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Academic Cover Letter: Sample & Full Writing Guide [10+ Examples]

Academic Cover Letter: Sample & Full Writing Guide [10+ Examples]

Your passion and skill make you the best choice for that university job. Now prove it to the Department Chair. This academic cover letter sample gets you through the ivy.

Writing a cover letter for academic jobs isn’t 101-level.

 

That’s where this academic cover letter sample comes in.

 

Your resume is polished to a high gloss.

 

But does that matter if they only skim it?

 

You have to write a cover letter for faculty positions that shows your laurels.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • A sample cover letter for academic jobs better than 9 out of 10 others.
  • Ten academic cover letter examples for inspiration.
  • How to write an academic covering letter with authority.
  • Why achievements are the key to a great academic job cover letter.

 

This academic cover letter template fills the prerequisites:

 

Academic Cover Letter Sample

 

Your Name

Title

Current School (if employed)

Mailing Address

Phone Number

Email Address

 

Date

 

Hiring Official’s Name

Title

Honorary Title if Any

School Name

Mailing Address

 

Dear [Hiring Manager Name],

 

I'm excited to apply for the job of Professor of English at Colby College. The most energizing aspect of my work as Douglas-Kelly Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania has been the independent Senior Projects. In that capacity I've coached 17 outstanding young writers during my time here, leading and challenging them to do their best work. Twelve are now employed as full-time writers. four have written New York Times Best Sellers. Two work for the Chicago Tribune. Three have received National Journalism Awards. The satisfaction I get from their achievements is visceral and awe-inspiring.

 

I'm so excited about the opening at Colby, in part because of your robust Senior Scholar Program. The opportunity to expand and extend my mentoring to over 10 students per year would be a dream come true. Your posting says you're seeking an English professor with four years of experience at the university level. I have five years. You also need a professor with a Doctorate in English Literature, experience teaching a variety of English classes, and strong interpersonal skills. Here are a few of my achievements in those areas:

 

  • Doctorate. Graduated from the University of Chicago with a PhD in Comparative Literature. Wrote, submitted, and published "Nabokov in Full," a fictionalized account of a literary researcher that received the Bailey Women's Prize for Fiction in 2008.
  • Teaching a variety of English classes. Taught multiple American literature survey courses and literary theory classes. Nine were undergraduate and 18 were postgraduate-level. Conducted 7 writing classes, including 4 in fiction and 3 in nonfiction.
  • Interpersonal skills. Consistently scored 99.9% in student exit surveys. Elected by students to Judy Marden Student Associate Chair. Worked closely with 11 other English professors in the department in a project to raise LBGTQ awareness. Post-project data showed a 70% decrease in reported instances of insensitivity.

 

I would thoroughly enjoy sitting down with you to discuss how my passion for creating intellectual engagement aligns with Colby's mission to enable each student to find his or her unique potential. I'd also be glad to tell you how I proved to a football star uninterested in writing that he is actually a best-selling author in disguise.

 

Best Regards,

 

[Your Name, Title]

 

[Current School]

 

That’s tenure-worthy.

 

With an academic cover letter template like that, they’d have to interview you.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

academic resume and cover letter set

Academic Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

 

Send your cover letter for academic jobs with a job-winning academic resume. See our guide: Academic Resume / CV: Sample & Complete Guide

 

Are you a research assistant looking for a job at a university? Here’s a dedicated guide for you: Research Assistant Cover Letter Sample & Guide [20+ Examples]

 

Applying for teaching positions beyond college and university? Check out this guide: Teacher Cover Letter Sample & Guide [20+ Examples]

 

Want to inquire about a potential university job to apply for? We’ve got you covered here: How to Write a Letter of Interest: Template & Guide

 

Now here’s how to write a great academic cover letter:

 

1

Use a Respected Academic Cover Letter Template

 

Writing a good cover letter for university jobs takes certain core requirements.

 

This academic cover letter template has them.

 

Hit all the right notes and the department chair is bound to notice you.

 

Sample Cover Letter for Academic—Checklist

 

  • your contact info
  • the hiring official’s info
  • dear (hiring official’s name)
  • paragraph #1: biggest accomplishment that fits their needs
  • paragraph #2: passion + achievements that prove skills they want
  • paragraph #3: your offer + a little mystery
  • best regards + your name + title

 

Pro Tip: How to mention passion in a cover letter for assistant professors? Start with a skill the school wants. Then show a time your passion—plus that skill—helped students.

