I am about to finish a PhD in computer science and am on the job market. I'm mostly interested in small liberal arts schools, and have been working on application materials directed towards SLACs for the last month or so.

Almost every search committee wants a teaching statement, a research statement, and a cover letter and I've found plenty of resources for writing and honing these documents.

However, one position wants a teaching statement, a cover letter, and a description of professional interest. What is a description of professional interest? I cannot find any information as to what this document should contain, how long it should be, etc. And I haven't seen any other positions that ask for it. Is it just my research statement? Or is it an expanded version of the cover letter?

  • 1
    It sounds to me like a research statement, but I think you have to ask them for specifics. Oct 21, 2014 at 3:31
  • They may well be interested in professional interests that go beyond conventional teaching and disciplinary research into other areas- involvement in research on teaching and learning, expository writing, public service, etc. Nov 25, 2014 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


It's legitimate to contact the school and ask how they define that term, you know. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you haven't run into this particular phrase before, or that you're concerned that their definition might not be exactly the one you're familiar with.

"Better to ask and have them suspect you're a fool, than to assume and remove all doubt."


I ran into the same, I was assuming it was a research statement, but as this school is mainly focused on teaching I am not 100% confident. I feel that it is the research statement but more focused on how it can support teaching as a whole......maybe.

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