It’s happened to us all. You’ve waited far too long to start working on a huge project, and it’s almost due. You’re scrambling to figure out the best course of action to doing the impossible. But, at a certain point, you realize that you’re just going to need more time to finish it. Many students totally forget that they can simply ask their professor for an extension on a project; if done properly, many professors are willing to accommodate these requests. Today, we’ll go over how to ask a professor for an extension so that even the worst procrastinators have a fighting chance of making the grade.
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The very first step of successfully securing a few extra hours (or days!) on an assignment is to reach out to your professor formally. Typically, there are three ways of how to ask a professor for an extension, and they’re listed below.
How to Ask a Professor for an Extension #1: Visit During Office Hours - If you can make a point to stop by a professor’s office DURING their listed office hours, you likely have the best chances of success in asking your professor for an extension. Don’t just show up randomly; this is what office hours are for. This shows you’re proactive and took time out of your schedule to meet with them.
How to Ask a Professor for an Extension - Pro-Tip: If you really want to lock this in, dress the part. Don’t show up wearing sweats that smell like last night’s keggar. Show up looking like a presentable human being, not a slacker who forgot when their big project is due (I’m looking at you!)
But, if you’re socially anxious or you really just can’t fit in a visit to their office, then good old email is your next best bet. And honestly, it’s the easiest way of how to ask a professor for an extension.
How to Ask a Professor for an Extension #2: Via Email - Very straightforward. While we’ll cover exactly what to write in your email in the next section (I’ll even give you an email template!), there are a few best practices to remember.
Send the email from your university email address. It looks far more professional than your Gmail account.
Ensure that you email them at somewhat of a reasonable hour. Chances are, if you’re emailing them at 3:30 AM the night before the assignment is due, you won’t have a fighting chance here.
...and BE RESPECTFUL! I cannot stress this enough. You’re asking your professor to bend the rules for you - act like you want it!
How to Ask a Professor For an Extension #3: By Phone - Some professors will actually provide a phone number in the syllabus that you’re welcome to call during their office hours should you wish to get in touch with them. If you don’t have that little document lying around, consult your university’s website and see if you can download a copy of the syllabus from the staff page.
How to Ask a Professor for an Extension - Pro-Tip: Phone calls are best if you need an immediate response. Otherwise, stick to email.
Now, this is where a lot of people will fumble epically. They will send a terribly formatted, unprofessional email to their professor, more or less demanding an extension from them.
Professors HATE it when you do this. If anything, the best thing that you can do in this situation is to realize that you’re appealing to THEIR goodwill, and you have to flatter them a bit.
In other words, make them feel special. Write them an email with no typos in it. Address them as the esteemed academic that they are (lol).
Yes, I’m telling you to suck up to them a bit. Trust me! It’s all very important when learning how to ask a professor for an extension.
The worst thing you can do is act entitled in a situation like this like you’re owed an extension. If anything, most professors will deny your request simply to teach you a lesson.
To save you some time here, I’m going to write out exactly what I’ve helped thousands of students say to professors when trying to land them an extension.
A lot of the time, someone will come to me with 11 hours left to turn in an assignment, and the first thing I’ll always have them do is just contact their professor to see if they can get me some breathing room.
I’ve used this exact email hundreds of times, and now you can use it too! Feel free to copy and past this straight out of this post and use it. It's served me well when helping thousands of students get a little bit of extra time on their essays.
Of course, be sure to fill in the necessary blanks, like the project name and the desired amount of time. 24 hours is, typically speaking, a very reasonable ask.
SUBJECT: A Respectful Request for an Extension
Dear Professor _______,
I hope this email finds you well.
I am writing you to request an extension on INSERT PROJECT NAME HERE.
I recently had some unforeseen circumstances arise that demanded my immediate attention. As a result, I have not been able to allocate the necessary amount of time to complete the assignment.
I would truly appreciate if you would consider granting me an extension of INSERT DESIRED AMOUNT OF DAYS/HOURS to complete the project.
I can assure you that, should my request be granted, I will deliver you a final project done to the absolute best of my abilities.
Now, many people will often suggest coming up with some outrageous story whenever asking a professor for an extension.
From “my dog ate my homework” to “my grandma died,” the excuses people come up with are all over the place.
So, should you bend the truth here?
Well, it’s really up to you, but if you do and your professor finds out you’ve lied, they’ll likely offer you no sympathy whatsoever, and you WON’T get that extension.
For instance, a friend of mine once said that a family member of his had passed away and that he needed an extension to complete an essay because of this.
He thought he was a little genius for doing so until his professor replied with the following message…
“I’m sorry for your loss, Jimmy. Yes, you can have an extension, just please send me over a copy of the funeral program or the obituary so I can confirm this. You can never be too careful these days!”
Uh oh. Yeah, Jimmy wasn’t about to fake a funeral pamphlet to get 24 extra hours to finish his essay. So, let’s just say Jimmy didn’t do so well on the final project.
Personally, I never lie in extension request messages whenever I’m getting in touch with professors.
It’s just bad karma and can come back to bite you. When figuring out how to ask a professor for an extension, keep some of your ethics in mind.
Two things can happen once you hit “send” on that extension request email.
In the best of cases, the professor will often reply with something like…
“Sure, Tom. You can have until ______ to turn this in. Just make sure that you email it to me before this date.”
But, in the worst cases, you might get a response that reads like this…
You have had 5 weeks to complete this assignment, and it would be unfair to me to give you an extension. Sorry, but the original due date stands.
Ouch. But, worry not. You still have one final option here. It might be your saving grace when figuring out this whole “how to ask your professor for an extension” thing.
Your professor has already told you no, and there’s not much more that you can do other than that. So, in cases where they shut you down, I encourage you to be persistent in your requests. In fact, another follow-up message is often precisely what’s needed to seal the deal on your extension.
Here’s what I would often say…
Dear Professor [Insert Name],
Thank you for getting back to me. I fully understand and respect the policies and standards you uphold in our class. They're crucial for maintaining a fair and structured learning environment, and I appreciate the clarity and consistency you bring to our coursework.
I realize it's not common practice to grant extensions, and I respect your commitment to equal treatment for all students. However, I wanted to ask if you have ever made an exception to this rule.
In my case, [BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCE]. While I strive to meet deadlines, this situation has been particularly challenging, and I believe it warrants special consideration.
If there's any additional information I can provide or any alternative solutions you might suggest, I'm open to discussing them. I aim to complete this project to the best of my ability while navigating these unexpected challenges.
Thank you once again for considering my situation. Your understanding and guidance mean a lot to me as I navigate this difficult period.
The blank space above labeled as [BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCE] gives you an opportunity to maybe add in a bit of extra reasoning.
If you feel like stretching the truth, this would be the time to do it.
Just don't say I told you to!
The good news is that none of this stuff is rocket science, and you can literally use my email template word-for-word. It’s tried and tested and has locked in hundreds of extensions for students who needed them badly (and some who probably didn’t deserve them!)
But, if you don’t feel like writing the paper at all and really would rather just have someone else take care of it, you’re in luck, too. The team and I over here at Killer Papers are masters of completing essays, PowerPoints, and virtually any other college-level assignment.
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That’s all from me, guys. I hope I have made it clear to you how to ask a professor for an extension. Good luck getting your extension, and remember, the team and I over here at Killer Papers are just one message away!
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