Since I was a master student in (the North American) X university, my email [email protected] has been still active, even though it is a couple of years that I have left that university. Now, I'm about to finish my Ph.D. in (the European) Y university, and Y will be immediately closing my current [email protected] upon my graduation. I have heard that writing an unprofessional email address, e.g., [email protected], in the contact information section of an academic CV does not make a good impression on readers. So, I am wondering whether I may use the still-active email of mine corresponding to X in my CV for that purpose. My main concern is two fold: whether or not I am allowed to do that in view of X, and whether or not it is ethically a sound decision because it can mislead readers thinking that I am currently affiliated with X.

PS. My question relatively resembles what are discussed here and here, but the difference is that those questions' contexts are paper affiliation and contacting professors, respectively. However, mine is about the contact information section of a CV.

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    Wow that's the harshest email policy I've heard of Feb 1, 2021 at 5:46
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    @user2768: My "industry" email and security badge were deactivated late morning on my last day (finally got all last-minute things taken care of and actually left around 4:30 PM that day in Sept. 2017), and all 5 of my university emails where I had previously taught were deactivated from a few weeks to several months after my last day, although in those cases we're talking about last days from 1996 to 2005 (so maybe the situation would be different now). Also, my Ph.D. degree granting university's email was probably deactivated soon after I left (late July 1993), although I had no way to know. Feb 1, 2021 at 7:59
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    When people say they dislike an "unprofessional" email address, they do not refer to [email protected], which seems fine, but to [email protected] or [email protected]. Those would look unprofessional on a CV.
    – Louic
    Feb 1, 2021 at 8:32
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    My undergrad university has a mail forwarding service for alumni, providing a academic (*.edu) address and sending to whatever email address you actually look at. Not all places do, of course. But, [email protected] is not unprofessional at all.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 1, 2021 at 17:18
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    @RedwolfPrograms Surely the bots have figured that one out by now Feb 2, 2021 at 1:53

9 Answers 9


I can see no legal or ethical problem with using an email address from a former institution, as long as you are clear about your current affiliations in your communications.

That said, there may be better options:

  • Professional societies often offer an option of an email address. As a roboticist, for example, you can almost certainly affiliate with the IEEE, whose excellent email service I use myself.
  • One of your former institutions may offer an alumni email address (or at least forwarding service). I believe this is more common in the US than Europe, but it's fairly arbitrary which institutions do and do not offer this.

Both of these can typically be set up very quickly and also have the advantage of being permanent, even when you change institutions.

  • Aren't you required to be an IEEE member to apply for an IEEE email address?
    – Opifex
    Feb 1, 2021 at 9:33
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    @Opifex Yes, that's the "affiliate with the IEEE" bit of my answer.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 1, 2021 at 10:46
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    Part of the enrollment process with the previous university would have included agreeing to the IT policies, which would almost certainly have included a clause about only using the services while enrolled with the university. Universities do not typically provide free email services for former students. The fact that the email is still active is most likely just an adminstration oversight. It could be removed at any time without warning. Feb 2, 2021 at 1:25
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    @user1751825 That is only the case for some universities. My own alma mater, for example, has long had a fairly long, generous, and flexible approach to transitioning students off of its email.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 2, 2021 at 2:10
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    @LouKnee IEEE also tends to encourage membership by giving member discounts to their conferences that are equal to the cost of membership. So for researchers who attend at least one IEEE conference annually, it's often effectively free.
    – jakebeal
    Feb 17, 2021 at 1:01

I don't think the premise holds. I have been on the hiring committee for many post docs, and I have never heard anyone mentioning the email address of a candidate. I could just as well cook up an imaginary argument saying that a hiring committee will find it unprofessional that you use your work email to apply for a job (that also does not hold). I would probably not go for wildly inappropriate handles, but normal ones are not a problem.

If you don't like using your gmail in professional settings, set up an alternative. I use [email protected] (which just happened to be available), and it is easy to set it up to forward to gmail. So you don't even need a mail server of your own.

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    @Roboticist. Plus 1. I corroborate the answer. Nothing wrong on using your Gmail address in this scenario. Just avoid "crazyname at Gmail.com" and that's it. Or keep using the old one if you're sure it won't be suspended soon. Your current affiliation/status is in the cv body.
    – Alchimista
    Feb 1, 2021 at 8:45
  • @Alchimista Yes; avoid both crazyname@gmail or name@crazydomain.
    – Crowley
    Feb 3, 2021 at 12:47

You're overthinking this.

