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Cover Letter for PhD Application: Guide for Writing One & Example From a Real PhD Student

  • Klara Cervenanska , 
  • November 29, 2022 9 min read

Updated March 27, 2023

When applying for a PhD research position, you usually need to submit certain documents, including an academic CV and a cover letter for PhD application .

A PhD cover letter, also referred to as an academic cover letter, should be carefully crafted, well-formatted, and contain specific sections.

We'll show you how to do exactly that, along with a sample of an academic cover letter from a real person admitted to a PhD program at Lyon University in France.

And if you're not sure how to go about writing your PhD CV, check out this article: CV for PhD Application: How to Write One Like a True Scholar (+CV Example) .

Table of Contents

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What is an academic cover letter?

What to include in a cover letter for phd application, how to write a cover letter for phd application, how to format an academic cover letter, phd cover letter sample.

An academic cover letter is a document that PhD candidates submit alongside their academic CV when applying for a PhD. 

Essentially, it's a cover letter for a PhD application.

It's not exactly the same as your regular business cover letter. Nor is it the same as a personal statement or a motivation letter .

The purpose of a cover letter for PhD application is to explain to the reader, who's likely a researcher or a professor, what you can contribute to their institution and/or field.

Moreover, in a PhD application cover letter, you should explain why you're a good match for the research position on the program.

Differences between academic cover letter and business cover letter

Both these documents serve different purposes and people use them in different settings:

  • Academic cover letter is used when applying for positions in academia — most often for a PhD. More emphasis should be on education, research background and scholarly accomplishments. Moreover, it should explain what your contribution to the institution or field could be. It should also point the reader to your academic CV.
  • Regular (business) cover letter is normally used when applying for any kind of job . Hence, more emphasis should be on skills and past experience while being tailored to a specific job position. You should also explain why you're a good fit for the position at the given company. It should point the reader to your resume.

There are also other documents people often mistake for an academic cover letter. These include:

  • Motivation letter is especially relevant for fresh graduates when applying to a university, a non-profit organization, or voluntary work. A motivation letter focuses more on your interests and motives for applying.
  • Personal statement. Also used in an academic setting. It's always written by an applicant, often a prospective student, applying to college, university, or graduate school. You explain why you've chosen a particular course and why you'd be good at it. Other names include a statement of purpose or a letter of intent .

Like every cover letter, an academic one also needs to include specific elements and content sections. These are:

  • Header. Here, provide your contact information, such as your name, address, phone number, and email in the header of the document.
  • Formal salutation. In an official letter like this one, you should address the reader in a professional and formal way. If you know who'll be reading your cover letter, go with Dear Dr. [Surname] or Dear Professor [Surname] . If you don't, go with Dear Sir/Madam .
  • The specific PhD program or position. Clearly state in your letter which research position you're applying for or the name of the PhD program. A cover letter is usually read before a CV, so you need to make sure everything is clear.
  • Your motivation. Explain why you're interested in the specific PhD position — it's one of the key elements you should include.
  • Your academic background. Now, we don't mean you should list in detail every single university course you ever took. Instead, focus on the most relevant course for the PhD and describe in detail what you learned, any projects you worked on, why it was interesting (and optionally, what knowledge gap you identified). In this way, you also show a certain level of understanding of the field.
  • Your ambition. Briefly mention what your ambitions, intentions, and plans are regarding your contribution to the field when securing your PhD position. How is your research going to enrich the field? How will the institution benefit from it?
  • Conclusion. Keep the conclusion short. Contrary to a regular cover letter ending , there's no place for reiterating everything here. Simply thank the reader for your consideration and prompt them to read your academic CV.
  • Formal sign-off. Just pick from the usual: Sincerely, Respectfully, Regards... Then throw in your full name in the following line.

And that's all you need to include!

Now, let's take a look at how to write your cover letter step-by-step.

Applying for a PhD will be a lot less stressful if you follow these tips on how to write a cover letter for a research position:

Consider researching the background of the organization, department, ongoing research projects, and their past and current projects. All that before you start writing your cover letter. Knowing these things will help you tailor your letter to the specific PhD opening.

Before you actually start writing, try to sit down and take a moment to think first. Assess how your past experiences helped you prepare for the PhD position and scribble down those that are most relevant and significant for the specific program. These include any research experiences, research projects, courses, or internships.

In the first few sentences of your letter, you need to convey some basic information about yourself and what specific position you're applying for. The opening should also state firmly why you're a strong candidate for the position/program, by using a persuasive and convincing wording. Here's an example: "As an MChem Chemistry graduate with a narrow focus on the sustainable synthesis of biologically active molecules from the University of Dundee, I am excited to apply to a "Synthesis Of Small Molecule Inhibitors Using Enzymes" PhD programme at an institution with such a strong foundation and numerous research groups in this field."

This is the place where you may explore more extensively on the educational journey that brought you here. Set the foundation for demonstrating how your Master's degree and research experience seamlessly translate into the next phase — the PhD program. Emphasize how your thesis contributes to the field's body of knowledge. Mention any other publications that support your thesis. And, if you can, identify any knowledge gaps or topics that can be explored further.

This paragraph provides the opportunity to neatly tie in together everything the reader has learned about you so far. You can show how your previous experience, coupled with what you'll learn during the PhD program, will come together to produce something novel to enrich the field. First, identify the courses or topics within the PhD program that interest you the most and how they relate to you developing your research further. Second, introduce your future research aspirations and goals. Third, point out how this future work will enrich the field and what will the intellectual merit be.

When ending your PhD cover letter, briefly refer your reader to your academic CV and encourage them to examine all of the remaining projects, courses, publications, or references . Finally, thank the reader for their time and consideration and let them know you look forward to hearing from them. Sign off.

Put the letter in a drawer and don't think about it for a day or two. Then, when you read it again, you'll have a fresh pair of eyes to see the cover letter in a new light. Maybe you decide some things are redundant, or you think of something that's more relevant. Or you know, find a typo here and there.

Just like an academic cover letter needs to contain certain content components, the formatting should also align with the structural expectations for this type of document.

How long should a cover letter be? How to finish a cover letter? And what about the cover letter font and spacing?

Here's a recommended academic cover letter format:

  • Length. While STEM PhD candidates should aim for half a page to one page, humanities candidates can do 1–2 pages.
  • Font. Use one of the classics: Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial. Just no Comic Sans, we beg you. Keep the size between 10–12 points. Also remember to keep the text clean — no underlining, no bolding, and no color. However, you can use italics if appropriate.
  • Spacing. Cover letter spacing isn't complicated. Just single-space your text, make sure there's a space between each paragraph, and leave a space between the concluding paragraph and your formal sign-off.
  • Margins. The only rule here is that the margins on your cover letter should match those on your CV.
  • Consistence with your CV. Your academic cover letter should match your academic CV in all formatting aspects — including the cover letter font and spacing. For example, Kickresume lets you choose a matching template for your CV and your cover letter, so no need to worry about this.

If the institution provided any instructions for formatting your academic cover letter, don’t get creative and follow their guidelines.

Finally, to help you tie everything we talked about together, here's a cover letter sample from a real person admitted to a PhD program at Lyon University in France.

These things ensured Herrera's cover letter was successful:

  • She clearly states her motivation in the opening. In the first two paragraphs, Herrera introduces herself and her motivation to apply for the given PhD program.
  • She describes educational and research background thoroughly. The main body of the letter is dedicated to describing Herrera's educational background, research projects, internships, and skills acquired throughout the way.
  • She presents research aspirations in the letter. Herrera writes: "I have a history of proven results and profound findings. Given opportunity, I’m confident in my abilities to earn similar ground-breaking results while being part of your team."

Even though this example lacks some of the key elements, such as mentioning the specific PhD program or identifying the topics within the PhD program that interest her the most, this PhD cover letter still managed to impress the University of Lyon.

Lyon University PhD Student Cover Letter Sample

Klara recently graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. After having written resumes for many of her fellow students, she got an opportunity to write full-time for Kickresume. Klara is our go-to person for all things related to student or 'no experience resumes'. At the same time, she has written some of the most popular resume advice articles on this blog. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her chasing dogs or people-watching while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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Whether you’ve just finished your undergraduate degree or you want to pivot your career, grad school may be the next logical step in your educational and professional development.

But how do you apply to graduate school so you have the best chance at receiving that coveted acceptance letter? Read on to learn how to submit the perfect graduate school application to impress admissions officers. For information on due dates and a printable timeline, check out our  grad school application checklist .

How Grad Schools Evaluate Your Application

The exact criteria for  graduate school admissions  vary depending on the school and program. Still, there are certain qualifications, including GPA and grades from specific undergraduate courses, that all admissions officers consider. Most graduate programs look for a minimum 3.0 GPA.

A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 318 is considered strong and can help your application. A professional resume with work experience related to your program is often helpful or required. Programs typically ask for letters of recommendation and a  graduate school admissions essay  as well.

Are You a Good Fit for the Program?

Whichever program you apply for, you must first make sure it’s a good match. Consider the following questions before submitting your application:

  • Do you love the field of study the program you’re applying to focuses on?
  • Do you have an undergraduate degree or work experience in an area related to your graduate school program of choice?
  • Will earning this degree help you advance your career or earning potential?
  • Do you have the resources to pay for graduate school, either through your own funds or through loans, grants and scholarships? For more information about this, see our guide on  how to pay for graduate school .

Taking time to reflect on these questions can help you decide whether graduate school is right for you. You can also reach out to professors, students and alumni to get a better feel for your prospective program. You might even schedule a tour of the campus before applying.

Do You Have Relevant Internship or Research Experience?

Internships and relevant work experience may not make or break your graduate school application, but they can help set your application apart from the rest. Once you’re in a graduate program, you may be required to complete an internship or research work to graduate.

What Does Your Statement of Purpose Demonstrate?

A statement of purpose or personal statement tells admissions committees more about you. This essay should touch on your interests, especially as they relate to the graduate school program. The statement of purpose should also describe what you can bring to the program and why you want to be a part of it.

What Do Your Letters of Recommendation Demonstrate?

Letters of recommendation are important for graduate school because they show that credible academics and professionals think highly of you and believe you would be a good asset to the program you’re applying to.

An effective letter of recommendation is written by someone who knows you well academically or professionally, such as a professor, mentor or work supervisor. It should include titles of relevant research articles you’ve written, academic awards and honors and relevant academic activities like projects, presentations or research studies.

What Do Your Undergraduate Transcripts Show?

Simply put, official undergraduate transcripts verify that you attended the school you said you did and maintained a GPA that’s consistent with the program’s requirements. Undergraduate transcripts also allow admissions officers to see whether you took courses relevant to your prospective course of study.

How Are Your GRE Scores?

Most graduate school programs require students to take the GRE as part of the application process. An overall score of 318 or higher is considered a good score, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to study and retake the test if needed before your grad school application is due.

Is Your Prior Academic Experience Relevant?

