U.S. Academic Culture

Interaction with Instructors

Most instructors encourage their students to challenge their ideas and perspectives in class discussions or during office hours. In large universities, classes are often taught by teaching assistants (TA) instead of professors. Although most instructors are addressed by their academic title (Dr. or Professor) and expected to be treated with respect, some professors or teaching assistants will tell students to call them by their first name. It is recommended to use a formal title to address professors unless they say otherwise. It is advisable for international students to take initiative and visit either their teaching assistant or professors’ office hours and introduce themselves early in the semester. Building a relationship with instructors can help students if they have questions later in the class and also in the future if letters of recommendation are needed.