[email protected] is just fine as a professional email address.

When people talk about unprofessional emails it's the bit before the domain that causes issues, not the domain itself (unless you've deliberately gone out of your way to pick an unprofessional one).

If you're unsure, you can always go with firstname.lastname @ CommonlyUsedDomain


Leaving asside the issue of unprofessional looking free email services, the worst type of email to provide to a prospective employer, is an address which may stop working at any time.

It's likely the email address is still active simply because the system administrators haven't gotten around to removing it. If someone decided to do an audit of the email addresses, they would very likely delete all of the old addresses, without any warning.

You won't get in any trouble for continuing to use the email address, but it seems very risky to put it on a CV, since you have no way to know how long it will continue to be accessible.

it would be a bad look if an employer attempted to contact you, only to receive a bounce message stating that there is nobody at the university matching that address.


TL;DR: Yes, you can, but, why not setup a permanent address. E.g.,

[email protected]

You've already discovered that institutional email addresses don't serve you long-term, find yourself a long-term solution.


I have heard that writing an unprofessional email address, e.g., [email protected], in the contact information section of an academic CV does not make a good impression on readers.

I disagree -- having an @gmail.com email address is no issue at all if this is the most up-to-date way to reach you.

So, I am wondering whether I may use the still-active email of mine corresponding to X in my CV for that purpose.

I think the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. The benefit is that if X is a super prestigious university, [email protected] carries some "weight" to it and sounds impressive. But the drawback is that this is very confusing because you aren't currently at X. Anyone reading this would assume you are still working at X, or at least recently graduated, whereas this is actually an institution that you left a long time ago.

My main concern is two fold: whether or not I am allowed to do that in view of X, and whether or not it is ethically a sound decision because it can mislead readers thinking that I am currently affiliated with X.

Ethically, I think there is no issue, but I think it is not in your interest to use the old email address as I (and others) have argued.


I would say it's more unprofessional to receive an important email at [email protected] but never see it because they've either shut down your account or you grow distant from it and stop checking.

An email bounceback is not guaranteed in the event your email becomes disabled.


Get Your Own Domain

The ultimate solution to this problem is to have your own domain. It does not have to cost a lot. For really good hosting, on the order of $60 to $100 per year. If you don't need much in the way of hosting - i.e., a really basic domain with very little storage because you just set it up with one email address that forwards everything to your gmail address - then it can cost much less.

Some people think you can only do that if you have a web site. That is not at all the case, but if you want to have a web site (a virtual CV) you can do that too.

Depending on the domain you get (e.g., lastname.com), you may be able to share it with family as well. Most full hosting includes (effectively) unlimited email accounts, subject to storage limits (which don't apply if you are forwarding everything).

While it is pretty obvious that "real University accounts" are at the whim of the University and could change at any time, even "alumni accounts" that have a fundraising reason to exist (and therefore are not likely to disappear suddenly in the name of cost-cutting) could have problems. Plus some hosting platforms (free or paid) can change over time (e.g., Verizon moved their "free" accounts to AOL's system). If you own your own domain, you can always move it to a different host if you don't like the original host.

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    You can get a 10 bucks per year domain from Google with an easy integration into your private gmail.
    – Ink blot
    Feb 2, 2021 at 15:09
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    To add to this, you can get a .com domain for about $8-10 per year, then use the free tier from ImprovMX to alias your custom email with your gmail account, allowing you to send emails from within gmail, and receive them there too. Feb 3, 2021 at 23:32
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    @DavidWheatley There are a ton of different options, with costs varying depending on whether you need/want actual web server or just email, directly hosted email or just forwarding, quality of email spam filtering, etc. But whether it is $8 or $100, it is a relative drop in the bucket to have total control over your email and not be tied to a free account that may disappear. Feb 3, 2021 at 23:40

You are overthinking this here. All you actually need is to present yourself as a reliable candidate. The contact in CV should work for them for longer time.

Using domain you are no more affiliated with may be frown upon. And noone can grant you will get the emails they wil send you anyway. You can read the email address [email protected] as "Average Joe is working/studying At X".

Using public domain is not badly seen unless it is pinky.panther@something, dragonslayer@something or [email protected]. Reasonable private address is as sufficient as the university one. if you cannot affiliate yourself with any university (because your studies are ending) there is no need to stress about that.

What you can actually do is using two contacts - one using Y.edu while you are still there and private one when your studies end. The hint what one to use is in your CV anyway, or they will answer to both.

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