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How to Write an Academic Cover Letter

Although an academic cover letter has several similarities to a regular cover letter, there are also several differences you should be aware of before writing one. Follow these six steps when writing your academic cover letter to ensure you won’t forget anything!

Use the Proper Business Letter Format

Academic cover letters should follow the typical business letter format. Make sure to include contact information, a salutation, the body paragraphs, a closing, and your signature.

Even though most cover letters should stick to one page, an academic cover letter should be about a page and a half to two pages in length to ensure that you cover everything that you need to include.

Respond to the Job Posting

The cover letter’s job is to provide evidence that you possess the skills and credentials needed to excel in the employment position. Analyze the job posting to discover what those skills and credentials would be. Then, use the body paragraphs of your cover letter to demonstrate why you’re the ideal candidate for that particular position. Use concrete examples, such as your accomplishments, research, teaching experiences, and awards. Remember that it’s important to show rather than tell why your skills fit the job description.

Consider the Faculty Reviewers

Learn as much as you can about the people who will be reviewing your application. Think about how your background fits with their institution. Also, how does your expertise or teaching method fill a need in their department? Discuss your teaching method and philosophy, but remember to give examples rather than simply stating that you use the Socratic method or a flipped classroom style.

Answer Potential Questions

Remember that the faculty will have your curriculum vitae or resume on hand. Because of this, you don’t need to discuss your background. Instead, focus on answering questions that the faculty reviewers may have. What kind of teacher are you? How do you reach your students? Why are there gaps in your resume? When will you be available? Try to answer these questions in your academic cover letter, so they don’t need to contact you for these answers.

Show Your Passion

What are you passionate about? Do you have any current projects or research that you’re excited about? Departments want someone who is enthusiastic about their subjects. Try to let your enthusiasm shine through your words.

Demonstrate Good Writing

Your academic cover letter is essentially a writing sample. For this reason, you need to do your best work. Take the time to proofread and spell check your completed cover letter, making sure that it’s error-free before sending it out.

Your academic cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the faculty reviewers. Let them know why you’re the ideal candidate for the position. If the idea of writing a cover letter seems daunting, try a video lesson or exercise on cover letters—like the ones found in Magoosh—to ease yourself into it. By making a good impression in your academic cover letter, you can land you an interview and convince the faculty reviewers that you are the right choice for the job.

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.

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