Cover letter Samples & Templates

Writing an Academic Cover Letter: A Step-by-step Guide

A cover letter may help prospective employers discover more about you as an applicant in addition to a curriculum vitae (CV). Writing an academic cover letter is frequently required when applying for a career in academia, whether it is in management or as an instructor. You have the chance to provide recruiters with a deeper knowledge of your characteristics, competencies, experiences, and communication skills with an academic employment cover letter.

In this post, we’ll go through the components of an academic cover letter; how to write one, and offer a sample you may use to help you create your own.

What is an Academic Cover Letter?

An academic cover letter, often referred to as an academic job application letter, is a document typically submitted alongside a job application for an academic or faculty position at a university or college. Its primary purpose is to introduce the applicant and provide a compelling case for why they are a suitable candidate for the specific academic role.

Here are the key components and purposes of an academic cover letter:

  1. Introduction: The letter begins with a salutation and an introductory paragraph. The applicant’s name, the position they are applying for, and where they learned about the job opening are typically mentioned.
  2. Background and Qualifications: The body of the letter typically covers the applicant’s academic background, qualifications, and relevant experience. This includes details about degrees held, research interests, teaching experience, and any scholarly publications or research projects. It’s important to highlight how your academic background aligns with the requirements of the position.
  3. Teaching Philosophy: For academic positions that involve teaching, candidates often include a section describing their teaching philosophy. This should outline your approach to education, preferred teaching methods, and any innovations you’ve introduced in the classroom.
  4. Research Interests: Academic cover letters for research-focused positions should discuss your current research interests, projects, and their relevance to the department or institution where you’re applying.
  5. Fit with the Institution: It’s essential to show that you have a strong understanding of the institution to which you’re applying. Mention specific aspects of the institution, such as its mission, programs, or faculty, that align with your interests and goals.
  6. Contributions to Diversity: Many academic institutions value diversity and inclusion. Applicants may include a section highlighting their contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their teaching, research, or service.
  7. Closing: The letter concludes with a summary of your qualifications and an expression of your interest in the position. You may also provide your contact information for further communication.
  8. Signature: End the letter with a formal closing (e.g., “Sincerely”) and your typed name. In a printed letter, there is space left for your handwritten signature. In electronic submissions, this section can simply be your typed name.

Academic cover letters should be well-structured, concise, and tailored to the specific job application. Applicants should also pay attention to any specific requirements or guidelines provided in the job posting. Given the competitive nature of academic positions, a well-crafted cover letter can play a crucial role in making your application stand out.

What are the benefits of academic job cover letters?

Academic job cover letters are significant since they can:

  • Give prospective employers a better grasp of your personality. You have the opportunity to showcase your personality in an academic cover letter to employers. An academic cover letter you submit with your application can assist in making you stand out as a potential hire.
  • Expand on any experiences, skills, or attributes that were only briefly addressed in your resume. A CV is a written summary of your experiences and abilities. You can give companies extra information, figures, or samples from your academic background with an academic cover letter.
  • Show off your communication abilities. Know the position you’re seeking, most school recruiters place great importance on people with strong communication abilities. Recruiters can see your communication skills by how well you write your cover letter.

What is the format for an academic cover letter?

The following eight steps will assist you in creating an academic cover letter:

1. Examine the job description

Study the academic job advertisement thoroughly. Take note of the skills and background the institution is looking for in candidates, like teaching particular courses, assisting the education system in obtaining outside financing, or getting works accepted for publishing in scholarly journals. You may find out how to best highlight your unique abilities, characteristics, and experiences in connection with the employer’s needed credentials by carefully reading the job advertisement.

You can decide what documents to submit with your application by reading the job description. Try concentrating less on your learning theory in your academic cover letter and focusing instead on the achievements of your classroom procedures if the department requests a different teaching philosophy statement. Your academic cover letter’s wording may also be influenced by the institution’s type. For instance, a research-focused university will probably want a more detailed description of your publication record and your research’s objectives. However, a liberal arts degree application can place more emphasis on your teaching background.

2. Make your document look professional.

Maintain a formal business letter format. Your academic cover letter has a header with your name and contact information at the top, the date, and the address of the receiver, much like the majority of business documents do. Use single spacing between lines, fix your page margins to one inch, and employ a formal typeface like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Garamond. These formatting choices make your writing easier to read for the interview panel and demonstrate your attention to detail.

3. Group your main points.

Outline before starting to write your letter. Understanding what you’re planning to write in advance makes it easier to make sure that you cover all of your pertinent qualities in no over two pages. Select a cover letter organizational structure that fits your academic background and the institution you are applying to. Some professionals decide to divide their cover letters into sections according to their chosen topics, such as teaching and research. Some people may choose to structure their cover letters chronologically to highlight their growth as teachers, researchers, and scholars.

Whatever format you use for your academic cover letter, concentrate on providing a clear and thorough summary of your experiences. The majority of academic workers write frequently as part of their employment, whether it’s to collaborate with colleagues, provide feedback to students, or create papers for scholarly journals. Your academic cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to show off your command of the written word.

4. Talk about your experience teaching.

Give more specifics about your teaching methodology. Include the techniques, activities, or materials from the classroom that you have utilized most successfully and that you would probably repeat or modify for the role you are going for. Think about sharing particular instances or anecdotes from your time teaching to illustrate your dedication to assisting kids in learning and succeeding.

