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How to mention professors in SoPs


FuyuhikoSomeno
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Hi all,

I am an international student applying to political science PhD programs (in the US) this year. I am now doing some last-minute editing of my SoPs for schools that haven't closed their online applications. I have a question about how to address professors in SoPs properly and concisely. I've read some example SoPs by native speakers, but they mentioned professors in four different ways:

1. (no title) full name throughout

2. Dr./Prof. full name throughout 

3. First mention of a professor: Dr./Prof. full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

4. First mention of a professor: (no title) full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

Which would be the most professional one?

Edited by XiJinping
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  • FuyuhikoSomeno changed the title to How to mention professors in SoPs

I would include the title at least once, preferably all times -- check out all of the tweets today on academic twitter regarding the WSJ oped on Dr Biden. Professors (particularly women in the professoriate) do not take kindly to others dismissing titles when they should not be dismissed, and for good reason. I think once you're accepted, it's fine to call them by the first name, but a SOP is a fairly professional document. It is probably not the end of the world if you don't do it, but it is somewhat of a touchy topic... 

 

Edited by timeseries
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20 hours ago, XiJinping said:

Hi all,

I am an international student applying to political science PhD programs (in the US) this year. I am now doing some last-minute editing of my SoPs for schools that haven't closed their online applications. I have a question about how to address professors in SoPs properly and concisely. I've read some example SoPs by native speakers, but they mentioned professors in four different ways:

1. (no title) full name throughout

2. Dr./Prof. full name throughout 

3. First mention of a professor: Dr./Prof. full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

4. First mention of a professor: (no title) full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

Which would be the most professional one?

For context, I am a Neuroscience PhD applicant. I have consulted many students, postdocs, and professors about this question. The answer I've come to accept is to use "Dr. Full Name" for the first mentioning, followed by "Dr. Last Name" for any additional mentions. The rationale is that a title is almost always well-received, but there are stratifications of professorship rankings (e.g. Associate, Assistant, Full, etc.). It would be awkward to list the exact ranking of each faculty member, but it can be insulting to full professors if you address every member with the same title of "Professor". Again, I received this feedback from a number of STEM graduate students, postdocs, and professors. I hope this helps!

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21 hours ago, XiJinping said:

Hi all,

I am an international student applying to political science PhD programs (in the US) this year. I am now doing some last-minute editing of my SoPs for schools that haven't closed their online applications. I have a question about how to address professors in SoPs properly and concisely. I've read some example SoPs by native speakers, but they mentioned professors in four different ways:

1. (no title) full name throughout

2. Dr./Prof. full name throughout 

3. First mention of a professor: Dr./Prof. full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

4. First mention of a professor: (no title) full name; further mention(s) of this professor: Dr./Prof. last name

Which would be the most professional one?

I would use the third example. As mentioned above, SOP is a formal essay, and it is recommended to keep the person's title throughout its entirety. This makes the second example professional, but it is mouthful. 
Regarding titles, I would stick to "Dr." Presumably, all professors that you mention in your SOP are Dr.'s, but not all Dr.'s are professors. At the very least, it is unlikely that all of them have the same professorship ranking, as mentioned above by @microglia. Good luck!

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