How to Write a Letter of Motivation? A Complete Guide with Example

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Meridean Overseas
Meridean Overseas

Updated On 11 May 2024 & Read Time 13 minutes

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Whether looking for international education or a part-time job while studying abroad, you must fulfil some requirements. There are many requirements, one of them is a letter of motivation. You might require a letter of motivation as a part of university admissions, awarding scholarships, or applying for part-time jobs while studying. You need a strong motivation letter to increase your chances of admission.

 

Today, we will walk you through the definition of a motivation letter, its structure, the letter of motivation format, and some examples. So, let’s take a deeper look at it.

Understanding of a Motivation Letter

Before you start writing your motivation letter for universities or companies abroad, you must understand what the motivation letter is.

 

How to Write a Letter of Motivation?

 

What is a Motivation Letter?

A letter of motivation (motivation letter) is a formal letter you must require while applying to universities abroad or jobs. A motivation letter is a personal narrative for the academic admission process or job applications. It not only highlights your skills but also your personality and commitment. Hence, you must present your cultural background, prospective contributions, and your distinctive opinions, as it enhances your credibility among other candidates.

 

Despite your educational qualifications, some admission officers wish to understand your personal interests in your academics. This letter shows your dedication to the program or the job. 

 

Why do you need a Letter of Motivation?

You usually need a letter of motivation for work or for pursuing master's or doctoral degrees, especially when you are an Indian student. It’s just a way to articulate your goals, objectives, and academic accomplishments, which provide context beyond grades or qualifications.

 

The main aim behind this letter is to show off your skills and commitment to pursue that course or career to the admissions committee or to hiring managers and explain why you’re a perfect candidate.

 

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When Do You Need a Motivational Letter?

Now that you know that a letter of motivation is required when a university’s admission committee or organisation wishes to assess your cultural fit, enthusiasm, and reasons to apply to a specific opportunity. Let’s have a look at the instances where you might find yourself needing to submit this letter:

  • Applying for an educational program.

  • Seeking a job at a non-profit organisation or mission-driven company.

  • Competing for an internship in a sought-after field.

  • Pursuing a volunteer position at a charity or non-government organisation.

  • Applying for a grant, fellowship, or scholarship.

 

A situation can be different, but this letter lets you express your distinct driving forces or convey your willingness for that program or opportunity. Thus, it mainly convinces your reader to thoroughly review your application.

The difference between a motivation letter and a personal statement

While a letter of motivation and a personal statement may appear similar, focus is a key distinguishing point between them. A motivation letter expresses your desire to pursue a specific degree or shows eligibility for a scholarship. Whereas a personal statement seeks to present yourself to the university with a multifaceted image.

 

A letter of motivation is commonly needed for job applications, graduate programs, and scholarships, although personal statements are usually required for undergraduate programs. The motivation letter focuses on the specific goal of studying or getting a scholarship, while the personal statement provides a broader picture of your general traits and goals.

 

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How to write a motivation letter

After learning about the motivation letter, you must understand how to write it. You can follow the below-mentioned tips for developing an impressive letter of motivation:

  • Address Your Letter Appropriately: Your motivation letter must include a header with your and the recipient’s contact number, such as the admission committee or hiring manager. Personalise your greeting by addressing them professionally by name or title. Avoid using informal greetings to retain the document's seriousness.

  • Stick to the Program Requirements: Creating an appealing motivation letter involves aligning with the program’s needs. You must consider the qualities desired in the candidates and how you fulfil them. 

  • Align with Their Values: You must research the organisation’s values and objectives before preparing your letter of motivation and align your views with them. To show your dedication, you can use real-life instances.

  • Express Genuine Interest: A letter of motivation must show your eagerness without sounding generic or desperate. Instead, explain why you're interested in something specific. A genuine passion supported by specific examples shows them how invested and sincere you are.

  • Personalisation: To show your personality, you can use descriptive adjectives to picture your qualities and character, adding depth to your letter while making it more memorable and distinguished from other applicants. 

