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Academic Cover Letter Examples and Templates

If you want to move into academia, you must emphasize your educational experience and knowledge. Use our academic cover letter examples and writing tips to get started!

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By Maria Correa 3 minute read

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Academic cover letter example: adjunct professor

You can create and use different types of academic cover letters for inspiration. This cover letter for an adjunct professor position shows you how to highlight your skills and experience in a way that’s compelling and keeps the reader interested.

Adjunct Professor Cover Letter Example

Academic cover letter: 5 key tips

Make sure your academic cover letter hits the mark by following these tips:

1

Get to know the institution (and department).

As an academic, you understand better than most people the importance of research. So, apply this skill before writing your cover letter. Learn about the institution, the department, what your job will involve and how you can be of value.

2

Hit the highlights of your academic background.

You may have a lot of impressive work in your background, but a cover letter shouldn’t be longer than a page. Focus on highlighting only the most important moments and achievements, like publications and relevant research projects or awards and recognitions you have received.

3

Give specifics on your teaching experience.

Relevance is the key to writing a good cover letter and CV. Whether you’re giving specifics on volunteer work, your achievements teaching at summer school as a graduate student or your experience as a TA, make sure the information you give directly answers the job description.

4

Feature a mix of soft and hard skills.

As an academic, the hard skills you use to do your job — language skills, project management, data analysis or academic writing — aren’t the only ones that matter. It’s important to balance them out with soft skills like communication, time management, flexibility and work ethic to show the institution you’re a well-rounded candidate.

5

Proofread.

There’s nothing worse than realizing your cover letter has a typo after submitting it. Proofread it once, twice and even thrice to ensure there are no errors or grammatical mistakes. A miswritten word can negatively impact how others view your professionalism.

Write an academic cover letter in 5 steps

Get started on the right foot with the help of our academic cover letter writing tips:

1

Heading

A professional cover letter uses the same format as a business letter. Include your full name, phone number and email address at the top of the page. Aligned to the left, list the hiring manager’s name with their job title, the institution’s physical address, work email address and work phone number.

2

Salutation

Part of the research you must do is search for the hiring manager’s full name so that you can address your cover letter to them. Instead of using a generic “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern,” make your letter more personalized by starting with “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Dear Dr. Brown.” If you can’t find their name, address the letter as “Dear Members of the Search Committee.”

3

Opening paragraph

Start your opening paragraph with an eye-catching sentence that prompts the reader to continue. In the cover letter academic example below, the applicant first notes that she has a unique teaching philosophy. She’s interested in ensuring students learn information, not just pass a class. It’s possible to start your cover letter with something like, “I am pleased to apply to this job title,” but everyone starts their letters this way. Instead, jumping right into something that sets you apart from other job seekers can help capture a search committee’s interest. Dear Dr. Smith, My teaching philosophy has always been to forge a connection with my students. I’ve followed through with this philosophy as a teaching assistant, resulting in high student pass rates and solid satisfaction ratings. I am excited to use my knowledge and experience to help the University of California’s social sciences program.

4

Second paragraph

Now that you’ve caught the eye of the search committee members, you can discuss exactly what makes you a fit for the job. Here, the applicant discusses her current research, talking about how it’s about improving teaching evaluations. This can appeal to the type of institution interested in their teaching staff having initiatives and collaborations with their existing research staff. My academic career has spanned several different subjects, but my research interests have always focused on the social sciences. My current research is actually on methods of improving research institutions, especially in improving how teaching evaluations work, and I have received positive feedback from students and colleagues about my mentoring abilities and desire to help.

5

Closing and sign off

Lastly, you need a call to action. This applies to actively requesting the interview (“I look forward to speaking with you about how I can benefit your organization”) and stating that she can provide more information about her future research plans. This incentivizes committee members to bring her in to talk about her qualifications. I believe my teaching experience makes me uniquely qualified to help students at the University of California, and I look forward to speaking with you about how I can benefit your organization. I can also provide more information about my research project methodology and future research, as well as how I hope to use it in higher education. Sincerely, Susan Buck You can also read our How to Write a Cover Letter article for additional cover letter tips.

