How to Address a University Dean in a Letter

How to Address a University Dean in a Letter

In the age of texting and social media we’re so used to immediate and quick ways to connect that you often forget that some forms of communication require a more formal tone and more antiquated ways of connecting such as the good old email or letter mail.

A letter to a dean is one of those cases where you might need to make an effort to leave your OMG’s and LOL’s at the door and use real, long and formal words like they did in the olden days.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to write a letter to a dean every day of your academic life. Unless, that is, the dean is your uncle with whom you’re playing tennis every day after school, in which case feel free to skip over this post altogether and watch tennis videos instead. But for simple mortals, you may need to write a letter to a university dean only once or twice in your entire lifetime, if at all. Which means you want to do a good job at it.

1 Reasons to Write a Letter to a Dean

There are several situations when you might need to write a letter to a dean. You might be asking for a reinstatement in the academic program after a probation. You might want to report a problem on your campus. Or in some cases you might want to formally outline reasons for your admission or funding.

Whatever the reason, the more professionally you craft your letter, the better your chances of being taken seriously. The entire letter needs to be written in a very formal and professional tone, and the address is a big part of it.

2 How To Address a Dean on The Envelope

On the recipient line on the envelope, write the dean’s first and last name followed by any degrees they hold. On the second line, write their position at the university. On the following lines write the address.

Jennifer Smith, PhD,

Dean of Students

Imaginary University

Jolly Town, 131313

3 How to Address a Dean on the Salutation Line

On the salutation line of the actual letter, write Dear Dean [last name]. Begin the text of your letter on the next paragraph.

Dear Dean Smith,

I’m writing to you concerning my recent academic probation.

In some cases, especially if you’re not writing to the dean in their capacity as a dean but instead as a member of faculty, it’s normal to address them as “Dr.” if they hold a doctorate instead of “Dean,” as in “Dear Dr. Smith.”

Tanya Mozias Slavin is a former academic and language teacher. She writes about education and linguistic technology, and has published articles in the Washington Post, Fast Company, CBC and other places. Find her at