How to Write a Letter of Motivation with Samples
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How to Write a Letter of Motivation with Samples

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Updated on Sep 12, 2023 17:28 IST

Letter of Motivation: If you are reading this article, you must be halfway through your application process for admission to your favourite university. If the university is asking for a Motivational Letter or Motivation Letter, then this article will help you understand the basics of a Letter of Motivation.

By now, you must be familiar with the application process and the different documents required by the universities. Apart from the financial documents, Letters of Recommendation (LORs), and Resume/ CV, the universities must have asked for a write-up in the form of an SOP or Letter of Motivation/Motivational Letter. Most universities demand a Statement of Purpose (SOP)/ Personal Statement, while Essays are usually asked for UG or MBA courses. Essays are also required for specific scholarships such as the Charpak Scholarship, government scholarships (like GOI-IES), or college-specific scholarships such as HAN Holland ScholarshipTrinity Dublin Scholarships, etc. However, some universities may request a Letter of Motivation instead of an SOP.

A resume might not be able to reflect your personality, commitment, and enthusiasm to pursue a particular course. However, a letter of motivation gives the applicant the chance to stand out from the competition by demonstrating their personality, work ethic, and excitement for the academic program. It frequently serves as the foundation for interview invitations and the shortlisting of prospects. The likelihood of being accepted for the post or program might be greatly increased with a strong motivational letter.

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What is a Letter of Motivation or a Motivation Letter?

Letter of Motivation or Motivational letter provides extra context and information about the application. It is frequently included with job applications, university or college admissions, and scholarship applications. A letter of Motivation is typically 1 page in length and contains an applicant’s background, reasons for applying to a particular academic programme, what they wish to contribute to the university/college if chosen, etc. Before we move on to the structure, format, and samples of a letter of motivation, it is essential for the candidates to understand various terms that are often used with a motivational letter.

Difference between a Letter of Motivation and an SOP

Before you start drafting it, you must remember the difference between an SOP and a Letter of Motivation. Simply put, a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a formal document that helps the admission committee get an idea about your professional and academic life. You can elaborate on your professional experience, projects, and achievements, along with your goals and motivation, which are not covered in other academic documents such as a CV or LORs.

On the other hand, a Letter of Motivation (or a Motivation Letter) is directly addressed to the admission committee/ department faculty explaining your objectives, motivation, and goals related to the course. An SOP is not addressed to any specific person or department, it is drafted in an essay format; whereas, a motivation letter is always addressed to a professor or department under whose guidance you wish to study. The motivation letter allows to you be in direct contact with the professor/department; hence, you should always aim to highlight points that make you stand out of the crowd, especially for PhD aspirants. The points given below will help you understand the differences between an SOP and a Letter of Motivation:

Difference between a Letter of Motivation and a Cover Letter

A letter of motivation is a document that focuses on your objectives and driving forces to pursue a particular opportunity (academic or job). It is frequently used when submitting applications for scholarships, study abroad chances, or other opportunities where the selection committee wants to learn more about you. Your motivational letter should highlight your excitement and drive for the position you are looking for as well as how your objectives mesh with those of the organisation or programme. In contrast, a cover letter often goes with a job application and introduces the applicant to the hiring manager or employer. It often contains details on your credentials, experience, and abilities pertinent to the position you are applying for.

Difference between a Motivational Letter and a Letter of Intent

Students are often confused between a Motivational Letter and a Letter of Intent. A Letter of Intent is commonly known as a Visa letter. While a motivational letter (or letter of motivation) is for your admission purpose, a letter of intent is for visa purposes. Both have very different formats and objectives so do not interchange them.

Moreover, when we talk of the business world, a letter of intent is frequently used for official and commercial purposes wherein it describes the aims, objectives, and expectations in relation to a particular opportunity such as a business deal.

In conclusion, whereas a letter of intent is more concerned with detailing the conditions and objectives of a proposed business opportunity, a letter of motivation is more concerned with the applicant's personal traits and fit for a particular opportunity (job or academic).

Also Read: How to write an SOP for PhD courses

How to Write a Letter of Motivation?

This section provides an answer to the question, “How to write a Motivational Letter?” A good motivational letter must have a proper structure. Given below are the 5 basic steps that you can follow while drafting a motivation letter.

