Letters of motivation, or 'cover letters,' serve as an important part of the selection process when a student is applying to a master’s level program. All too often, because of the way they are written, these motivational letters fail to impress and convince the members of a selection committee that the student is an exceptional candidate who should be considered for their program. Unfortunately, this can happen even if the student is more than qualified to participate in their master's program.
Undergraduates do not despair! There are a few helpful tips that can assist you in writing an effective motivational letter which will improve your chances of gaining acceptance into any Master's program.
Time - Give yourself plenty of time to write your motivational letter-it should never be written hastily. It needs to be given a great deal of thought prior to beginning the writing process.
Make an outline - discuss and answer the essential questions:
- What are your professional goals?
- What are your areas of interest for a career after obtaining your master's in this field?
- What do you see your social, political, technical, or environmental contribution being once you become a professional in your field?
- Explain why you feel you are the best candidate for the program.
- Explain why you want to participate in the program at this specific school.
Clear, concise, and compelling content - make the content of your motivation letter short and to the point. Choose words that are detailed and specific. Always avoid using words that are too lengthy or vague. Keeps your content interesting and unique focusing on why your prior experience and your personality are what the admissions committee is looking for.
The Tone - The manner in which you write will set the tone for your entire paper. Convey yourself in a reflective, meaningful, and factual way. Remember you need to be confident in your tone but not overbearing as the purpose of this letter is to persuade (not railroad!) the committee why you are the best candidate for their program.
Edit, proofread, and format - Once you feel you have completed your motivation letter – walk away, take some time, and re-read it. Make certain the information is presented in an organized and easy to read manner. Nothing will ruin a motivation letter more than grammatical and spelling errors. A benefit to any important paper is to have it checked by someone else, a 'fresh pair of eyes' can find errors that might have otherwise been easily missed. Formatting is crucial to your motivation letter- always format it as if you were writing a business letter.
Above all else, remember you want to express enthusiasm about the prospect of becoming a part of the program, yet professional at the same time. Being confident about your abilities and what you plan to contribute will show them that you truly are the best candidate for their program.