Build your academic job applications using these tips and templates.
This section covers the core documents that make up an academic job package: the CV, academic cover letter, research statement, teaching statement, and diversity statement. Each of these documents should be tailored to speak to the specific needs of the program to which you are applying. The following pages speak to best practices and standards across disciplines. You should check with your department to ensure that you incorporate discipline-specific standards into these documents.
The Curriculum Vitae (CV)
This document catalogs your academic achievements,and is typically organized around three pillars of the academy: Research, Teaching and Service. It is an exhaustive list of your achievements, as opposed to a resume, which is more of a snapshot, tailored to demonstrate specific skill sets and accomplishments. CV’s are the credential asked for in academic job application processes, postdoctoral scholar application processes, and fellowship and grant applications. Because they demonstrate research expertise, they are also frequently asked for by research-intensive organizations.
Confused about the differences between a resume and a CV? Download this chart to view important differences.
CVs typically include more white space, because they focus on your accomplishments as opposed to the skills you have demonstrated. There is not a page limit for a CV, and one inch margins, double spaced with 12 point
font is appropriate. The document should be evenly spaced and easy to read. Look for examples from some of the scholars in your discipline and those who are working in positions you are interested in pursuing to create your own style.
Although there is not only one way to write a CV, below are some tips to help you get started:
- List first and last name and contact information at the top.
- Always include the date you last updated your CV.
- List accomplishments in reverse chronological order in each section: research, teaching, funding, education, honors & awards.
- Use the citation style of your discipline (e.g., APA, MLA).
- All publications should be accurate and complete: co-authors, journal, issue, title, date.
- All presentations should be accurate and complete: co-presenters, conference, date, location, title.
- “In press” indicates that your publication has already been accepted by a journal.
- Publication status should be clearly marked - under review, revised & resubmitted.
- In preparation manuscripts should be tracked on the CV, but not always used when submitting a CV.
- In preparation is a very discipline-specific title, check with your advisor whether “in preparation” manuscripts are acceptable to list in your field.
The Academic Cover Letter
The academic cover letter communicates your scholarly fit with the position, organization and department. The cover letter should be no longer than 2 pages and should expand on your most relevant accomplishments and situate your work in the context outlined by the position. It should also outline your
research agenda and future trajectory. All academic positions will require a cover letter and because the academic job market is so competitive, it has become common for search committees to ask just for a cover letter and CV. If this is the case you need to include paragraphs that provide information similar to teaching and research statements, highlighting what is not articulated on your CV. Some disciplines have a very specific format, so be sure to work with your department to align your cover letter with disciplinary standards. Avoid overly verbose or overly humble language.
Tips for condensing research and teaching statements into the academic cover letter:
- Your materials should create an overall picture of you as a scholar. This means that you should consider each document within the context of the other materials required.
- Begin by drafting longer statements about teaching (the teaching statement) and research (dissertation abstract, research statement).
- Pare down these statements for different lengths: one page, one paragraph.
- For the cover letter, take your one-paragraph versions of your teaching and research statements and edit them to market yourself as a scholar and teacher - how do you want the committee to perceive you? What’s the main take-away you want them to know about you?
- Because the materials required vary widely, keep in mind that the cover letter should be able to act as a standalone document - any other materials should expand and reinforce the cover letter.
The Research Statement
A research statement is used when applying for some academic faculty positions and research-intensive positions. A research statement is usually a single-spaced 1-2 page document that describes your research trajectory as a scholar, highlighting growth: from where you began to where you envision going in the next few years. Ultimately, research productivity, focus and future are the most highly scrutinized in academic faculty appointments, particularly at research-intensive universities. Tailor your research statement to the institution to which you are applying - if a university has a strong research focus, emphasize publications; if a university values teaching and
research equally, consider ending with a paragraph about how your research complements your teaching and vice versa. Structures of these documents also varies by discipline. See two common structures below.
Introduction: The first paragraph should introduce your research interests in the context of your field, tying the research you have done so far to a distinct trajectory that will take you well into the future.
Summary Of Dissertation: This paragraph should summarize your doctoral research project. Try not to have too much language repetition across documents, such as your abstract or cover letter.
Contribution To Field And Publications: Describe the significance of your projects for your field. Detail any publications initiated from your independent doctoral or postdoctoral research. Additionally, include plans for future publications based on your thesis. Be specific about journals to which you should submit or university presses that might be interested in the book you could develop from your dissertation (if your field expects that). If you are writing a two-page research statement, this section would likely be more than one paragraph and cover your future publication plans in greater detail.
Second Project: If you are submitting a cover letter along with your research statement, then the committee may already have a paragraph describing your second project. In that case, use this space to discuss your second project in greater depth and the publication plans you envision for this project. Make sure you transition from your dissertation to your second large project smoothly - you want to give a sense of your cohesion as a scholar, but also to demonstrate your capacity to conceptualize innovative research that goes well beyond your dissertation project.
Wider Impact Of Research Agenda: Describe the broader significance of your work. What ties your research projects together? What impact do you want to make on your field? If you’re applying for a teaching-oriented institution, how would you connect your research with your teaching?
25% Previous Research Experience: Describe your early work and how it solidified your interest in your field. How did these formative experiences influence your research interests and approach to research? Explain how this earlier work led to your current project(s).
