How to Write a Strong Letter of Motivation for a Graduate Position

As the 2023/2024 admission window approaches, professors and principal investigators (PIs) will advertise graduate positions on LinkedIn and Twitter. To maximize your chances of securing one of these positions, you need a strong letter of motivation. In this blog post, we will outline the key steps to crafting a compelling letter that showcases your genuine interest and qualifications.

1. Address the professor

Begin your letter with a direct address, such as “Dear Professor [Last Name],” to show respect and professionalism. This sets the tone for the rest of your letter and demonstrates that you understand the importance of addressing the recipient appropriately.

2. Introduction

Express your interest in the position and highlight what caught your attention in the LinkedIn or Twitter post. Be specific about the aspects of the position that appeal to you, such as the research focus, the opportunity to work with a particular professor, or the chance to contribute to a groundbreaking project. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the opportunity.

3. Research the professor

Demonstrate your knowledge of the professor’s background, expertise, and research interests by mentioning their recent publications, ongoing projects, or notable achievements. This will show that you have taken the time to understand their work and how it aligns with your own interests. Additionally, it will help you establish a connection with the professor by demonstrating your familiarity with their research.

4. Highlight your qualifications

Outline your academic background and relevant skills briefly, focusing on the aspects that are most relevant to the position. For example, mention your undergraduate degree, any research experience, internships, or relevant coursework. Quantify your achievements, if possible, by providing specific numbers or percentages, such as the number of research projects you have completed or the grade point average you achieved.

5. Align research interests

Explain how your interests align with the professor’s work and express your passion for the field. For instance, discuss a specific research project or publication of the professor that resonates with your own research interests. This will help establish a connection between your goals and the professor’s research, showing that you are a good fit for the position.

6. Showcase skills and achievements

Highlight specific skills or accomplishments that make you a strong candidate for the position. This could include technical skills, such as programming languages or laboratory techniques, as well as soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, or problem-solving abilities. Provide examples of how you have applied these skills in previous academic or professional settings to demonstrate your value and potential contributions to the research team.

7. Discuss career goals

Explain how the graduate position fits into your long-term aspirations and the benefits it offers. Describe your future plans, such as pursuing a Ph.D., working in academia or industry, or contributing to a specific field of research. This will show that you have a clear vision for your future and understand the importance of the opportunity.

8. Express enthusiasm and commitment

Convey your eagerness to contribute, collaborate, and make an impact within the research team. Use positive language and action-oriented phrases, such as “I am excited to contribute my skills to this project” or “I am committed to collaborating with the team to achieve our research goals.” This will demonstrate your dedication and motivation to succeed in the position.

9. Conclusion

Summarize your key points, reiterate your interest in the position, and express gratitude for the opportunity to apply. This will leave a lasting impression on the reader and reinforce your enthusiasm for the position.

10. Proofread and edit

Check your letter for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Keep a professional and positive tone throughout the document. Consider using professional proofreading and editing services to ensure your letter is polished and error-free. By carefully crafting a strong letter of motivation, tailoring it to the professor and position, and showcasing your genuine interest, you will significantly increase your chances of securing a graduate position. Check out our article on the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Letter of Motivation. Good luck!

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