How to Write a motivation letter for PhD ?

Writing a motivation letter for PhD you wish to apply for can seem like a difficult and boring process.  Even though this is quite challenging task, with help of few tips and tricks you can easily draft you motivation letter for PhD and increase your odds to get the place.


Before you start with the letter, try to sort out and get the answers t the following question:

  1. Why have you chosen this particular PhD program?
  2. What do you intend to do with you PhD degree, i.e. what exactly you would like to specialize?
  3. How does your resume connects with admission criteria set by the Call?
  4. What are your strengths, and weaknesses you can improve during studies?

When you find answers to the above four questions, you can consider that you have already finished 50% of work regarding your motivation letter for PhD.  Now you should work on formalizing your thoughts, in order to make the information more accessible to the reader – Admissions officer.

Start with short background info

In the introductory part of you motivation letter for PhD you should provide the information about your experience both study and work related. Chose for this presentation only jobs that are closely related to the field of study, in order to demonstrate your strong focus and dedication on the area of specialization. For example if you wish to apply for a PhD in Physics, think how relevant and effective would be to say that you worked as a delivery boy during college? Ok, this shows that you are hard working person, independent, but the skills you used on this work are not so relevant for the PhD program you would like to apply for. Therefore, focus on presenting relevant experience that can be easily brought in connection with particular PhD program. In this particular motivation letter for PhD in physics, it is desirable to say that you worked as a researcher, part time lectures, teaching assistant, etc.

What motivates you to apply for a PhD

Following background information you stated in the introduction of you motivation letter for PhD, main part of the letter should focus on your motivation to pursue PhD. It is highly desirable to state 3 or 4 factors that incented you to consider doing PhD. These can include your previous experience, career goals, interest in the field of study, but there can be many other drivers that incented you to apply for PhD.  Your letter should also demonstrate and clarify to the reader how do you intend to achieve these goals with a PhD program you are applying for.

What are the benefits for  the Scientific community


Next part of the letter should show how scientific community and University can benefit from having you as a student.  Best possible outcome would be that if you achieve your goals and make the research you want, society will benefit as well. However, this is not always the case, and serious contributions to the scientific research are not easy to make. Even so, you should demonstrate that you are highly motivated, and dedicated to your research, and that you will make your best in order to achieve your goals. To support these facts you can use some examples from the past jobs/studies, list awards you received in the past, etc. The idea of this part is to convince University, that they will benefit from having you as a student, and that your education is a worthwhile investment.



Close your motivation letter for PhD by telling the reader that you appreciate time he/she invested in reading your letter and that you are aware that PhD program they offer attracts many prospective and competitive candidates. The closing  of you PhD motivation letter should assure reader that you will follow up with an action step that brings together a prospective student with University.  The most appropriate is to use “Yours faithfully,  or Respectfully yours, ” at the end of the letter, since it is quite certainty that you are not familiar with the recipient’s name.


Good luck with your application!


If you would like to see some samples of PhD motivation letters, click here.