How to write a motivation letter for a university?

Compare this: “I am a suitable candidate for your college because I graduated with a 9.5 GPA from JNU in BA (Hons.)”

With this: “My three years of BA(Hons.) at JNU have taught me how to critically engage with academic theories and produce relevant research, as shown in my dissertation about the ‘cultural influence of the Instagram ‘Like’ feature’.”

Which do you think would look better in a motivation letter?

Clearly, the latter.

In this article, we will tell you how to capture the attention of your dream university’s admission committee with your motivation letter.

And,  you will learn:

  • How to write a motivation letter?
  • Tips on how to write a motivation letter
  • Planning for cultural differences while writing the letter
  • Layout for motivation letter for PhD
  • Sample of motivation letter for PhD
  • Funding your education with FundRight

But first, let’s settle a nagging question.

Are ‘motivation letter’ and ‘cover letter’ same or different?

Motivation letters and cover letters are often used synonymously. Some colleges may ask you to submit a cover letter and make no mention of a motivation letter.

However, the broader purpose behind both is the same.

You have to tell the admission committee why you are the perfect candidate for the college. It usually complements your CV.

How to write a motivation letter?

We have broken down how to write a motivation letter in simpler chunks.


Your tone should be professional yet conversational. Don’t try to be too wordy or too formal.

Make sure that you write in clear, concise English. Don’t use too much jargon or go into extra detail.


  1. Layout

Think of it as a business letter. Your aim should be to fill one side of A4 in length. Brevity is your best friend. Make sure to remain concise and relevant throughout.

  1. Introduction

Introduce yourself and state your purpose for writing.

Indicate how you came across the opportunity. Did you see the college website? Did your teachers tell you about the college or the course?

This provides the committee context for your motivation letter.

You should consider how you want to introduce yourself. You can include your location of study, the course you are doing, and when you expect to finish it.

Sample introduction:

I am writing to apply for the Master in Finance & Accounting program at the London School of Economics and Political Science starting in autumn 2022. A degree from one of the most recognised and prestigious business schools is my chance to make substantial progress in my personal career and thus contribute to Ukrainian economic development.

  1. Why this course?

There are thousands of courses you could have picked, why this one?

You need to convince the committee that you are passionate about the course. Prove that the course is the right fit for you and you are the right fit for it.

You can prove this by citing your academic experiences. Talk about the courses you had previously taken, and how you got interested in this particular course. Demonstrate understanding of the course.


In addition, the Master’s degree from the LSE is crucial for my career growth. I have already made substantial career progress from an intern position to a senior analyst at Metinvest Holding, the largest steel & mining company in Ukraine.

  1. Why this college?

Describe your reasons for being interested in this particular college.

Make it implicit that you haven’t sent out several copies of the same letter to many colleges by customizing the letter to the college. Don’t merely restate the wording from the college’s promotional materials; try to express something new about it.

Show that you have done your research. Particularly the information that isn’t readily available.

Try to focus on these areas:

  • Refer to professors you’d particularly like to meet.
  • Talk about publications you’re keen to read.
  • Describe the reputation of the course, or the specific modules you’d like to study.

This will show that you have knowledge and understanding of them that extends beyond the landing page.


Studying in the University of Cambridge will allow me to explore the long-term experience of democracy building, and gain knowledge and skills in the field of law and leadership, which can be used for creating better instruments of protection of the individual and promotion of democracy.

I am particularly excited to work with Dr. XYZ as his latest research was the primary source for my Undergraduate dissertation. I believe my insights can be extremely relevant to his course.

  1. Why are you the perfect candidate?

Describe why you are a good fit for the college and course.

Make reference to your relevant education, training, and experience, and align your answers with the eligibility requirements and the motto of the college.

Tell your story and highlight key evidence so that you are building on your CV, but not using exactly the same phrases.

Even if you believe that you lack the necessary skills and abilities for the college, it is your responsibility to persuade the recruiter otherwise. Pay attention to your achievements and your transferable talents that are appropriate for the college. Don’t assume that the individual reading your letter will be able to infer your talents or experience for themselves; instead, state specifically how you meet the requirements. Show, don’t tell.

Cite instances that are already included in your CV to back up your claims. When you connect several experiences that demonstrate comparable abilities, your argument will be stronger and more convincing.

Look at this instance for example:

  • You first demonstrated the specific skill by working on this project in college, after that you further strengthened the given skill by doing an internship at XYZ.