25% Current Projects: Describe your dissertation/thesis project - this paragraph could be modeled on the first paragraph of your dissertation abstract since it covers all your bases: context, methodology, findings, significance. You could also mention grants/fellowships that funded the project, publications derived from this research, and publications that are currently being developed.
50% Future Work: Transition to how your current work informs your future research. Describe your next major project or projects and a realistic plan for accomplishing this work. What publications do you expect to come out of this research? The last part of the research statement should be customized to demonstrate the fit of your research agenda with the institution.
The Teaching Statement
A teaching statement is used in job applications for academic positions, teaching positions in K-12, charter schools, and private boarding schools, and sometimes for training positions in organizations. The Teaching Statement should be 1-2 pages and give a vivid snapshot of your teaching. Use the first person when you write this document to explain your central approach, articulate your impact, and outline specific examples of strategies, assessments and evidence of outcomes from your teaching experience. A teaching statement can also be part of a more robust teaching portfolio for some applications, so it is important to keep a record of all teaching experiences, including evaluations. The teaching statement introduces and contextualizes the materials in a portfolio when a portfolio is requested.
Developing a Teaching Philosophy:
Teaching statements are sometimes called teaching philosophies because ideally they present an integrated vision of your teaching values and methods, motivated by a well-developed understanding of how students learn best and how your teaching methods facilitate this learning effectively. Many pedagogical principles work across disciplines, and you should be proactive about learning pedagogical best practices as well as pedagogical techniques and debates that may be field specific. There are also growing opportunities for training at UCLA through the Office of Instructional Development (OID), the Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS), and the Center for the Integration for Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). We encourage you to take advantage of the TA conference that occurs right
before fall quarter every year, the TA training program, as well as other resources and programs available through OID. In addition, CEILS and CIRTLoffer workshops and teacher training.
Developing as a Teacher:
While training in pedagogy is very important, you can promote your own development as a teacher by regularly reflecting on your teaching. Like ethnographers, you can take notes regularly after teaching sessions as a way to process how well instructional practices are working. We encourage you to take notes when things go well, when things don’t go well, and when the unexpected or interesting happens. These notes are for your development and never need to be shared, but this reflective writing facilitates productive thinking about your teaching methods and provides a record of examples that can eventually be used when you need to develop a formal teaching statement or portfolio for the job application.
Getting Started: Questions to ask yourself before you begin:
- What are your goals for yourself? Your students?
- What was your best teaching experience? Your worst?
- What is an example that demonstrates learning from a teaching mistake and implementing what you have learned?
- What are your strengths as a teacher? Weaknesses? How can you improve your weaknesses?
- What do you believe about how students learn best?
- How do you implement your philosophies on teaching and learning in the classroom? What strategies do you use?
- How do I know the strategies I have implemented work? How do you assess student learning?
- How does this relate to your teaching philosophy?
Use vivid language but use words with emotional connotations sparingly. It is better to convey passion through evidence than through literally saying words like “passion.” While we recommend writing in the first person pronoun, try not to overuse “I”, and keep the focus of your description on what your students are doing and learning in the classroom.
Sample teaching statement by Tahseen Shams, who received a PhD in 2018. Dr. Shams is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.
Diversity statements usually are no more than two pages and speak to your experience, capabilities, and commitment to working with people from different backgrounds and to advancing a more inclusive, diverse and/or equitable academic environment. You can demonstrate these values through your teaching, research, and service. Keep in mind that diversity can mean a number of things including race/ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and military veteran status among others. Diversity statements will be listed explicitly as required documents in some job applications. If the position does not require a diversity statement, you may want to incorporate these values in your cover letter and teaching statement.
Getting Started: Questions to reflect on as you begin:
Experience and Identity: How have my experiences enlightened and empowered me? How do my previous experiences inform how I engage with others? Do I embody an under-represented group in my field? If yes, how and why is that meaningful?
Research and Teaching: How have I incorporated what I’ve experienced and learned into my teaching and research? How will I continue to make my classrooms diverse? How is my approach unique?
Collegial Collaboration: How have I handled working with someone whose background is unfamiliar to me? What have I learned from these experiences? How do I help to establish and to maintain an inclusive climate?
Vision for the Future: How will I demonstrate a continued willingness to learn and grow? How will I work to correct problems of recruitment and retention of groups underrepresented in my field?
Consider these tips, adapted from UC Davis’s Academic Affairs website, in crafting your diversity statement:
- Demonstrate your COMMITMENT to use your position to be a force of enlightenment and change by opening up opportunities to first-generation and underrepresented students.
- Describe how you have CREATED programs that provide access and establish a pipeline for students in traditionally underrepresented groups.
- Show how you ENRICH the classroom environment through exposure to new perspectives on cultures, beliefs, practices, tolerance, acceptance, and a welcoming climate.
- Demonstrate how your research provides EXPOSURE for individuals historically excluded from disciplines on the basis of their gender or ethnic identity.
- Speak to your LEADERSHIP in any capacity that tangibly promotes an environment where diversity is welcomed, fostered, and celebrated.
- Discuss MENTORING students from traditionally underrepresented groups and at-risk students
- Describe your OUTREACH to members of student clubs, organizations, or community groups whose mission includes service, education, or extending opportunity to disadvantaged people.
- Show RECOGNITION of the challenges members of society face when they are members of underrepresented groups; or because of their religious, ethnic, or gender identities or orientation.
- Detail SERVICE that promotes inclusion by striving to dismantle barriers to people historically excluded from the opportunities that all have a right to enjoy.