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Cover letters for faculty job applications

The cover letter serves as an introduction to your application package and answers the following questions: Who are you? When will you defend your dissertation (if you’re currently ABD)? Why are you interested in applying for this assistant professor position? Why are you interested in this institution? What is your dissertation research about? What are your research plans? What kind of teaching experience do you have? How will you contribute to our department and institution? Why is the school a good fit for you and vice versa? A strong cover letter will be tailored to the institution to which you’re applying. For the humanities and social sciences, it is typically two to three pages long, and for STEM fields, it is typically one to two pages but will vary depending on the specific discipline.

The purpose of a cover letter

Sometimes called a “ letter of intent ” or “ letter of interest “, a cover letter is an introduction to the rest of your job application materials. The purpose of a cover letter is to quickly summarize why you are applying to an organization or for a particular position, and what skills and knowledge you bring that make you the most suitable candidate for that position. The cover letter is often the first impression that a prospective employer will have of you, especially if they do not know you, or have not heard about you from their network of contacts. First impressions count, and so getting your cover letter right is a critical step in your job application process. Like all your job application materials, it may take time and focus to write your cover letters well. You will likely have several drafts before you come up with a final version that clearly articulates your skills and your understanding of the employer and the job requirements.

While your CV briefly states your skills, knowledge, experience, and (most importantly) what you have achieved using your abilities, the cover letter gives you an opportunity to create a narrative that shows the path you have taken in your career or education, emphasizing the skills you’ve used along the way, and explaining why the position you are applying to is the next desirable step on this path.

Timeline: Getting Started with your Cover Letter

Step 1: The first step to writing a good cover letter is to first have a good CV. Your cover letter expands upon some of the information you include within these documents, and describes the role you have played in achieving your academic  goals (i.e., showing how your experiences have made you the best candidate for the position).

Step 2: The next step is to find an open position that interests you. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cover letter, as each should be tailored to each job you apply to, but there will certainly be parts of the letter that will stay much the same, and be appropriate for multiple jobs. A 1-3 page cover letter might be the norm when applying for a tenure-track, faculty position, but you need to check with your own department to find out what the norms are in your field.

Step 3: Go through the job ad and carefully note all of the requirements and skills the employer is looking for. Based on your background research of the employer and the people you have spoken to who know about this employer (whether a business or a university department), try to identify the two or three most important skills that the employer is looking for. You should then try to create a cover letter that illustrates that you have these skills and have used them effectively.

When applying for faculty positions, especially those that involve both teaching and research, you will be expected to spend some time in your cover letter talking about your research and goals, as well as your teaching – even though you may have covered these in more detail in your research statement and teaching philosophy documents. How much time you need to spend talking about teaching and research will depend on the nature of the position and your field of study. For some humanities and social sciences applications, you will not be asked for a separate research statement, and this information will need to be integrated into the cover letter. Cover letters for scientific positions will generally be shorter as more (but not all) of the information about research will be covered in the research statement. Academic letters also need to cover everything that non-academic cover letters address, however, because you need to show that you are not only a good academic, but that you are a good person to work with who is committed to working at that particular institution. Make sure that you address the requirements of the position as stated in the job ad. Speak to faculty in your department to get a sense of what is expected in cover letters used in faculty job applications for your discipline. See if any faculty you know have been involved in search committees, and find out what they looked for in cover letters.

Explore other application documents:

professor cover letter example

Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts

professor cover letter example

Academic Cover Letter Sample

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When you're applying for a faculty position with a college or university, the cover letter is your first chance to make a strong impression as a promising researcher and teacher. Below you'll find some strategies for presenting your qualifications effectively in an academic context.

November 2, 1998

Dr. Naomi Sellers Chair, English Search Committee Box 58 Baxter College Arcadia, WV 24803

Dear Dr. Sellers:

I am writing to apply for the position as assistant professor of English with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition that you advertised in the October MLA Job Information List. I am a graduate student at Prestigious University working on a dissertation under the direction of Professor Prominent Figure. Currently revising the third of five chapters, I expect to complete all work for the Ph.D. by May of 1999. I believe that my teaching and tutoring experience combined with my course work and research background in rhetoric and composition theory make me a strong candidate for the position outlined in your notice.