  • Prepare a structure: Before writing a letter of motivation, it is important to keep in mind the main reason for applying to a university. Moreover, you must be clear whether your letter of motivation should be divided into 3 paragraphs or 5-7 paragraphs.
  • Write a good introduction: After deciding on the structure, you must write a brief introduction about yourself. It should catch the recipient’s attention instantly. It should also make them interested to read the letter of motivation further. Make sure to include relevant details about your achievements, who/ what was your source of inspiration, any crucial project that you undertook, etc. The introduction of a letter of motivation must cover the following:
    • Personal information.
    • Reasons to pursue a particular course, job, etc.
  • Body Paragraphs: Describe your reasons for applying to the particular academic programme or job, highlighting your long-term goals and the benefits you plan to derive from it. If chosen, explain your goals for the university or organisation and give examples of your relevant experience and abilities. You may also want to mention your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Write a conclusion: It is crucial to write a conclusion that summarizes your goals and leaves a positive impression on the readers. You must also thank them for considering your application.
  • Proofread: Lastly, it is advised to proofread your letter of motivation to make it clear, concise, and professional. Crosscheck to see if there are any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or sentence formation errors. You can also ask a trusted colleague or any experienced person to proofread your letter of motivation so that it is error-free.
  • Be authentic: It is important for you to be authentic and genuine in your motivational letter. Anything that cannot be justified must not be included in the letter of motivation.

Letter of Motivation Format

This is how a letter of motivation must appear like:

You can find countless formats and samples of motivation letters (or letter of motivation). However, do note that the majority of those samples are drafted for professional reasons and not for academic reasons. An academic motivational letter and a professional motivational letter are very different. The academic one goes directly to the faculty/ department as your proof of interest in joining their programme and university. The professional one acts as a cover letter to your resume/ CV describing why you are a good fit for the job. The format given below will help you get started with your first draft of a motivational letter:

Salutation: If the Professor’s details are given, you can write directly ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’. If only department/ university details are given then start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.

Introduction: Introduce yourself by painting a pen picture of your personality. Make sure you do not start the introduction like an essay on ‘Myself’ such as ‘I am XXXX, living in YYYY…’ or ‘My name is XXXX and I belong to YYYY country’, etc. The first paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and highlight the objective of the letter. Give a short review of your background (academic professional) in one or two sentences and then state which programme you want to apply to and why. You can elaborate a bit on this later; here, just state your points.

Body 1: Before you start working on the body of the letter, write down all the relevant points that you wish to highlight. Do not give an overview of your CV. Try to mention those experiences that do not form a part of your CV. Mention how you got interested in a particular field and went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree. You can also mention the contribution of your work experience in developing your interest in a particular field.

Consider the following questions:

  • What motivated you?
  • How did your undergraduate influence you?
  • How did your work experience influence you?
  • Is there anything beyond my academics and work experience that has influenced me to take up a particular course?
  • Have you worked on any publications and research?

Body 2: You can mention why you have chosen a particular course or University. You can also mention a University research that caught your attention. Do mention how these things align with your goals and aspirations. Explain how your qualifications and experiences make you an ideal candidate for this programme.

Conclusion: Summarize your letter by stressing your interest in the course and university. Also, emphasise why you are a good fit for the university.

Structure of Motivation Letter

If you want to take admission into your dream institution, the presentation of the letter of motivation can be a total game changer. Generally, a letter of motivation should be 1 page only. The structure of the letter of motivation can be either of the following:

  • A traditional 3-paragraph motivation letter, where there will be an introductory paragraph, main body, and conclusion.
  • A 5-7 paragraph letter wherein you can emphasize each achievement.

Mistakes to Avoid while Writing a Letter of Motivation

  • Do not copy content from the internet or any other source. Keep in mind that universities are very strict about plagiarism and since they deal with academic drafts daily, they can easily detect plagiarism.
  • Do not use any cliché words or sentences.
  • Language should be lucid with no grammatical mistakes. You should have a good vocabulary but avoid using dense language as at times it fails to deliver a clear message.
  • Use short sentences and maintain a proper format/ structure.
  • Neither should you brag nor should you sound desperate.
  • Do not lie! Never lie or forge any detail in any of your academic documents. It can lead to the blacklisting of your profile.

