How to Email Instructors

Emailing an instructor can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know them very well.  Learning how to craft professional emails is a skill you can take with you after leaving the University of Arkansas. A courteous and thoughtfully constructed request is much more likely to receive the kind of response you want. Click the image below for a downloadable PDF or keep reading for helpful tips.

Anatomy of a professional email

Elements of an effective email

  1. Be specific with your subject line. Include the class and headline of your reason for emailing. If something is time sensitive, include a date instead of 'urgent'.
  2. Greeting – immediately establish that you view the relationship with your instructor as professional. Use Dear, Hi, or Hello and include their title and name. If you are unsure of their title, “Instructor” will work.
  3. Concisely state what it is you need from the instructor – remember this is a request, not a demand.
  4. Using one or two sentences, include a reason for the request. If your explanation is longer consider talking with the instructor in person.
  5. If your syllabus says anything about your situation, include it in your email (Ex: I have read the syllabus and see that you state XYZ).
  6. Have a professional signature that is added to your emails. At minimum, include your preferred first name, last name, and ID number.
  7. Final tip – the reminder email. Unless you clearly communicated a time-sensitive issue, allow your instructor at least 2 business days to respond. If they do not respond to the reminder it is time to talk to them during office hours or briefly after class.

Before reaching out an instructor, have you read the syllabus?

    Do as much research as you can before reaching out to your instructor so they know you care about your grade and their course!

Sample Emails

Hello Instructor Ayala,

I am reaching out to request remote access to this week’s GEOS 1123 class because I tested positive for COVID-19 and I will be quarantined until this date: DATE. Attached is a note from my doctor confirming my test results (if available). I did not see protocol for this in the syllabus and was hoping it would be an option. If remote access is not available do you have a suggestion for how I can stay on track with the course material? Thank you,

Hello Instructor Smith,

I am reaching out to request remote access to this week's PSYC 2013 classes as I have been ill. I am hoping to recover quickly and be back in class next week. I have been attending the lectures on (days of the week) and have looked over the syllabus, but do not see a process for this type of situation. I also do not know any students in the course who might be able to take notes for me. Do you have other suggestions for helping me to stay on top of the material?

Hello Dr. Washausen,

My name is Sam (ID# HERE) and I am in your MATH 1203 section 005 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have been falling behind in your course, and I am reaching out to discuss ways that I can catch up. I have reviewed the syllabus and I think I could potentially do THIS WORK to get back on track. I would like to talk about this in person but I have class during your office hours. I am available Mondays from 2-4 and Thursdays 9-11. Do any of those times work for a meeting?

Thank you and I look forward to hearing back,

Dear Dr. Woodstone,

 My name is EmmaLe (ID#), and I am/was in your CLASS TITLE AND SECTION NUMBER during SEMESTER AND YEAR. You may remember me from EXTRACURRICULAR WORK, RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, ASSIGNMENT SUBMITTED, ETC. I am reaching out because I am currently in the process of applying for PROGRAM, and I wanted to ask if you would write me a letter of recommendation. I felt that your class is/was a significant component of my education in UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM, so I felt that you would be a good candidate to ask. I have attached a resume and a description of the program I am applying for. I would be happy to schedule a time to discuss this further if needed.

Thank you,

Dear Dr. Francis, 

This is Harold (ID#) from your CLASS TITLE AND SECTION NUMBER. I looked over the TEST OR ASSIGNMENT NAME that we got back and I have a few questions on things I got wrong. Can I come by your office hours DAY/TIME to discuss what I can do to improve my grade on the next assignment (or test)? If another time would be better for you just let me know. Thanks for your help, 

Hello Dr. Xiu, 

This is Sara from Sociology 2013 on Tuesdays/Thursdays. I just realized I missed the deadline for ASSIGNMENT NAME. I am sorry about this – I know I did not plan my week properly and it resulted in missing this deadline. I did not see any late policies in the syllabus, and Blackboard will not let me submit the assignment now that the deadline has passed. Is there a chance I can still submit the assignment? I can have it entirely completed within 48 hours, although I have some portion completed already that can be submitted. 

Thank you for reading this – I take your class seriously, and know that I missed this deadline. I am happy to discuss this more in-person if needed.  

Hello Instructor Clarkson, 

My name is Dana and I have some clarifying questions about ASSIGNMENT NAME for CLASS NAME. On the assignment instructions, it lists INSTRUCTIONS HERE. My plan was to move forward by doing X, Y, Z. Does this plan fit within the assignment instructions? Thank you for the help,