Cover letter for an academic position (4 samples)

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Page last updated: 19/10/2022

This blog post will show samples of “cover letters for an academic position.”

How to write a cover letter for an academic position

When you are applying for an academic position, your cover letter will differ significantly from the standard business cover letter. If your cover letter meets the basic qualification, the human resource will forward it to a search committee comprised mostly of faculty members and academic deans.

The search committee are accustomed to reading a lengthy academic resume, thus they are more interested in the philosophical foundations for your work than the typical business recruiter.

When writing an academic position cover letter, these are some of the important things to keep in mind:

  • The faculty reviewers are more interested in your philosophy and approach to teaching and research within your discipline. They will also be evaluating how your background fits with the type of institution where they work.
  • Before you begin writing your cover letter, consider researching the institution, the department, and the student population. Incorporating all three aspects in your letter will help convey your interest in the position.
  • Address the employer with a formal salutation. For example, “Dear/Hello (name of the recipient).” If you do not know the name of the recipient, you can refer to them as the hiring manager.
  • The next step is to state the position you are applying for and how you found the opening. Make a brief statement about why you’re interested in the position.
  • Describe your research experience and interests. Consider mentioning your research questions, methods, and key findings, as well as where and when you published and/or presented this work.
  • State your skills and work experience. Ensure your skills and experiences are similar to the job position. When highlighting skills, provide the accomplishment you have achieved. 
  • Conclude your letter with a forward-looking statement. For example, “I look forward to discussing the position with you further.”

Sample 1: “Cover letter for an academic position”

“Date: Month Day, Year

Search Committee Chair’s First and Last Name, Graduate Degree

Full Department Name

Name of Institution

Department Address

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. Search Committee Chair’s last name and/or Search Committee Members:

Paragraph 1 [3-5 Sentences]: Identify the position you are applying for. Introduce yourself to the committee and your research interests. Connect your interests to the department and describe what makes you interested in becoming part of this departmental community.

Paragraph 2 [3-5 Sentences]: Briefly explain your research to date. Consider mentioning your research questions, methods, key findings, as well as where and when you published and/or presented this work.

Paragraph 3 [4-5 Sentences]: Elaborate on your current research project. Consider mentioning your most prestigious funding awards for this project. Explain your key findings in more detail.

Paragraph 4 [3-5 Sentences]: Introduce your future research plans and goals. Point out the intellectual merit and/or broader impacts of this future work.

Paragraph 5 [3-5 Sentences]: Briefly discuss your teaching experience and strategies. Provide examples of teaching strategies or an anecdote highlighting your teaching effectiveness. You may also want to introduce your philosophy on diversity in an academic setting.

Paragraph 6 [2-3 Sentences]: Make a connection between your work and the department to which you are applying. Include how you will participate in the intellectual life of the department both inside and outside the classroom. Provide concrete examples of how you will be a hard-working and collaborative colleague.

Paragraph 7 [1-2 Sentences]: A thank you for the search committee’s time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

Your Name

Credentials and Position

Institution/Affiliation Name”

Sample 2: “Cover letter for an academic position”

“Date: Month Day, Year

Search Committee Chair’s First and Last Name, Graduate Degree

Full Department Name

Name of Institution

Department Address

Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. Search Committee Chair’s last name and/or Search Committee Members:

Paragraph 1 [3-5 Sentences]: Identify the position you are applying for. Introduce yourself to the committee and your research interests. Connect your interests to the department and describe what makes you interested in becoming part of this departmental community.

Paragraph 2 [3-5 Sentences]: Briefly discuss your teaching experience and pedagogical commitments. Provide examples of teaching strategies or an anecdote highlighting your teaching effectiveness. You may also want to introduce your philosophy on diversity in an academic setting.

Paragraph 3 [3-4 Sentences]: Provide a discussion of how you involved yourself with students or the broader university community outside of the traditional classroom setting. Discuss how those interactions influenced your teaching.

Paragraph 4 [2-3 Sentences]: Briefly explain your current research interests to date and how it relates to your teaching. State your research questions, methods, and key findings or arguments. Point out the intellectual merit and/or broader impacts of this future work.

