Prepare for an Academic Career

Thinking about pursuing a tenure-track position in academia? Before you begin applying, we recommend you take stock of your own goals, preparation, and support.  

The academic job search
Obtaining your ideal academic position requires substantial preparation, so start your search early and work with your advisor to identify and begin assembling the necessary application materials.

Your application materials will likely require a CV and cover letter, research statement, teaching philosophy, and diversity statement. The CPDO presents an “Academic Job Search 101” workshop every late summer/fall that covers these topics as well as the interview process. Additionally, “Academic Careers Roundtable” events, featuring informal chats between trainees and faculty members, are offered by the CPDO regularly.

CVs and cover letters
The following websites include detailed CV preparation guidelines:

Research statements
Sometimes called research plans, summaries or proposals, research statements often cover your past and current work and describe your proposed research. In essence, your research plan should convey: 1) what it is you’re trying to do; 2) why it’s important; and 3) its ability to be funded.

Teaching philosophies
These statements, typically one to two pages long, illustrate how your experience informs your personal approach to teaching. The narrative often includes descriptions of your motivation for teaching, examples of what you teach, how you teach, and how you measure your effectiveness as a teacher.

If you need teaching experience, many universities, community colleges, and learning centers offer formal or informal instructional opportunities for postdocs.

Diversity statements
Similarly, these statements are typically one- to two-page documents that draw from your own experiences and commitments. This narrative may include: past experiences that shaped your understanding of diversity and inclusion; past activities where you incorporated or supported elements of diversity and equity in teaching, mentoring, and/or research; and future opportunities you want to pursue that are specific to the institution’s goals and mission for enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.