I am working on an application for a job ad that lists available tenure-track and non-tenure track jobs in the same ad. I would want (and am qualified for) either position, but there are, of course, more non-tt positions. Is there an industry standard for how I should approach the cover letter. For example, should I:

  • Just choose one job to apply for.
  • Mention in my letter that I would like to be considered for both/either.
  • Send in separate applications for both?

Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Probably very field dependent, there are not a lot of "ndustry standards" in academia. In my neck of the woods (a US research university in math), I would definitely recommend applying for both (if you're interested in both) and sending in separate applications, since the hiring committees might be different.
    – academic
    Mar 7, 2021 at 19:41
  • Check if the ad is wrong; sometimes ads appear on job sites that were not approved by the university. Mar 8, 2021 at 2:17

2 Answers 2


Schools sometimes double up their job ads in ways confusing to applicants. For instance, a school may identify a single position as "Instructor, Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor," or as "Instructor/Assistant Professor/Associate Professor," signalling that they would offer a title based on the chosen applicant's experience and credentials. Alternatively, they may have multiple positions open but file one job ad. (It could be a deliberate cluster hire, or just a matter of how the department filed the positions.)

What you're describing is a blend of both approaches - hiring for positions of multiple ranks in one institution in one ad. There is no industry standard for how applicants should handle this exact situation. Instead, I'd advise treating each position like a separate search. File applications for each position you would like that you are qualified for. This is the recommendation of Karen Kelsky (The Professor Is In), for instance, if a department advertises two positions:

But anyway, my answer is yes. If you are a plausible candidate for both searches, apply for both. In most cases the search committees will be made up of different faculty members, and while files may be shared across searches, you can’t assume that they will be. So to make sure your file is read by all concerned parties, send it to both searches.

So you should tailor cover letters and other materials to each position and its requirements. If that means applying for an NTT position that emphasizes teaching and a TT position that emphasizes research, address teaching more in the NTT application and foreground research in the TT position. Let the respective committees behind the ad decide whether they want you.


Assuming that this is a university that does not have a billion-dollar endowment, if you state in your letter that you are willing to accept either tenure-track or non-tenure-track jobs, you are unlikely to get a tenure-track offer.

Apply for the lowest ranked position you will accept.

The job market is currently at its lowest point since 1945. If that does not apply to your situation, then this advice might not apply.

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