  • Don’t Just Recap Your CV: Do not just summarise your CV into a letter of motivation! If your university or company asks for a motivation letter, it just means they are asking for more about you, like your motivations, passions, and goals, than your qualifications. 

  • Convey Your Ambitions: You must discuss both your goals and relevant accomplishments. Express how the opportunity aligns with your goals, including plans for applying newly acquired knowledge or skills to career advancement or academic contribution.

  • Maintain Authenticity: You must maintain honesty, as exaggeration and falsehoods can undermine your credibility. Reflect on your true self and goals to make a compelling case.


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How to Structure a Motivational Letter

In order to make your letter of motivation more effective, you must organise it appropriately. Each part must fit correctly and prove you are a suitable candidate. You can begin your motivation letter by describing why you are interested and discussing your skills. And keep adjusting it until it seems correct.

 

Head over to the points explaining what it actually includes:

  • Contact Details - Start by adding your full name, title, email, phone number, location, and relevant links. Following that, add the contact information of the admissions officer or hiring manager, including the organisation’s name, recipient’s name and title, and location. 

  • Introduction - Your letter of motivation must begin with a strong introduction, and the first few lines should give a unique glimpse of yourself. Keep in mind that these are the general reasons. You must elaborate more on yourself in the body. 

  • Body - This is the part where you must sell yourself in bulk. But there are two things which you must keep in mind - the paragraph structure and the paragraph contents.

    • Structure - Motivational letters come in two-paragraph structures: the standard three-paragraph style for storytelling and the seven-paragraph structure for a more factual approach. Both of these structures focus on certain issues.

    • Contents - In the body, describe how you became interested in the field, why you wish to join, and your relevant experiences. You must explain what distinguishes you and how you align with the organisation's desired outcomes.

  • Conclusion - After finishing the body, summarise your main points, emphasise your suitability for the position, align your career goals with the organisation's mission, express gratitude, and sign off.

How to Format a Motivational Letter

Before submitting your motivational letter, double-check it and ensure it follows any guidelines or requirements. Many organisations often specify formatting details, like word count or questions to answer.

 

You can check the university admission page for academic programs and the job or application portal for job requirements. You must follow those rules precisely as mentioned. Moving away from these rules indicates carelessness, which can result in rejection. Even if no guidelines exist, you can follow below suggestions: 

  1. Keep it one page long

  2. Use clear structure with short paragraphs to make it easy to read

  3. Pick a professional font

  4. Set page margins 1 inch from all sides

  5. Include the date with an extra touch

  6. Use powerful words and action verbs instead of cliche phrases

  7. Utilise transition words

  8. Ensure you don’t make grammatical and spelling mistakes

  9. Professional closing line


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Letter of Motivation Example

Emily Johnson

PhD Candidate

emily.johnson@email.com

123-456-7890

Los Angeles, CA

linkedin.com/in/emilyjohnson

emilyjohnson.com

@emily.johnson

 

To,

Dr. Sarah Thompson

sarah.thompson@stanford.edu

Department of Sociology at

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305, USA

 

Dear Dr. Thompson,

 

I am writing to express my keen interest in the Stanford University doctoral program in the Department of Sociology. My ultimate goal is to become a top researcher in the sphere of social inequality.

 

Throughout my academic career, I've developed a strong interest in understanding the intricacies of social institutions and their effects on individuals and communities. Pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Stanford University would allow me to explore these interests further and contribute meaningfully to the field.

 

During my undergraduate studies in Sociology at UCLA, I was captivated by the intersections of race, class, and gender in shaping social dynamics. This passion drove me to pursue a Master's in Social Policy at UC Berkeley, where I studied access to healthcare in underserved communities.

 

I am particularly drawn to Stanford University's interdisciplinary approach to sociology and the opportunity to engage with renowned faculty members whose research aligns with my interests. Courses such as Social Stratification, Globalization and Development, and Qualitative Research Methods resonate deeply with my academic and professional goals.