Letter of Motivation: Dos and Donts

It is crucial to follow basic guidelines when writing a letter of motivation in order to make your letter stand out and clearly express your motivation and eligibility for the position. The following are some guidelines for creating a motivation letter:

1) Do’s for Letter of Motivation

  • Research: Spend some time learning about the university you are applying to, then modify your letter accordingly. Make it clear that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity or programme they are offering.
  • Experience and Skills: Make a connection between your prior experiences, abilities, and accomplishments and the position you are applying for. Stress how these experiences have helped you and how they have helped you become a strong candidate.
  • Be Specific: To back up your claims and assertions, give precise instances and proof. To prove your qualifications and accomplishments, use specific examples.
  • Cultural Awareness: Be sure to show that you are open-minded and culturally knowledgeable if you are seeking to study abroad. Showcase your capacity for adjusting to new settings and interacting with various cultures.

2) Don’ts for Letter of Motivation

  • Use of Generic Templates: Avoid using generic templates or clichéd phrases. Tailor your letter to the specific opportunity and make it unique to you.
  • False Claims: Be honest and authentic in your letter. Avoid exaggerating your skills or experiences. Admissions committees value authenticity.
  • Errors: Carefully proofread your letter and ensure that it is free of grammatical and spelling errors.

Tips to Write Motivation Letter for Study Abroad

Here are some tips to write a good letter of motivation for studying abroad:

  • Introduction: Use an attention-grabbing introduction to draw the reader into your motivation letter. Think of relating a personal tale or an insightful statement to your desire to study abroad.
  • Motivation: Explain why you desire to study abroad in clear terms. Give specific examples of why you made your decision, such as the chance to experience a new culture, get a global perspective, or pursue academic distinction in a particular area.
  • Research: Show that you have done your homework on the destination countries, the college, and the programme you are applying to. Talk about how these fit with your academic and personal objectives. Include detailed information on the programme, faculty, surroundings, or other standout opportunities.
  • Experiences: Showcase your prior accomplishments, both academic and extracurricular, that demonstrate your desire to pursue an international education. Put a focus on how these events have affected your knowledge, talents, and personal development. Make a connection between them and the programme you are applying for and describe how they will help you succeed.
  • Goals: Describe your long-term goals and how studying abroad will help you achieve them. Describe how travelling abroad will improve your abilities, expand your network, and present special chances for both personal and professional development.
  • Authenticity: Your cover letter should showcase your distinct personality and writing style. Refrain from utilising cliches or general terms. Instead, be authentic and speak from your own perspective. This will enable the reader to relate to you more deeply.

Sample Motivation Letter for University

_____ University

Admissions Committee

Dear Sir/ Madam

I am writing this letter to inform you about my interest in the M.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning programme at your prestigious university. I currently hold a B.Arch. degree from ____. Right now, I am working as an architect and interior designer for the past three years with ______. I have always been enthralled by the impact of urbanization in curating architectural masterpieces besides being aware of its social, economic and environmental impact. In an era where modernization is at the very core of every industry, I found that this university’s programme prepares professionally competent designers and architects that can improve the quality of towns and cities and address environmental issues at the same time.

Living in India has helped me understand the striking combination of modern towns and village areas, and how urbanisation has affected both of them. This further demands innovative solutions to handle environmental concerns and infrastructural development. Working as an architect with ____, I have handled various structural and interior design projects in the last two years and I want to enhance my skillsets as well as design knowledge by gaining international exposure.

Considering my education from ______ as well as work experience at ____, I am confident that I am a good fit for M.Sc. in Urban and Regional Planning programme at ____. I aspire to contribute to the vibrant learning environment through my professional knowledge and experience of working in the Indian design space.

Enclosed with this letter are the necessary documents for admission. Thank you for considering my application.

Sincerely
________

Sample Motivation Letter for Scholarship

To Mr. _____

I am ____, and I am writing this to express my interest in a scholarship for the Bachelor of Science, Nursing program at the University of California. I have a passion to help people and I do not want my financial limitations to become a problem in pursuing my passion. I grew up in a low-income family with a single father who worked three jobs to provide for my sisters and me. My father taught me the value of working hard. Apart from this, his encouragement and determination toward my studies helped me get the best grades in my class.  