Paragraph 5 [3-5 Sentences]: Highlight when and where your research was published and/or presented this work or any forthcoming publications. Mention any prestigious funding or awards. Introduce your future research plans and goals.

Paragraph 6 [2-3 Sentences]: Make a connection between your work and the department to which you are applying. Include how you will participate in the intellectual life of the department both inside and outside the classroom. Provide concrete examples of how you will be a hard-working and collaborative colleague.

Paragraph 7 [1-2 Sentences]: A thank you for the search committee’s time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

Your Name

Credentials and Position

Institution/Affiliation Name”

Sample 3: “Cover letter for an academic position”

“JS Jobs, PhD.

Department of Physiology

University of Pennsylvania

B-400 Richards Building

3700 Hamilton Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19102

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with great enthusiasm that I submit my application to join the faculty at the The University of Oregon. In reviewing the research interests of your department, it seems that the opportunity for collaboration is great. I’m particularly excited about potential collaborations involving the role of calcium in skeletal muscle physiology. I have spent the last 12 years developing as a scientist and believe that I am ready to lead my own lab group.

My interest in Muscle Physiology stems from my interest in sports supplements with an

application to human performance. As I progressed through my graduate career I drifted

away from sport supplement work and toward fundamental issues of muscle

pathophysiology including disuse atrophy and muscle dystrophy. My own grandmother

is partially responsible for this change in direction. Following open heart surgery in her

upper 80s she has left wheelchair-bound due to severe muscle atrophy caused by

prolonged bed rest. I was shocked that the atrophy was so severe and the regrowth was

nearly non-existent. The focus of my graduate work at the University of Florida was

centered around the development of countermeasures for disuse atrophy and potential

mechanisms to augment muscle regrowth. It became clear that in order to answer many

questions about physiology I would need a new set of skills. I completed my post-doc in a

lab that routinely uses molecular biology techniques in order to gain a mechanistic

understanding of skeletal muscle disease and function. Along with those tools, I also

developed a passion for the study of muscular dystrophy and have become quite touched

by parents and boys suffering from this disease. In concert with techniques, I’ve learned

previously, molecular biology techniques allow me to answer questions ranging from

broad questions regarding muscle physiology to very precise questions about a single

disease. My research plan calls for continued investigations into disuse atrophy and

muscle regrowth as well as muscular dystrophy.

Several features of this department are particularly attractive. The first is that there is an

abundance of experience in this department, which will undoubtedly be useful for a new

faculty member. While I do believe that I am prepared to function independently, I am

eager to collaborate with existing faculty and feel that I can both learn from their

expertise, but also complement their lines of research. Additionally, this department has

an interest in skeletal muscle research. I have chosen not to apply to several other

departments/universities because they lacked a nucleus of interest.

I hope that you will carefully review my application for employment and give serious

consideration to granting an interview. I am eager to discuss my potential role as a faculty

member of the Department of Human Physiology. As requested, please find my CV. I

have asked several people to submit letters on my behalf. They should be arriving under

separate cover. For your convenience, I have also included the names and contact

information of these people. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

JS Jobs, PhD.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Department of Physiology

University of Pennsylvania

B-400 Richards Hall

3700 Hamilton Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Lab: 215.xxx.xxxx

Fax: 215.xxx.xxxx

Email: blank@mail.med.upenn.edu”

Sample 4: “Cover letter for an academic position”

“000- S. 10th St. #2

Philadelphia, PA 19107

xxxxx@sas.upenn.edu

July 13, 20XX

Professor XXXXXXX

Department of Art and Art History

X University

One X Place

San Antonio, TX 78212

Dear Professor XXXXXXX,

I am writing to express my interest in the position of assistant professor advertised in the

CAA positions listings. I am currently completing my PhD at the University of

Pennsylvania in the Department of the History of Art, working with Professor

YYYYYYY. I expect to graduate in May of 20XX.

