In the announcement of a tenure-track faculty opening in computer science in USA, I see a request for

a letter of application explaining your interest in ⟨university⟩ and in this position

Other documents (CV, research & teaching statements, scholarly work, references) are also requested, cover letter not being among them. The application goes to a small, mostly liberal-art university.

How many pages are typically expected for the letter of application? Is a cover letter expected in addition?

I have read What are the differences between a cover letter and an application letter?, which, however, speaks about a PhD position. I have also read the links provided there, but, they are targeted more towards the non-academic job market.

  • 1
    Out of curiosity, is this a smaller school or a liberal arts school? In my experience, those types of schools tend to ask for customization of the cover letter to weed out applicants who they believe are "spamming" many schools the applicant has no real interest in...
    – Dawn
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


Cover letter = letter of application. It typically goes: "Hi, this is who I am, this is where I got my PhD, I have published here. Let me tell you a little about my research. Let me tell you a little about my teaching. I want to join your faculty because of this reason. kthxbai"

It should be two pages, single spaced, maximum. Use letterhead if you've got it, but keep in mind that letterhead is only used for the first page; the second page, if you have a second page, is on regular paper.

  • 2
    Yes, still add what was mentioned. Just make sure it is custom to them if possible. If it is mostly a teaching position put that first. If you are not sure what to do, read The Professor is In. Great cover letter advice.
    – Dawn
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 12:58
  • Agree with Dawn.
    – TAM
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 21:11

There is effectively no difference between a customized cover letter and a letter of application. The job ad wants you to submit a cover letter that is customized to their university. They are asking you to avoid a generic cover letter. Make sure that, in addition to talking about your research and teaching in general, you speak to the specific reasons you think you would be a good fit for their institution.

Note: Although I have not served on a hiring committee, I did complete the academic job market last year.

  • 1
    Same as a cover letter in your field. All of my cover letters/letters of application were 2 pages.
    – Dawn
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 15:37
  • @Dawn Thx. What was your field for your applications?
    – Leon Meier
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 16:38
  • Economics and public policy
    – Dawn
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 18:19

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