As my curriculum vitae shows, I have had excellent opportunities to teach a variety of writing courses during my graduate studies, including developmental writing, first-year writing for both native speakers and second language students, advanced writing, and business writing. I have also worked as a teaching mentor for new graduate students, a position that involved instruction in methods of composition teaching, development of course materials, and evaluation of new graduate instructors. Among the most satisfying experiences for me as a teacher has been instructing students on an individual basis as a tutor in our university Writing Lab. Even as a classroom instructor, I find that I always look forward to the individual conferences that I hold with my students several times during the semester because I believe this kind of one-on-one interaction to be essential to their development as writers.

My work in the composition classroom has provided me with the inspiration as well as a kind of laboratory for my dissertation research. My project, The I Has It: Applications of Recent Models of Subjectivity in Composition Theory, examines the shift since the 1960s from expressive models of writing toward now-dominant postmodern conceptions of decentered subjectivity and self-construction through writing. I argue that these more recent theoretical models, while promising, cannot have the liberating effects that are claimed for them without a concomitant reconception of writing pedagogy and the dynamics of the writing classroom. I relate critical readings of theoretical texts to my own pedagogical experiments as a writing teacher, using narratives of classroom successes and failures as the bases for critical reflection on postmodern composition theory. After developing my dissertation into a book manuscript, I plan to continue my work in current composition theory through a critical examination of the rhetoric of technological advancement in the computer-mediated writing classroom.

My interest in the computer classroom has grown out of recent experience teaching composition in that environment. In these courses my students have used computers for writing and turning in notes and essays, communicating with one another and with me, conducting library catalogue research and web research, and creating websites. I have encouraged my students to think and write critically about their experiences with technology, both in my class and elsewhere, even as we have used technology to facilitate our work in the course. Syllabi and other materials for my writing courses can be viewed at my website: In all of my writing courses I encourage students to become critical readers, thinkers, and writers; my goal is always not only to promote their intellectual engagement with cultural texts of all kinds but also to help them become more discerning readers of and forceful writers about the world around them.

I have included my curriculum vitae and would be happy to send you additional materials such as a dossier of letters of reference, writing samples, teaching evaluations, and past and proposed course syllabi. I will be available to meet with you for an interview at either the MLA or the CCCC convention, or elsewhere at your convenience. I can be reached at my home phone number before December 19; between then and the start of the MLA convention, you can reach me at (123) 456-7890. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

First Lastname

Points to Remember

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Cover letter for a faculty position

Criteria for success.

The faculty cover letter, as with cover letters for other positions , is the first part of your application to be read by the Faculty Search Committee. Therefore, the primary purpose of a faculty cover letter is to summarize your application by connecting your Research and Teaching Statements, CV, and references.

Analyze your audience

Knowing what the Faculty Search Committee is looking for will help you tailor your application.

Searches for new hires may focus on specific research areas ( e.g.  nanomaterials, systems engineering, therapeutic science, renewable energy). In this case, you should customize your application to highlight your work in the specified research area.

Alternatively, departments may concentrate solely on the best candidates regardless of pre-selected scientific disciplines, in which case you have more flexibility in how you present yourself.

In addition, academic employment opportunities differ based on whether positions are tenure-tracked or require teaching, and the type of institution (university, medical school, research institute). Research the responsibilities associated with each of these positions, and include only information relevant to the specific position – don’t waste valuable space on irrelevant experiences.

Structure of a Cover Letter

Advocate for yourself

The faculty cover letter emphasizes your past and present academic career, while promoting your future potential. For many of us, exuding confidence in an open letter of introduction is challenging, but you have to believe in yourself before you can convince others to believe in you.

State your pedigree

In academia, the institutions and departments you have attended and the advisors for whom you have worked do matter. State this information in Scientific Achievements . Inform your audience if you have co-taught classes with distinguished professors in Teaching & Mentorship or emphasize existing collaborations in the Motivation & Impact section.

Quantify your productivity

Academia identifies scientific contributions by the following conventions: number of publications, quality, and impact. In addition to research articles, noteworthy contributions may also include opinion articles, book chapters, or your role as a journal reviewer. Emphasize alternative sources of scientific communication (and funding) such as distinguished merit-based fellowships.