While you don’t always need an undergraduate degree in the same field as the graduate program you’re applying to, admissions officers typically consider relevant undergraduate coursework, research projects and work experience when reviewing applications.

Statement of Purpose Tips

Your statement of purpose gives you the chance to show some individuality and let your personality shine through. You should aim to leave a memorable impression and craft a well-written, concise statement of purpose to boost your application. See our tips below for writing a statement of purpose.

Follow the Prompt Carefully

Be sure to answer all of the questions in the prompt to give admissions officers all the information they need. Additionally, make sure to follow any guidelines for things like style, font and file format. While these factors may seem small, incorrect formatting can lead to your application being disqualified.

Get Personal

This is your chance to tell your story. Write a statement of purpose that only you could write. Does your passion for medicine date back to an injury or illness you had as a child? Did you grow up watching Law & Order and feel inspired? These details remind graduate admission committees that you are a well rounded person with much to offer.

Discuss Your Goals

Aside from how your own personal and career goals relate to the program, you should also touch on how you can contribute to your school or program of choice. Do you plan on collaborating with colleagues or contributing to your institution’s research goals? Make this known in your statement of purpose.

Know Your Audience

What is the culture of the school or program you’re applying to? What does the institution value? Spend some time on its website and social media accounts to find out. You can even reach out to current students and alumni to get a better idea so you can tailor your statement of purpose accordingly.

Proofread and Revise as Needed

Don’t just write your first draft and send it off. After writing it, take some time to sleep on it, then come back and read and revise with fresh eyes. You should also have someone like a professor or tutor read your statement of purpose and provide feedback.

Interview Tips

The interview is a big part of the graduate school application process if your program requires one. Make sure to come ready and prepared.

Do Your Research

Read up on the university and program you’re applying to so you can sound knowledgeable and interested during the interview. Answer questions such as, how big is the program or school? What have its graduates gone on to do? What are the program requirements?

You can also read up on any academic articles or research professors in your program have created.

Prepare Questions for Your Interviewer

Remember, this isn’t just about the school interviewing you. You’re also interviewing the program to determine if it’s a good fit for you. What career and network opportunities are available to students and alumni? What about grants and scholarships? Will you be paired with a mentor or an advisor?

Practice With Mock Interviews

Practice makes perfect. Look into common graduate school interview questions, and practice with a professor, classmate or friend. You can even practice solo using these  20 Graduate School Interview Questions .

Bring a Professional Portfolio

Depending on the nature of your work, it may be helpful to bring in a professional portfolio, such as if your speciality is print graphic design. Other subject areas like writing or research lend themselves to online portfolios, which you can send to your interviewers ahead of the scheduled interview.

What Does a Grad School Application Look Like?

In addition to your transcripts, test scores, statement of purpose and portfolio, your graduate school application will require some basic background information about you.

Biographical Information

  • Full legal name
  • Any previous legal names used
  • Age and date of birth
  • Social Security number

Ethnicity Information

Ethnicity information about applicants and current students is used by the university to see if it is meeting diversity quotas and to share with stakeholders. You may select one particular ethnicity, or choose options like “other,” “multiracial” or “decline to state.”

Military Status

Scholarships, grants and special services can be available to active-duty and reserve military service members and veterans.

Contact Information

  • Current mailing address
  • Current phone number
  • Current email

Program Selection

  • The program you’re applying to
  • Any speciality or concentrations available as part of your program

Academic Interests

  • Specialities in your program that you want to focus on
  • Research topics or projects you want to pursue

History of Education

  • Undergraduate degree and major
  • Academic achievements and awards

Standardized Test Information

  • *GRE scores (Check with your program as some may no longer require or accept GRE scores )
  • Scores from any other required tests

Financial Aid

Deadlines for financial aid often coincide with deadlines for admissions. Make sure to submit the FAFSA to ensure you qualify for as many financial aid resources as possible. Visit the  Federal Student Aid  website for more information, and check out our guide on  how the FAFSA differs for graduate school .

Previous Employment

  • Relevant work history related to your program
  • Internship or research experience related to your program

Do you speak the primary language spoken in the area where your campus is located? Do you speak more than one language? These are things admissions officers will want to know.

Supplemental Information

  • Certifications or special licenses or training
  • Special Awards

Reference Information

  • Contact information, like phone numbers and emails, for professors, mentors and work supervisors who are willing to provide a reference

Upload Documents

When submitting your online application, make sure to upload all required documents so your application will not be disqualified.

Application Fee

  • Graduate school application fees can range from around $60 to more than $100. You must pay this fee before you can submit your application.

Confirm and Submit Form

  • Finally, make sure to confirm that all your information is correct and all necessary documents are uploaded before you submit your application.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com on Feb. 3. 2023. Author is Ryah Cooley Cole, and Editor is Brenna Swanston.

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How to Write a Standout Letter of Intent for Graduate School

A letter of intent—sometimes called a statement of purpose—is a way to introduce yourself to a graduate admissions committee. Learn what to include as you get ready to apply to grad school.

[Featured image] A young Black woman smiles off into the distance while sitting in front of her laptop.

When you apply to graduate school, you’ll need to pull together a variety of materials for the admissions committee to review, including your CV , undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation , and in some cases GRE or GMAT scores (if your school uses a standardized graduate admissions test). Part of your application will also include a letter of intent —sometimes called a statement of purpose—which is typically a one-page letter stating your goals in pursuing graduate school. 

A letter of intent is an opportunity for a committee to hear directly from you and learn more about your interest in their program. It’s also a chance for them to get a sense of your voice, research interests, and ability to communicate. In this article, we’ll go over what you’ll need to include when writing a letter of intent and tips for crafting a strong one.  

Important steps before writing your letter

A letter of intent and a cover letter for a job have a lot in common, so if you’ve written the latter, it may help you craft the former. Both documents tend to require research and more detail about your strengths and goals. 

It’s recommended that you apply to between four and six graduate schools , selecting the departments or programs that most closely align with your goals and needs. In that case, before you begin drafting your letter, it’s worthwhile to take some time and: 

Reflect on your goals: Before you apply to specific programs, take some time to reflect on why you’re interested in attending graduate school. In other words, what are your goals? These can be academic goals, such as learning more about a subject or moving into an area unrelated to your bachelor’s degree . Or your goals can be motivated by your career aspirations. 

Conduct research: Each program you apply to will want to know why you’re interested in attending them specifically. Is it because of a particular faculty member? Are the research opportunities desirable? Or does the curriculum structure meet your learning goals? You don’t need to include just one reason, but it’s helpful to know enough about each program so that you can discuss how it fits your larger goals. 

Take notes about the programs you’re most interested in attending and why. Think about how these reasons line up with your goals—and even your needs. If you need to keep working part-time or full-time, perhaps a program’s flexibility will be worth mentioning. Or if relocating to a school isn’t an option for you, then finding online programs and calling out the benefit of studying remotely is worth mentioning. 

Letter of intent sections

Once you’ve taken the foundational steps noted above, it’s time to start drafting your letter of intent. These documents tend to follow a straightforward format that includes a header, introduction, explanation of your research interests, what you’ve accomplished so far (either academically, professionally, or personally), your goals in attending grad school, and a conclusion. You can adjust the main sections—interests, goals, and accomplishments—to best suit the order of your overall narrative. Let’s review each one before turning to a full example. 

Your letter of intent should follow the format of a formal business letter, which includes the name and address of the person you’re addressing, the date, and a formal salutation. Typically, you’ll want to find each program’s graduate director and address your letter to them, using the program’s or department’s mailing address (usually found at the bottom of their webpage). 


Use the first line or two of your letter to officially introduce yourself. You can state your name or take the opportunity to flag what you’re currently doing—or what you’ve previously done—as a way to explain your interest in graduate school.

Explain what you’d like to study and your reasons for doing so at each program. This can be a great time to specify what unique factor attracts you to a program or department, such as a stellar faculty member, unique coursework electives, or job placement support. 

Go into detail about what you hope to get out of the program. It may help to think about goals in light of: educational goals and career goals .

Educational goals: These pertain to what you want to learn and why. 

Career goals: These pertain to what you hope to do in your career and how your education will help you achieve that. 

Your goals don’t need to be limited to education and work. There are other reasons for attending graduate school, such as personal development or an interest in the subject matter. But whatever your ambitions for undertaking an advanced education, it’s good to clarify those intentions in your letter. 


Discuss what makes you stand out as a potential candidate. Many grad school applicants come straight from their undergraduate program, while others might have worked before returning to school. No matter what category applies to you, it’s worth highlighting what you’ve accomplished that showcases your ability to pursue graduate-level work.


Lastly, wrap up your letter with a one- or two-sentence conclusion that briefly restates the points above and thanks the addressee for their time. 

Learn more: How to Get a Master’s Degree?

After you develop a rough draft of your letter of intent, it’s a good idea to carve out time to revise and polish it. You may seek feedback from a trusted peer, colleague, family member, or friend, who can give you helpful notes to strengthen your document. 

Letter of intent example

Below, we’ve applied the sections we discussed earlier into a complete example. You can reorder the sections about your interests, goals, and accomplishments to align with the overall narrative you’re seeking to create. In other words, there may be times when it’s best to lead with your goals before discussing the other sections, or to open with your interests before moving into your accomplishments and goals. 

There’s some flexibility when organizing a letter of intent; you can use that flexibility to reflect your unique story. 

Dr. Marcus Williams

X University

Department of Public Health

123 College St. 

City, State

December 15, 2022 

Dear Dr. Williams: 


After spending the first three years of my career working with data for a notable educational start-up, I’ve grown markedly more interested in how to use that data to benefit public health measures as a biostatistician . I’m therefore writing to apply for the Master of Public Health program at X University. 


I’m interested in earning my master’s degree from the Department of Public Health because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program. I believe that taking core courses in a range of interrelated public health subjects, especially epidemiology and environmental health, will provide me with the foundation I need as I pursue a career as a biostatistician after graduation. I’m particularly excited to work with Dr. Harriet Bedelman, whose research on technology’s effect on community health measures has informed my interest in the field.


I’m eager to explore the intersections between public health and data and believe a graduate education is the best way forward. After earning my bachelor’s degree in computer science, with an emphasis on data analysis, I began working as part of the data team at an educational K-12 start-up. I learned a lot about how to design algorithms to work with data, parsing a vast amount of information to provide actionable insights. It's an experience that I believe will set me apart from my peers and allow me to develop interdisciplinary research at X University. 

I believe data has the power to inform and improve public health outcomes, especially in light of global health events like the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m keen to unite my background in data science with my future in public health. In fact, I believe my aptitude for statistics will serve me well in the program. 


I believe that the Department of Health is the program to best help me achieve my goal of becoming a biostatistician and that I stand to contribute a good deal to my cohort. Thank you for your consideration. 

Alexandra James

Why is a letter of intent important? 

Letters of intent—or statements of purpose—are important for several reasons:

It gives the admissions committee an idea about who you are.

It frames the application to follow, personalizing some of the other data-driven documents.  

It shows why you’re interested in that particular school.