I read with enthusiasm the description of your available position to teach 19th- and 20th

century architecture and urbanism. I have hoped to have the opportunity to teach

at a liberal arts college; my own undergraduate experience was at Trinity University, and

therefore I have experienced first-hand the benefits for students and faculty that are a

result of the smaller class sizes increased individual attention and the tight-knit

the community at smaller institutions. My work to date has focused on the architecture

and city planning in the United States and Europe, with a particular emphasis on

questions of place, space, and memory.

With the support of a Dissertation Research Grant from the Deutscher Akademischer

Austausch Dienst (DAAD), I will be spending the 20XX-20XX academic year in Berlin

completing my dissertation, entitled “Capital Building: Anxiety and Memory in Berlin’s

Regierungsviertel.” My project looks at the buildings that were designed after the German

reunification for the new capital, specifically the Reichstag, the Chancellery, and the

other buildings clustered around Berlin’s Platz der Republik. These new government

buildings are charged with an enormous burden that calls upon them to satisfy an

international audience with diverse demands. Perhaps unexpectedly, the various pressures

placed on the new Regierungsviertel have resulted in a set of structures that are less

examples of architecture than theoretical statements about architecture, employing

strategies of transparency and display to cope with Germany’s troubled history.

I will be delivering a paper entitled “Encountering the Uncanny in Daniel Libeskind’s

Jewish Museum,” at the Congress of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) in

Melbourne, Australia this January. In this paper, I address the productive relationship

between Libeskind’s building and Freud’s theory of the uncanny, as well as question the

role of museum architecture in contemporary society. Rather than seeking to edify, elevate,

or enlighten the viewer, the architecture of the Jewish Museum is tended to destabilize,

disconcert, and upset. This effect change is typical of contemporary museum

architecture, a result of changing attitudes towards history and how architecture can

formally express them.

During my time at the University of Pennsylvania, I have been privileged to have several teaching opportunities. I have served as a teaching assistant for a range of

classes, including Impressionism, Modern Architecture, and the second half of the

department’s Visual Media survey course. I have also taught my class on Modern

Architecture. Furthermore, I spent two semesters as a writing instructor for these classes

and spent another year teaching my writing seminar on Frank Lloyd Wright under

the auspices of Penn’s Critical Writing Program.

These experiences, particularly the latter, have allowed me to develop my teaching skills

and to help students become familiar with and excited about art and architecture. In the

classroom, I strive to serve as both a lecturer—someone who communicates key

information effectively and engagingly—and a facilitator of conversations among

students. I have found that students respond positively to a collaborative classroom

environment, where every individual (not just the professor) is accountable for helping

others work through our subject matter. I have grounded my teaching thus far in using

writing as a cognitive tool, so my classes typically incorporate some writing

projects, both informal and formal. I hope that students leave the classroom with not

only a working knowledge of our content but also a honed set of critical thinking skills

that they can use throughout their university careers. I would be eager to try similar

strategies with your excellent students at X University.

Along with this letter, I include my c.v. and a chapter from my dissertation. Letters of

the recommendation will arrive to you under separate cover from Professors XXXXX and

AAAAA (Department of the History of Art) and Professor LLLLLL (Department of

Germanic Languages and Literature). Please feel free to get in touch with me for any

reason; my contact information is included above, and I would be pleased to forward it to

Do you have any other information that would be helpful?

With warmest regards,

_______________

(Signature)”

Frequently Asked Questions: How to write a cover letter for an academic position

What can your employer ask to include with your cover letter and resume or CV?

A cover letter (PDF format) of interest indicating your qualifications and reason for application, Curriculum Vitae (PDF format), and a minimum of three professional references, including phone and email contact information.

How many pages should an academic cover have?

An academic cover letter is typically two pages compared to a single page for non-academic letters.

If you like this blog post, please leave your comments and questions below.

Citations

https://www.liveabout.com/how-to-write-an-academic-cover-letter-2060155
https://cdn.uconnectlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/74/2019/08/coverletter_sciencefaculty_1345150288.pdf
https://grad.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/academiccoverletters.pdf
https://careerservices.upenn.edu/application-materials-for-the-faculty-job-search/cover-letters-for-faculty-job-applications/