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How to Write a Professional Email: How to email a research professor

Email is the most common way to communicate and conduct business. It is the first impression you may have on some so you want to make sure you do it correctly. Here are a few tips on how to write a professional email.

Waht it should contain

Your email should:

  • Have an informative subject line
  • Be concise
  • Be formal: Dear Dr. Smith; Sincerely, Your Name
  • not use Mrs. or Ms.
  • NOT have slang, abbreviations, or emoticons
  • If applying for an opening:
  • Address any qualifications the professor is looking for
  • Demonstrate your experience

When asking for a research opportunity:
state specifically your interest in that research group (you need to read the professor's website)
explain why research is important for your goals
ask to schedule a meeting or say that you will be coming to office hours

Examples

DO NOT SEND THIS EMAIL

Subject: Research Job Op

Hi Joe, 

My name is Name and I am a major in Major.  Is there space in your lab for an undergraduate?  If so, what is the pay rate and the hours?

Thanks,
Name


DO SEND THIS EMAIL

Subject:  Possible undergraduate research opportunities

Dear Dr. Professor,I am a (year, major) at (university) and I am writing to ask about opportunities for undergraduate research in your lab beginning (time period). I have conducted undergraduate research on (topic) with (names) in (program or class). (Expression of interest in the topic). I would like to continue a path of research on (topic) and would ultimately allow me to (career goal). I am especially interested in your previous work on (describe a paper or talk).

I have attached my CV and unofficial transcript to this e-mail, but if there is additional information that I have not included that you would like, I would be happy to provide it to you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Ambitous Student
Email address