It outlines your research interests and goals in attending graduate school.

Letters of intent also showcase your communication and writing skills , which are both valuable skills that most graduate programs—no matter what you study—expect students to have and continue developing. 

Learn more: Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?  

Explore further 

You’ll find a range of flexible master’s degrees from leading universities on Coursera. Explore degrees in computer science, data, business, and more. Many programs offer a quick response time to applications, such as Arizona State University’s Master of Computer Science , which will get a decision back to you in two to four weeks.  

You can get a head start in other programs, like the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Computer and Information Technology , by completing the school’s Introduction to Programming with Python and Java specialization. 

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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How to prepare a strong phd application.

Doctoral candidates and departmental coordinators at the Wharton School outline a few tips to help you navigate the PhD application process.

It’s no secret the application process can be intimidating. Where do you start? What exactly are schools looking for on your application? What materials do you need to submit? Doctoral candidates and departmental coordinators at the Wharton School have outlined a few tips to help you navigate the process.

Don’t Delay the Process

A successful PhD applicant starts thinking about their application months or even years before the deadlines. For Alejandro Lopez Lira , a third year student in Finance, the application process began a year before he actually submitted the paperwork. He said, “I spoke to my advisors way before, like one year before, about my letters of recommendation, where to apply, everything involved in the process.”

Each program has different requirements, which can make for a tedious process. Karren Knowlton , a third year in Management, said, “I took a little while to draft a personal statement. I had my mom, who teaches creative writing, and a few other people that I trust just read over it. Then you have to tweak it for different schools because they want slightly different things.”

Taking time to prepare your application is critical. Starting the process sooner rather than later gives you several advantages:

  • It allows your letter of recommendation writers enough time in advance to thoughtfully prepare a letter that speaks to who you are as a PhD candidate.
  • It gives you more time to review your materials, fix any errors, and proofread, proofread, proofread.
  • Finally, it means a lot less stress when the deadline starts rapidly approaching. By planning ahead, you’ll have a much smoother process applying.

Get Letters of Recommendation

Prof. Matthew Bidwell , who previously served as the doctoral coordinator for the Management program , said a common mistake he sees are letters of recommendations from employers. Although he said it is impressive to see work experience, having an employer write a letter is not the best choice.

“We don’t pay very much attention to those because rightly or wrongly, we worry that they’re not looking for the kinds of things that we’re looking for,” he said. “If you have one, it’s not a disaster, but when you see people with two or three — most of their recommendations coming from their work — that kind of heightens our concern. You’re committing to a fairly specialized career, do you really know what that career entails?”

Instead, he suggests getting to know an academic who will be able to write a recommendation attesting to your ability to manage doctoral-level research and work.

Include Research/Work Experience in Your Field

Each program has a unique set of criteria to evaluate applicants, but several doctoral coordinators agree that some research and work experience in your field of interest will strengthen your application overall.

Prof. Fernando Ferreira , doctoral coordinator for the Business Economics and Public Policy and Real Estate programs, thinks work experience can be useful in demonstrating an applicant’s abilities. He said, “Any work experience after undergraduate school is important. If that experience is more related to research it’s even better, but work experience in general is always good.”

Prof. Guy David , doctoral coordinator for the Health Care Management & Economics program , thinks that work experience benefits applicants in terms of giving them a broader view of business. “Work experience creates retrospection about how the world works, how organizations make decisions, and how people function in various situations,” he said.

However, he warns that spending too much time away from an academic setting can have its drawbacks too. “It may lead people to start their PhD later when they are not in the habit of immersing themselves in rigorous studies and have a shorter horizons to develop a name for themselves,” he said.

Although having both research and work experience can strengthen your application, you will not be denied entry because you are lacking either.

Prof. Bidwell said, “I think research experience does give us some confidence that people have some idea about what it is that we do. In terms of work experience, I think we don’t have a strong view. We quite like work experience, but we also take people straight out of undergrad.”

Prepare for the Standardized Tests

Most PhD programs require students to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Having high test scores is a key part of an application as it tests skills learned over the course of many years in school. Quantitative skills are especially important when applying to doctoral programs in business areas. Much like any other standardized test, the GRE requires preparation.

Karren, who took the GRE twice to ensure her scores were high enough, offered advice to those who may be struggling. “I would absolutely recommend practicing the writing beforehand. Look up examples and have your outline structured,” she said. “So much of it is just getting the right structure and how you formulate your arguments so knowing what they’re looking for is key.”

Test prep can be time-consuming, but like anything else, practice makes perfect. There are multiple text books and online sites to help you prepare for the exam. Karren aimed to improve her math scores the second time she took the GRE and recommended this site to help strengthen math skills.

Taking advantage of resources to help you study can limit the number of times you need to take the GRE while ensuring you score high enough to remain in the applicant pool.

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Posted: August 4, 2017

  • Admissions and Applying
  • Advancement and Transition

Doctoral Programs

Start your doctoral journey.

Whether you’re just starting your research on PhD programs or you’re ready to apply, we’ll walk you through the steps to take to become a successful PhD candidate.

Deciding to get a PhD

You might be surprised to find out what you can do with a PhD in business.

Is an Academic Career for You ? What Makes a Successful PhD Student

Preparing for the Doctoral Path

The skills, relationships, and knowledge you need to prepare yourself for a career in academics.

How the PhD Program Works How to Become a Successful PhD Applicant

Choosing the right program

What’s the difference between PhD programs? Find out how to choose one that fits your goals.

What to Consider When Choosing a Doctoral Program What Differentiates R1 Universities?

Starting an application

Tips for a successful application process.

Application Requirements Preparing Your PhD Application

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Home / Students / Graduate & Professional Schools / Graduate School Application Components

  • Graduate School Application Components

Common documents you will need to prepare for graduate school application are letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or statement of purpose, and a CV. 

Letters of Recommendation

  • Letters of recommendation are usually required when applying for internships or graduate schools.
  • Strong letters should be written by people who know you and your capabilities well , such as professors, advisors, staff, or supervisors. Relatives are not recommended.
  • Give writers enough time (at least a few months) to write the letter.
  • Provide your letter writer with a copy of your resume or past work from their class. Knowing what you have done and what type of position you are interested in allows them to include details that will help you to achieve those goals. Also, let them know how to submit the letter.

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  • Letters are typically confidential (you don't see the final version). Letter writers are typically expected to submit the letter on your behalf directly to the internship or graduate school you are applying to.
  • Once you receive your letters, send  writers thank you notes!
  • Tell your writers about your subsequent success and how they helped you to attain your goal.
  • If you are not applying for programs while you are still at UCSC, you may utilize  Interfolio to store your letters for use at a later time. 

Personal Statement and Statement of Purpose

Graduate and professional schools often require some sort of written statement called a "statement of purpose," "personal statement," or "letter of intent" as a part of the application. This is usually a narrative-style account of your intellectual strengths, professional interests, and background information that highlights your ambitions and qualifications for that specific program.

Ideally, the statement should feature a few anecdotes that distinguish you from other applicants and be a compelling read that convinces the admissions committee that you are right for their school.

A personal statement will typically focus on your personal experiences and motivations for applying to the program. Statement of purpose will typically focus on your academic and research experiences. Regardless of which you are asked to submit, programs will provide a prompt that addresses what specifically they are looking for in each document. Be sure to respond directly to those questions.

Commonly asked questions include:

  • What are your immediate and long-term career goals?
  • What experiences, demonstrated skills and accomplishments have made you decide on and prepare you for this program?
  • How will this graduate/professional school and the specific program assist you in reaching your goals?  

Allow sufficient time to write the essay and have revisions of it reviewed by many people. Customize each essay to each program if possible. Follow the "show, don't tell" rule -- describe experiences you've had that demonstrate your abilities instead of just naming them. Don't include your entire life story, unless specifically requested to do so. Don't make your essay any longer than it absolutely needs to be.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A curriculum vitae, often referred to as a CV, is a comprehensive overview of your scholarly and academic achievements as well as your professional accomplishments. It is the standard document for presenting your qualifications for graduate school and academic employment.

  • It is common to use CVs when applying to the following:
  • Academic and research positions
  • Grants, fellowships, awards
  • Some graduate school programs
  • Overseas employment and international organizations (different countries have different formats, so do your research here!)

See CV Handout  for common sections to include and and example.

Formatting tips:

  • Standard fonts (Times, Helvetica), 10-12 point.
  • Text formatting like bullet points and bold text to makes information easy to find!
  • There is no page limit. If you are just starting out, we recommend aiming for 1-2 pages.
  • Include your name and page number on every page.
  • List most relevant and compelling information at the top of your sections.
  • All entries within each section must be in reverse chronological order. 
  • Be consistent in your formatting, however you end up deciding to format your CV.
  • No mistakes allowed--misspelled words or similar grammatical mistakes are the fastest way to get your CV tossed!
  • Highlight results and accomplishments, not just tasks!
  • Save as a PDF document--title should include your name and date, such as "SammySlugCV2023.pdf."
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StandOut CV

PHD Application cover letter examples

Andrew Fennell

As the highest postgraduate qualification you can achieve, it’s no wonder that most PhD programs require a cover letter as part of the application process.

So, if you’re hoping to complete your doctorate, you need to brush up on your writing skills and prove why you deserve a place in the program.

To help you do that, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, complete with PhD cover letter examples to support your application.

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PHD Application cover letter example 1

PHD Application cover letter 1

PHD Application cover letter example 2

PHD Application cover letter 2

PHD Application cover letter example 3

PHD Application cover letter 3

The example cover letters here should give you a good general idea on how your PHD Application cover letter should be formatted and written.

The rest of this guide gives more specific guidance on how to create your own cover letter in this format, and even includes some templates you can copy and paste.

How to write a PHD Application cover letter

A simple step-by-step guide to writing your very own winning cover letter.

How to write a cover letter

Write your cover letter in the body of an email/message

When writing your PHD Application cover letter, it’s best to type the content into the body of your email (or the job site messaging system) and not to attach the cover letter as a separate document.

This ensures that your cover letter gets seen as soon as a recruiter or employer opens your message.

If you attach the cover letter as a document, you’re making the reader go through an unnecessary step of opening the document before reading it.

If it’s in the body of the message itself, it will be seen instantly, which hugely increases the chances of it being read.

Write cover letter in body of email

Start with a friendly greeting

Cover letter address

Start you cover letter with a greeting that is professional but friendly.

This will build rapport with the recruiter whilst showing your professionalism.

  • Hi, hope you’re well
  • Hi [insert recruiter name]
  • Hi [insert department/team name]

Avoid overly formal greetings like “Dear sir/madam ” unless applying to very traditional companies.

How to find the contact’s name?

Addressing the recruitment contact by name is an excellent way to start building a strong relationship. If it is not listed in the job advert, try these methods to find it.

  • Check out the company website and look at their  About page. If you see a hiring manager, HR person or internal recruiter, use their name. You could also try to figure out who would be your manager in the role and use their name.
  • Head to LinkedIn , search for the company and scan through the list of employees. Most professionals are on LinkedIn these days, so this is a good bet.