Engineering students are likely to be co-authors of patents; state this information.

Describe your future potential

Beyond reiterating your past accomplishments, you must also show that you are prepared to handle the future challenges of being a Principal Investigator. By far, the most difficult paragraph to write in the faculty cover letter focuses on the Motivation & Impact of your future research program. Clearly articulate the vision of your future research program and describe how your leadership will facilitate an environment of scientific and teaching excellence. Demonstrate expert understanding of your field, and confidently state your qualifications as a leader in research, an educator, and a citizen of the university.

Define your niche

Your application will be one out of hundreds. You must differentiate yourself and your research program from other candidates, as well as previous or current advisor(s). Ask yourself what you will do that is unique compared to any of your past or future colleagues. How will you fit uniquely into the department — what is your niche?

The Motivation & impact section provides an opportunity to concisely define your niche. State specific aims of your proposed research that expand upon the department’s core strengths while simultaneously diversifying the university’s research portfolio ( e.g.  emerging research fields, state-of-the art technologies, novel applications). Carefully consider research centers, core facilities, affiliated institutes or medical centers at the university. In many cases, campus- or state-wide research initiatives may complement your research program.

Finally, take advantage of any experiences you’ve had outside of academia. Have you previously worked in industry or consulted? Would these former and future relationships lead to additional funding for your lab? If so, suggest more unusual avenues of additional funding. It may no longer suffice to focus primarily on traditional grants sponsored by government agencies. Think of creative alternatives and diversify your future financial portfolio. This, in turn, differentiates your research program from colleagues.

Finally, you will more than likely apply to multiple departments and universities. Therefore, modify your niche for every application!

Make important information concise and identifiable

Again, your application is one out of hundreds. Helping the Faculty Search Committee easily identify important information in your cover letter will only improve your chances of moving forward in the hiring process. A faculty cover letter should not exceed 1 page , so you must present your qualifications to the Faculty Search Committee in a concise manner.

Maximize impact of words. Use verbs that illustrate impact (“led,” “developed,” “innovated”) over verbs that make you sound passive (“participated”). Aim for verbs that are more specific to the actual contribution you made.

Minimize redundancy and wordiness. For every sentence, challenge yourself to remove as many words as possible without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Use keywords. Keywords cited by grant-funding agencies, easily recognizable by any faculty member, should be included in relevant sections of your faculty cover letter. Using field-specific vocabulary may demonstrate your understanding of the field and the department’s needs, but be aware that Faculty Search Committees with mixed expertise may require simpler vocabulary and/or explanations accessible to a broader audience.

Maintain abundant white space. In terms of formatting, inclusion of white space is easy on the eye while providing a precise transition from one section to the next.

Devote time!

Crafting your faculty application is a process that will continue indefinitely.

Above all else, remember that the faculty application is a creative process. Enjoy it!

This content was adapted from from an article originally created by the  MIT Biological Engineering Communication Lab .

Resources and Annotated Examples

Annotated example 1.

Example Faculty Cover Letter 887 KB

Annotated Example 2

Example Faculty CV 85 KB

Professor Cover Letter Examples

Professors teach at colleges and faculties certain specialist subject areas. Their duties vary from evaluating papers to writing grant proposals. A good deal of their work may fall in the administrative area. Examples of Professor work activities include: preparing course materials, recording student attendance, moderating classroom discussions, advising student organizations, publishing research work, and serving in academic and administrative committees.

Not exactly what you are looking for? Check our complete library of over 1000 cover letter examples .

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For help with your resume, check out our extensive Professor Resumes .

A good cover letter can make you stand out from the rest. Learn how to create one in our Cover Letter guide .

Include These Professor Skills

Comparable Professor assets are described in the cover letter example displayed below.

Dear Dr. Crockett:

As a skilled and enthusiastic college-level instructor with key experience developing curriculum while maintaining a steadfast focus on incorporating various methodologies and new technologies into the classroom, it is my pleasure to submit the enclosed resume for your review. My background and passion for education positions me to significantly impact your school as your next Professor.

