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University Cover Letter Example

Use this University cover letter example to finish your application and get hired fast – no frustration, no guesswork. This cover letter example is specifically designed for University positions in 2022. Take advantage of our sample sentences + expert guides to download the perfect cover letter in just minutes.
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University Cover Letter Example
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 Most people go to a university to study, but some go to a university to work. Whether you’re an astrophysics professor, a football coach or a food service worker, a compelling university cover letter is a crucial part of your application for any college job.

And these jobs are not exactly scarce. One website that specializes in jobs in academia, HigherEdJobs, says that last year it listed 289,000 open positions from more than 5,000 institutions. 

This guide, along with the corresponding cover letter example, will explore:

  • The best format of a university cover letter (and its 5 key elements)
  • What to aim for in each section of the cover letter
  • The layout and design fundamentals of a cover letter
  • Psychology tips to writing a great cover letter
  • Mistakes you need to avoid

Best format for a university cover letter

The format of a university cover letter is defined by its 5 key elements, its structure and text volume. In most cases, a university cover letter should be one page only, a maximum of 400 words. So unlike a 100,000-word doctoral dissertation, a cover letter prizes brevity and economy of words. But those words need to be chosen very carefully, and they need to follow a recognized structure.

These are the five key elements in the format of a university cover letter:

  • Header
  • Cover letter greeting
  • Cover letter introduction
  • Middle paragraphs (body)
  • Cover letter ending (Conclusion & sign-off)

We will explore what each of these components should contain, but first let’s check out the editable cover letter example you can use for your own application:

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Mr. Brawley,

During my seven years as Head of Modern Languages at Northwestern, we saw a 35% uptick in admissions and 25% improvement in overall grades. The oriental studies program was 150% oversubscribed and 95% of all our professors published critically acclaimed research in industry-leading linguistic journals.

Moving to Austin with my family brings opportunities, and while I am happy to explore a move back into academia, the timing of the Head of Modern Languages role at the University of Texas seems perfect. I know that you are looking to grow your oriental and middle east studies departments and I trust that my experience may prove beneficial.

Students are attracted to a degree course primarily because of the diversity of curriculum and the range of options for further study. Language professors with experience of teaching courses around the cultural and historical aspects of their respective countries proved the most popular at Northwestern and it is exactly this combination that will likely help to propel the success at Texas.

Interest in studying obscure linguistics and ancient poetry has dwindled as these regions become global economic powerhouses. Students want to study things that will be relevant to their interactions with real people. That is what underpins the success of any modern languages department. I am an active participant in these academic circles and am confident that I could assist in attracting some top teaching talent to the Texas team.

I have presented at over 100+ international seminars over the past five years, raising the prestige of my university and I would hope to continue in exactly the same vein. Being proactive in exploring the issues of the day and using social media to amplify the messages is the greatest student recruiting tool that any university department can use.

I would welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts on how I might help the Texas Modern Languages department to thrive.

Sincerely,

Sandra Hangleton

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Cover letter header example

The cover letter header is a thoughtfully designed section at the top of the page that contains your name, occupation, address, phone number and email. It may also include your photo and perhaps your LinkedIn profile — but don’t clutter it up with much else.

When the hiring manager opens your cover letter, before reading the first words, s/he should say, “Hmm, this looks nice.” In a page otherwise full of paragraphs full of black text, the header is your one opportunity to make some design choices to help your letter look as good as it reads. You can opt for an accent color, an imaginative layout, creative use of typography and perhaps icons for your address, phone and email. It should not be “gimmicky,” but it should be designed with a certain amount of flair.

Cover letter greeting example

The cover letter greeting, also known as a salutation, is the line where you say “Dear Ms. Smith,” “Dear Mr. Hernández” or “Dear Dr. Patel.” 

Don’t get too creative here — in a letter seeking employment, “Hey, y’all” is obviously not going to work. Do attempt to find out the name of the person to whom you should address your job application letter. People like to read their own names, and it shows your attention to detail and your interest in this employer if you’ve gone to the trouble of finding out who is processing the applications for the job you want.

Adaptable cover letter greeting example 

Dear Mr. Brawley,

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Cover letter introduction example

To catch a fish, you have to throw out some enticing bait. And your cover letter introduction, the opening paragraph, should both identify the job you’re seeking and make a convincing case that you’re the right person to fill it.

For a university application, mentioning your top-notch alma mater may be one way to bait the hook. If you have years of experience in your field, that may be another. Lead with your strengths, and try to write a paragraph that makes it impossible for the recruiter to stop reading.

Here’s an example of a good university cover letter introduction:

Adaptable cover letter introduction example

During my seven years as Head of Modern Languages at Northwestern, we saw a 35% uptick in admissions and 25% improvement in over all grades. The oriental studies program was 150% oversubscribed and 95% of all our professors published critically acclaimed research in industry-leading linguistic journals.

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Cover letter middle part example

The body of your cover letter, i.e., the middle paragraphs, should contain the heart of your pitch. If your introduction has hooked the fish, the body is the part where you reel it in. 

