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Cover Letter Tips

When Applying for a Teaching or Faculty Position

Writing a cover letter for an academic faculty position (also referred to as a ‘letter of intent’ or ‘letter of interest’) represents an important component of the overall application package you submit. We aim to partner with you in crafting one that presents your achievements and experiences in the best possible light. With this in mind, here are some tips to guide you in that process. If you have questions or would like some feedback, let us know. We look forward to supporting you!

Criteria to Consider

AudienceAs you begin writing your cover letter, think carefully about the intended audience. For example, is it a large university or a small liberal arts college? Is it a public or private institution? Is it located in an urban or rural setting? Does it have a religious affiliation?
Position TypeWhat type of position is it? Is it primarily a teaching or research position? Is it a balance of both (e.g., 2-2 teaching load)?
IntroductionThe introduction of your letter should indicate the specific position you are applying for and how you learned about the position (e.g., posting in Chronicle of Higher Education); it should include a brief, 1-sentence summary of your dissertation and your date of graduation; if you haven’t yet graduated, indicate your anticipated date of graduation; you should also include a strong and succinct sentence that highlights why you are an excellent candidate for the position.
Teaching-oriented PositionIf the position is more teaching-oriented, then briefly describe your teaching philosophy and experience; it’s also helpful to include a specific course you have taught and one or two instructional strategies you used to make it meaningful for students; (Note: This should be brief since your attached philosophy will offer more detail).
Research-oriented PositionIf the position is more research-oriented then briefly discuss the core focus of your research and your future plans.
ConclusionThank them for their time and reference any attached documents (eg, CV, Teaching Philosophy, Research Statement).
General TipsThe cover letter represents your chance to expand on some of important details in your CV and give them added meaning and context; remember that the cover letter typically functions as the search committee’s first introduction to you and “first impressions” matter, so invest the time that clearly shows why your education and experience makes you a good match for the position; lastly, while it might be tempting to use Generative AI for assistance, avoid that temptation because you want your letter to stand out as an authentic reflection of you rather than a generic, bot-produced letter.