As an undergraduate student, you want to represent yourself in a professional manner when communicating with faculty members. This starts from the very first email. Your emails should be professional, concise, and free of any spelling or grammatical errors. The email you send to a faculty member is a reflection of you and may affect how the faculty member views and interacts with you. 

We understand that reaching out to faculty members can be intimidating, so below we have outlined the basic rules of email etiquette to follow! If you need additional help reach out to your peer mentors or visit the Office of URSA's virtual drop-in advising hours.

Basic Structure

Make sure to include:

  • A clear and direct subject line (Professors get a lot of emails during the week, make sure your title catches their attention)
  • A professional greeting using the faculty's title and surname (Professor, Dr. etc. )
  • A brief introduction (your full name, major, the purpose of the email)
  • At least 3 specific dates and times you are available to meet. (This will eliminate going back and forth in emails) 
  • A salutation to end the email (Thank you, Sincerely, Best Wishes.)

Additional suggestions:

  • Using your ONID email can help prevent your email from getting flagged as spam.

  • Double-check that you are emailing the correct person!

  • Think about creating a signature block, an automatic ending to appear in your emails. This usually includes a closing salutation, the student's full name, and their major.

Ex. Annie Watership (She/her/hers)

Undergraduate | Ocean Science

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Oregon State University

OSU ID: 

[email protected]

  • Consider reading your sentences aloud before sending the email. This will help limit spelling and grammatical errors, as well as limit any miscommunications.

Reminders:

  • Use complete sentences when writing an email and avoid using slang; you want to remain professional when emailing faculty.

  • Be sure to proofread for spelling and grammatical errors!

  • When you are including times that you are available to meet, be sure to include the date as well if you aren't always free at that time every week.

  • Be cautious using humor via email, it can easily be misconstrued since it doesn't always come across the same as in person.

  • If you don't receive a response right away, don't worry! Professors are busy and this means you'll want to wait about a week before sending a follow-up email. 

Example Emails

Dear Dr. Alegria,

My name is Alex Smith, I'm currently a third-year majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology here at OSU. I'm interested in the research you are conducting on the directionality of motor proteins and I would love an opportunity to meet with you and discuss joining your research team!

If you are willing to meet, I am available every Monday from 1-3 pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11 am, and Friday from 4-5 pm.

Sincerely,

Alex Smith

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dear Dr. Winston,

Thank you for meeting with me this week! We discussed the following topics during our meeting yesterday: introductions, the logistics of your lab, lab training, mentoring plan, and communication.

  • My official start date is: 
  • You listed a few projects such as outreach and seawater hydrolysis electrolysis. I am interested in working on:
  • In terms of lab training, you mentioned there was not a lot. I have received the link for training and will work to complete it by: . If there is anything else I can do, please let me know.
  • For the mentoring plan, the plan was very flexible. The general idea is that I would be paired with a graduate student and would also receive additional mentoring from you.

Some questions I still have:

  1. I asked about group meetings and you mentioned that they are Fridays at 9:00 AM. Could I join the group meetings next week?
  2. Do you have strategies for researching remotely/online?
  3. Lastly, I want to ask about the next steps. Is there anything else I should do beforehand?

Again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with you and look forward to it!

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Dear. Dr. Winston,

Thank you for the time you have invested in me by allowing me to be a part of your research group. While I greatly appreciate this opportunity and everything you have taught me, I would like to inform you that I have decided to leave my position because [state reason here, e.g. major change, additional leadership role, outside circumstances]. I anticipate my last day to be [Day, Month and Date, Year]. 

Prior to my departure, is there a specific procedure for leaving your research group? Where should I leave my research notebook, documents related to projects, and lab keys? 

I want to be certain that all my duties are fulfilled prior to this date. I am currently working on [insert project here]. If there are any outstanding assignments that must be completed, please let me know. 

Again, thank you for providing me the opportunity to gain research experience and grow professionally. 

Respectfully, 

[Your name here]