A fantastic area to talk about the successes your students have attained as a result of your instructional efforts is in your academic cover letter. Mention your involvement with any student projects or theses that were later published in scholarly journals, for instance. Referencing your students’ accomplishments can demonstrate to potential employers how well your instruction and efforts have impacted their professional lives.

5. Describe your research and academic objectives.

Describe any previous writings, research endeavors, or academic projects of a similar nature. You have the chance to go through the context, procedures, or accomplishments of your prior research publications and projects in your academic job cover letter. Additionally, you might discuss how your prior academic work has inspired the research you wish to do at their school in your cover letter.

6. Mind your tone of voice

Your academic cover letter should be written in a formal but upbeat tone. As an official document that is a component of your formal application, you must seem professional in your letter. You should, however, utilize the letter to express how enthusiastic you are about the position, the department, and the organization as a whole.

7. Correct errors in your cover letter

Check your cover letter’s grammar and spelling before submitting your application. Verify your work for any spelling, grammatical, or other mistakes. Also, think about whether there are any parts of your cover letter that you might improve or omit. To make sure that your letter is in the best possible shape, you might wish to enlist the assistance of a friend. Since writing is a major part of most academic jobs, it’s critical to demonstrate your attention to detail in written contact and documents.

8. Make a note of any more documents that were supplied.

Mention any additional application materials after your cover letter. The majority of academic job listings ask applicants to send in several documents, like a statement outlining their teaching philosophies or a sample curriculum. If the job advertisement didn’t specify any further requirements, mention in your cover letter that you would be pleased to submit any requested documents or extra data.

Sample of Academic cover letter

An example academic cover letter is provided below to assist you in creating your own:

Mauricio Herman

38 Trout Alley, K2 4GT, Dublin

1902 167256

+44 89125 123456

10 August 2022

Ms. Rebecca Miller

College of Kent

Department of English

Kent, KE F9 3GT 39 Raven Road

0165 162450

Dear Ms. Miller,

I’m writing to apply for the English professor position at the University of Kent that was posted on the school’s online employment board. I’ve been teaching at the post-secondary level for more than seven years, beginning as a postgraduate assistant professor at Georgetown University and continuing for the past four years as a senior professor.

I finished professional writing, literature, and teaching education programs in English composition while pursuing my Ph.D. In addition, I’ve written pieces on education and Modernism literature for several peer-reviewed periodicals. I am certain that with my background in research and teaching, I can contribute significantly to the English department at the University of Kent.

I have been a senior lecturer at Georgetown University for eleven terms, during which I’ve lectured 2 parts of classic modernist poetry. Figurative Poetry during WWII is a new program I began teaching last school year that emphasizes the writing of Arthur Pound, Amy Lawrence, and Hilda Watson. I created lectures, classroom activities, and rigorous research methods instruction for these modules.

Reader-response theories and institutionalism are combined in my education, and I motivate my students to place the same value on their emotional text comprehension as I do on text criticism. As a result, my students feel like they belong in the literary canon in the classroom, which encourages them to read more voraciously even outside of class.

I have attended the past three Modern English Association meetings and am an ardent researcher in addition to my teaching. I discussed Walt Whitman Williams’ clinical practice’s impact on his poetic thought in my first presentation. I proved Williams argued that working as a doctor was a resource of sharpened perception, a trait important for poets, by a careful reading of the poem “Winter Morning (Theme).”

If you would want more application materials, I’d be pleased to give them. I appreciate your thoughts and time. I’m eager to talk to you more about this role.


Mauricio Herman, PhD


In summary, crafting an effective academic cover letter is an essential step in pursuing an academic career. It serves as your introduction to potential employers, offering a chance to showcase your qualifications, fit with the institution, and enthusiasm for the role. To create a compelling cover letter, it’s vital to customize each one to the specific position and institution, emphasizing your academic achievements, teaching philosophy, and research interests as relevant. Keep the content concise and well-structured, and ensure you follow any application guidelines provided. By dedicating time and effort to this process, you’ll maximize your chances of making a strong impression and advancing your academic career.

It can be overwhelming to complete the extensive list of application requirements for many academic teaching positions. This handout, we hope, will assist you in handling one of the most crucial elements: the cover letter or letter of interest.

Frequently Asked Questions about academic cover letters

  • What exactly is an academic cover letter?

Your background and areas of expertise as an applicant for a particular position are highlighted in an academic cover letter. This gives you a chance to present yourself to the hiring team and shows how your academic credentials correspond with the requirements of the post.

  • What is the ideal length for a cover letter for a post in academia?

An effective cover letter would be customized for the school you’re applying to. It usually takes two to three pages for the social sciences and humanities, and one to two pages for STEM fields, though this might differ depending on the field.

  • Are two pages allowed for an academic cover letter?

The goal of the cover letter is to present yourself and give readers of your application materials something to focus on. A normal one is shorter and has different material than an academic one. If separate teaching and research statements are not required to enhance it, it may be 1.5–2 pages long.

  • What should I include in the opening paragraph of my academic cover letter?

The opening paragraph of your academic cover letter should introduce yourself and mention the specific position you’re applying for. It’s also a good place to briefly state how you heard about the job opening, which can provide context and a connection point for the reader. If you have any mutual contacts or affiliations with the institution, you can mention them here.

  • Should I include my full academic history in the cover letter?

While it’s important to highlight your academic achievements and qualifications, your cover letter should not include a comprehensive academic history. Instead, focus on the most relevant qualifications, such as your degrees, major accomplishments, and research interests. The cover letter is a complementary document to your CV or resume, so you can direct the reader to those documents for a more detailed academic history if necessary.

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