Identify the role you are applying for

Once you’ve opened up the cover letter with a warm greeting to start building a relationship, it is time to identify which role you want to apply for.

Recruiters are often managing multiple vacancies, so you need to ensure you apply to the correct one.

Be very specific and use a reference number if you can find one.

  • I am interested in applying for the position of *specialist field PHD Applicant* with your company.
  • I would like to apply for the role of Sales assistant (Ref: 406f57393)
  • I would like to express my interest in the customer service vacancy within your retail department
  • I saw your advert for a junior project manager on Reed and would like to apply for the role.

See also: CV examples – how to write a CV – CV profiles

Highlight your suitability

The main purpose of your cover letter is to excite recruiters and make them eager to open your CV. And you achieve this by quickly demonstrating your suitability to the job you are applying for.

Take a look at the job adverts you are applying for, and make note of the most important skills being asked for.

Then, when you write your cover letter, make your suitability the focal point.

Explain how you meet the candidate requirements fully, and why you are so well suited to carry out the job.

This will give recruiters all the encouragement they need to open your CV and consider your application.

Cover letter tips

Keep it short and sharp

A good cover letter is short and sharp, getting to the point quickly with just enough information to grab the attention of recruiters.

Ideally your cover letter should be around 4-8 sentences long – anything longer will risk losing the attention of time-strapped recruiters and hiring managers .

Essentially you need to include just enough information to persuade the reader to open up your CV, where the in-depth details will sit.

Sign off professionally

To round of your CV, you should sign off with a professional signature.

This will give your cover letter a slick appearance and also give the recruiter all of the necessary contact information they need to get in touch with you.

The information to add should include:

  • A friendly sign off – e.g. “Kindest regards”
  • Your full name
  • Phone number (one you can answer quickly)
  • Email address
  • Profession title
  • Professional social network –  e.g. LinkedIn

Here is an example signature;

Warm regards,

Jill North IT Project Manager 078837437373 [email protected] LinkedIn

Quick tip: To save yourself from having to write your signature every time you send a job application, you can save it within your email drafts, or on a separate documents that you could copy in.

Email signatures

What to include in your PHD Application cover letter

Here’s what kind of content you should include in your PHD Application cover letter…

The exact info will obviously depend on your industry and experience level, but these are the essentials.

  • Your relevant experience – Where have you worked and what type of jobs have you held?
  • Your qualifications – Let recruiters know about your highest level of qualification to show them you have the credentials for the job.
  • The impact you have made – Show how your actions have made a positive impact on previous employers; perhaps you’ve saved them money or helped them to acquire new customers?
  • Your reasons for moving – Hiring managers will want to know why you are leaving your current or previous role, so give them a brief explanation.
  • Your availability – When can you start a new job ? Recruiters will want to know how soon they can get you on board.

Don’t forget to tailor these points to the requirements of the job advert for best results.

PHD Application cover letter templates

Copy and paste these PHD Application cover letter templates to get a head start on your own.

Dear Admissions Committee

I am writing to express my strong interest in the Ph.D. in Physics programme at the University of London. As a highly motivated and dedicated individual with a deep fascination with the fundamental principles of physics, I am eager to contribute my academic background and research experience to your faculty.

I hold an MSc in Physics from the University of Birmingham, where I achieved distinctions for quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and atomic & molecular physics. During this period, I was involved in evaluating quantum phenomena using computational methods, which honed my analytical skills and provided insights into the intricate nature of quantum systems. My passion for research has also led me to publish two peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals.

I am enthusiastic about continuing my journey in addressing challenges in the field of physics and have previously collaborated with renowned experts in securing £10M in funding to support projects, as well as improving experimental efficiency by 40% through implementing state-of-the-art quantum optics equipment. I have also delivered presentations to share research on condensed matter systems.

I am thrilled at the possibility of joining your institution. Thank you for considering me for the programme.

Kind regards

Matt Turner

I am writing to you concerning the Ph.D. program in Chemical Engineering at the University of Oxford. I possess a profound passion for advanced research and innovation in chemical engineering, with an eagerness to contribute my academic background and problem-solving abilities to your institution.

I hold an MSc in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London and had the opportunity to delve into cutting-edge projects alongside esteemed experts. We focused on sustainable practices in chemical manufacturing, as well as the efficient production, transformation, and transportation of various products. I helped design and conduct experiments to improve chemical operations and reduce environmental impacts, where my findings were published in two peer-reviewed journals.

Some key accomplishments during master’s studies include, obtaining research funding worth £2M to conduct experiments in catalysis and reaction engineering, and playing a role in improving industrial processes by 50%. In addition, I delivered five oral presentations at international conferences to share information on driving sustainable practices.

Thank you for considering my application, and I am available at your convenience for further discussions.

Sable Norris

Dear Members of the Graduate Admissions Committee

I am writing to express my interest in the Ph.D. programme in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. I possess a profound fascination for uncovering the mysteries of the past, and I am focused on contributing my academic background, fieldwork experience, and research skills to your institution.

I obtained a master’s degree in Archaeology from the University of Manchester, where I had the privilege of working closely with esteemed faculty and engaged in research that ignited my passion for understanding the Sumerian civilisation.

During my studies I conducted original research on the excavation and analysis of burial sites to shed light on their ancient practices and cultural beliefs, completing 95 excavation seasons, which was 30+ more than any other student, co-authoring two research papers published in reputable journals, and securing £500K from the UK government to conduct a 3-month research trip in the Middle East.

My experience coupled with advanced coursework in archaeological methodologies and artefact analysis have equipped me with the skills to excel in the programme. Thank you for considering my application.

Dominic Ferdinand

Writing an impressive cover letter is a crucial step in landing a place on a PHD, so taking the time to perfect it is well worth while.

By following the tips and examples above you will be able to create an eye-catching cover letter that will wow recruiters and ensure your CV gets read – leading to more job interviews for you.

Good luck with your job search!

Tips for Writing a Successful Motivation Letter for Ph.D. [+Sample]

Background Image

How To Write a Motivation Letter For Ph.D. Application [+Sample]

Ph.D. applications are not just sorted out in the same way as any other random application. There are processes involved without which your chances of getting in might be truncated.

If you’ve been considering applying for a Ph.D. then this post is especially directed at you. A motivation letter as used in the case of a Ph.D. application can be much likened to a Personal statement.

There is a need to know if you’re truly qualified to do a Ph.D. while writing an application to a school, so the motivation letter is the perfect insight into who you really are and they expect you to do it justice.   

  • An introduction which should state in clear terms which program you are applying for.
  • A Summary of your Academic Background.
  • Why do you want to do a Ph.D.?
  • The significance of your research on society.
  • Your career plans.

Avoid Making Spurious Claims

It is quite easy to get lost while writing a motivation letter and forget that motivation cannot be achieved without the necessary evidence to back it up.

Nobody’s really interested in how awesome you are while writing a motivation letter, no offense but anybody can look good on paper but without the proper evidence to back it up, they wouldn’t be any motivation.

For Example, it is very common to see people write; “I work well with other people, or I am an expert at working under pressure”. Well, it is not a cover letter , it’s a motivation letter and you need to give realistic scenarios such as; “my leadership ability was demonstrated when I had to be in charge of a group of colleagues during my internship which required intense marketing management skills.”

Try As Much As Possible to Be Specific

It is equally very important to avoid being vague while writing your motivation letter. The reason why you’re required to write a motivation letter is that someone or some people have to know, if not you wouldn’t have to attempt one.

Saying that your undergraduate days in Marketing was very interesting is too vague to fit into a motivational letter, it sounds like something that should rather be written to a pen friend. You should be more specific about the courses you took as an undergraduate, why you love them and what you learned from them.

Show How Much Skill or Work Experience You Have

While writing a motivational letter, it is very important to concisely include how much skill and/or working experience you possess. A Ph.D. is about more than just a sequel to your past academic endeavors, it is a true test of education and education is more than just owning degrees.

They will be interested in the skills and/or work experience you’ve gathered over the years, skills which are strong enough to make you qualified to bag a Ph.D. That research, data analysis, etc. skills you thought you’d never have to flaunt, well I think this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about them.

Be Professional

It is equally quite important that you are very professional while writing a motivation letter for a Ph.D. application . It will be in your own best interest to ensure that you present your motivation letter with professional grammar, font and the appropriate writing style in which you’d rather prefer to be accepted.

Your professionalism sends a good message about your personality and would go a long way into helping you get accepted. 

Sample Motivation Letter for a Ph.D. Application

motivation letter phd application

Suggested Reading:

  • Cover Letter Examples
  • 2023 Letter of Interest - Example & Writing Guide
  • Students and Graduates Resume Example

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for PhD Admission


The dreaded doctoral statement of purpose — every PhD program asks for it, but why is it so difficult to write? Writing a strong statement of purpose is essential to getting into your top PhD programs. A PhD statement of purpose gives admissions committees an introduction to your research interests and why their specific program is of interest to you.

Like a cover letter for a job application, a great statement of purpose allows you to highlight your strengths, interests and experience. If you need statement of purpose advice, keep reading for guidance on how to write a successful statement of purpose that will make your PhD application stand out.

Statement of purpose vs. personal statement

Though the two may sound similar, they’re not necessarily interchangeable. A personal statement gives insight into who you are, while a statement of purpose is meant to showcase what you want to do. Rarely will you be asked to write a personal statement for a PhD program.

As you go through the PhD application process, you will likely see schools requesting either a statement of purpose or a research statement. In most cases, they're both looking for the same thing. Admissions committees want to know about your academic background, your research goals and what you hope to accomplish as a candidate in a PhD program.

Your research goals should align with faculty research

Being admitted to a PhD program is a great feeling, but if you enroll in a program that doesn’t match your research interests or help support your career goals, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment later down the road.

Applying for admission to a program is all about fit. Faculty reviewers are looking for students who best represent the department’s mission and will help them obtain their research objectives.

By the time you apply, you should have a solid understanding of what the department’s primary research and content areas are, as well as which faculty members you’d like to work with more closely. This might mean finding information about what their labs do and reading published articles related to their work.

Be sure to include how your interests and past experiences align with the work that they do and how you would be an active contributor to those endeavors. This approach shows that you took the time to look into their program, so the committee will be more willing to invest theirs in reviewing your application.

Don’t be afraid to address your weaknesses

Many people assume they should avoid listing their shortcomings in their essays. The whole point of applying to a program is to impress the reviewers, right? But constructively addressing your weaknesses can be a great way to demonstrate how this program can help you achieve your academic goals.

Look at the catalog and read through the courses that are part of the program. If there is a particular class that fascinates you, talk about how it could help you obtain a new skill or a better understanding of a concept that you’ve struggled with before.

This demonstrates that you are actively seeking programs to help you better your education. It also exhibits that you’re mindful of what areas of your knowledge need some improvement, which shows maturity and the ability to self-assess.

