Keep your message brief and succinct. Do not overwhelm them with too many questions. Try to limit yourself to two or three questions. You do not want them to feel like answering your email is a chore. 

This is not the time to list your credentials and qualifications. Keep your email to a single screen. Introduce yourself briefly in a sentence or two. 

Be purposeful

Have a clear reason for reaching out. Ask thoughtful, well-researched questions. Avoid writing vague or generic emails.

Do not email a college admissions officer simply to express your interest in attending or to list your credentials and qualifications. These details are already included in your application materials. There is no reason to repeat yourself.

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Format it properly

Base your email off of an email template if you are unsure how to format it correctly. Use a standard font, size, and color. Do not write in all capitals. Address them properly by their preferred name and title. 

Do not use informal language, slang, or abbreviations. You want to impress college admissions officers. Show them that you are professional and capable of writing professional correspondence. 

Write a clear subject title

Always write a clear subject title. Do not simply label your email as a “question.” Instead, try something like: “Fall 2022 Admissions Question” or “Joseph Smith, Prospective Biology Major, Application Status Question.” 

Subject titles help college admissions officers stay organized, so avoid being vague. Do your best to concisely signal what your email is about.

Personalize the message​

Always write detailed, personalized, well-researched emails. You do not want college admissions officers to feel like answering your email is a chore. Be polite, and personable, and ask relevant questions that they are uniquely qualified to answer.

Avoid sending the same email to multiple schools. It will likely come across as generic and vague.

Always proofread your emails. Have someone else review them for you before you send them. Take your time and make sure your email is kind, concise, and clearly communicates your needs.

You do not want an email with typos and grammatical errors to reflect poorly on you or your application. Always proofread carefully before pressing send.

Key takeaways on how to write an email to a college admissions office

Writing a thoughtful, well-researched email to a college admissions officer communicates that you are serious about your education and your application. Use this opportunity to put your best foot forward. Use professional language, and proper formatting, and ask specific questions. Be respectful of admissions officers’ time and always thank them for their assistance.

Still have questions? Review some frequently asked questions and answers below for further insight before drafting your email. 

How do you address your message to a college admissions office?

Do your best to find out the name of the college admissions officer specific to your region. It’s important to personalize your email and avoid sending vague or generic messages. Use standard greetings such as: “Hello, Mr. Davidson,” or “Good morning, Mrs. Baldwin.”

How formal should your email to a college admissions officer be?

There is no need to be overly formal. Write the way that you would speak naturally. do not want to use slang, abbreviations, or informal language. Try your best to be personable, professional, and precise.

Can you write an email to an admissions office to follow up on your university application?

As application deadlines approach, feel free to reach out to the admissions office to confirm that they received all of your application materials. Not only will this help relieve some stress, but it will also communicate to the admissions office that you are thorough and well-organized.

writing email for university

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Making Email Contact with a University

Making email contact with a university-magoosh

If you are considering going to an English speaking university, you’ve probably been practicing your academic writing. Academic writing, the kind of writing you need to do on the TOEFL and other entrance exams, is formal and complex. But for many university applicants, academic writing is not the only writing they need to do.

During the university application process, email writing skills can be as important as academic writing skills. Often, choosing the right university and getting accepted requires the student to email university administrators and teachers.

Emails are generally less formal than academic writing. Sometimes they can be much less formal, with sentence structure and vocabulary this is more like spoken English than written English. This can even be true when you are emailing university staff and professors.

Be careful though. If you are making the first contact, emailing the university before the email you, it’s best not to be too informal. You don’t want to seem disrespectful. It’s also important to seem serious about getting accepted.

If you are starting an email conversation with a university, use the formal features of letter writing , not academic writing. Have a formal greeting. Use complete sentences, but don’t make them as long and complex as academic sentences. Group your sentences into clearly organized paragraphs. At the end of the email, use a formal sign-off word or phrase such as “cordially” or “sincerely.”

To help you understand what to do and what not to do when you make email contact with a university, here are three different versions of the same email. The emails are written to a director of admissions for an American university.

Email Version 1 (too informal):

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

Just writing to see what your TOEFL requirements are. Couldn’t find the info on your website.

Comments: This email doesn’t even use the names of the recipient or the sender. In the context of an email to a university, this seems not only informal, but a little rude. Using the first names of the recipient and sender would be a little better. However, it’s best to use the title and last name of the recipient and the full name of the sender. The use of slang/conversational words “hey” and “thanx” is also far too informal. Finally, the sentences are fragments. They should be complete sentences with a subject and predicate .

