I am applying to Master's program in Computer Science. In my Statement of Purpose, I mentioned the names of a few Professors with whom I would like to work. However, accidently, I failed to address those Professors with a respectful title (I mentioned A and B, instead of Profs A and B). Now that I submitted my application to that graduate school, I am unable to change the uploaded SOP document. I realized this mistake within a few minutes after submission of my application.

Therefore, how can I rectify this blunder? Is it advisable to send an email those Professors regarding my mistake? Or is it wise to email my concern with a modified SOP to the graduate department? Finally, will this error can hurt my graduate school application?

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    In which country are you? In Canada and most of the US (I guess) people would probably not notice.
    – Zenon
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 6:45
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    I really would not worry about typing "prof X" rather than "Xavier"... If this is the biggest issue in the application, you should be well on track...
    – Repmat
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 8:12
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    I would not be surprised if the effect is actually the opposite one: the lack of titles suggests that you are somewhat of an insider to academia, which speaks in your favor. (That might happen if I were to evaluate your letter!) Of course, your mileage may vary. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 9:32
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    For applications to the US, I don't think this is considered disrespectful. In fact, I do the same in my own SOPs.
    – Sarastro
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 13:40
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    In fact, at my institution (US), we are actively encouraged by professors to refer to them on a first name basis.
    – March Ho
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


The culture regarding the academic titles is quite country-specific. In some countries (e.g. Germany) academics are more often referred to by title and surname, Prof. Famous, even in a classroom. In some countries (e.g. UK) students will address their lecturers by their first name, but refer to them by their title and surname in official writing.

However, these traditions rapidly change now because of the cultural mix in academia. With the growing numbers of professors with unusual names for European cultures, it is a more common practice now to include both name and surname after the title, e.g. Dr. Hu Rich. It is impossible to maintain the same standard, and I don't think that academics generally care too much. It is still considered a good tone to keep the titles in official academic writing, but I don't think we expect all MSc candidates to know this.

Overall, my advice is: don't worry to much, don't write to correct it, just make sure you do it properly next time.


There is, of course, no guarantee something won't hurt your application. There are some people who care deeply about being addressed by their title, some for good reasons, some out of culture, and some just because.

But honestly, I very much doubt most of the people reading your application will care. An SOP is not a driver of admissions in most programs, often being used instead as a way to gauge whether or not you have any idea what you're actually signing up for, etc. A minor error like that likely won't matter. I would relax and let it go. Emailing the professors in question just draws attention to it, for little gain.

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    +1 for the generally good advice: "I would relax and let it go". Applies to most situations in life, this one included. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 13:45

I failed to address those Professors with a respectful title (I mentioned A and B, instead of Profs A and B).

You are confusing addressing with mentioning (or referring to). When you refer to a researcher, the name is sufficient. If I understood you correctly, that is what you did. That’s fine.

It’s when you address a researcher or professor that using a polite title is appropriate, such as “Dear Professor [Surname]” or “ "Sehr geehrte Frau Professor Doktor [Nachname]."

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    Lieber Herr Professor @Wrzlprmft - thank you. I am a disaster at German grammar. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:00
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    You have to thank @MissMonicaE. Also, I am not a professor.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:02
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    Liebe Frau Professor @MissMonicaE - Thank you. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:06
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    Oh, we can be far more preposterous than that, e.g.: “Herr Professor Dr. phil. fac. theol., lic. jur. can. Hinterwald”.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:17
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    "Lieber Herr Professor X" sounds really strange to me: On one hand the formal "Professor", on the other hand the much less formal "Lieber". I would rather write "Sehr geehrter Herr/Sehr geehrte Frau X". Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 21:22

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