How to Write a Cover Letter for PhD Application

write a cover letter for PhD application

The letter cover is one of the documents that every PhD application must have. In fact, everybody applying for PhD should present their self in a strong cover letter.
Now do you have an idea that what is cover letter for PhD application or what features should it have?

What is PhD cover letter?

Cover letter or the motivation letter is a writing with specific standards that gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself, in your words. In this letter, you show what you have to offer and why you deserve to accept in postgraduate doctorate.

The importance of PhD cover letter

Presenting this document is important in several different ways:

  • It gives you the best opportunity to resolve the gaps in the CV. In this document, you can mention aspects of your academic history that you cannot mention anywhere else.
  • There are potentials in this which you can match your abilities with the standards of PhD admission.
  • This letter proves your ability to communication ability.
  • Writing this is an opportunity to show how eager you are to enter a PhD.

What are the parts of cover letter for PhD application?

To write a perfect cover letter, it is better to mention the following:

1. Introduction

Introduce yourself in your words. These words should be clear and powerful. Therefore, the decision-making committee is convinced that you are different with other candidates.

2. Achievements mention

Name your most important academic and professional achievements by presenting documents. You can also talk about your abilities witch is corresponding with the academic position in this section.

3. Write about your reasons

Why you desire to achieve the PhD application in this specific university? In this section, you should talk about your research about the position that has made you eager to be accepted. Even if an alumni achievement has persuaded you to submit this application, it is a good idea to name that.

4. Mention the research project in cover letter

Mention the research project; show your level of knowledge and, of course, your mastery of the desired field of study. This section proves to the audience that how eager and striver you are to study in this particular field.

5. Talk about your Experiences related to PhD application

Name the special skills, work experience and any history related to the PhD application. Try to mention the documents.

How to write a cover letter for PhD admission?

Every PhD cover letter must have a beginning, middle and an end just like a story. We will tell you how to write each of these three sections:

• Beginning in cover letter

First, when you are going to say who you are? Moreover, what is your reason for being accepted by the decision-making committee? It is better to address the relevant person or department.

This person may be a professor or a principal according to the criteria of the university. You may even need to write a letter to a specific department. Be creative and precise in writing this speech because it has a great potential to impress audiences.

In this section, you can also talk about your reasons to be accepted. You can even start the letter with exactly that issue. A little creativeness helps you to have a powerful and impressive start.

Consider the following example:

You can start with:

Dear Mr XXX

I am writing to express my interest in doctoral program in the department of YYY at university of ZZZ …


Dear Mr XXX

I had the opportunity to interest with Mr YYY in doctoral program in ZZZ university …

• The middle section

In the middle of the letter, it is a good idea to talk about your scientific, academic and professional achievements with a brief reference to CV. Also in the middle part of the cover letter, you can write about your plan to change positively the desire field of study and academic position. You can say that you are going to effect on that.

For example you can start with:

During my university study I was the …


As you can see in my CV …

• The end section

In the last section, you should talk about how you have been influenced by this particular educational institution. It is a good idea to say that you have done research in this field. You should say that you know the position of the university in the world rankings. In general, the more you know about your education and prove it to your audience, the better your chances of being accepted.

For example you can start with

I am impressed by the high ranking XXX university and research potential of YYY PhD …


I believe I am fit for your department because of …

Finish the letter in such a way that your contact does not have the slightest hesitation in accepting you and immediately refer to your CV to complete their information about you. This is where the best way to contact yourself is to arrange a face-to-face interview with you.

Key questions about cover letter

Here, We are going to answer your questions about cover letter:

• What is the difference between a cover letter and a personal statement?

The first one is an opportunity to talk about academic success and career achievement in your own words. However, in the second, you talk more about your interests, concerns, and long-term goals that align with your academic level and future career.

• how to write a cover letter for PhD scholarship?

Using the cover letter to select you as a recipient of the scholarship requires the following regards:

  • Since scholarships at universities are only available to certain applicants, you must state in your cover letter that you are eligible to receive them.
  • You need to write your cover letter in such a way that your decision makers prioritize scholarship recipients.
  • Scholarship providers will know you through this content and will realize your potential and of course will confirm that you need this scholarship.
  • The cover letter for the scholarship has one more paragraph than the regular cover letter, which deals with the history of receiving awards and other scholarships that you received.
  • Also in this section, you will say why you are the best option to get a scholarship.

Writing a PhD cover letter for a scholarship has its steps:

  1. First, you need to know the criteria of the provider’s scholarship. The person or institution that provides the scholarship may evaluate you based on your social services, academic rank, academic achievement, or volunteer work. Therefore, you should be aware of the approach of this person or collection so that you can update your cover letter accordingly.
  2. Start to write with the name of your audience. Such an intimate start impresses your audience positively.
  3. Scholarship committee have to see academic field details, your eagerness, your leadership skills and emotional stability, communication ability and desire to succeed.
  4. Use formal, brief, clear and cohesive language. Avoid repetition and pointing to unnecessary and tedious content.
  5. Use some scholarship keywords like; excellent academic record, other scholarships, community service, independent research skills, tutoring or teacher assistantship.
  6. Show with your words that you hope to get a scholarship and thank the committee.

What is the common mistake in PhD cover letter writing?

Some people have made these mistakes and impress audiences negatively. Therefore, you should consider avoiding these mistakes:

Do not start with general greeting

The initial impact you have on the audience is very important. Therefore, it is better to use the name of the persons instead of general greeting.

Do not be too intimate

It is true that you could introduce yourself in your own word here, but do not over-express intimacy. You should not talk about your personal life at all as well as you should not tell jokes.

Do not be so formal or so informal

Write politely and professionally, but do not be too keen.

Avoid using unusual fonts and coloring the letter

This presents you as a person who is not ready to enter the PhD level.

Key points for writing a perfect letter cover for PhD application

  • Do not write an in rush letter. Before writing, think about where to start and how far you can go. Take the time to do this, read, and correct the letter several times.
  • Write the strongest items and details at the top of the letter and mention the less important ones as you continue to down.
  • Avoid repeating the information in your CV in the cover letter. Your audience has no time to read duplicate information about you. Repetition of the axioms makes them lose their desire to read the letter to end.
  • Match the General subject and the dominant tone of the content based on the PhD topic. This will give you another chance to prove that you are a good candidate for the position.
  • It is true that the flexibility and sincerity of this letter is greater than the other documents you must provide. However, do not forget that you have to be completely professional while talking about yourself.
  • Do not go into too much detail. Notice if your audience is interested or needs to know these details.
  • Before presenting the letter, be sure to show it to someone who has experience in this field. Use the opinions of other people who read the name to write the better one.
  • Be precise in mention the person or department name to whom you are going to write the letter.
  • Use the phrase “Yours sincerely” to address your audience at the end of the letter if it is a person. In addition, if you are writing this letter to a department, use “Yours faithfully”.
  • Your letter should not exceed two pages of A4.
  • After completing the letter, read and edit it several times. By using this content, you allow your audience to want to know more about you. So do not eradicate their passion with grammatical and spelling mistakes.


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