Keep it succinct

If your program of interest does not specify a page word or word limit, it’s best to assume that your statement should not exceed two pages total. It should be enough to give them a glimpse of who you are and what you have to offer but not share your life story.

The aim is to communicate how and why this particular program will help you meet your academic and career goals. Limited space means you must prioritize what you include in your statement.

Create an outline before you start writing to ensure you are including points that are relevant to your application and the program to which you are applying. Your statement is also an example of how well you can write. By framing your essay before you write it, you can avoid stream-of-consciousness writing that can often come across as undefined and incoherent.

Proofread! And read it over and over

When you think you have a finished product, read your essay out loud. This makes it easier to catch typos, poor grammar, and oddly worded sentences. If you have a friend who is also applying to grad school, help each other out by editing each other’s essays.

Having someone else read your statement and ask questions can help you clarify your points and make it more compelling. Your statement is your one chance to present yourself professionally in your own words. The occasional mistake is excusable, but messy writing will make them think you lack attention to detail.

Before you hit submit on that application, be sure that you have attached the correct document for the right institution. It can be very embarrassing if your statement mentions the wrong faculty member’s name or refers to another school’s library! It could also cause the reviewers to think you are not as serious about their program.

You’ve spent a good amount of time perfecting your application, so take your time to review everything before you submit it so you can rest easy knowing you’ve presented your best.


Get tips and learn more

about how to apply to a PhD by reading our guide on Choosing, Applying for, and Thriving in a PhD Program!

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  • PhD/Master's Application Process

Who is Eligible to Apply? 

If you have completed your undergraduate degree (bachelor's or equivalent) or will have completed it prior to your intended matriculation date at Yale, you may apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

A master's degree is not required to apply for a PhD at Yale, although some programs give preference to applicants with post-baccalaureate training. Consult your program of interest directly for information on how it evaluates applications.

We value diversity of all kinds at the Graduate School, and we encourage students from all backgrounds to apply if Yale is a good fit for your intellectual and professional goals. All are welcome to apply, without regard to citizenship or immigration status, socioeconomic level, race, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

Requirements for All PhD and Master's Degree Applicants

You will need to provide the following with your application for admission:

  • A statement of academic purpose. You will find the prompt for the statement of purpose in our Application Question FAQs . 
  • A list of all the prior colleges or universities you have attended, accompanied by unofficial transcripts from each school. Unofficial transcripts should be uploaded with your application. Official or paper transcripts are not needed at this time. 
  • Three letters of recommendation. Enter the names of your recommenders directly in the application, and they will receive a link to upload a letter on your behalf. 
  • $105 application fee or fee waiver. 
  • Standardized tests . GRE requirements vary by program. TOEFL or IELTS are necessary for most non-native English speakers. 
  • Resume/CV . 
  • Some programs have additional requirements, such as a writing sample . You can find information about any specific requirements on the program's website. 

Where Do I Begin?

Decide if you will apply for a PhD or a terminal Master’s (MA, MS) in one of the programs available at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences . (Note that you will earn one or more Master's degrees en route to a PhD) Learn about the program: its faculty, course offerings, and resources. Read the faculty's research publications. If you can identify and articulate why the program is a good fit for you and show how your preparation and interests align well with it, you will have a strong application.

A note to students applying to one of Yale’s professional schools or programs:

  • If you are applying for a PhD in Architecture, Environment, Investigative Medicine, Law, Management, Music, Nursing, or Public Health, or for an MS in Public Health, or an MA in Music, be sure to use the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD/Master's application.
  • If you are applying for any other degree at one of the University’s professional schools (Art, Architecture, Divinity, Drama, Environment, Global Affairs, Law, Management, Medicine, Music, Nursing, and Public Health), visit that school’s website for further instructions. Those programs have separate admissions policies and processes that are administered by the professional schools, not GSAS.

Application deadlines vary by program, so please see Dates and Deadlines for information about your program of interest. 

All new students enroll in the fall, and the admissions process begins nearly a year in advance of matriculation.

Some PhD and Master’s degree programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Check your program's standardized testing requirement before you apply. 

In addition, applicants whose native language is not English may need to take an English Language test (TOEFL or IELTS).

The application for Fall 2024 entry is now available. 

Be sure to complete and submit the application before your program's application deadline. 

Your application fee or an approved fee waiver, is due upon submission of your application. 

Your letters of recommendation do not need to be received before you will be able to submit your application. However, since programs begin reviewing applications shortly after the respective application deadline, please be sure that your letters of recommendation are submitted promptly.

What Happens After I Submit My Application?

The faculty admissions committee in each department and program begins reviewing applications shortly after their application deadline. Led by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Director of Graduate Admissions (DGA), the committee will recommend students for admission to the Graduate School. Once confirmed by the deans of the Graduate School, the admissions office will release final decisions to applicants.

Unlike undergraduate admissions, the admissions office and staff of the Graduate School maintain the application, the application process, and other administrative transactions, but the admissions staff does not review applications or make admissions decisions. That responsibility is handled by the faculty of each department or program.

Most admissions decisions are provided between February and early March. You will receive an email notification when your admissions decision is available.

If you are accepted for admission, you will need to decide if you wish to accept our offer by April 15. We abide by Council of Graduate School's April 15 Resolution , regarding graduate financial support. 

Ready to apply? Begin your application today.

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PhD/Master's Applicants

  • Why Choose Yale Graduate School?
  • Dates and Deadlines
  • Standardized Testing Requirements

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Non-Degree Program Applicants

Looking for non-degree programs? In some cases it is possible to enroll at the Graduate School as a non-degree student. Non-degree students receive a transcript and many of the benefits of being a Yale student, but do not earn a degree upon completion of their enrollment. We offer three types of non-degree programs.

  • Non-Degree Programs

Letter of intent for your PhD application

You have to submit a letter of intent when applying to the Doctorate in Philosophy in Education (PhD). This letter of intent is the opportunity to show your research interests, your professional goals and to describe how your previous academic and work experiences have prepared you for this program.

Below you will find quick tips to help you write your letter of intent

  • Font: Times New Roman 12
  • Spacing: Single-spaced
  • Number of words: 1000 words maximum (4 pages)
  • Margins: 2 cm minimum

Keep in mind that a PhD is about honing your key research interests and producing your own unique ideas.

Your letter must be clear, concise, precise and structured, and must include the following:

  • Talk about your motivation to pursue graduate studies in education by connecting your research interests to your potential career.
  • Describe the problem or question you are interested in.
  • Describe what your proposed research will focus on, how you will study it, what you hope to learn and what your contribution will be.  Be detailed and specific .
  • Explain why this research is important by outlining your research objectives.
  • Situate your research in a  specific   context .Highlight the related literature. Show how your research is relevant and original and how it will contribute to the field of education.
  • Explain your methodology, theoretical approach and framework.
  • Summarize the assets that make you a qualified PhD candidate, one well suited to researching your proposed topic.

Overall tips

  • Briefly summarize and emphasize your goals and purpose.
  • Link your experience, current interests and goals.
  • Restate what you expect from the program and the Faculty and how you will contribute to the academic and scholarly community.

A letter of intent is also required for a selection of Master programs. The requirements for a letter of intent for the Master programs are different from the ones for a PhD letter of intent. Find our what are the requirements for the Master programs letter of intent . 

  • Graduate School

How to Write a PhD Motivation Letter with Samples and Expert Tips

PhD Motivation Letter Sample

Reading over some PhD motivation letter samples will give you an idea of how to make yours a strong, central component of your application to get into grad school . In addition to your grad school CV , a PhD motivation letter is a chance for you to demonstrate objectively why you are an excellent candidate for the faculty to which you are applying. Unlike a personal statement, a PhD motivation letter is distinct in its unique focus on your academic and research background with little mention of your personal story. This article will take you through the significance of the PhD motivation letter, describe what makes a stellar motivation letter, and provide examples. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

Do you need to write a phd motivation letter .

Yes, you must write a PhD motivation letter. It is mandatory for most, if not all, PhD programs, regardless of your field of study. Disciplines ranging from arts and humanities to physics and computer science all consider motivation letters (aka “statement of purpose” in some countries) a major component of your application.

Of course, you will also have to fulfill the other documentation requirements, like submitting your transcripts, CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation, but a motivation letter has a specific intent: to summarize your academic achievements up to the present and what you plan to achieve in the future at this particular school.

The faculty who ultimately consider your application look for how you and your PhD topic match with the mission and values of their program. Personal details and other motivations are best left to your personal statement or letter of intent because the motivation letter is strictly an academic summary.

A great PhD motivation letter should highlight how and why you are prepared for the rigors of PhD-level work. It should include the details of your academic career that have propelled you further into your field of study, like an inspiring professor or undergraduate course that sparked interest in your field.

The following list will provide more insights, but you should remember that whatever you write must be backed up by a concrete, real-world demonstration. It is not enough to say, “I am interested in XYZ because of XYZ.” You must include specific events in your undergraduate and graduate studies where you excelled.

If you are applying for a PhD, that in itself suggests you have a bevy of academic and extracurricular experience to glean from, be it co-authoring a published paper, your time as a TA, or some type of academic recognition. Many stand-out motivation letters single out specific instances when you showed an outsized passion for your studies.

Dos and Don’ts in a PhD Motivation Letter

1. Gain Skills and Experiences

The track to obtaining a PhD degree is a long one, which is why anyone who wants to become a PhD should commit early on to what it entails. All PhD candidates must have both an undergraduate and a master's degree to even apply, so that means structuring your studies around those requirements.

You should gain as much experience in your field, learn new skills related to your studies (a new language, for example, or technical skills), and participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Gathering the necessary skills and experiences to enter a PhD program should be the first step, since they are a reflection of your commitment.

2. Start Writing Early

You should begin drafting your PhD motivation letter at least a few months before the deadline. Because it is one of the most important parts of your application, you want to give yourself time to refine it. Refining means going through multiple drafts, soliciting and receiving feedback from other candidates, getting professional grad school application help, and making changes as you go along.

3. Consider Your Audience

The people who will read your motivation letter are renowned academics who have devoted their lives to one particular subject. Your letter needs to reflect your respect not only for them, but for the field of study that you both share. You should write with genuine verve when talking about your topic. Remind them of why they committed so full-heartedly to their career by demonstrating how enthralled you are with your studies.

4. Use Active Voice

You should put “you” in your story. Avoid using the passive voice and hiding behind your achievements as if they spoke for themselves. The admissions committee members want to read about how you approached your studies and learn about your insights into the future of your field of interest. They do not want a cold recitation of your CV but a spirited defense or explanation of what you value most about your topic.

1. Don’t Forget About the Formatting

PhD admission requirements differ between the many programs out there, so be cognizant of how they ask you to format your paper. If the requirements state a two-page limit, then write two pages. The same goes for other criteria like font size, paragraph spacing, and word length. A rambling, incoherent letter is the last thing you want to submit, so make sure to keep it within the guidelines.

