Writing an Impressive Letter of Intent for Graduate School
A letter of intent for graduate school is an essential part of your application package. It’s an opportunity for you to showcase your motivation, academic achievements, and professional goals to the admissions committee. It’s also a chance to demonstrate your writing skills and prove that you’re a strong candidate for the program, so take this opportunity seriously.
Writing a letter of intent for graduate school can be a confusing and possibly daunting task, so we’ll tell you what you need to know to create a compelling letter that sets you apart from other applicants and makes the adcom members go “WOW, we NEED this person in our program”.
What is a Letter of Intent for Graduate School?
Before we dive into the writing process, let’s first define what a letter of intent for graduate school is. A letter of intent, also known as a statement of purpose, is a document that outlines your academic and professional background, your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, and your future career aspirations.
When writing a letter of intent, you want it to be concise (no one is going to be impressed with a 10-page document), well-organized, and tailored to the specific program you’re applying to. You can think of this like a cover letter when you’re applying for a job – you don’t want to make it obvious that you wrote one template that can be sent to anyone. The letter should demonstrate your knowledge of the specific program, the faculty, and the research opportunities available.
How to Write an Impressive Letter of Intent for Graduate School
Now that you understand what a letter of intent for graduate school is, let’s go through the steps to writing one that will actually knock someone’s shoes off.
Step 1: Research the Program
Obviously, the first step in writing your letter of intent for graduate school is to research the program you’re applying to. This includes learning about the program’s faculty, curriculum, research opportunities, and any special requirements or deadlines. Take it one step further and research the clubs and social activities so you can talk about how you intend to contribute to the program.
You should also read the program’s mission statement and values to understand what they look for in potential candidates. This will help you tailor your letter of intent to their specific needs and requirements. You can find information on their website, blogs, forums, and even by reaching out to current and former students.
Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas for your letter of intent. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you want to pursue graduate studies in this field?
- What are your academic and professional achievements?
- What research or projects have you worked on that are relevant to this program?
- What are your future career goals?
Make a list of your ideas and organize them into a logical order. Nothing is more distracting to a reader than a letter that is all over the place.
Step 3: Create an Outline
Using your list of ideas, create an outline for your letter of intent. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your letter flows logically and smoothly.
Your outline should include the following sections:
- Introduction: Introduce yourself and explain why you’re interested in the program.
- Academic Background: Highlight your academic achievements and any relevant coursework.
- Professional Background: Discuss your professional experience and any relevant projects or research.
- Future Goals: Explain your future career goals and how this program will help you achieve them.
- Conclusion: Summarize your main points and express your enthusiasm for the program.
Step 4: Write Your Letter of Intent
Now that you have your outline, it’s time to start writing your letter of intent! Grab some coffee. Turn on some music to inspire you. Do whatever you need to do to motivate yourself to write. Starting is always hard, but once you have a workable draft, it’ll be much easier to go back and edit. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Be concise and clear. This isn’t the time to write a dissertation.
- Be specific and provide examples to support your claims.
- Tailor your letter to the specific program and faculty.
- Avoid clichés and generalizations.
- Use transitional phrases to connect your ideas. Remember, it needs to flow.
- Proofread your letter carefully for spelling and grammar errors.
Step 5: Get Feedback
Once you’ve written your letter of intent, it’s a good idea to get feedback from others. Ask a mentor, advisor, or colleague to review your letter and provide feedback on its content, structure, and overall effectiveness.
Getting feedback can help you identify areas where you need to improve and make your letter of intent even stronger.
Why Write a Letter of Intent for Graduate School?
While a letter of intent can be a powerful tool in your graduate school application, there are situations where it might not always be necessary.
- A letter of intent allows you to showcase your motivation, achievements, and goals in a more personal and detailed way than other application materials.
- A strong letter of intent can help you stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of getting accepted.
- Writing a letter of intent can help you clarify your academic and professional goals, and articulate why you’re the right fit for the program.
- Writing a strong letter of intent can be time-consuming and require a lot of effort and research (although if you’re scared off by a letter, you might want to consider whether you want to invest the time and money to go back to school).
- A poorly written or generic letter of intent can harm your chances of getting accepted. To avoid this, read our strategies above.
- Some programs may not require or place much weight on a letter of intent, so it may not be worth the effort for every program. You should do some research on your program before deciding to write a letter.
Ultimately, the decision to write a letter of intent for graduate school depends on the specific program and your personal goals and circumstances.
Final Tips Before Sending the Letter of Intent
Yes, we have even MORE tips! We like to be helpful 🙂
- Highlight your unique qualities and experiences: Your letter of intent is an opportunity to showcase what makes you unique and stand out from other applicants.
- Show, don’t tell: Instead of simply stating that you’re passionate about the field or program, provide specific examples or experiences that demonstrate your interest and commitment.
- Avoid repeating information from other application materials: Your letter of intent should complement, not duplicate, your other application materials, such as your resume or transcripts.
- Use active, rather than passive, voice: Active voice makes your writing more engaging and dynamic. Instead of saying, “I was involved in a research project,” say, “I conducted research on…”
- Address any potential weaknesses in your application: If there are any weaknesses in your application, such as a low GPA or gap in your academic history, address them in your letter of intent. Explain how you’ve overcome these challenges or how they’ve helped shape your academic and professional goals.
- Start early: Writing a strong letter of intent takes time and effort, so it’s important to start early and give yourself plenty of time to research, brainstorm, and revise.
- Use a strong opening and closing: Your opening should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading, while your closing should summarize your main points and express your enthusiasm for the program.
- Follow the guidelines and instructions: Be sure to carefully read and follow the guidelines and instructions provided by the program. This includes any word count limits, formatting requirements, or specific questions to address in your letter of intent.
- Be authentic: Your letter of intent should be a reflection of your own voice and personality. While it’s important to present yourself in a professional and polished manner, you should also strive to be authentic and genuine in your writing. Don’t try to sound like someone else or use overly flowery or complex language if that’s not natural to you. Instead, write in a way that feels comfortable and true to yourself.
FAQs about Writing a Letter of Intent for Graduate School
- How long should a letter of intent be?
- A letter of intent should typically be one to two pages in length, depending on the specific requirements of the program.
- Should I use a formal or informal writing style?
- While you should avoid overly casual or informal language, you don’t need to use a highly formal writing style. Instead, aim for a clear, concise, and professional tone.
- What should I include in my letter of intent?
- Your letter of intent should include your academic and professional background, your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, your future career goals, and how the program will help you achieve them.
- Can I reuse the same letter of intent for multiple programs?
- While you can reuse some (emphasis on SOME) elements of your letter of intent for different programs, it’s important to tailor each letter to the specific program and faculty.
A letter of intent for graduate school is an important part of your application package that allows you to showcase your motivation, achievements, and goals to the admissions committee. By following the steps and tips outlined in this article, you can create a compelling and effective letter of intent that increases your chances of getting accepted into your dream program.
Remember to do your research, brainstorm your ideas, create an outline, write your letter, and get feedback to ensure that your letter of intent is as strong as possible. With a little effort and dedication, you can craft a letter of intent that’ll set you up for success!