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How to Write an Academic Cover Letter With Samples and Tips

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Written by
Dr. Michael Turner
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 1670 words
  • Icon Clock 8 min read

An academic cover letter is an important document that everyone must learn to write. In this case, the essence of this document is that it helps individuals to get jobs or admissions into higher institutions of learning. Also, learning how to write an academic cover letter is not a complicated undertaking. Basically, the only requirement is to know why people are writing an academic cover letter and to whom. Then, important information that authors should provide is the position of the person to whom they are addressing and the vision and mission of the organization. In the case of college admission, details should cover faculties in colleges or universities. Moreover, other important information is the writer’s background and evidence of suitability for the opportunity.

General Features of Writing an Academic Cover Letter

At one point in life, someone writes a cover letter to get employed or admitted to a learning institution. Therefore, understanding how to write a cover letter is an essential skill that anyone with aspirations for a professional career should develop. In the job market and educational arenas, individuals get the opportunity to write an academic cover letter to get a job interview or an admission interview, respectively. When writing such an academic cover letter, individuals should take time to review requirements, such as qualifications, as published by an organization or an institution. Then, applicants should compose statements that satisfy these requirements, giving concrete examples of qualifications to showcase their strengths and suitability for the opportunity. In summary, the goal of writing an academic cover letter is to convince a recipient of one’s suitability for the opportunity at hand.

Definition of an Academic Cover Letter

An academic cover letter is a single-spaced one-page letter that individuals write to a particular person, organization, or learning institution seeking consideration in the case of employment or admission. Basically, the structure of a typical academic cover letter should ensure the initial details that writers provide is about why they are writing the latter and their suitability. Also, the latter should convince readers to have a look at the writer’s resume. In short, an academic cover letter should introduce the author, mention the intent of the latter (application for a job or admission), and highlight the writer’s skill sets and how they align with the requirements of the vacancy. Then, writers should provide details that persuade receivers to read the written resume. In turn, concluding remarks should include a call to action, where writers request to get an interview or a meeting.

How to write an academic cover letter

Outline of an Academic Cover Letter

  • Writer’s Details
  • Date
  • Recipient’s Details
  • Information (Introduction, Skill sets, Call to action)
  • Sign Off

Example of an Academic Cover Letter

Derrick Thompson
P.O. Box 2345681
Los Angeles, CA, 005672
Tel. 1905367280

June 2, 2020.

Dr. Susan Gracy
Dean of the School of Nursing
California College of Nursing
Charlotte, NC, 002821

Dear Dr. Susan Gracy,

I am writing to apply for admission to California College of Nursing during the 2020-2021 academic calendar, as advertised on your college’s official website. I am a recent graduate of Temple Road High School with aspirations of becoming a health care professional. I believe training as a nurse will provide me with a platform to achieve this aspiration.

I believe I am well suited to become part of your student body, given my exemplary performance in high school education. I have taken advanced placement courses, including biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology, which are essential in nursing education. I have also volunteered in social work and health care delivery at the community level. This opportunity has allowed me to have an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the demands of the community on health care professionals and the challenges these professionals face in their work. My high school transcripts (attached) will convince you that I have taken the initial steps towards becoming a health care professional. My choice for California College of Nursing is based on the beautiful stories that I have heard about the competence of professionals who are alumni of the institution. I have also taken time to consult the college’s website and found the courses on offer as adequate in preparing professionals for a highly complex health care environment. I am particularly drawn by the college’s prioritization of innovation and health information technology as resources for a high-quality care environment.

Your consideration of my application will go a long way in enabling me to realize my career aspiration. I believe an opportunity for an interview would provide me with an excellent opportunity to articulate my expectations and the reason for choosing your institution as my college of choice.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Derrick Thompson

Analysis of an Academic Cover Letter

Besides the details of the sender and the recipient, an academic cover letter above has three paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: Opening

The opening paragraph focuses on getting the attention of the recipient by indicating the reason for writing an academic cover letter latter – to gain admission to the college of nursing. To make the latter relevant, the writer informs the recipient that an academic cover letter is an answer to a call for applications that the college has made through its official website. In this case, the writer arouses the interest of the recipient to continue reading to the next paragraph. As such, the steps of writing this paragraph are: state the reason for writing an academic cover letter (to get admitted to California College of Nursing), introduce self (graduate of Temple Road High School), and make a connection to the opportunity at hand (aspiration to become a nurse).

Paragraph 2: Body

In the second paragraph, the writer delves into what makes the person appropriate for admission to the college of nursing. Here, the author of an academic cover letter mentions personal high school education and how it has laid the ground in the case of a nursing career. As such, the reader becomes desirous to know more about this background, which leads this individual to have a look at the attached academic transcripts. Here, the writer mentions the personal volunteer work in local health care services. Also, the author makes a passionate appeal to the reader to consider the application by explaining the reason for choosing the college out of the many that provide nursing education. In turn, the steps involved in writing this paragraph are: making a case for suitability by providing one’s background, connecting this background with the opportunity at hand, and giving a reason for making the present choice.

Paragraph 3: Conclusion

In the concluding paragraph, the writer appeals to the recipient of an academic cover letter to consider the application. Basically, the writer clarifies that such consideration will ensure they can achieve their aspiration of being a nurse practitioner, a career that they have already started preparing. To arouse the reader’s curiosity about the applicant, the writer requests an invitation to an interview with the recipient, from where they can articulate their reason for wanting to study at California College of Nursing. In turn, the steps involved in writing this paragraph are: making a call to action (convince the reader to consider the application), stating the importance of the opportunity (will provide a means to achieve career aspiration), and requesting an invite (interview).

Differences in the Use

While an academic cover letter for a job is different from one for college admission in terms of structure, they differ in content. Basically, an academic cover letter for college admission, like the one above, focuses on the writer more than the college. In other words, the writer talks more about personal education and aspirations while ensuring this information aligns with the vision and mission of the college. In contrast, a job-related academic cover letter, the focus of the writer is on their educational background, experience, and qualification for the job vacancy. As such, this letter highlights the connection between the writer (education, training, and experience) and the kind of candidate that the organization is offering. Therefore, despite similarities in structure, an academic cover letter for a job application and one for college admission differ in terms of content.


In academic writing, students must observe standards of writing applicable to the format they are using. In other words, the MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian formats, among others, have standards that differ, and whose violation is enough to see an institution to penalize a student. However, in writing an academic cover letter, some of the rules of academic writing that apply to the above formats are not applicable. These rules include the use of citations, whether in-text or those that appear at the end of the paper as references, works cited, list of references, or bibliography. In this case, the only difference applicable between the above formats in writing of an academic cover letter is the paper outline, precisely the title page. Besides an MLA format, all the other formats cover a title page as separate from the introduction page.

Summing Up on an Academic Cover Letter

Writing an academic cover letter is a skill that everyone must develop. At one point in life, someone applies for admission to a college or university and seeks employment in an organization. In this case, the standard practice is that, in order to realize these goals, individuals must write an academic cover letter, indicating their suitability for the opportunity at hand. Also, some of the tips that are worth noting in writing an academic cover letter include:

  • Understanding the requirements of the job or admission vacancy.
  • Getting to know the recipient – their position in the organization or institution.
  • Familiarizing with the organization or institution – vision and mission or faculties.
  • Providing a clear identity of self- background, education, skill sets, and so on.
  • Providing evidence for one’s suitability, such as training and experience.
  • Articulating a personal mission and how it aligns with the opportunity at hand.
  • Making a call to action in an academic cover letter – persuade the recipient to get a formal interview.

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