The graduate application process can seem like a daunting task. There are so many facets to it that prospective students will sometimes succumb to “paralysis of analysis”, causing unnecessary delays in submitting their application in a timely fashion. This post will attempt to facilitate one component of the graduate application process: the letter of intent.
The first question any prospective graduate student should be able to answer to anyone who asks is: Why am I pursuing a graduate degree? This should be the focal point of your letter and it should be compelling enough that the reader wants to learn more about you. Typically, folks pursuing a master’s degree are seeking an opportunity for career advancement, higher salary, personal fulfillment or all of the above. In its simplest form, a letter of intent is an opportunity to sell yourself to the university and explain why you would be a good fit.
If you find yourself not knowing where to begin, here are some helpful tips for writing a killer letter of intent:
1) highlight professional accomplishments related to the program of interest
2) refer to program course descriptions to make a connection with your interests
3) what do you expect to accomplish with your degree
4) what unique talents and abilities would you bring to the program
5) be concise, grammatically sound and exude confidence
6) explain a low grade point average on your transcripts (if applicable)
Aside from the actual application, the letter of intent is the only part of the application process where the applicant has full control over. Remember, official transcripts from your undergraduate studies are academic records that cannot be changed. Your letters of recommendation are written by others. The letter of intent is your voice to convince the decision makers at the university that you belong and will be a contributing member to their campus community.