Classroom management, personalized learning programs, and innovative educational techniques are just a few of my areas of expertise. By teaching students from a wide range of backgrounds and learning styles, I have honed my communication, creativity, and motivational skills. My inherent passion for fostering collaborative and exciting educational environments has successfully encouraged and developed productive, thoughtful, and accomplished college students. Additionally, I have continually demonstrated a record of research and publishing excellence, including publication of numerous articles in top-tier academic journals.

Highlights of my qualifications include:

Creating individualized plans and programs to facilitate a targeted, personalized approach to education while stimulating students’enjoyment and appreciation for the subject.

Incorporating college philosophies, regulations, and learning assessments into lessons while ensuring allowance for creativity and flexibility.

Challenged and communicated with students to encourage their participation and learning progress, meeting with them during and after office hours to ensure optimal subject comprehension and real-world application.

Hiring, evaluating, and supervising three research assistants each semester.

Continually attending professional development seminars to remain abreast of new technologies and alternative delivery methods; integrating tools such as hand-outs, presentations, videos, online activities, and laboratory offerings into classes.

With my experience and credentials, I am well prepared to dedicate myself to the highest standards of learning at your college and exceed your expectations for this position. I look forward to discussing my qualifications in further detail. Thank you for your consideration.

Rebecca K. Holland, PhD

A professional cover letter is the first step toward your new job!


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Professor Cover Letter Examples

How to build an effective professor cover letter.

Professors are the backbone of any college or university, providing students at all academic levels with the education and foundation they need to thrive in their chosen careers. To earn a position as a professor, you need a cover letter that meets a high academic standard and will impress the faculty and department committee at the institution you are applying to.

In this guide, we will teach you how to perfect your cover letter and earn a coveted position as a professor. Keep reading to learn all about how to:

Still looking for a job? These 100+ resources will tell you everything you need to get hired fast.

Assistant Professor Piano Cover Letter Example

1. Format your professor cover letter correctly

When writing a cover letter for a position within academia, there are certain formatting differences compared to a normal business cover letter.

First, it is generally acceptable for an academic cover letter to be longer than one page – though you should aim to keep it under two pages in length. A career in academia involves many qualifications, so employers expect to see more in-depth job applications.

The structure of an academic cover letter should be similar to the following outline:

Your professional information should come first, followed by the university information. The university information can be formatted similarly to a letter address.

Here is an example of an academic cover letter header

John Smith | Professor of Humanities (123) 456-7890 | [email protected] | DD/MM/YYYY The University of Michigan Humanities Department

2. Personalize & tailor your professor cover letter for the position

There are many ways you can personalize and tailor your cover letter for the exact professor position you are applying to – starting with the greeting.

A personalized greeting will address a specific person by name. In the case of a professor’s cover letter, this person should be the Department Head or the Head of HR.

Here are two examples of personalized greetings

When using titles such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc., always make sure you are using the correct one for the person you are speaking to.

In terms of tailoring the rest of your cover letter, the key is to research the department beforehand .

University departments want to hire professors who align with their current goals, particularly when it comes to research and publications. As such, you should highlight as many relevant projects and accomplishments you have that match the department’s current priorities and objectives.

Find out your resume score!

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3. Write a memorable professor cover letter introduction

The introductory paragraph of your cover letter can go a long way in attracting the attention of a university department head or hiring committee. This opening statement should immediately establish who you are as a professional and why you are a good match for the institution.

A strong introduction will often include:

Here is an example of an effective introduction from a professor’s cover letter

To Dr. Jane Doe & the Science Department Committee,

I am a Professor of Biology with over 10 years of experience teaching undergraduate courses and publishing peer-reviewed research in the field of biology. Recently, I co-authored a study in a major scientific journal with Dr. Joe King, one of your department’s tenured Professors. Dr. King recommended I apply for this opening, as my research and goals align with your department’s current objectives.

4. Provide in-depth details of your professor career in the body paragraphs

The body paragraphs of your cover letter are where you will provide the most in-depth details about your career, professional goals, accomplishments , and skills.

As you write these body paragraphs, make sure to include your:

5. Conclude your professor cover letter with a strong closing statement

It is always important to include a thoughtful closing statement at the end of your professor cover letter. In this conclusion, you should aim to include:

Here is an example of a well-written and concise closing statement from a professor’s cover letter

I am highly optimistic about my future with your department and institution, and greatly look forward to hearing from you so we may further discuss this opportunity and my qualifications. If I do not hear back by next Monday, I will reach out to touch base about the status of my application. The best time to reach me is between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at my office phone number – (123) 456-7890.