2. Don’t Include Personal Stories

A personal statement is the place for formative stories from the past, not your motivation letter. You can include personal thoughts and opinions about your field of study, even unfavorable ones, to show you have a unique perspective, but steer clear of using personal elements like early childhood experiences or anything unrelated to your program.

3. Don’t Ramble

Keep in mind that your writing and organizational skills are also on display when you submit your motivation letter, along with everything else about you (grades, college letter of intent , transcripts). Again, remember who you are writing for: professors with years of experience researching and writing. They, more than anyone, know what good writing looks like, so be concise and clear in your writing.

4. Don’t Shy Away from Failures

The collected experience of those reading your essay guarantees that they know a thing or two about failure. Whether it was an unpublished paper, or a failed experiment, showing your determination in the face of adversity paints a complete picture of who you are as a researcher and academic.

But, again, setbacks in your personal life should not be mentioned. Limit your story to problems you encountered during your undergrad, graduate, or research fellowships and how you sought to overcome them. Mention a class or subject you struggled with or a drop in your grades and how you improved them.

Structure of Your PhD Motivation Letter

The structure of a great motivation letter is easy to follow because its focus is so narrow. The body of your letter should only mention highlights from your academic career, in a very specific chronology starting with your undergrad and progressing from there. But the structure should also cover three main points:

You can adjust the structure based on the requirements of the PhD program you are applying to, but it should cover the reasons you want to commit yourself to this program, what you plan on achieving, and how you have prepared yourself to accomplish those goals. If you already went to grad school, then you can rework your college statement of purpose to use as a template.

PhD Motivation Letter Sample #1

Dear Members of the PhD Selection Committee,

My name is David White, and I am writing to you to express my interest in pursuing a PhD in the Migration Studies program at X University. I recently completed a Master of Ethnography at Y University with an emphasis on the cultural exchange between migrant communities and their adopted homelands viewed through the lens of shared trauma and memory.

In the media, migration is often described as a “crisis,” a designation that has always made me bristle. I assert that migration is one of the most fundamental aspects of our species, yet it has been flagrantly mislabeled to serve the political and socioeconomic interests of a few.

My research is centered around the ways that migrants form new identities based on their experiences. Conversely, I have also explored how an innate identity based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation impacts a migrant’s journey and how those markers expose them to further exploitation or, at the other end, fortify their resolve and inspire perseverance in the face of tremendous odds.

The need for further investigation into identity and the interplay of migration and culture came into focus for me during my second-year undergrad Political Science degree at XYZ University. I was influenced by the work of writers like Franz Fanon and Edward Said, who questioned the foundations of a post-colonial identity and whether it was ever possible for colonized people to form an identity separate from their colonizers. I took an anthropology course, The Nature of Humans, that impacted me greatly. It prompted a Cartesian examination of my own beliefs around identity, as it firmly associated the emergence of human societies with factors such as migration, evolution, adaptability, and diversity.

During my time as a graduate student, I secured a place on a research project headed by Prof. Mohamed Al-Nasseri, a diaspora studies expert. Professor Al-Nasseri's thesis was that policymakers were ignoring the psychological profiles of migrants when assessing their material needs and financial assistance levels.

Our four-person investigative team liaised with a local, non-profit resettlement agency who connected us with volunteer migrant families based in University Town. Under the supervision of Professor Al-Nasseri, we formulated a questionnaire based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V for traumatic events, while taking into account the newly revised definitions.

Mindful of the possible triggering effect our questions could have, we invited a peer, fellow survivor/migrant, and, in some cases, a religious leader before we conducted the interviews or to sit-in on our interviews.

During the interviews, I felt both inspired and indignant. I maintained my composure and objectivity, but the fire within raged. Unfortunately, our findings were inconclusive and what we discovered in our interviews did not wholly support Dr. Al-Nasseri’s thesis. But the experience and motivation I took from the project were enough to fuel my desire to explore the topic of identity formation in migrant communities who have undergone severe trauma.

The Migration Studies program at your institution will provide what I consider the perfect research and support network to further my investigation of these topics. I have followed the work of the esteemed Dr. Ellerman whose research into the treatment of post-traumatic stress has informed the direction of my own research. Dr. Ellerman has opened new pathways for thinking about trauma that I wish to incorporate into my thesis project when the time comes.

Until then, I am grateful for the opportunity to apply to this institution and am ready to discuss my future with you should my candidacy prove successful.

David White

My name is Melanie Hicks, and I am writing this letter to fulfill the admission requirements of the Visual Arts PhD Program at Z University. I have already submitted my audiovisual portfolio, CV, and transcripts, along with three letters of recommendation from, respectively, my master’s degree supervisor, Dr. Dana Redmond, my thesis supervisor, Dr. Allan Lee, and my research colleague, Mark Fowler.

I would like to take this opportunity to expand further on the conceptual themes I have focused on in my artistic output over the past decade, contextualize the pieces I have submitted, and elaborate on the goals I have should my application to this program be successful.

My artistic career, from very early on, has been defined by modes of observation, the interplay of observation and reflection between subjects and objects within a sociopolitical realm, and the harnessing of Blackness as a form of radical self-interpretation – all of it couched within the media of still and moving images.

During my undergrad as a Fine Arts student at X University, I was lucky enough to be showcased at the Kepler Gallery for my series, Painted Faces, a collection of photographs I took while working as a freelance photographer for an independent newspaper in Chicago. My focus in that series was the effort and preparation female congregants of an all-Black church put into readying themselves for Sunday services.

After my undergrad, I traveled to Boston to volunteer in local after-school programs with children from minority backgrounds who had an interest in photography. All of them had grown up with easy access to a phone capable of taking crisp, digital images and had never taken film photographs, so it fell to me to show them how to develop prints in a darkroom.

As part of my portfolio, I have submitted photos I took during that time, along with selections from my Painted Faces series. I never constructed a specific narrative with the photos I took during my volunteer work, but they were informed by the social realist photographers and photojournalists who captured the Civil Rights Movement by participating in protests and documenting the unrest.

Gordon Parks is a major influence and part of the reason I am pursuing my PhD studies at this institution. Prof. Alys is a foremost expert on Parks’ work and curated the Parks Retrospective at the Local Museum. Parks himself said that the subject was always more important than the photographer, and I agreed with that statement for a long time, until I began reading Arthur Danto and his artist-centered philosophy of art. While many disagree with Danto’s definition of art as an elitist utopia, I would argue that he opens the gates to everyone, and that anyone can gain entry to the “artworld.”

There is no better exemplar, I think, of the democratization of the “artworld” first posited by Danto than Basquiat, who was not only “allowed” access to the “artworld” but redefined it, in his indomitable way. Basquiat’s quality of outsider-turned-insider and Danto’s liberating of the parameters of what defined art are central themes of my project to understand whether “outsider” artists still exist, given how new technologies and platforms have pushed Danto’s definitions beyond their logical boundaries, if not obliterated them completely.

I hope this program can help me refine my project while matching my urgency to further expand the definition of art and artists to be more inclusive of not only racial minorities, but non-binary and trans people, who are at the forefront of questioning the validity of assigned identities through the curation of their very genders or lack thereof.

I am grateful to this esteemed panel for considering my application, and I would like to close by expressing my profound admiration for the achievements in art, art theory, and the philosophy of art each of you has contributed to a long, continuing train of thought.

I would be honored to accept a place beside you as a PhD candidate.

Melanie Hicks

Motivation letters are used in areas other than academia, but a PhD motivation letter is different for several reasons. Regardless of your particular field of research, the letter should include important points about your academic achievements, research interests, and why you want to continue your research at the faculty to which you are applying.

Even though PhD motivation letters tend to be short – between 500 and 700 words – their length is often the most vexing thing about them. Because students have a hard time condensing their years of study and research into a few words, we hope this article will help you focus your writing and give you insight into what to include.

No, they are not the same. A motivation letter has many different applications but is primarily a summary of your academic and professional achievements. A personal statement is an essay explaining your personal reasons for wanting to enter a specific profession or academic institution.

You should focus only on concrete, real-world examples of how you performed, learned, or grew as the result of an event in your trajectory toward a PhD and how you plan on contributing something new to your field of study. You should also make sure to have enough material, in the form of experience or academic goals, to write a compelling letter.

PhD motivation letters are important because they let prospective PhD candidates distill their background and experience succinctly, so that selection committees can more easily judge their character, commitment, and potential. 

Some people do find it challenging to write a letter about themselves without rambling or sounding incoherent. But if you prepare ahead of time, think honestly about your answer, and write several drafts, you should be able to write an above-average letter. If you are still struggling you can also get application help from professionals. 

Programs tend to ask for either a one or two-page letter, between 700 and 900 words. 

You can talk about anything that has do to with your past work to get to the PhD level, including aspects of your academic career, internships, independent or supervised research, fieldwork in a specific context, and any work experience you have related to your field of study. 

You should not mention any personal motivations for wanting to pursue a PhD. You can write about your intrinsic motivations to become a doctor of philosophy in your personal statement, if you are asked to submit one with your application. 

PhD programs around the world have various entry requirements that differ among schools. Some institutions ask for a motivation letter, while others ask for a personal statement or letter of recommendation and letter of intent, which has elements of a motivation letter but is not the same. 

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letter of application for phd

PhD (School) Letter of Intent Template

PhD (School) Letter of Intent Template

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Updated July 21, 2023

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A PhD letter of intent is used to strengthen one’s application to a graduate school, specifically for applications to complete a Doctor of Philosophy degree. This letter should outline the applicant’s qualifications, achievements, education, work experience, as well as their passion for the program for which they are applying and their goals for the future.

A letter of intent for a PhD program is also known as a “statement of purpose.” The committee in charge of new students will have a plethora of application packets to review; a PhD letter of intent will help them narrow down their options.

Applicants should make sure to include information that is relevant to the program and integral to their chances of being accepted. Each school/program will have information on their website telling students what their letter of intent should contain and may even go into detail regarding formatting and submission information.

What is a PhD?

A PhD , short for Doctor of Philosophy, is a postgraduate doctoral degree awarded to students who complete the most advanced schooling in any given discipline. This type of doctorate degree is classified as an academic degree where recipients concentrate on research, development, teaching, whereas applied degrees, such as medical doctorates (M.D.), law doctorates (J.D.), etc., focus on practical and professional careers.

Studying philosophy is not part of a PhD (although it can be), the word “philosophy” is used because of its Latin roots. For example, five of the most common PhD degrees in America are Accounting and Finance, Applied Math, Audiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Business Administration.)

All PhD students spend their education studying literature within their field, conducting research and collecting results, and completing an original thesis establishing new knowledge or a fresh point of view in their discipline. The thesis will be submitted as a dissertation and the student must discuss their thesis with examiners (called a “viva voce”) in order to earn their degree.

PhD Letter of Intent – Sample

June 10, 2019

Admissions Committee, Counseling Psychology PhD Program Northwestern University 633 Clark St, Evanston, IL, 60208 (847) 491-3741

Dear admissions committee,

It is a privilege to be writing to you at this time to state my intent to pursue a degree in counseling psychology at Northwestern University. I’ve been following the details of the PhD program, and it would be an honor to take part in such a well-developed and successful program. If the committee decides I am a deserving applicant, I won’t hesitate to accept; Northwestern University is without a doubt my top choice.

