How To Write a Motivational Letter for University Admission

To study abroad you need to gather a package of documents. One of them is a letter of motivation to the university. Often its content becomes fundamental in the decision of the admission committee. In this article, we will look at why you need it, what it looks like, and how to write a motivation letter correctly. Prepared by the experienced team of the Eduboard platform, these tips and tricks can help you create an outstanding paper.

Motivational Letter for University Admission
Motivational Letter for University Admission

What is a university motivation letter?

A motivational letter is a formal essay that applicants write to universities or colleges in a business style. The purpose of the letter is to introduce themselves and explain why they have chosen the specific educational institution. It can also persuade the admissions committee that they are the ideal candidate for the institution and will make a valuable contribution as a student.

This document is required when applying to foreign universities for undergraduate and graduate admission. It is also needed to apply for scholarships. A letter of intent is used to assess applicants against a number of criteria:

  • conscientiousness in choosing a future profession, desire to learn;
  • curiosity, reasoning and critical thinking skills;
  • experience or skills that are appropriate for the chosen specialty;
  • interest in a particular institution;
  • the benefit the student can bring to the university in the future: participation in university events, research activities, etc.

Simply put, it is important for the committee to understand why people come to them. And finally to make sure that the applicant is interested.

How the motivation letter helps the student

  1. The more knowledgeable and informative the motivation letter is, the better chance the applicant has of admission.
  2. It has a key impact on the decision of the admissions committee when choosing between two applicants with the same level of knowledge and grades.
  3. It gives an advantage even with some general deficiencies in the application.
  4. If an applicant is short of a small number of points or his previous education does not correspond to the chosen graduate profile, a well-written letter will smooth out these nuances.

Motivation letter to the university: structure and design

How to write a captivating college application essay? In order not to miss important details, we recommend that you follow the general rules:

Conciseness and simplicity of presentation

In essence, this document is close to an essay, but you should not write too eloquently. It is important to keep to the length set by the university. Keep to the official style and do not deviate from the topic. Do not use too long sentences and complicated constructions.

Rationale and certainty

Prove that you are serious about your studies. Describe your existing knowledge and accomplishments in your chosen field with specific facts and figures. You must show that you understand the essence of the course disciplines and have already decided that this is your major.

No errors

You should have a well-written text, correct spelling and grammatically, without parasitic words and jargon.

Conform to institutional requirements

Different institutions may apply their own standards to the document. Read the requirements carefully: they usually relate to language, length, format, and writing deadlines.


Business style does not mean formulaic. The letter should stand out and show the personality and skills of the applicant.

In terms of structure, a motivational letter can be divided into five parts. Each of them is separated by a paragraph and represents one complete thought.

Attraction of Attention. Reason for the choice of subject matter

The beginning should interest the admissions committee. Be sure to address the committee members correctly, write the purpose of the letter and immediately state the reason why you are interested in this major and think you can realize your career potential in it. Beginning with a relevant quotation or vivid episode from your life related to the topic is a good starting point.

Rationale. Arguments

Here it is important to clearly justify the purpose of your studies and tell about your academic plans. How will you benefit from this major in terms of professional development? Don’t write “for a degree or a high-paying job.” You need to show your awareness of the subject. Members of the commission should understand that you have approached the choice of program consciously. List, where appropriate, disciplines that you plan to study. Write with an eye to the future: what research you can later do and what you can achieve in the chosen direction.

Achievements and relevant experience

Here you need to prove your capabilities. Clearly describe any accomplishments you have in your field. These could be high grades in a relevant subject, diplomas, prizes, or participation in competitions, contests, or master classes. Indicate your hobbies if they are related to the specialty. You can also list the courses you have taken or books you have studied as part of your self-education. Add information about practical experience if you have had any: volunteering, internships.

Examples of personal growth

This section continues the autobiographical element of the framework, but no longer in the area of academic success. Describe your strong character traits that help you achieve your goals. For example, discipline, time management skills, and active social position. Support each statement with an example. Write based on the goal of showing how you can be of service to the university.

Career plans

Explain how your chosen major will advance your career and how this or that subject will come in handy in practice. Do not be afraid to describe your ambitions. Demonstrate yourself as a goal-oriented person. In this way, you will increase your chances of getting a high evaluation from the admissions committee.

Letter of motivation to university: typical mistakes

The main problem with applicants’ writing is the emphasis on one element of the structure to the detriment of the rest. Some believe that such a document is a mere formality or just a way to show knowledge of a foreign language, and do not pay due attention to its completion. The result is denial of admission.

Let’s look at the main mistakes in letters:

  1. Contain only information about yourself, a description of desires, not specific actions. The main mistake applicants make is the wrong addressee. You need to remember that everything you write is an address to the faculty. And the purpose of the letter is to convince them that you are the perfect candidate.
  2. No specifics. Often students try to sugarcoat their accomplishments or, conversely, are too self-critical. Instead of general phrases “a lot of experience,” “I don’t know enough yet, but I want to learn,” describe specifically what and how much you have done. Experience does not have to be practical. If you have not attended application circles, but often discussed topics with the teacher at school. This, too, will show your passion.
  3. Abstract reasoning. Pathetical statements about the great mission of a certain profession sound not only trite and pathological, but also meaningless. Concrete examples of the value of the course specifically to you are important.
  4. Written universally, “by the pattern.” A formulaic text will not interest the commission. The same goes for too “dry” phrases that don’t reveal you as a person. You must show your own unique skills, capabilities or experience.
  5. A lot of digressions are off-topic. If you think of a motivational letter as an autobiography, it’s easy to get bogged down in unhelpful details. Students describe hobbies unrelated to the course, personal interests that are not relevant to the course. Such letters usually exceed the allowable length and are too abstract for examiners.
  6. Not consistent with business style. Humor, metaphorical turns, refined and pathos phrases are inappropriate in the document.

A university motivation letter is not a formal statement or an autobiography. You write not so much about yourself, but about the skills that will help you to successfully study in a particular field and be useful to the chosen institution.

To summarize

Examples of the best motivation letters to university are united by specificity, confidence in the choice of profession and a clear interest in the subject. Motivation is supported by hobbies, accomplishments in a field, or certain experiences. Enthusiasm and a bright, unique self-presentation are among the main components of a successful motivation letter.

Do not underestimate the document. Even with high grades you run the risk of not getting into a foreign university if the admissions committee decides that you are not interested enough in the subject. In this case, the motivation letter is the best selection tool. It provides a comprehensive assessment of your personality, including your interest in your studies, your planning skills, and your seriousness of purpose.