When I was checking my SoP for grad school, I noticed that I didn't use a title when referring to specific professors.

For example, instead of writing: "I spoke to Prof. X and Prof. Y" I wrote: "I spoke to X and Y".

This mistake never crossed my mind as during our email conversations they told me to just call them by their first names. However, I realize that other people on the admission committee might take stuff like this personally.

Do professors generally take offense when somebody forgets to use a proper title when referring to them?

  • 1
    Where are you? There are cultural norms.
    – Buffy
    Dec 13, 2021 at 23:42
  • I'm from the EU but I'm applying for PhD positions in the US. Dec 13, 2021 at 23:43
  • 3
    It's too late now, of course, but not using a title is a little informal for a SoP and might be seen as presumptuous but not offensive. OTOH, if you are not American or a native English speaker they will cut you some slack. Forget it. Dec 14, 2021 at 0:04
  • 2
    Is "X" a last name? Dec 14, 2021 at 2:46
  • I usually wrote their full names. Dec 14, 2021 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


Most people in the US won't give it a second thought, but we also have some professors from elsewhere. My advisor was from the Czech Republic and always seemed quite stern. But as a grad student I was on a first name basis with many of the faculty. This was long ago and, I think, things are even more relaxed now.

Doctoral students at my old place (I'm retired) were instructed, actually, to use first names and they found it a bit hard to adapt to that at first.

But it isn't a serious enough breach, even in the worst case, to affect an application. Not at any reasonable place anyway.

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