I received my BA in psychology from the University of Miami and have an unblemished academic track record throughout my educational career. I maintained a 3.2 GPA and participated in a number of extracurricular activities. My passion for psychology began when I was nearing the end of high school. Witnessing the difference that the counselors made on the student body was inspiring. I intend to earn my PhD to encourage and promote innovative ideas to advance psychological research and professional counseling.

I have included a research paper in my application packet that I think will interest the committee. It demonstrates my knowledge in the field of psychology and my ability to complete complex research projects. I know I still have much to learn but my professors have stated that I have shown a lot of promise and that my desire to soak up as much knowledge as I can is going to allow me to thrive in the field of counseling psychology.

My interest in Northwestern’s counseling psychology program is heightened by the school’s exciting and influential research being completed in the psychological sciences today. I’ve heard great things about the dynamic and experienced community of scientists and scholars at Northwestern and I believe that with the right training and education, I can succeed in the discipline for which I have the utmost passion.

I am positive that my acceptance into the counseling psychology program at Northwestern will benefit both myself and the school. Northwestern is my number one choice and it would be high praise to be accepted as a PhD student. Please consider my application and contact me if you require any further information.


Ultimate Letter

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Cover Letter For PhD Application | Samples and Templates

Would you like to see a sample cover letter of application for PhD position? Here are some professionally designed patterns and also a sample cover letter for PhD application.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to keep your student discounts up to age 30 or answering questions that no one in the history of mankind has ever answered. All this is possible with a well-designed PhD application.

There are very few vacancies, and there are dozens of equally qualified candidates. This guide to writing a PhD admission letter or motivational letter will go over some of the important steps to consider when writing a letter.

The first thing you should do is check the requirements of the institution you are applying to, first make sure a cover letter is required, and then see which sections they would like you to cover.

They differ from one institute to another and from one course to another. A sample academic cover letter of application for a PhD position is your best chance of being accepted.

This article is a complete guide on how to write application letters for PhD positions. It also contains a sample PhD application letter and templates to help you write the best.

What is a PhD Admission Letter?

The letter of application is your first chance to tell the committee why you should be selected for graduate studies. Not only does this show your personality, but it can also explain why a recruiting board should choose you as a PhD student in his own words.

Your PhD application letter, like most others, should complement, not duplicate, your resume. It should explain and expand on the information on your resume or application form. You must adapt the content to your chosen PhD thesis. A theme that allows you to focus your specific experience and academic achievement on your learning abilities.

It should be noted that when applying for a PhD, you may be required to submit a personal statement as well as a cover letter. Each university will have its own set of requirements, but keep in mind that a cover letter is not the same as a personal statement.

Your statement will highlight your interests and goals while your PhD the cover letter will highlight your material accomplishments such as academic and professional experience.

If you need to prepare both statements, try to keep this in mind when writing. Having a sample PhD application letter is also another way to make sure you’re writing something compelling.

What are the key points I should include in my PhD admission letter?

There are no rules about what we must include in your PhD cover letter, but in general, your application must include references to the following:

Who you are – your personality and what sets you apart from other potential PhDs. Your cover letter should be a sales tool that will encourage any committee to select you for their team. The successful cover letter should contain the following

  • Your abilities and accomplishments (along with any evidence to support your claims).
  • In addition, your study of a particular institution for your doctoral program(why you want to attend this particular institution and what makes it suitable for you).
  • Your understanding of your research project and your expectations regarding its impact on your industry (this will show not only your knowledge of the research but also your passion and motivation for the project).
  • How do your specific skills apply to the post? Have you gained any relevant experience in this area? Have you been inspired by the achievements of previous bachelor’s degree and master’s degree?

Writing a great motivation letter is a skill, just like any other part of the application process. This requires you to explain in a balanced way who you are and why you should be selected, in detail while remaining concise.

While remaining professional, it should reflect your personality. This is a difficult writing skill that should not be rushed.

Don’t rush into writing your application letter; the more time you spend on it, the higher your chances of you becoming a successful PhD student. Use the top-down approach as a practical tip.

You can use a sample PhD cover letter to make sure you don’t make mistakes and are on the right track. Continue reading to learn more about Cover Letter Sample and Templates for PhD application. This will help you write a cover letter for PhD application.

What is the purpose of a PhD Statement?

If you are a PhD candidate, an academic letter of the application allows you to explain to the reader, who is likely the professor or director in charge of reviewing PhD applicants, what you can offer to the program and why they should select you for a place.

You can use your cover letter to fill in any gaps on your resume (CV), tailor your application to a specific program, and showcase your communication skills and passion.

This is your chance to impress a PhD program director with your identity and the assets you will bring to their institution.

How to write a PhD Statement?

Follow these steps to write a PhD statement:

1. Learn the details of the program and organization

Review the information you have about the program you are applying for before writing your application letter. Use a different application letter for each organization because they may be looking for unique qualities in candidates.

Analyze your qualities, as well as those of the ideal candidate, and tailor your application letter to the areas where they overlap.

2. Create a formal letter of application.

A STEM-focused application letter should be one page, while a liberal arts-focused application letter can be two pages. Always check with the organization and adhere to any formatting rules they may have for the application material.

Use a professional font and font size, pay attention to clear formatting, and avoid adding extra elements such as pictures or frames.

3. Provide your most recent contact information.

It is especially important to provide up-to-date and correct contact information when contacting several organizations at once. If the organization needs more information or wants to schedule an interview, you should make sure they can contact you.

The presence of up-to-date and accurate information indicates professionalism and reliability.

4. Create an introduction

Write an introduction after you’ve completed the body of your cover letter. The introduction should clearly state what you are applying for. You can also use this space to briefly mention future ambitions or goals.

5. In the first paragraph of the main body, highlight your strengths and experience.

Write the first paragraph of your cover letter highlighting your education, strengths, and experience. This paragraph should describe who you are academically and what you hope to achieve while participating in the program. Tell us about your specific interests in this area, what sparked your interest, and any research you’ve done on those specific interests.

6. In the second main paragraph, describe your distinctive features.

Focus on your passion, drive, and unique qualities that set you apart from other candidates in the second paragraph of your cover letter. You want to show not only how the program can help you, but also how you can improve the program if accepted. Consider overlaps between your qualifications and what the program is looking for in an ideal candidate.

7. Complete your application letter.

End the application letter by thanking the reader for their time and expressing appreciation for the opportunity. The conclusion should complement the rest of your application letter, demonstrating your enthusiasm for your field and commitment to the organization.

Your conclusion should also encourage the reader to contact you for more information, discussion, or to schedule an interview.

8. Include a formal closure and signature.

Your closing and signature are the final elements of your academic cover letter. In most cases, you may not need to physically sign the document; a printed name will suffice.

Avoid using intimate closing phrases and use more professional ones instead. Here are some examples of professional closing statements. The sample PhD application letter written below will serve as a great guide to make sure you get it right.

Tips for writing an effective PhD thesis Statement

You can use the following guidelines to write your PhD statement:

Start at the very beginning of the process. Preparing an application for graduate school requires careful planning. Set aside enough time to write, edit, and proofread your cover letter.

Take a break between writing and editing. When you’ve finished writing your application letter, save it and wait a few days before editing to make sure you notice ways to improve or correct your work.

Make the most of your resources. If you are still in college, you can use the writing or career centers to craft an effective cover letter. Talk to your favorite professors or lecturers, ask them questions and listen to their advice.

Carefully review your PhD thesis. statement. You want to present yourself professionally in your application letter because this is one of your first points of contact with a potential school. Use proofreading software, read your cover letter aloud, and ask friends and colleagues to read it for you to create a flawless application letter.

Make your points clear. You must provide evidence for every claim you make about yourself. Tell us as much as possible about your achievements and hobbies.

Focus on your true self. Demonstrate why you are the best candidate for your chosen school by emphasizing how your uniqueness will benefit the program. Concentrate on articulating your important accomplishments.

Samples and Templates Of Academic Cover Letters for PhD Statement

Academic Cover Letter Sample for PhD Position

Receiver name

Recipient’s position

Address of the recipient

Dear [name]

Cover letter for the PhD program at [institution name].

I am writing to express my research interests in continuing my academic studies at [university] through a PhD program in [topic].

I am very eager to join your [Faculty Postgraduate] program because I consider that its prosperous history of academic research is an ideal match for my academic abilities and extensive career experience. I have been interested in [the topic] for a long time and recently met with [name], one of your alumni. And they inspired me to take a chance and submit this letter because I have long wanted to expand on the knowledge I gained through my experience at [your company name].

I studied [mention subject] at [mention university], and throughout my academic history and work experience, I grew a strong interest in this niche area [your topic]. My thesis was on [subject], and I was able to put my academic knowledge into practice while working at [your company name where you work/worked] since graduating from my undergraduate studies.

As you can see from my attached academic CV, I was able to sharpen my skills in key specializations, which led to my interest in [the project]. Because of the ever-changing nature of my profession, I believe there are opportunities for further study [of the subject] and I am eager to combine my theoretical and practical knowledge with my research PhD project.

I believe that this is valuable not only for me and my colleagues but for my profession as a whole because it can help others understand the meaning [of the subject].

I hope to continue my academic career with a PhD, which has long been my goal. I can’t think of a better university to study than [the university you are wishing to complete your PhD from]. I’ve always been motivated by the accomplishments of this institution and would like to collaborate with your teaching staff to explore my hypothesis, namely [details]. I would especially like to work with Professor [mention name], who was admiringly regarded by our mutual understanding [name of alumnus].

Thus, I am sure that with my theoretical knowledge and professional experience I will be able to complete the research project I have chosen at a high level. I am a dedicated, hardworking individual who has long been respected in my industry through my involvement in [professional organizations]. I have also been recognized for my work, along with my peers, through many industry awards, including [details].

After completing my PhD, I intend to use my knowledge to educate fellow professionals, thereby increasing awareness and understanding of our industry.

I hope this letter has given you some idea of ​​my commitment to my education and that you will consider my application.

I would like to once again draw your attention to my CV, which is attached to this letter and describes in detail my professional and academic background.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.



Your cover letter for PhD application should contain a brief introduction to the program you want to apply for in the text of the application. This should be included in any cover letter. You need to write down the letter to the PhD supervisor.

First, state a clear career goal for your future project, as well as the reasons why you chose this particular PhD program. Mention in detail your previous professional and academic history. Also mention if you are applying for professional scientific research or anything else.

Q. How do I write a cover letter for a PhD admission?

A. Your cover letter for PhD application should contain a brief introduction to the program you want to apply for in the text of the application. This should be included in any cover letter. You need to write down the letter to the PhD supervisor.

