Your professional image as a doctoral student is very important in conveying the right perception to your chair, committee members, or other university personnel.

Here are a few points to remember:

  • The best e-mail address to use is one that includes your name. Examples: or  You are trying to project a success image and your name is the easiest way to do that.
  • Avoid using “Dr” or “PhD” in your e-mail address. You are not there yet. I have seen doctoral students’ e-mail names such as: or This will bother or even infuriate many faculty members. After you graduate with your doctorate these would be very acceptable, but not while you are still working on your dissertation and degree.
  • It is best to stay away from pet or cute names in your e-mail address such as “Squeaky” or “TwiddleDee.” You want the dean, chair, and committee to see you as one of them and to take you seriously.
  • Don’t use non-descript phrases in your e-mail address such as “overthetop,” “ontosuccess,” “iwillgetthere.”  These may have personnel meaning and motivation for you, but tend to turn-off faculty. They will never tell you.
  • When communicating with university personnel, it is best to address them formerly such as: “Dear Dr. Jones” or “Hello Dr. Smith.”
  • At the end of all correspondence, include your full name, address, and phone number. This will make it easy for the reader to know who you are and how to contact you.
  • Don’t use “Sincerely, Fred” or “Sincerely, Judy” at the end of your memo or letter. Again, your intention should be to give the impression that you are one of them or soon will be. You don’t want to be confused with someone else.
  • In conversations with faculty, avoid referring to them by their first name unless they ask you to.

In the business world, perceptions and image are critical. These are just as important in the academic world.

Remember, you want to always project a professional image.


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