How to Email Professor for Letter of Recommendation

How to Email Professor for Letter of Recommendation

How to Email a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

As a student, there may come a time when you need to request a letter of recommendation from a professor. Whether you are applying for a scholarship, internship, or graduate program, a strong recommendation can make all the difference. However, crafting an email to ask for this favor can be nerve-wracking. To help you navigate this process, here are some tips on how to email a professor for a letter of recommendation.

1. Be polite and professional: Address your professor with proper salutations and use a formal tone throughout the email. Remember, you are making a request, so courtesy is essential.

2. Introduce yourself: Briefly remind the professor of who you are and the courses you have taken with them. This will help jog their memory and provide context for the recommendation.

3. Specify the purpose: Clearly state why you are seeking a letter of recommendation and the program or opportunity you are applying to. This will help the professor tailor their letter accordingly.

4. Provide supporting documents: Attach your resume, personal statement, or any other relevant documents that can assist the professor in writing a comprehensive recommendation.

5. Explain the timeline: Mention the deadline for submission and politely request the professor to complete the letter by a specific date. This allows them to plan their schedule accordingly.

6. Offer assistance: Express your willingness to provide any additional information or meet with the professor if they require more details about your accomplishments and goals.

7. Use a professional email address: Make sure your email address reflects your name or initials, rather than using an informal or inappropriate handle.

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8. Express gratitude: Thank the professor for their time and consideration, acknowledging that they are doing you a favor by writing the recommendation.


1. When should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
It is recommended to ask at least three to four weeks before the deadline to give the professor ample time to write a thoughtful letter.

2. How should I address the professor in the email?
Start with “Dear Professor [Last Name]” or “Dear Dr. [Last Name]” if they hold a doctoral degree.

3. Should I remind the professor of my grades?
Only if your grades were exceptional or if they have been a long time since you took their class. Otherwise, it is not necessary.

4. How many professors should I ask for a recommendation?
It depends on the requirements of the application. Generally, two to three recommendations are sufficient.

5. What if the professor declines my request?
Respect their decision and politely ask if they can suggest an alternative professor who might be willing to write the recommendation.

6. Is it appropriate to send a follow-up email if I don’t receive a response?
Yes, you can send a gentle reminder after a week or so. Professors are busy, and a polite follow-up is acceptable.

7. Should I provide stamps and envelopes for mailing the recommendation?
It is not necessary. Most applications now require electronic submissions, so you can request the professor to send the letter directly to the provided email address.

8. Can I ask for a recommendation from a professor I haven’t had in a while?
It is best to ask professors who are familiar with your recent work and can speak more effectively about your abilities. However, if there is a specific reason to ask an older professor, explain the circumstances in your email.

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By following these guidelines and addressing the common concerns, you can confidently email your professor and increase your chances of receiving a strong letter of recommendation. Remember, professors are usually willing to help students who demonstrate professionalism and genuine dedication to their academic pursuits.