Graduate Studies – Writing a Letter of Intent

So You’re interested in applying to graduate school. When students are considering applying to graduate schools, there is an application that often takes weeks, if not months, to prepare.

Part of this process may include writing a letter of intent, or purpose letter. The following is an introductory guide to writing this crucial letter, the admission committee’s window into your achievements, experiences, and personality.

In fact, some schools state that this is the most important part of the application process, so you should place a considerable amount of effort into perfecting your letter.

First, as a potential graduate student in the program, be sure to indicate your goals, purpose, or career plans. This indicates to the selection committee and your supervisor that you have thought about this thoroughly and extensively.

Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do, you should specify your area of interest. For example, if you are applying for graduate work in psychology, It’s a good idea to state your preferences using the language of the field.

Next, you might like to take the opportunity to explain how your experiences (i.e., school, work, extracurricular activities) demonstrate your preparation to enter a specific program. For instance, a student applying for a doctoral studies program in molecular biology may wish to highlight their previous academic courses, theses, as well as their relevant work experience.

Similar to vetting applicants for a job, committee members want students who demonstrate a genuine interest in their school and can describe how their particular skills are mutually inclusive.

Overall, It’s very important to stress how your experiences have helped you prepare for graduate school because, unlike undergraduate studies where students are trained to take in information, graduate students contribute original research.

Conclude your letter with why you want to attend a particular school and why it fits well with your research and professional goals as a graduate student and beyond. Program directors and admission personnel want to hear about your goals for after You’re done your studies, and this gives you an excellent opportunity to illustrate that you have been thinking seriously about your future career.

Equally important is that you frame a research question, or at the very least have an idea of the type of research you are interested in pursuing. To help with this, you could look at faculty profiles or even meet with those interested in graduate supervision. Such mentorship can provide great insight and feedback for your letter and strengthen your overall application.

Once you have a draft completed, have a friend read it and provide you with some comments. It’s important that your letter is organized and chronological. Using creative language is appropriate and can help you stand out; however, exercise caution if you are going to use humour, or use it very sparingly.

Overall, the letter of intent is your tool to show potential schools of your relevant experiences and interest in starting graduate school. Having a well-prepared and coherent letter exhibits not only your serious commitment to the program, but also to your future career.

There are numerous websites and professional services that provide students with feedback regarding their letter, and two guides you may find useful are from the universities of Concordia and Waterloo.

For more information on graduate programs at AU, check out the online calendar here.