How to Ask for an Extension on an Assignment

Sometimes life gets pretty stressful with assignments on top of other priorities, especially with the current state of world affairs. Pulling an all-nighter isn’t healthy, so instead of trying to get things done all at once, maybe it’s best to ask for an extension on an assignment. Extensions can be beneficial and at times necessary for collegiettes to perform their absolute best, so here are a few tips for when you’re looking to ask for an extension.

person using laptop at a desk

When You Should Ask for an Extension

Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to ask for an extension on an assignment. Maybe you’re trying to spice up your project so it’s the best it can be! Shawn Kildea, an assistant professor of communication at Rider University, says that students can ask for an extension if they want to add a few elements to their project to improve it as a whole. “If a student is working on a project and makes it clear that by having more time they can dramatically improve the piece by adding an element they can't capture in the deadline time frame, I will usually offer an extension,” he says.

It’s also worth asking for an extension on an assignment if you are struggling with unclear directions, or if you don't have the sufficient resources to complete the assignment. This could be affecting the entire class, so expressing your concerns to your professor may be the best way to go. “I will extend a deadline if I believe that my directions were unclear or if the deadline proves too unrealistic, or if a majority of the class appears to be struggling,” says Jason Method, a journalism instructor at Rider University.

Being studious and hardworking may prove to be an advantage if you need a deadline extension. “If a student has been doing their homework and doing well on tests or quizzes, then if they ask for an extension and offer a decent reason, I'm inclined to listen,” Method says.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when you’re planning on asking for an extension is that you shouldn’t wait until the very last minute to do so! It will look as if you’ve procrastinated, which won’t leave a good impression on your professors (or one day, on your employers).

“I always tell my students that I almost never grant a last-minute extension request,” says Barry Janes, a communications professor at Rider University.  “If they ask earlier, it shows that the assignment is on their minds, and whatever concerns or problems they are having seem more legitimate.”

If you ask early and provide a good reason, you're halfway to your extension.

How to Ask for an Extension

Even if you're ready to request an extension, you may still be at a loss as to what to say. An email to your professor is probably your best bet. Be polite, explain that you're requesting an extension, give your reason why, and offer your proposed new deadline. 

Still not sure what to say? Give this a try:

Dear Professor ________,

I’ve been having a hard time linking up with my final source for my term paper, and in order for it to be the best it can be, I could really use a little extra time to have the chance to speak with her and incorporate her quotes. Would it be possible to have an extension through the weekend, and turn it in on Monday instead of Friday?

Please let me know if you would like me to meet with you during your office hours to discuss this further.


[Your name] 

It’s no fun to burn out and exhaust yourself mentally as you try to get all of your work done at the end of the semester. Asking for an extension may seem scary, but it’s a whole lot better than failing the assignment or the class altogether!

Sometimes asking your professor if he or she can extend a deadline is the best thing to do. The worst that your professor can say is that you can’t have an extension, but it’s worth a try!