“Hi, Di!” That was the salutation of an email I received from a student a few years ago. It did not get a response.
“Dear Dr. Neff” will get you the attention you want, and an answer not drafted in irritation.
Students should consider email to their professors a semi-formal business letter. Using a proper salutation will create a good impression and the professor is more likely to want to help. The proper salutation also shows respect.
If a student does not know whether their professor has earned a doctorate, it is still recommended to address that professor as “doctor” until they correct you. If you know they do not have a doctorate, or prefer another title, then you could use “Professor” or their chosen title.
“Professor” is an acceptable title even if the instructor has a doctorate, but why not show that extra respect for academic accomplishment (especially when you are aspiring to attain your own academic accomplishment) that “doctor” connotes?
A few professors do allow students to address them by first names. In that case, it’s fine to use it. Unless permission is specifically granted either to the class or to the individual student, however, acknowledge the hierarchy of academic organizations by using a formal title.
Student Success Strategy #7: E-mail etiquette counts! Show respect for the academic accomplishments of your professors by using the title they prefer. Don’t know? “Doctor” is the best guess!