Given a one-page limit, you have a lot of work to do here in a short amount of space. Here you must list all of your top qualifications for the job you want. Again, this will usually include experience in your field, and in a university cover letter, it will generally address your education. 

Be specific about your work experience, using facts and figures wherever possible, and try to relate at least one anecdote about how you solved a thorny problem in a previous job. 

Also, try to mention the name of the university where you’re applying, and explain what it is that makes you want to work there. Let the employer know that you aren’t just mass-mailing job applications to random universities, but that you specifically want to work for this one. For example:

Adaptable cover letter middle part example

Moving to Austin with my family brings opportunities, and while I am happy to explore a move back into academia, the timing of the Head of Modern Languages role at the University of Texas seems perfect. I know that you are looking to grow your oriental and middle east studies departments and I trust that my experience may prove beneficial.

Students are attracted to a degree course primarily because of the diversity of curriculum and the range of options for further study. Language professors with experience of teaching courses around the cultural and historical aspects of their respective countries proved the most popular at Northwestern and it is exactly this combination that will likely help to propel the success at Texas.

Interest in studying obscure linguistics and ancient poetry has dwindled as these regions become global economic powerhouses. Students want to study things that will be relevant to their interactions with real people. That is what underpins the success of any modern languages department. I am an active participant in these academic circles and am confident that I could assist in attracting some top teaching talent to the Texas team.

I have presented at over 100+ international seminars over the past five years, raising the prestige of my university and I would hope to continue in exactly the same vein. Being proactive in exploring the issues of the day and using social media to amplify the messages is the greatest student recruiting tool that any university department can use.

Copied!

How to end a cover letter (conclusion example)

The conclusion of your cover letter should contain a call to action, in which you suggest that the hiring manager take some action as a result of your letter. You can say that you look forward to a reply, that you’d be happy to follow up with a phone call, or that you’d be delighted to be invited for an interview, in person or remotely. 

Your interest in receiving a reply should let the recruiter know that you’re really interested in this job. You don’t want to sound either desperate or overconfident, but you do want to convey your sincere interest in exploring this job opportunity further.

Adaptable cover letter conclusion example

I would welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts on how I might help the Texas Modern Languages department to thrive.

Copied!

Layout and design of a university cover letter

Your letter needs to say the right things, but it also needs to have the right look. Choose the right layout and design for your cover letter, and don’t squander your golden prose on a badly designed letter that sounds great but looks ugly.

You need to use a legible font — nothing avant-garde or strange-looking. You want to choose a font size between 10 and 12 points, big enough to read but not so big it looks like you’re writing a children’s book. 

You need to use 1-inch margins at the top, bottom, right and left of your letter. You need to add a space between your paragraphs, which should not be indented, and hold all paragraphs to a reasonable length.

When it comes to visuals, Resume.io’s cover letter templates offer a professionally designed, ready-to-go solution to quickly create a beautiful cover letter in minutes flat.

Psychology tips to writing a great cover letter

Always remember that you’re writing this letter to a human being, so you need to sound like one. Avoid robotic language or HR-speak about how you’re a “team player” who “thinks outside the box.” Beware of clichés that a recruiter has read a thousand times before, and beware of “fluff,” which is fancy language that says nothing.

A cover letter is a way of establishing a personal relationship with a hiring manager, someone whose help you desperately need in order to get the job. It’s a business letter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be personal. In places, you score points by using rational language that speaks to the head, but in other places you gain ground by using emotional language that speaks to the heart.

Remember that nobody owes you a job, and you don’t need to convince anyone that you deserve one. You need to convince employers that you can help them more than they can help you, making the company stronger, more profitable and more efficient. 

Pay close attention to your tone, making sure that it’s friendly, professional and confident, but never arrogant or presumptuous.

Cover letter mistakes to avoid

Here are some mistakes you want to avoid in your university cover letter.

  • Typos, misspellings and bad grammar. Remember, you’re writing to a university. In a one-page letter, you can’t afford even one writing mistake.
  • Copy-paste letters. Sending the exact same cover letter to multiple employers is a recipe for failure. Customize each cover letter for each employer, and speak to its specific needs.
  • Wasted words. Irrelevant info, clichés and fluff will fill your page with useless language. Devote the precious space you have to using original language that addresses what makes you a great candidate for this job.
  • Design fails. A poorly designed header, a font too small to read or any other design and formatting errors can lead to rejection the moment the recruiter opens your letter.

Key takeaways

  1. The cover letter is a powerful tool for university applications of all forms. In academic studies or careers, the cover letter is especially important compared to regular commercial jobs or applications.
  2. Follow the tried-and-tested cover letter format and structure comprised of the 5 standard elements.
  3. Maximize the effectiveness of each cover letter element by understanding its goals and writing methods.
  4. Use cover letter examples as a foundation for your writing and let our powerful cover letter builder help you with the rest - writing suggestions, grammar and so on.

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