 

What’s the right academic covering letter format? What fonts should you choose? See our guide: Cover Letter Format: A Complete How-To Guide

 

2. Start Your Academic Cover Letter Strong

 

You’re in trouble.

 

That Department Chair is really busy.

 

She’s got her own classes to keep up with. Plus there’s department business and 100+ academic cover letters and resumes to read.

 

You need to get your message across fast or you’ll lose her.

 

So—start strong.

 

Grab her with a Yale-worthy academic achievement.

 

These cover letter for academic jobs examples show how:

 

Academic Cover Letter Examples [First Paragraph]

 

The first of these cover letter for faculty position examples passes with flying colors.

 

The position wants someone skilled in one-on-one coaching.

 

right

Jane Franklin

Douglas-Kelly Professor of English

713 N 4th St

Philadelphia, PA 19123

267-861-5317

jane_franklin@gmail.com

 

3/17/19

 

Jennifer Ellis Bryant

English Department Chair

Charlie Russo Boylan Professor of English

Colby College

4000 Mayflower Hill

Waterville, ME 04901

 

Dear Ms Bryant,

 

I'm excited to apply for the job of Professor of English at Colby College. The most energizing aspect of my work as Douglas-Kelly Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania has been the independent Senior Projects. In that capacity I've coached 17 outstanding young writers during my time here, leading and challenging them to do their best work. Twelve are now employed as full-time writers. four have written New York Times Best Sellers. Two work for the Chicago Tribune. Three have received National Journalism Awards. The satisfaction I get from their achievements is visceral and awe-inspiring.

 

Not bad, Ms. Angelou.

 

That academic cover letter example works because it:

 

  1. Shows a massive academic achievement
  2. Fits the position

 

But this sample cover letter for academic jobs flunks out:

 

wrong
I’m writing to apply for the position of English Professor at Colby College. For the past five years I’ve worked as an English Professor here at the University of Pennsylvania. During that time I’ve handled all aspects of the roles and responsibilities inherent in the position, including...

 

That’s sophomoric.

 

It just says, “I’m an English professor.” It shows no indication that you fit this school and this position.

 

You want the hiring official to sit bolt upright in her chair.

 

But what if you’re writing an entry-level academic advisor cover letter?

 

Academic Advisor Cover Letter With No Experience

 

Are you an academic advisor? Or do you need a cover letter for research positions at the undergraduate level?

 

  1. Learn which academic skills the job needs most.
  2. Tell about a time you used those skills to help out massively.

 

You still need achievements, but get them from unrelated jobs.

 

For instance?

 

Let’s say you need to prove research skills, but you’ve never been an academic researcher.

 

However, as a student, you researched job burnout. You got an A+. The $100 MBA podcast interviewed you about it. The episode got 75,000 listeners.

 

That’s the right achievement for your academic cover letter’s first paragraph.

 

You can also start a cover letter for academic jobs with:

 

  • Something you love about the school or department
  • A fact that shows your passion
  • A connection at the school
  • A recent, positive news item about the school

 

See the next of our academic cover letter examples:

 

When Carol Daviau suggested I apply to the undergraduate research position, I knew it was the perfect fit. My manager at MedicalNewsToday called me the most helpful researcher he’s ever known. The daily research I did for her required me to develop and use skills in Google Scholar and networking outreach.

 

 

Head of the class.

 

It shows you practically invented the skills they need.

 

Pro Tip: An adjunct professor cover letter is the same as a cover letter for any faculty position. Find out what they need most, then tell about a time you used that skill to help.

 

Need more help with how to start an academic cover letter so the hiring official notices you? See our guide: How to Start a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide

 

3. Write an Educational Academic Cover Letter Middle

 

Watch out.

 

Don’t let your cover letter for academic jobs ramble after the first paragraph.

 

To land the interview, add more proof you’re the perfect candidate.

