Professional PhD Cover Letter Examples for 2024

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Professional PhD Cover Letter Examples...

Your PhD cover letter must immediately highlight your main thesis contribution. Draw the reader's attention with a succinct explanation of your research significance and uniqueness. Demonstrate how your expertise aligns with the department or institution's academic focus. Your cover letter should create a compelling narrative that weaves your skills into their ongoing projects and goals.

Embarking on your job search, you've likely discovered the need to craft a compelling PhD cover letter—a document that can stump even the most accomplished professionals. This crucial letter shouldn't just echo your resume; it must weave the narrative of your proudest professional triumph. With formal language minus the clichés, and conciseness that caps at one page, we'll guide you through the intricacies of creating a cover letter that stands out, ensuring your application demands attention.

Check out our phd cover letter guide to find out how to:

  • Write a phd cover letter that helps you stand out (and get the job);
  • Understand how to start and end your phd cover letter with the appropriate greeting;
  • What to include in the body of your phd cover letter to put your best foot forward;
  • Your most important achievements - how to present them as part of your phd cover letter.

And if you want to make your life even easier, simply drag and drop your phd resume into Enhancv's AI cover letter generator, and it will write your cover letter for you in just a few moments.

PhD cover letter example


Clarksville, TN


Dear Hiring Manager,

Exploring new technological frontiers has been a continuing pursuit throughout my career, with a keen focus on impacting the digital landscape through advanced security innovations.

The highlight of my endeavors occurred during my tenure at Auburn University where I steered a major research project into blockchain security. It was an intensive journey, blending software engineering and cybersecurity nuances. The outcome was a pioneering enhancement of blockchain security by 65% within a decentralized infrastructure. This achievement did not merely advance academic understanding, but also secured substantial funding support to the tune of $16 million. Such accomplishments encapsulate my ability to translate complex research into significant, industry-changing results.

I am eager to discuss how my comprehensive background and unique insights can contribute to the growth and defense of your company's digital infrastructure. Let us arrange a meeting to explore the possibilities.



Network Security and Blockchain Researcher
What makes this cover letter good:

  • Highlighting Significant Achievements: By mentioning the accomplishment of improving blockchain security by 65% and securing $16 million in funding, the candidate effectively showcases their capability to deliver impactful and quantifiable results that can resonate with the prospective employer's desire for competent professionals.
  • Matching Skills to Job Requirements: Specifically addressing expertise in areas of cybersecurity and software engineering indicates the applicant's understanding of the technical skills required and showcases their proficiency in those areas, which are likely essential for the role being applied for.
  • Demonstrating Value Addition: The author prompts a forward-looking discussion by suggesting a meeting to explore how their background can contribute to the company, implying a readiness to tailor their skills and past experiences to meet the employer's specific needs.

What are the basics of the design or format of your phd cover letter?

To start, here's a reminder for you: the Applicant Tracker System (or software that is used to assess candidate profiles), won't be reading your phd cover letter.

Recruiters enjoy reading phd cover letters with a standardized format that uses:

  • the same font as the resume (e.g. modern ones like Raleway or Volkhov are prefered over the clichéd Times New Roman or Arial);
  • single spacing to keep the content concise and organized (this is all ready for you in our cover letter templates);
  • a one-inch margin to wrap around the text, like in our cover letter builder;
  • PDF as a file format, as it allows your design (and visual element) to stay the same.

Finally, we can't go on without mentioning the key sections of your phd cover letter.

In the top one-third, make sure to include a header (with your contact information, name, role, and date), a salutation, and an introduction.

Next, follows the heart and soul of your phd cover letter or its body.

End your phd cover letter with a closing paragraph and, if you wish, a signature.

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The top sections on a phd cover letter

  • Header: This includes your contact information, the date, and the recipient's details; it's essential for providing immediate visibility of your identity and for professional correspondence formatting.

  • Opening Salutation/Greeting: A formal greeting addresses the recipient properly and sets a respectful and professional tone for the cover letter, which is important for making a good first impression.

  • Introduction: This section should capture the recruiter's attention by briefly introducing your background, your interest in the PhD program, and the specific reasons you are drawn to this particular opportunity.

  • Research Interests and Academic Background: Tailor this part to showcase your relevant educational and research experiences, current interests, and how it aligns with the department’s work, demonstrating your fit for the program.

  • Closing and Call to Action: Conclude by summarizing your suitability for the role, reiterating your enthusiasm, and inviting further discussion, showing proactivity and eagerness to engage with the academic community.