Q. How do I write a good PhD application?

A. First, state a clear career goal for your future project, as well as the reasons why you chose this particular PhD program. Mention in detail your previous professional and academic history. Also mention if you are applying for professional scientific research or anything else.

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Application FAQs: Letters of recommendation

graphic reading "application FAQs"

As part of the application for admission, three individuals who are familiar with your work—either academic or professional—will be required to submit letters of recommendation endorsing your candidacy. These letters provide the Admissions Committee with valuable insight into your character and performance in the classroom and workplace.

Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about letters of recommendation .

Do my recommenders need to submit their letters by the December 1 deadline?

Your completed application, including all supporting materials, must be received no later than Friday, December 1, 2023 at 12 p.m. ET. Please be in touch with your recommenders as December 1 approaches to ensure that their recommendations are submitted prior to the deadline.

Who should I ask to provide letters of recommendation?

  • If you are an undergraduate or have less than two years of work experience, we encourage you to submit two letters of recommendation from university faculty members and the third from your immediate supervisor from a professional work environment or internship.
  • If you have more than two years of work experience, two of your three letters of recommendation should be from current or previous work colleagues, including a supervisor. We also encourage you to submit an academic reference as well.
  • We understand that many applicants to the Mid-Career MPA Program may not be able to submit recommendations from professors. If you are a Mid-Career applicant, you should have colleagues or supervisors who can evaluate your ability to succeed in a rigorous academic environment write your letters of recommendation.

Is it beneficial to have a high-profile recommender?

You should select recommenders who can speak to qualities such as your intellectual ability, problem-solving skills, leadership ability, and commitment to public service. It is much more important to have recommenders who can write in detail about your performance in the workplace or classroom than it is to have high-profile recommenders.

Can I submit more than three letters of recommendation?

No, we will only accept three letters of recommendation. Please do not send additional letters of recommendation—we will not consider these as part of your application.

My recommenders are not native English speakers. Can they submit letters in another language?

We will accept a recommendation letter in a language other than English; however, the letter must be translated into English. You, the applicant, cannot complete the translation. In such cases, both the original letter and English translation should be submitted.

How do my recommenders submit their letters of recommendation?

You will enter the names and email addresses of each of your recommenders in your online application. An email with instructions, a username, and password will be sent to each registered recommender through our application system.  After adding your recommenders, you may check their letter submission status under the “Recommendations” section of your online application and on your application status portal.

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Get to know HKS: Assistant Director of Admissions & Financial Aid Leigh McLaren

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Cover Letter For PHD Application In 2023 (With Samples)

  • Post author: Rohit
  • Post last modified: August 31, 2023
  • Post category: Job & Work
  • Post comments: 0 Comments

Hi there, how are you guys doing, today in this article we are going to discuss about you to write a cover letter for phd application in 2021. So we are going to share few samples as well so that you get an idea about how to write cover letters for getting your phd application selected.

letter of application for phd

The most important part of your PhD application is your PhD cover letter . Your cover letter should tell the interviewer why you are a perfect fit and why you should be invited for an interview.

So this article will tell you exactly what a phd cover letter is and what are the benefits of it. We will also tell you a few pre-written cover letter for phd application.

What Is PHD Cover Letter?

A cover letter is nothing but just a piece of paper that tells the interviewer why you should be selected for your postgraduate doctorate. It should reflect your actual personality in your own words and convey the hiring panel to select you as a phd student.

While writing the phd cover letter just keep one thing in mind that do not repeat the information that is already written in your cv. Instead of repeating the information you can expand it and make it more clear to the hiring panel. It should not sound boring.

You should highlight your specific expertise and academic achievements that you have earned in past. This will make you stand out from the crowd.

Keep in mind that while submitting your phd cover letter you may be asked to submit a personal statement along with your cover letter. This totally depends upon the university that you are applying to. Some may ask some may not. For your information, a personal statement is different from a cover letter .

A personal statement is more focused on your interests, goals and your ambitions in life, on the other hand, your cover letter will focus on your achievements such as your academic and professional experience if any.

You may be asked to draft both statements, then try to keep this in mind during the writing process.

Important Points To Include In PHD Application Letter

First of all, there are no specific rules and regulations that you have to follow while writing your phd application letter but here are some important points htat you should include in your cover letter.

  • About Yourself – Always start the letter by introducing yourself, who you actually are, what’s your personality, etc. Imagine yourself as a product and your cover letter as a marketing tool for yourself, you have to convey to the hiring committee to select you in their team.
  • Achievements And Skills – If you have any past achievements then that should be included in your cover letter along with the skills you have.
  • Your Research about that particular institution and why you want to join that particular academic institution
  • Your Projects – If you have worked on any projects in the past then you should include that as well, maybe that particular project gonna impress the hiring committee and you end up getting selected.
  • Why You Are Perfect – Every academic institution is different and looking for different candidates, do your proper research about the institution before applying and include all the key point about why you are a perfect fit for them.

Take your time to craft your application letter as you are writing it on a professional level. The more time you spend on your cover letter the better you’ll able to write.

Use the ‘ top-down ‘ approach to include the more relevant and important information at the top of the letter and then work your way down to the end. You have no surety when will the hiring member stop reading your cover letter, that’s why the top-down approach ensures that they have all the necessary information even if they stop reading your cover letter in the middle. Do not make the introduction too long as they are more interested in your skills.

Cover Letter For PhD Application Samples

Now we will see how to write a perfect cover letter for PhD application step by step.

Introduce Yourself

The first thing you have to do in your cover letter is to properly introduce yourself for eg. who you are, what’s your academic background, why the hiring committee should consider your application, etc.

This is the right place to tell them what PhD you are applying for and why you have taken this decision to study further. You can start your storytelling in this section as well.

 “ I developed my interested in this subject when I met [name], who is one of your alumni. They inspired me to want to continue my learning and further my knowledge, which has been developed through my professional experience at [company name]. ”

Here you can clearly see that the candidate is explaining why he wants to apply and what inspires him to continue their studies. He is also telling about his professional experience with a company. This creates an interest in the reader’s mind.

Showcasing Your Achievements and Skills

After the introduction, you have to tell them about your previous achievements and skills that you have. You have to tell them how your skills can help them in the projects and commercial sectors.

You can also refer to your CV for better insights about your achievements and skills. You could use this section to briefly introduce what topic you believe would make a great research project.

“ As already mentioned in my CV, I have an extensive professional history within my sector. From my experience at [company name], I was able to focus upon my key specialisms, which led me to develop an interest in [project]. “As you know, the profession have ever-changing nature and due to that there is always a scope to continue the research into [Subject] and i am ready to combine my skills and experience in my research. I believe this is of value to not just myself and my peers but also my wider profession because of [detail]. “

This is how you can write a cover letter for PhD application . You can always experiment in your own way or you can use our references as well to write a perfect cover letter for phd applications.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, If Yes? then do comment below your thoughts and share this article with your friends and family.

If you have any doubts and questions regarding anything then you can contact us or leave the comment below, we will get back to you asap.

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Changes to International Student Program aim to protect students

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

News release

Canada is a top destination of choice for international students, thanks to our high-quality educational institutions; our welcoming, diverse society; and the opportunities to work or immigrate permanently after graduation. While international students have contributed to life on campuses across the country, they have also experienced some serious challenges navigating Canada’s International Student Program.

October 27, 2023—Brampton, ON— Canada is a top destination of choice for international students, thanks to our high-quality educational institutions; our welcoming, diverse society; and the opportunities to work or immigrate permanently after graduation. While international students have contributed to life on campuses across the country, they have also experienced some serious challenges navigating Canada’s International Student Program.

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced plans to implement several measures aimed at strengthening Canada’s International Student Program and at better protecting genuine students from fraud. These measures include the following:

  • Starting December 1, 2023, post-secondary designated learning institutions (DLI) will be required to confirm every applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with IRCC. This new, enhanced verification process aims to protect prospective students from letter‑of‑acceptance fraud and to help them avoid similar problems that some students faced earlier this year as a result of fraud investigations. It will also ensure that study permits are issued based only on genuine letters of acceptance.
  • In time for the fall 2024 semester, IRCC will adopt a “recognized institution” framework to benefit post-secondary DLIs that set a higher standard for services, support and outcomes for international students. These DLIs will benefit, for example, from the priority processing of study permits for applicants who plan to attend their school.
  • In the coming months, IRCC will complete an assessment of Post-Graduation Work Permit Program criteria and begin introducing reforms to better calibrate it to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market, as well as regional and Francophone immigration goals.

We recognize the significant social, cultural and economic benefits that international students bring to Canada, and for those benefits to continue, we must address challenges to the integrity of the International Student Program. Through these measures, we are taking action against nefarious actors who have preyed on genuine students for financial gain by identifying every fraudulent letter of acceptance soon after it is submitted. Institutions that demonstrate strong support for international students will be recognized and their applicants will move to the front of the line for processing, and we will be able to better select and retain those students that are best suited to meet the needs of Canada’s economy and immigration goals. These important reforms mark the initial changes identified through the review of the International Student Program, as well as the broader engagement initiative, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future. This includes our ongoing work with institutions, provinces and territories, and organizations representing Canada’s colleges and universities to better detect fraud and uphold the integrity of our immigration programs.

“International students are talented, bright and deserving of a positive experience as they pursue their studies in Canada. We will continue to improve Canada’s International Student Program by protecting students and weeding out those who try to take advantage of them. Whether an international student stays and works after graduation or returns home, we want their time as a student in Canada to have been beneficial to their growth and aspirations.” – The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

International education accounts for more than $22 billion in economic activity annually, greater than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft, and supports more than 200,000 jobs in Canada. The temporary drop in international students in 2020 resulted in a loss of more than $7 billion for Canada’s gross domestic product that year.

In Canada, ministries of education in the 10 provinces and 3 territories are responsible for the organization, delivery and assessment of education.

In June, following investigations into fraudulent admissions letters, an IRCC taskforce was formed to work with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to review the cases of affected students and graduates. The goal of this work was to prevent genuine students from facing removal from Canada.

Of the 103 cases reviewed by October 12, 2023, 63 were found to be genuine students and 40 were not.

The Genuine Students Impacted by Fraud Taskforce is aware of additional cases that have not yet been reviewed, as individuals are still awaiting decisions from the Immigration and Refugee Board. If an exclusion order is issued in these cases, the cases may be reviewed by the taskforce in the future.

On June 23, 2023,  CBSA announced that charges had been laid against Brijesh Mishra for immigration-related offences . Mr. Mishra was identified by victims as one of the central figures involved in defrauding students. IRCC will continue to work diligently with the CBSA to identify and act against unscrupulous actors who take advantage of genuine students.

Related products

  • Study in Canada as an international student
  • Find out if your representative is authorized
  • How to report fraud or abuse

Associated links

  • Statement from Minister Fraser concerning reports of international student fraud
  • What you need to know before you choose a school
  • Protect yourself from immigration fraud

Bahoz Dara Aziz Press Secretary Minister’s Office Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [email protected]

Media Relations Communications Branch Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 613-952-1650 [email protected]

Page details


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