Email Version 2 (too formal)

I hope this day finds you well.

I am writing because I have concerns about the acceptability of my TOEFL score. I have a 25 in Reading, a 24 in Writing, a 20 in Listening, and a 21 in Speaking. I am certainly cautiously optimistic that my scores will be acceptable to the admissions committee at the time that they are making their decisions. However, after navigating the admissions website extensively and carefully analyzing the available information, I feel there is still more I need to know.

While your departmental website offers copious amounts of helpful information, I was unable to locate TOEFL specifications that would indicate whether or not I should retake the exam. It seems possible that you may have no absolute score requirement, and that my TOEFL score will merely be part of holistic assessment of my eligibility. However, it also seems equally plausible that there is a TOEFL requirement, but that your office has not made the requirement available publicly. Conversely, perhaps you have published the scores, but I was simply unable to successfully locate them on your website.

Regardless, it is very important to me to know your exact policy regarding TOEFL and TOEFL scores. Any information you could give me that sheds light on this important issue would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Comments: If you didn’t read all the way through this email, don’t feel bad. A university administrator probably wouldn’t have the time or patience to read through the whole email either! University officials and teachers are busy people, so the flowery, wordy language of regular academic writing is not appropriate when emailing them.

Email Version 3 (just right)

I am writing to ask about the admissions office’s TOEFL score requirements. I looked on the admissions website and couldn’t find them. Could you please let me know what the score requirements are? If the requirements are somewhere on your website, a link would be much appreciated too. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Comments: This email is perfect. It uses the last name of the recipient with a formal title (Ms.). It also uses the full name of the sender of the email. That way, Ms. Johnson can know exactly which applicant she is speaking to. The body of the email itself gives Ms. Johnson the information she needs help the applicant. It also contains some polite and thankful language, without becoming too wordy or running too long.

In the second email above, the tone of the email would be acceptable in academic writing. But the third email, with its less formal tone, demonstrates a better writing style for university contact. As you practice your academic writing for the TOEFL, be ready to switch styles if you need to email any of the universities you’re applying to.

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David Recine

David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles , his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube , Facebook , and Instagram , or connect with him via LinkedIn !

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How to Write an Email to a College Admissions Office: Tips & Templates

The process of applying to colleges is very stressful and challenging. It can be hard to find information across lots of college websites.

Lots of people find that emailing a college admissions office is a good way to get questions answered. However, knowing how to write and structure your email to a college admissions office isn’t as simple.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve provided some things to remember about emailing a college admissions office and some templates that you can use to save time and get started today.

Things to Remember

Ask a specific question.

The reason to email a college admissions officer is to get the answer to a question you have. If you are emailing them without asking a specific question, you are likely wasting your time and their time. Try to only email if you have a specific question that a college admissions office can answer.

Your question should be clear and easy to understand. Making sure your question makes sense is a good way to reduce the amount of back-and-forth between you and the admissions office.

Provide detail, but don’t overdo it

It is important to provide enough details in your email so that the college admissions office understands your situation. However, you shouldn’t write a whole 5-page essay while emailing them, either. College admissions offices get lots of emails from students each day, so to ensure yours is read, keep it brief and include the necessary information.

Don’t send emails when you are frustrated

Moments when you are angry and frustrated are not the time to send emails. Whether you are upset about not getting into a specific program or you missed an application deadline, sending an email while you’re frustrated is a bad idea. If you send an email while angry, you will likely regret what you sent.

Try taking time to calm down first and, if you still have a question, then email the college admissions office.

Know who the email needs to go to

It’s important to ask yourself whether emailing this person would be appropriate or not. A lot of times, college admissions offices have a specific email address or designated point of contact for questions. Make sure to check this before sending your email to ensure that your email is going to the appropriate place.

Check FAQ pages before hitting send

Furthermore, don’t send an email asking a question that has an answer that can be found easily online. Before you hit “send,” check the admissions website for your school to see if the question is answered there.

Most admissions sites have a FAQ page where they answer frequently asked questions, and your question might be answered there.

Check out our Saving Time in Gmail page to learn more about how to use Text Blaze to work faster with email.

With Text Blaze , sending emails to college admissions offices doesn’t have to be difficult. Using keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly insert templates anywhere online. Create templates that can be used to customize your emails and quickly send them to college admissions offices.

Here are a few templates that you can use today. Try them out and customize them to fit your needs.

Email to Specific Person

Email to general office, missed application deadline, add documents to application, meeting request, sports scholarship question, club/organization question, dining hall question, living on campus question, follow-up email: question answered, follow-up email: question unanswered.

