The academic job application package typically includes four primary items: a cover letter providing personal details as a manner of introduction, a curriculum vitae describing all educational and professional activity, a statement of research detailing your vision of work, and a teaching statement outlining your approach to course development and instruction. The following lists provide specific content to include in each item and advice for a complete package. This is intended to provide applicants with general guidance – there are exceptions to every rule! If you have differing opinions (or have heard differing opinions from others) let's discuss! Use the Add Discussion box at the bottom of the page.

I. Cover Letter
  • Recommended Length: 1-2 pages
  • Think of this letter as an organization of information on who you are, what you do, where you are going, and how you fit in with the department.
  • The first paragraph should provide your name, current position, when you graduated, area of expertise, the position to which you are applying, and where you found out about this position.
  • The second paragraph can provide more detailed information on your expertise so the search committee can understand your capabilities. Is your work primarily in the laboratory or field? More chemical, physical, or biological in nature? What instrumentation, tools, or techniques are involved? What grand challenges does it address? What is the overall significance of your work from your doctoral and postdoctoral positions? Go beyond just summarizing accomplishments from your doctoral and postdoctoral work.
  • The third paragraph can be a brief summary of your teaching experience and vision. The details can be placed in the teaching statement.
  • Finally, you may close with a brief paragraph of what you bring to the table for your new department. How would you summarize your vision in one sentence? How do you fit in to the new department?

II. Curriculum Vitae
  • Recommended Length: 2-5 pages
  • Make sure the format is clean and easy to follow. Take advantage of resources at your university to learn about a good CV format and content. Try to get feedback from advisors.
  • Keep the amount of details reasonable. Several sentences describing projects and other items are usually not necessary.
  • The search committee is most interested in your publications (both quality and quantity) and any funding activity. Make sure these items are listed early and are clean and error-free.

III. Research Statement
  • Recommended Length: 2-5 pages
  • Provide an introduction to your area of expertise in a way that any engineering faculty could understand your work.
  • Emphasize your skill set more than your experience. Your skill set may be the techniques you use (laboratory instrumentation, field site assessment, computational methods, systems modeling tools, experimentation, technology development, etc.) and the scale of problems you address (mechanistic, field, industry, watershed, regional, etc.).
  • Outline at least three projects you anticipate working on. Each problem should describe the general area of work, why it is of concern, its general hypotheses, the techniques and tools required, and the funding agencies interested in solving these problems. Do highlight what instrumentation is absolutely required for your work.
  • The research statement is more of a business plan which the search committee is evaluating for worthiness of investment. Make a convincing argument that your work is important and fits in with the department. Include descriptions of who you would collaborate with at the university, and what resources you would take advantage of.

IV. Teaching Statement
  • Recommended Length: 1-2 pages
  • The first paragraph can state your area of interest and expertise for courses. You may list the types of courses you most wish to teach. Do list the courses you prefer to teach in that department. Provide some ideas for new courses you could develop, and give reasons for these curriculum additions.
  • The main thrust of the teaching statement is to expand on your philosophy and approach to higher education. Your philosophy can be any strategy that you believe enhances the way engineering and science content is instructed. Strategies can include making coursework more cross-disciplinary, incorporated with real-world experience or examples, addressing issues with resource or energy sustainability, or addressing grand challenges in engineering. Your approach could include any tools or techniques that reinforce textbook content. These could include hands-on laboratory sessions, semester-long projects, emphasis on written and oral communication skills improvement, utilizing the scientific method within laboratory investigations, among others. Whichever way you develop your philosophy and approach, try to weave a convincing and credible narrative that relates your beliefs, your experience, and your vision for teaching. Make sure your skills can support what you present. Avoid only listing several teaching methods.
  • The teaching statement is not a summary of past teaching experience. This information can be found within the CV. But you may summarize what you have learned from past experience, or what strategies you have found successful from past experience.

Overall, the successful academic job application package will allow the search committee to understand who you are, what you do, and what tools you use. You must provide a clear vision that any civil, environmental, or chemical engineering faculty could understand. Your package will require several re-writes and re-crafting during the application season. Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck! Nothing ruins a first impression faster than spelling errors. Always find ways for improvement.

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