 

In your academic cover letter second paragraph, include:

 

  1. Why you love the position
  2. Your understanding of its duties
  3. More evidence you’re versed in them

 

Learn how from these academic covering letter examples:

 

Academic Cover Letter Examples [Middle]

 

The first of these academic cover letter examples scores high. It shows motivation, understanding, and evidence.

 

right

I'm so excited about the opening at Colby, in part because of your robust Senior Scholar Program. The opportunity to expand and extend my mentoring to over 10 students per year would be a dream come true. Your posting says you're seeking an English professor with four years of experience at the university level. I have five years. You also need a professor with a Doctorate in English Literature, experience teaching a variety of English classes, and strong interpersonal skills. Here are a few of my achievements in those areas:

 

  • Doctorate. Graduated from the University of Chicago with a PhD in Comparative Literature. Wrote, submitted, and published "Nabokov in Full," a fictionalized account of a literary researcher that received the Bailey Women's Prize for Fiction in 2008.
  • Teaching a variety of English classes. Taught multiple American literature survey courses and literary theory classes. Nine were undergraduate and 18 were postgraduate-level. Conducted 7 writing classes, including 4 in fiction and 3 in nonfiction.
  • Interpersonal skills. Consistently scored 99.9% in student exit surveys. Elected by students to Judy Marden Student Associate Chair. Worked closely with 11 other English professors in the department in a project to raise LBGTQ awareness. Post-project data showed a 70% decrease in reported instances of insensitivity.

 

That’s in good standing.

 

That cover letter for academic jobs example shows you want the job. Then it shows you know the job and you can do the job.

 

How could they resist?

 

But the next of our cover letter for faculty position examples shows up late:

 

wrong
I’d really like to work at Colby. You’ve got one of the best colleges in the Northeast. I believe I’d be a good fit because I’m passionate about teaching. I’m also highly skilled in classroom management, curriculum creation, assessing students, and working collaboratively with other professors.

 

That’s not remedial, but it won’t land interviews.

 

Why does the second of those academic cover letter examples fail? Because it says, “I’m a good professor.” But it’s generic.

 

It doesn’t say why this school, nor does it prove your professional skills.

 

Pro Tip: How can you find out what’s most important to the hiring official? Reach out to current profs in the department with informational interviews.

 

A cover letter for academic jobs can be a little longer than the average. See our guide: How Long Should A Cover Letter Be? Sample & Guide

 

4. End Your Academic Cover Letter Right

 

“Thank you for your time.”

 

That’s not how to end a cover letter for academic jobs.

 

The department chair will barely see it.

 

Believe it or not, you need to offer something.

 

These academic cover letter examples show the lesson plan:

 

Cover Letter Examples for Academic [Ending]

 

The first of these cover letter examples for academic jobs did its homework:

 

right

I would thoroughly enjoy sitting down with you to discuss how my passion for creating intellectual engagement aligns with Colby's mission to enable each student to find his or her unique potential. I'd also be glad to tell you how I proved to a football star uninterested in writing that he was actually a best-selling author in disguise.

 

Best Regards,

 

Jane Franklin, Douglas-Kelly Professor of English

 

University of Pennsylvania

 

That’s curve-blowing.

 

That academic covering letter sample promises:

 

  1. Alignment with the school’s mission.
  2. A little mystery and an exciting story.

 

But this academic cover letter sample needs more work:

 

wrong
Thank you for your time. I’d love to discuss the position face to face.

 

That’s lower-level.

 

Everybody wants the interview. You need to earn it.

 

Pro Tip: Writing a cover letter for a research position with no experience? Talk about how you’ll grow into the role. Promised growth makes an enticing ending.

 

Want other ways to end your cover letter for faculty positions? See our guide: How to End a Cover Letter [+Examples]

 

Key Takeaway

 

Summary:

 

How to write an academic cover letter:

 

  • Use the 3-paragraph academic cover letter format. It shows passion, understanding, and a fit they can’t ignore.
  • Start strong. The first paragraph of a cover letter for academic jobs needs a big, eye-catching fact.
  • Show skills. The middle of your academic covering letter should show you’ve mastered their most needed skills.
  • Make an offer. Your academic CV’s ending has to leave them thinking they had better call you soon.

 

Not sure how to start an adjunct professor cover letter? Need a cover letter for other university jobs? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply!

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Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a career expert who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.
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