Writing an email to a college admissions office can be simple if you keep these tips in mind and use Text Blaze’s templates to make the email process more simple. Feel free to give these templates a try and customize them to fit your needs.

Text Blaze helps thousands of students save hours each day and eliminate repetitive typing tasks (like writing such emails). Get started for free today !

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How to Write a Professional Email to a University

Michaela Panter, PhD

Michaela Panter, PhD

PhD, Immunobiology Yale University

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New graduate students and early-career researchers may be daunted by having to write professional emails, particularly if English is not their native language. Most of us are used to writing quick, informal messages to our good friends, often filled with slang and abbreviations and lacking any regular structure.

However, when writing to a professor, researcher, administrator - or for writing in business communication, it’s important to know how to write a professional email. A more polite style of email writing may increase your credibility as a fellow professional. The two main main items for writing professional emails are formal tone and concise writing .

The two main items to consider for writing professional emails

Using a formal tone will enhance the professional communication of your emails by conveying your respect for the email recipient’s position. This includes avoiding contractions and slang and being sure to use polite terms, such as “please,” “thank you,” “sorry,” “apologies,” “if possible,” and “at your convenience,” where needed.

Your professional emails should also be well structured, with an opening and a closing bracketing the body of the message. In particular, you should begin your emails with “Dear” rather than “Hi” or a similar informal greeting. Polite closing remarks may include “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” “Best wishes,” and “Best regards.”

Using titles

Depending on the context, and particularly if you have never met the person before, you should err on the side of using his or her title and last name (such as “Ms. Arc,” “Mr. Arc,” “Dr. Arc,” or “Prof. Arc”) rather than just the first name or the full name. Once you have been told that it is permissible to use the recipient’s first name or once the recipient has signed his or her first name to a response should you consider using this more informal greeting.

Many professionals to whom you may be writing are likely busy with teaching, research, and/or administrative work. It is best to be concise and to the point to convey your respect for their time. Refrain from writing emails filled with irrelevant information in professional emails.

Keep it short

If possible, limit your message to only a few sentences:

As a result, the body of an effective professional email could be as brief as 2-5 sentences long.

Keep your name out of the greeting

This includes avoiding the common pitfall of spending time stating your name in the first sentence; your name will be signed at the bottom as an email signature, so this step is unnecessary.

Subject line should be concise

Note that the subject line should also directly reflect the purpose of your email. Limit the subject line to a short phrase that encompasses the important points of your email.

One common situation is a first- or second-year graduate student needing to contact a professor regarding learning about the professor’s research and potentially joining his or her research group. This can be a particularly intimidating circumstance, especially if the student is new to research, the researcher is prominent, and/or the student has never met the researcher before. Here is an example of a professional-sounding, concise email that could be written in this case, consistent with the tips provided above:

Subject: Meeting request

Dear Dr. Arc,

Dr. Aje recommended that I contact you. I am a first-year graduate student in immunology with an interest in innate immunity. If possible, I would be interested in learning more about your research and potential rotation opportunities in your research group. Please let me know if you would be available to meet sometime next week.

Final Thoughts

On a first draft, people tend to write like they speak. When you’re finished writing your email, always remember to read over it before you hit send. Pay careful attention to errors, and double check that your grammar is correct. Make sure you edit long text to keep your sentences short, and remember to write in short paragraphs.

We hope that today’s editing tip has clarified a few ways to maintain professionalism in your emails. These tips are applicable for first-year graduate students, as described above, and for professors writing to journal editors. If you have any questions on this topic, please write to us at [email protected] . AJE wishes you the best!

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How to Write a Formal Email

Tips on how to write a formal email with examples.

In the information age, email has become the dominant form of communication. Being able to write a polished, professional email is now a critical skill both in college and the workplace. Below are some key distinctions between formal and informal writing, as well as some guidelines to follow when composing a formal email to a superior (professor, current or prospective employer, etc.) or someone who does not know you.

Informal vs. Formal

Example: Hi Anne, I miss you so much! Can’t wait to see you on Friday!! We haven’t hung out in so long! I miss my bestie! Maybe we can go to the movies or dinner or just chill and watch TV and catch up…idc, whichever you want. Love ya, Jules

Example: Dear Professor Johnson, I was unable to attend class today due to a doctor’s appointment. When you have a moment, could please let me know what I missed and what homework I need to have completed for Friday? Thank you, Julia Smith

Formal email format


The salutation of a formal email is similar to the salutation of a letter. When writing to someone you do not know by name, you put “To Whom it May Concern.” When applying for a job, you would address the person by, “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you do know the recipient’s name, you put “Dear Mr./Ms. Smith.” For a formal salutation, you should not use the recipient’s first name or the informal greetings “Hello” or “Hey.”