 

My academic record reflects my dedication and commitment to excellence. I have consistently demonstrated strong analytical skills and a drive for rigorous research. In addition, I have actively participated in extracurricular activities such as volunteering at local community organisations and conducting research projects.

 

Studying Sociology at Stanford University would not only provide me with invaluable academic resources but also immerse me in a vibrant intellectual community. I am excited to collaborate with other scholars and contribute to the university's research initiatives.

 

Based on my academic achievements and research interests, I am confident I would be a valuable addition to Stanford University's doctoral program. I am excited about the prospect of furthering my education and making meaningful contributions to the field of Sociology.

 

Thank you for considering my application.

 

Sincerely,

Emily Johnson

 

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Conclusion

To conclude, a letter of motivation is a formal document required for university admissions and job applications. This letter is different from your CV. There are two ways how to structure a motivation letter, depending on whether you want to tell your story or factual information. Thus, you must do your research and show genuine interest and passion for the program. 


If you want to know more about the letter of motivation or want to study abroad, we encourage you to speak with our team of expert counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). Our counsellors will provide you with guidance throughout your study abroad. Get help with the application process, SOPs, and filing for a visa. Visit us and get one-to-one counselling, or avail yourself of free video counselling via our website. We will be happy to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us at application02@meridean.org or 1800-1230-00011.

FAQs

Q1. How do you start a motivational letter for university?

Answer: You must craft a compelling introduction to begin your motivational letter for university. Begin with a brief but engaging introduction to yourself and why you're applying. To capture the reader's attention, briefly summarise who you are and what you do in the first few sentences.

 

Q2. How long should a motivation letter be?

Answer: A good length for a motivation letter is usually between 500 and 700 words, or as advised by the institution you are applying to. However, before you worry about length, complete your draft. You can then trim it to the appropriate size while retaining all necessary information.

 

Q3. What should I include in a motivational letter for university?

Answer: Your motivational letter for university should include your contact information, a powerful introduction showcasing your interest, a detailed body detailing your qualifications and experiences, and a persuasive conclusion summarising your main points and thanking you.

 

Q4. Should I mention my weaknesses in a motivational letter?

Answer: Well, it's up to you, but nobody is asking you to point out your flaws. Instead, emphasise your abilities, experiences, and accomplishments that are relevant to the program or position you are applying for. Use the letter as a chance to emphasise your qualifications.

 

Q5. How do I make my motivational letter shine through?

Answer: To make your motivation letter stand out, tailor it to specific parts of the school or position that match your interests and aspirations. You must provide particular accomplishments and experiences to demonstrate your excitement and dedication.

 

Q6. Is writing a motivation letter longer than the suggested word count acceptable?

Answer: You must stick to the specified word count for a motivation letter. Exceeding the word limit may suggest a lack of attention to detail or an unwillingness to follow directions, which could reduce the effect of your application.

 

Q7. Is it okay to use bullet points in my letter of motivation?

Answer: While bullet points can assist in organising material, it's usually best to utilise entire phrases and paragraphs in a motivation letter. This creates a more unified story and lets you communicate your thoughts and feelings in greater detail.

 

Q8. Can I use the same motivational letter for many applications?

Answer: You must submit a different motivation letter for several applications because each program or position may have different needs and expectations. Tailoring your motivation letter to the relevant institution or organisation shows genuine interest and boosts your chances of success.

 

Q9. Should I mention my academic achievements in a motivation letter?

Answer: Yes, you can mention important academic achievements in your motivation letter, primarily if they reflect your qualifications and dedication to your chosen field of study or career path. However, highlight achievements that are directly related to the program or position for which you are seeking.

 

Q10. Can I take professional help to write my motivation letter?

Answer: While it is okay to seek advice or comments from mentors, professors, or professional advisers when writing your motivation letter, the final document must reflect your unique voice, experiences, and motivations. Avoid plagiarism and remain authentic throughout the writing process.

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