Keep in mind that your entire application package should be a narrative and show the arc of your future plans (e.g. five-year plan). Use all documents to complement each other.
Many institutions will request evidence of successful teaching. The amount and depth of information you provide will depend on the emphasis that institution places on teaching. You may choose to provide teaching evaluations, student testimonials, and/or faculty recommendations summarizing your impact as an instructor. Statements of teaching philosophy and teaching portfolios allow you to provide more extensive description of your pedagogy and teaching experiences.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
A teaching philosophy statement is a brief one- to two-page first-person essay that captures your commitment to education and describes your approach to teaching. It may include comments on the goals you have for your students, the ways in which you facilitate learning, and your perspective on the role of the professor in the learning process. This document should also be tailored for the type of institution you are applying to since expectations can vary.
- Support general statements with specific examples of what you have done in the classroom.
- In addition to comments about your philosophy, commitment, and style, you should also indicate the courses you are qualified to teach as well as courses you might like to design in the future.
- It is often requested with the initial applicant package, although sometimes solicited later.
- The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning frequently provides workshops on developing a statement of teaching philosophy.
- Seek out and learn from models in your field. Ask colleagues and mentors if they will share their teaching statements with you.
A teaching portfolio is a thoughtfully prepared compilation of facts and materials that illustrate your teaching accomplishments. Although a portfolio is rarely requested in the job advertisement, it may be requested later, or used as way to make your application stand out.
Typical items within a teaching portfolio include:
- A list of courses taught (including course titles and a brief description)
- A copy of your statement of teaching philosophy
- An inventory of any teaching awards or certificates earned
- Sample syllabi for each course taught
- Sample course materials for one or two courses, including course assignments, handouts, reading lists, and exams
- An evaluation of your teaching by a faculty member
- Sample student evaluations
- List of sample courses you are prepared to develop. Include brief descriptions, which might include a proposed course title, a paragraph or two on the content of the course, proposed readings, and a brief statement on how student progress would be evaluated. Note the target audience of the course.
A research statement is a one- to two-page first-person essay describing your current research and plans for future research. In general, you can describe your dissertation or postdoctoral research, as well as any plans you might have for this research (i.e., revise into a book, publish as multiple journal articles, etc.). Additionally, it is advantageous to discuss future research plans beyond the specifics of the dissertation. Indicate any fresh directions for your research, and attempt to convey what is interesting and important about this work. The scope of this statement varies by discipline, so be certain to consult with your adviser and other faculty within your department.
- Use your first couple of sentences to describe what you are all about—summarize yourself for the committee.
- Provide a brief context for your research that would be understandable to those outside your field.
- You should cite yourself and mention any grants you have applied for or received. Show an understanding of the funding landscape and process.
- Seek out and learn from models in your field. Ask colleagues and mentors if they will share their statements with you, and identify structures and approaches that would work well for you.
A diversity statement is a one- to two-page explanation of your commitment to advancing diversity equity, and inclusion in higher education, particularly in your field. Many institutions use diversity statements are one way they assess your understanding of these issues, your potential to contribute to their own diversity initiatives, and your ability to meet the needs of a wide range of students. A diversity statement should explain the ideas that guide your efforts and describe what you have done and plan to do to make your field, institution, and/or community more inclusive. The strongest diversity statements include specific examples of strategies you have used to put your ideas into practice as a teacher, mentor, researcher, volunteer, or in other professional roles.
- A diversity statement is not the same as a personal statement. When including personal experiences (which are not required), focus on how they influence your work as an academic.
- Think of writing a diversity statement as a professional development opportunity. This is a chance to learn more about these issues, reflect on your past actions, and make plans to have a strong impact as a faculty member.
- Understand barriers to inclusion and opportunities for diversity in your field and in higher education broadly. Read publications like Diverse Issues in Higher Education and relevant reports from your national scholarly associations.
- Don’t only address teaching. Consider also discussing service (e.g., recruitment, retention) and/or research (e.g., outreach, mentoring, research group management).
Here are some things to consider and tips for obtaining strong letters of reference:
- You typically need 3-5 references who can speak to your research, potential as a scholar, and teaching skills.
- Carefully consider whom you will ask to recommend you. In general, it is best to have references that know you well and have known you recently.
- Always ask someone if they are willing to provide you with a strong and positive reference before including their name in an application.
- Be clear about what you would like the reference to recommend you for (e.g. teaching, research, etc.).
- Letters of recommendation should be send by the letter writer to maintain confidentiality and credibility.
- Credentials file services like Interfolio can facilitate confidential letters of recommendation.
The purpose of a writing sample is to represent the quality and content of your work. Typically, a published journal article or a dissertation chapter are acceptable.
If asked to provide official transcripts, keep in mind that they are mailed directly from the registrar's office and may take several days to process.
University of Illinois transcripts may be requested through the Office of the Registrar.