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Key qualities recruiters search for in a candidate’s cover letter

  • Deep expertise in the specific research field: Demonstrates the ability to contribute valuable insights and drive the research forward.
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills: Essential for designing experiments, analyzing data, and drawing meaningful conclusions.
  • Proven track record of academic accomplishments: Indicates the capability to undertake and complete challenging research projects.
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal): Vital for writing research papers, grant proposals, and collaborating with peers and mentors.
  • Self-motivation and independence: Necessary for driving one's own research and overcoming the inevitable challenges of a PhD program.
  • Demonstrated perseverance and commitment: Shows that the candidate can see long-term projects through to completion despite obstacles.

What matters most when tailoring your phd cover letter salutation

Your phd cover letter greeting should feel welcoming to recruiters.

Use their first name (e.g. "Dear Marshall" or "Dear Sara"), if you've previously been in touch with the hiring manager and are on a more friendly basis.

If this is the first time you're contacting the recruiters, start your phd cover letter with:

  • their last name (e.g. "Dear Ms. Ali" or "Dear Mr. Stevens") - look up who's the hiring manager for the role on social media or the company website;
  • generalized greeting (e.g. "Dear HR Team") - just don't use "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Sir/Madam".
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List of salutations you can use

  • Dear Dr. [Last Name],
  • Dear Professor [Last Name],
  • Dear Dr. [First Name] [Last Name],
  • Dear Search Committee,
  • Dear Hiring Committee,
  • Dear [Department Name] Selection Committee,

The phd cover letter intro: aligning your interest with the company culture

You only have one chance at making a memorable first impression on recruiters with your phd cover letter.

Structure your introduction to be precise and to include no more than two sentences.

Here are some ideas on how to write a job-winning phd cover letter introduction:

  • get creative - show off your personality from the get-go (if this aligns with the company culture);
  • focus on your motivation - be specific when you say what gets you excited about this opportunity.
Intro Paragraph
I am drawn to the innovative culture and groundbreaking work at [Company Name], which aligns seamlessly with my extensive research on [relevant topic/technology] during my doctoral studies. My commitment to furthering the field of [field of study], particularly in contexts like those outlined in your sustainability manifesto, has prepared me to contribute substantially to your team.

What to write in the middle or body of your phd cover letter

Here's where it gets tricky.

Your phd cover letter body should present you in the best light possible and, at the same time, differ from your resume.

Don't be stuck in making up new things or copy-pasting from your resume. Instead, select just one achievement from your experience.

Use it to succinctly tell a story of the job-crucial skills and knowledge this taught you.

Your phd cover letter is the magic card you need to further show how any organization or team would benefit from working with you.

Body Paragraph
During my tenure at Acme Corp, I spearheaded a project that improved our data analysis workflow, reducing processing time by 40%. This initiative not only enhanced our decision-making efficiency but also saved the company over $200,000 annually. My role required meticulous data management and the ability to implement advanced statistical methods, skills directly applicable to the PhD program's research demands.

Closing paragraph basics: choose between a promise and a call to action

You've done all the hard work - congratulations! You've almost reached the end of your phd cover letter.

But how do you ensure recruiters, who have read your application this far, remember you?

Most phd professionals end their cover letter with a promise - hinting at their potential and what they plan on achieving if they're hired.

Another option would be to include a call for follow-up, where you remind recruiters that you're very interested in the opportunity (and look forward to hearing from them, soon).

Choose to close your phd cover letter in the way that best fits your personality.

Closing Paragraph
I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to discuss my candidacy further. Kindly consider arranging an interview at your earliest convenience.

Which story should you tell in your phd cover letter when you have zero experience

Candidates, lacking professional experience in the field - this one is for you.

Your phd cover letter is an exercise of integrity, honesty, and, above all, spinning a positive narrative around your strengths.

And what better way to capture recruiters' attention than with your most job-relevant achievement (this could be from your internship or volunteering experience)?

Make sure to back up your success with transferrable skills that are relevant to the job (e.g. how your year, studying abroad, has taught you to be more motivated and handle multicultural environments).

Another safe card you can bet on is your career dream: in the body of your phd cover letter, go into the details of how your ambitions would help make the company you're applying for better.

Key takeaways

Your phd cover letter is your best shot at standing out by showing your motivation and the unique skills you'd bring to the job:

  • Chose no more than one achievement, which you'd be talking about in the body of your phd cover letter, by focusing on skills and outcomes;
  • Address recruiters with their first or last name, or "Dear Hiring Manager" in your phd cover letter greeting;
  • Introduce in no more than two sentences what makes your profile unique (perhaps it's your motivation, enthusiasm, or appreciation of the company you're applying for);
  • Select the same font you have used in your resume (avoid Times New Roman and Arial, as most candidates tend to invest in them);
  • Close your phd cover letter with a promise of how you see yourself growing in the company and the benefits you'd bring about.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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