Academic Cover Letter Samples
When applying for an academic position as a researcher, lecturer, or for a fellowship, a cover letter is usually required to accompany your CV. Stating your particular interest in the role, and showing how your academic and work experience enables you to excel at the job, is the aim of a successful cover letter. They can be one of the most important parts of your application, giving the recipient an idea of who you are and what your relevant expertise is. Essentially, it's the first impression an institution will have of you, so it's important to get it right.
For those planning a PhD in economics, check out our Sample Motivation Letter for some specific guidance as to how to get yourself prepared. For others applying for a research role, teaching role, or for a fellowship – stick around. The following are a collection of sample cover letter templates that you can use as a basis for your own. Yep, we got you covered!
Sample cover letter for a research position
I am writing to apply for the postdoctoral position in marine biology in the Department of Life Sciences. Having recently completed my PhD in biology, I am excited for the opportunity to join the world-renowned research team at the University of Leipzig.
My primary research interests are migration behaviors in marine creatures, and in my current research I use methods including statistical modeling and field observations. My aim is for my research to form a bridge between modeling and field work approaches. I am therefore particularly attracted to the University of Leipzig as a department which values research using a wide range of methodologies, and which offers the chance for collaboration with colleagues in other life sciences fields.
Working in research in both Germany and abroad has given me a network of potential collaborators and experience in international projects. I have found bringing together researchers from different fields to be particularly beneficial, and my interdisciplinary background has provided me with effective communication skills across a diverse range of groups. I am keen to continue collaborating with researchers from other disciplines in order to better understand complex issues.
Furthermore, I have experience with the supervision of Bachelor's students, and with teaching undergraduate courses such as An Introduction to Oceanography, for which I received excellent feedback. I find the nurturing of students in order to realize their best potential to be a greatly rewarding aspect of teaching work and I am thus interested in taking on teaching work as well as research.
I have three publications pending from my doctoral project, covering a broad range of scholarly interests. These papers are currently in the submission process for high-ranked peer-reviewed journals.
I wish to acquire third-party funding to support my research in the future, and to that end I am preparing applications for the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) fellowship and the Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. As a member of the committees which applied for extensions of funding from the German research foundation for both my graduate school and my university institution, I have experience with large-scale funding applications, both of which were successful in securing further funding.
I am enthusiastic about the possibility of working at the University of Leipzig. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.
Sample cover letter for a teaching position
I am applying for the role of lecturer in psychology at the University of Hamburg. I completed a PhD on the topic of how stressful life events affect decision making at University College London. Since then I have been working in a postdoctoral role in the neurology department at the Charité Hospital Berlin. The primary topics I teach are neuropsychology, rehabilitation after brain injury, and the social impact of stress, and I have additional teaching experience in the field of neuroscience.
My teaching philosophy is to promote independent thought and critical reasoning skills in my students by encouraging them to discuss and debate. For example, in my Neural Decision Making course, each student is required to learn a topic and present it briefly to the other students once per lesson. This not only challenges the presenting student to convey the material accurately and concisely, but also aids the understanding of the other students in the class. Similarly, three times per semester I organize debate classes in which the class is split into groups which must defend a contested position in the field. Encouraging students to consider perspectives which are contentious and with which they may not agree challenges them to think beyond their current knowledge and to explore alternative perspectives.
This teaching style has been successful in engaging students and holding their interest. I am happy to have received strong positive feedback from students on my teaching, and one of my classes was selected by the student newspaper as a top ten course at my previous university. I also have experience co-supervising students in Bachelor's and Master’s psychology programs, from which I gained skills in project management and supporting students academically.
My current research is on the relationship between priming and decision making, examining the degree to which value assessments are influenced by non-verbal primes. I have five publications on this topic, each published in high-impact journals. I am keen to continue this research at the University of Hamburg, given its expertise in decision making and its strong neuroscience community.
I enjoy supporting students from diverse backgrounds and those who have followed non-traditional career paths. I believe that the strength of a discipline comes from hearing a wide range of viewpoints. I am excited to pass the experience I have received on to other students who are supporting themselves through work while studying, who may have family commitments, or come from a non-traditional academic background. The possibility of teaching Bachelor's and graduate students and continuing my research at the University of Hamburg is something I am enthusiastic about. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample cover letter for a fellowship
In response to your advertised opportunity for a fellowship in experimental psychology from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, I am writing to you to express my interest in this fellowship.
My PhD research included paradigms from experimental psychology alongside innovative interview techniques for assessing personality disorder traits. I believe combining knowledge from disparate disciplines can be uniquely effective in building new models for understanding complex phenomena such as mental disorders. I am therefore particularly attracted to the Alexander von Humboldt foundation as an organization which promotes interdisciplinary, unusual and innovative approaches to research.
I have a truly interdisciplinary background, having studied psychiatry and neurology as well as psychology. I currently hold a postdoctoral scholarship at the University of Munich, where I perform research into the assessment and classification of personality disorders. Having worked with a broad range of methods including interviews, reaction time measures, subliminal stimuli detection, and theoretical work. I have been in frequent contact with both clinicians and empirical scientists, and I have experience in presenting to and learning from experts from a wide variety of specialties within psychology. For example, I co-organized the Constructs of Personality Disorders conferences in 2018 which included psychologists, philosophers and psychiatrists as part of an interdisciplinary working group.
My recent research has focused on using interview methods to categorize and classify the rates of personal disorder symptoms within the general population. Having found evidence of higher-than-expected rates of symptoms within certain groups, particularly younger people, I was inspired to design further experiments to investigate this intriguing result. My background in both psychology and psychiatry makes me ideally suited to this work. I am confident in my abilities to design and run experimental projects, having worked independently throughout my PhD on a project of my own design. I also demonstrated an ability to run projects and maintain strict deadlines by completing both my PhD and three manuscripts for papers within 36 months.
Thank you for considering me. I am excited for this opportunity to undertake a fellowship with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and I look forward to hearing from you.
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5 key differences between American- and European-style PhD programs
This piece primarily focuses on the differences and similarities between economics PhD programs on the two sides of the Atlantic. I later discuss how an economics PhD is organized in other parts of the world, as many other countries have modeled their PhD programs on one of these two styles. Program duration The most striking difference between an American and European economics PhD is the expected duration of the program.
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How to balance your PhD and your social life
Treat your PhD like a regular job One of the challenges of adjusting to life as a PhD student is the lack of a firm schedule or a definite structure. Although there are options for structured PhD programs, especially in the US, many PhD programs do not have required coursework or set work times. This can make it hard to know when you should be working, and conversely, when you are allowed to take time off.