Warm Regards,

[Applicant Name]

If you have ever wondered how a cover letter differs from a resume, this article will tell you everything about the key differences between the two . 

Milan Šaržík — Certified Professional Résumé Writer

Milan Šaržík, CPRW

Milan’s work-life has been centered around job search for the past three years. He is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW™) as well as an active member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Careers Coaches (PARWCC™). Milan holds a record for creating the most career document samples for our help center – until today, he has written more than 500 resumes and cover letters for positions across various industries. On top of that, Milan has completed studies at multiple well-known institutions, including Harvard University, University of Glasgow, and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

All professor cover letter examples

Assistant Professor Physics Cover Letter Example

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Professor Cover Letter Examples

The process of writing a cover letter can prove to be frustrating. What is the best way to showcase your skills in a polished piece? To ensure you’ve addressed the basics as well as additional skills you possess to prove you are the ideal candidate, review our professor cover letter example and writing do’s and don’ts to help you succeed in your job pursuit.

Professor Advice

Becoming a professor requires discipline, dedication, knowledge and a desire to share your wisdom with eager young minds. You’ll also need a cover letter to convince educational institutions that you’re the right person for the job. The cover letter examples below are intended specifically for academic positions, and can be useful tools in creating your professor cover letter. If you’re ready to take the next step in your academic career, click on any of the professor cover letter examples shown below to get started.

Cover Letter Tips for Professor

Those in search of quality employment should have a good chance of finding a job as a Professor if they abide by the rules of job hunting. Enthusiasm, proactivity, and a good attitude are the basic building blocks for landing a job.

1. Show off your best side. When job hunting, it is critical to put aside shy tendencies or low self-confidence. Employers value a strong sense of self and outgoing attitudes in their employees.

2. Chart your course. Entering the job search world without a plan is a recipe for disaster, so make sure you have an idea of the steps you want to take on your job hunt, the destinations you might ask for help along your way, and the end goal in mind.

3. If your job-seeking skills are rusty or it’s your first time around, consider taking a workshop on job hunting practices in the digital age to get you up to speed on the new norms for would-be employees.

4. Think about your job search as a marathon rather than a sprint. Keeping this long-term mindset will help you to plan for the future, no matter what the speed of the market.

5. Take time for reflection and self-improvement during your time between jobs. Reassessing your work and personal life balance is always a good habit at times like these.

Professor Job Seeking Tips

Bettering yourself as a seeker of jobs as a Professor can only take your search so far, but improving and polishing your cover letter can be the ultimate catalyst for nailing your dream job. Professionals from myriad different industries and career paths rely on their cover letters to sell their story to future employers.

1. Divide your credentials and skills between those that you want to use in the future, and those you don’t. Only include the former on your cover letter.

2. If you find that your cover letter is getting too long, cut it down to one page and include any excess important in your cover letter, instead.

3. Format your cover letter so that it can be delivered in a number of different formats, such as PDF, HTML file, or Word document, depending on what’s required.

4. Employers are increasingly scanning cover letters for certain keywords that must necessarily be present. Make sure yours includes the keywords applicable to your career.

5. Eliminate references, irrelevant hobbies and activities, and work experience older than 15 years to free up cover letter room for more current achievements and accomplishments.

*As seen in :

professor cover letter example


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It is to your advantage to create a document that stands out from your fellow applicants. To create an application package that highlights your unique skills and experiences, watch our short video series Applying For Faculty Positions , use the resources below and consider  scheduling an appointment .

Developing Faculty Application Materials

Understand the application materials

You have identified the type of faculty position you'd like to apply to and you are ready to start applying to faculty positions.

What types of materials?

Faculty application packets typically include a Cover Letter, a Curriculum Vitae (CV), Letters of Reference, a Research Statement and/or a Teaching Statement or Diversity Statement.

Who will read the materials?

The materials will first be screened by a faculty members on the search committee. Depending on the institution, faculty members may come a wide range of backgrounds, so it's best to write the materials for educated non-experts. Once you are invited to interview, the materials may be shared with the rest of the faculty members in the department.