Body Paragraphs:

It is important to remember that an email needs to be concise. The first sentence, known as the opening sentence, can be a greeting if the situation allows it.

However, for most formal emails it is best to get straight to the point. Depending on the subject, you should have a maximum of four paragraphs and each paragraph should contain a single point. It is also important to provide questions in order to prompt a response. At the end of your last paragraph you should provide a “thank you” or “call to action” depending on the subject of your email.

Like the salutation, the closing of a formal email can be the same as the closing to a letter. However, unlike the salutation, there are more options for a closing.

The closing is then followed by your full name. It is also beneficial to add your job position (if applicable) and phone number under your name in the 4th paragraph.

Sincerely, Julia Smith Student Body President Menlo College (555) 555-5555

Tips on how to write professional formal email

Formal vs. Informal State whether the sentence would be classified as either formal or informal. If informal, change it to formal.

Example: Hi y’all! _informal; To Whom it May Concern:__

Putting It All Together Find and correct the errors in the following emails:

1. Hello Professor Smith, I’m sorry to tell you but im sick and will not be able to come to class. See ya Wednesday. Jason

2. Dear Sally Blue, I read online that you’re selling business cards. I was wondering how much if i only wanted 500? Is color and a logo extra? Can I see an example before all are shipped or will that cost extra? You seem to have a great business so I hope you can help. Thanks, Jess Higgins

3. Dear Sir/Madam, I am a graduate from menlo college. I got a degree in business and would now like to use it. Your company looks interesting. Can I come in for an interview? I have alot of experience from my schooling and extra cirriculers. I think I can help the company alot. Please respond to my email to let me know. Thanks, Max Oates

“An Introduction to Formal Emails.” Oxford University Press. 2008. Web. 24 September 2013. Beare, Kenneth. “How to Write a Business Email.” About.com. Web. 24 September 2013. “Email Writing.” Oxford University Press. 2009. Web. 24 September 2013. Hale, Ali. “Email Etiquette.” Daily Writing Tips. Web. 24 September 2013. “Writing Formal and Informal Emails.” BBC. 2011. Web. 24 September 2013.

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Sending Email to Faculty and Administrators

Email you send to faculty and administrators should follow the conventions of professional email in any workplace: craft an informative subject line; address the recipient appropriately; be concise and courteous; proofread to avoid sending messages with typos. These are some guidelines for composing professional email messages:

Craft a specific subject line

Example subject lines: ENGH 101.067 Final Paper Questions ENGH 101.067 Absence

Don’t “reply all” when you want to email your professor only

Start with an appropriate greeting

Address the recipient properly

If you are writing to an instructor or professor, address them as “Professor [Lastname].”

If your instructor or professor who has a PhD or DA, you may address them as Dr. [Lastname],” but using “Professor” is also fine.

If you are writing to an administrator who is not a faculty member, address them as “Mr. [Lastname]” or “Ms. [Lastname].” (If you want to be super-precise, you can look up their profile to see if they have a PhD or DA.)

Do not address faculty or administrators by their first names, or with “Professor [Firstname],” “Dr. [Firstname],” or “Mr. [Firstname].”

Introduce Yourself

Introduce yourself to your recipient if you haven’t met them or if you think they may not remember you.

Give some background and why you are writing your email. Be specific about what exactly you are writing about.

Dear Professor Wattwau,

I am a first-year graduate student in the MA program in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and I am enrolled in your course English 502...

Be direct, clear, and courteous

Be polite, but get to your point quickly and clearly.

If you have any questions, ask them in a courteous way.

Dear Professor Sullivan,

I am a first-year graduate student in the MA program in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and I have been assigned to you as your advisee. I have some questions about the program requirements and courses. Do you have time this week or next week to meet with me before classes begin?

Dear Professor Yang,

I am enrolled in your course SOC 402: Research Methods, and I am looking forward to taking this class. Due to a wedding in my family, however, I will be unable to attend our first meeting. Would you send me an electronic copy of the syllabus? I would like to prepare any assignments that are due on the first or second class meeting.

Close the message

End your message with a professional closing like “Sincerely,” “Best,” or “Thank you” followed by your first and last name. If you are writing about an administrative issue, include your Mason G-number.

Sincerely, Miranda Castanga


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