I have already done much for the social improvement of my community as a volunteer, author of projects, member of an NGO, secretary of student parliament and deputy assistant; but life changes and new challenges require new ideas, knowledge, skills and partners. After training in the Visegrad Summer School and Ukrainian Summer School of Human Rights, I ascertain that the experience, knowledge and desire of even one person with an active social position can change the lives of other people, communities and countries.

Moreover, taking part in The B.A. in Law program is a perfect chance to develop both my personal and professional experience by interacting with top students and leaders of other nationalities, and discovering new cultures and traditions. Being an active participant in the Ukrainian meetings of youth, I know how enriching it is to meet new people, share ideas and broaden our horizons beyond a single nation’s vision.

Here is a sample motivation letter from Havard.

Top tips on how to write a motivation letter

  1. If at all possible, address your letter to a specific person rather than “To whom it may concern.”
  2. If a designated contact cannot be located, you may address the letter to “Dear Recruitment Manager” or “Dear Recruiter.”
  3. Verify your spelling, then have someone else proofread it.
  4. Make sure that your letter expresses what you want it to say clearly. Are there any parts that are difficult to read or understand? If so, attempt to make the language more straightforward, stay away from jargon, use shorter sentences, or remove that section entirely.
  5. Each time, make the letter unique. Does the letter still read the same if you substitute a different corporate name? If so, try making your cover letter more specific.
  6. Avoid beginning each phrase with “I.”
  7. Give evidence to your claims.
  8. Don’t repeat your whole CV.

Plan for cultural differences

Depending on the country you are applying to, there might be some differences in writing your motivation letter.

  • In many nations, a professional photograph is typically included with the application form, CV/resume, statement of academic research interests, and cover letter. If it’s not customary, leave it out. In some other nations, such as Germany, copies of academic transcripts and written recommendations may also be required.
  • The UK may positively encourage you to get in touch with a potential supervisor to talk about your course. Especially, when you are writing a motivation letter for a PhD. While in the USA, the same can be considered unprofessional.
  • When applying to Germany, you need to cite clear reasons why you want to study in Germany. Look at this guide by DAAD.

Suggested layout for motivation letter for Ph.D.

The requirements of a motivation letter for a Ph.D. are slightly different. You need to express expertise in the field.

Paragraph 1 – Cover what position you are applying for, what you currently do and where.

Paragraph 2 – Cover what your area of expertise is, what you have accomplished to this date (details in CV), and who you’ve worked with (details in CV). Highlight your strengths as a candidate for this position, and make them want to read your CV.

Paragraph 3 – Cover what is your research vision, why is this relevant, whether is it fundable, does it fit with the position, the department, and the institution.

Paragraph 4 – In what other ways will you contribute to the department, what have you done that can demonstrate you will do any of this?

Paragraph 5 –  Express enthusiasm for the position, the colleagues, the department, and the institution.

Sample motivation letter for Ph.D.

Dear Ms. Cooper,

I wish to apply for a degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) that I saw advertised on the Cambridge academics website. I am in my final year at Ashoka University going for my Master’s in Philosophy. I have a long-standing interest in cognitive philosophy and believe that I have the qualities and experience required to be a successful student at Cambridge.

My experiences with Ashoka’s philosophy department have made me realize that I am attracted to the opportunity to ask relevant philosophical questions in the 21st century. I am particularly interested in Cambridge because it has established its credentials by working in some of the most challenging areas of cognitive philosophy.

I have really enjoyed motivating people to work with me towards a common, worthwhile goal. As the head of the Philosophy club in my college, I often organized cognitive philosophy events where we educated fellow students in the area and answered questions. Additionally, in my Master’s dissertation, I studied the intellectual reasons behind dietary reasons and explored cultural philosophies.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my application with you and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Williams.

Funding your education

Along with a good motivation letter, you need a strong funding statement to get selected for a university abroad.

Unless you prove you can fund your education, you won’t be offered a seat.

Here’s some good news. You can find funding on FundRight.

FundRight is India’s first loan bidding platform. For you, this means that lenders will compete and give you customized loan offers. You can compare them and select the one that best suits your needs.

Check your eligibility status in 15 seconds. If you qualify, you can:

  • Save up to 23 lacs
  • Get a loan within 2 days
  • Get a loan without collateral

Now that you know how to write a motivation letter, you can start writing it. Whether it is a motivation letter for PhD, Master’s, or Bachelor’s, our tips will help you draft the perfect letter.

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