Key skills for an academic cover letter

The specific hard skills and soft skills you need to have will depend heavily on the job you’re applying for, but generally speaking, here are some important skills to consider for your academic cover letter:

  1. Strong written and verbal communication
  2. Research skills
  3. Time management
  4. Computer skills
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Public speaking and presentation skills
  7. Multitasking
  8. Active listening
  9. Problem-solving skills
  10. Organizational skills
  11. Study skills
  12. Self-discipline
  13. Stress management
  14. Cultural awareness
  15. Leadership skills
  16. Attention to detail
  17. Work ethic
  18. Adaptability
  19. Analytical skills
  20. Discourse analysis
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Create your academic cover letter (and CV) with our help

Create a professional CV and academic cover letter with our tools, templates and examples.

  • Cover Letter Builder: Our expert-generated content will help you create an academic cover letter in just a few minutes.
  • Cover Letter Templates: Choose the best cover letter template for your letter.
  • Cover Letter Examples: Find additional examples you can use for inspiration.
  • How to Format a Cover Letter: Follow our advice to ensure your letter looks like our academic cover letter samples.
  • CV Examples: Is your CV up to date? Use our samples as a base to update yours!
  • Resume Examples: Check our library of resume samples for extra skills you can use.
  • CV Formats: There’s more to formatting a CV than choosing the right font. Here’s all you need to know!
  • Non Profit Cover Letter: Gain inspiration and guidance with our collection of tailored cover letter examples specifically crafted for nonprofit job applications.

FAQ: Academic cover letter

Have questions? We’re here to help.

An academic cover letter should be an extension of your academic CV. Instead of repeating the same information, provide specific examples demonstrating your skills and experience, always keeping them relevant to your desired job and the job ad. Whether you’re applying to a small liberal arts college or a STEM program, ask yourself what you would like to see if you were on the search committee and write a cover letter that answers that question.

The best way to describe academic strengths is through examples. Instead of simply listing these strengths, show the committee how you use your skills and the results of your hard work. If you can include metrics and numbers to showcase these results better, do it! Hiring managers like seeing percentages and how your contributions have helped.

If you’re focused on research, include your research statement, talk about your current research project or expand on your research interests.

The four key sections of a cover letter are:

  1. A header where you list your contact information and the hiring manager’s information. This includes the work email address, phone number, the institution’s name and job title.
  2. An opening paragraph where you state the position you’re interested in, how you learned about the institution and what makes you a suitable candidate.
  3. Body paragraphs where you describe your achievements, address desired skills in the job posting, stress your interest in conducting research, talk about your dissertation project and expand on your accomplishments as an assistant professor to impress faculty members.
  4. A closing paragraph where you reinforce your enthusiasm for the position and invite the reader to contact you.

You can tailor an academic cover letter by including keywords from the job description (e.g. specific skills or requirements listed), addressing the letter to the person in the job posting and showing enthusiasm for the position and the institution. Including these simple details in your professional cover letter will show the search committee that you took your time writing a letter specifically for them to read, and didn’t send a single template to different institutions.

It should go without saying that a cover letter isn’t the place to talk about politics or religion unless you’re applying for a job in theology or political sciences. Don’t give any personal information that isn’t relevant to the job. Instead, follow the guidelines and examples from this article in terms of cover letter length, wording and formatting.

It’s always a good idea to include a cover letter for any job, but a cover letter for an academic job can be particularly important. Academic application materials require that you provide information about your technical skills and about who you are as a person because a teaching job is so heavily based on how you interact with students, and a letter is a great vehicle for communicating both. If you’re not well-versed in using cover letters, use the Cover Letter Builder from ResumeHelp to help you create a cover letter.

You should aim for anywhere between half a page or 3/4 of a page. Any longer than a single page and you risk losing the interest of the reader. Any shorter than half a page and it may look like you’re seriously underqualified.

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Maria Correa Profile
WRITTEN BY Maria Correa

Maria Correa is a Puerto Rico-based Content Writer with ample background in digital marketing and copywriting. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.A. in English and enjoys making information accessible to others.

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