How will they read it?

Faculty members often need to review hundreds of applications, which means that you will need to demonstrate you are a promising candidate through your Cover Letter and your CV in just 3 to 10 minutes for the first selection.

Are your materials ready?

Use these checklists to make sure your application materials are ready to send out:

Write your cover letter

The cover letter (1-1.5 pages) is meant to be a guide to your application package, so that the reader wants to continue reading your application and knows what to look for in your materials.

Your cover letter should highlight and summarize your strengths and it should help the reader quickly decide that you are a potential fit for the position. It also should be well written and edited to make sure you come across as thorough and professional.

Suggested layout for a cover letter:

Build your Curriculum Vitae (CV)

General format:

Academic CVs follow a fairly standard format, which can be anywhere from 2 to 15 pages long. A CV should list all experience relevant to an academic position. Keep fonts coherent.

Common sections in the CV:

Education, Research Experience, Teaching Experience, Mentoring Experience, Grants & Awards, Honors, Publications, Trainings, University Service/Professional Involvement, Memberships. (The titles to these sections can vary)

Different versions of your CV:

Because the first few pages of a CV are "prime real-estate," the order of these sections will vary depending on the research- and teaching-focus of the position:

Therefore, if you are considering applying to a range of positions (from teaching-focused to research-focused), you will need to keep several versions of your CV.

Additional resources:

Develop your research, teaching, and diversity statements

Research Statements:

Teaching Statements or Statements of Teaching Philosophy

Diversity Statements

How to write one:

How universities assess them:

Sample diversity statements:

The samples below have been generously donated by UCSF students, postdocs, and alumni, in order to offer you ideas about how to present your own skills and experiences. We make no claims that they are perfect, but we offer them as useful examples.

Do not copy the text exactly. To do so is plagiarism.

Sample Faculty Application Materials

Annotated CVs and Cover Letters

The following annotated samples are based off of the Academic Career Readiness Assessment (ACRA) framework.

Applications to R institutions

Applications to RT institutions

Biomedical scientist applications - Research-focused institutions

Biomedical scientist applications - Research and teaching institutions

Social and population scientist applications

Positions at R institutions:

Positions at RT institutions:

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  1. Free Professor Cover Letter Examples & Templates from Trust Writing Service

    professor cover letter example

  2. Free Professor Cover Letter Examples & Templates from Trust Writing Service

    professor cover letter example

  3. FREE 4+ Sample Faculty Position Cover Letter Templates in PDF

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  4. 15 Assistant Professor Cover Letter

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  1. Cover Letters for Academic Positions

    Check with faculty in your department. ... The cover letter is a writing sample. ... I am writing to apply for the position of Assistant Professor in

  2. Professor Cover Letter Examples and Templates

    I am writing to apply for the position of Professor currently offered at Clearwater University. Teaching has been my lifelong career, and I am

  3. Cover letters for faculty job applications

    Why are you interested in this institution? What is your dissertation research about? What are your research plans? What kind of teaching experience do you have

  4. Academic Cover Letter Sample

    I am writing to apply for the position as assistant professor of English with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition that you advertised in the October MLA Job

  5. Cover letter for a faculty position

    The faculty cover letter, as with cover letters for other positions, is the first part of your application to be read by the Faculty Search Committee.

  6. Professor Cover Letter Examples & Samples for 2023

    With my experience and credentials, I am well prepared to dedicate myself to the highest standards of learning at your college and exceed your expectations for

  7. Professor / Education Cover Letter Examples

    Format your professor cover letter correctly · Personalize & tailor your cover letter for the position · Write a memorable professor cover letter

  8. Professor Cover Letter Examples

    Professor Cover Letter Examples · Do explain your skills and why you would be an ideal candidate for the position. · Don't stall on your lack of experience. · Do

  9. Creating Your Cover Letter for Academic Positions

    Dear Professor Whitnell,. I am excited to learn of the opening for an assistant professor in the Department of. History at the University of the West, as

  10. Application Materials for Faculty Positions

    Suggested layout for a cover letter: · Paragraph 1: What position you are applying for, where it was posted, what you currently do and where. · Paragraph 2: What