As my father worked long hours, I spent a lot of time taking care of my brother, who is suffering from cerebral palsy. The time I spent taking care of him helped me realize my passion for helping others. This event sparked my interest in nursing. This period taught me the human value of compassion and empathy. I feel my humble roots and strong work ethic will make me a well-qualified University ambassador. The positive career and research outcomes of the Nursing course, offered at your University, have grabbed my attention, and I strongly believe that a nursing degree from your University will give me a perfect environment that is conducive to my growth as a student and as a human being.

Thank you for reviewing my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon. You can contact me at _____ if you have any queries about my application.

Kind Regards

_____

If you want to write an impressive motivational letter, then start with making a rough draft first. Give it a good amount of time and you can even take the help of your peer, friends, professors or family members. Their feedback can help you in identifying your mistakes and gaps in content. If you have any other queries regarding this, do drop us a comment below and we will get back to you! For help with university applications, students seeking to study abroad can contact our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors.

Also Read:

Common Mistakes to Avoid during the Application Process

Financial documents required to study abroad

Requirements for Student Visa

How to prepare for an F1 visa interview?

Letter of Motivation FAQs

Q. How can I write a good letter of motivation for university?

A. In order to write a good letter of motivation for a university, note down some main ideas that you want to include, specify your goals, and why does this program interest you. Then, conclude your motivation letter specifying why you think you are a great fit for this programme. Here are some other points that you need to know:

  • Provide accurate and relevant information. Do not confuse those who are reading your motivation letter.
  • While writing a letter of motivation, your thoughts and ideas should be coherent. This will generate a well-structured letter of motivation.
  • Your motivation/purpose/goal should be clear. Avoid any ambiguity.

Q. How to write a motivational letter for scholarship?

A. In order to write a motivational letter for scholarship, you need to follow these steps:

  • Introduction: Introduce yourself at the beginning of the letter, including your name, academic background, and the scholarship you are seeking for.
  • Body Paragraphs: Mention your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, internships, etc. Mention your reasons for pursuing a scholarship. You may also mention your academic and professional goals. Describe how your qualifications for the scholarship are met by your skills, experience, and academic standing. Indicate how your interests fit with the aims and objectives of the scholarship.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the main points and mention why you are an ideal candidate for the scholarship.

Q. How to write a motivation letter for master's?

A. It is a good idea to summarize the main points that you will be focusing on before you start writing your letter of motivation. When the summary is completed, organize your content. For a great letter of motivation, there should be at least 3 paragraphs – introduction, body, and conclusion. Start your introduction with a formal dear sir or madam. Then, write why you are writing this letter of motivation. In the main body of the letter, mention why you are the perfect candidate for the master’s program by stating your present and past achievements. Lastly, conclude your letter of motivation by thanking the authorities.

Q. How to Introduce Yourself in Motivation Letter?

A. Introduction is the trickiest part of a motivation letter. Your introduction should be straight to the point, and at the same time, should be able to capture the attention of the reader. If you are writing an academic letter of motivation, then start with a salutation like dear sir or madam. Then, introduce yourself by painting your personality. Give a brief about your academic and professional (if any) background in one or two sentences. Then, mention in brief for which programme you want to apply and why.

Q. How should I conclude a letter of motivation?

A. Towards the end of your letter of motivation, make sure to offer thanks for the authority’s time and consideration. Also, choose a professional salutation such as sincerely, best regards, thank you for your consideration, etc. Try to avoid phrases like ‘yours’, ‘cheers’, and ‘take care’. Moreover, you can also mention how you can be an asset to the University and in what all spheres you can contribute. You can also summarize your goals and aspirations in the conclusion. The conclusion of your letter of motivation should be able to convince the selectors about your candidature.

Q. What should be the length of a motivation letter?

A. The ideal length of a motivation letter should be 500-700 words. However, certain colleges or universities could have certain specifications, therefore it is essential to consult the website of your desired institution to learn the suggested length. In general, it's crucial to make sure that your motivation letter is brief, to the point, and contains all the information you need.

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