How to Write a Letter of Motivation for Scholarship

Letter of Motivation also known as personal statement and admission essay plays an essential role when it comes to securing admission and scholarships from top rank universities. The first and foremost thing which is required in compiling an attention grabbing Letter of Motivation is the motivation itself. “You have to dream before your dream can come true” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

In your Letter of Motivation, you have to demonstrate yourself as a student who is well qualified and motivated enough for the specific program of a particular university. Transcript of records, degree certificates are just the pre-defined steps, a person has to follow to become applicable for a program. But, what makes you fit? It is your motivation and intuition towards the course.  If you are motivated for the program, it will definitely reflect in your Letter of Motivation.

That is why you should think, look and observe before starting writing Letter of Motivation, if your desired program gives you the goosebumps, then what you need to do is to convert your feeling into words. In this article, you will learn how to write a Letter of Motivation to admission and scholarships from your dream university.  

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1. Identify yourself and your goals

First things first, you will become the best candidate for the scholarship if your goals matches with the learning outcomes of the desired program. The crucial point you should keep in mind is that every scholarship and study program has its goals and expectation. Don’t use the same Letter of Motivation for the different  programs and scholarships. For instance, in a Sweden SI scholarship, they mostly looked for the candidate having leadership qualities and scholarship goals are directly related to the United Nations sustainable development agenda. So, a person with leadership qualities and have a socially confident nature must include these characteristics in his/her Letter of Motivation.

On the other hand, scholarships in Korea are mostly research-based, and a person who enjoyed full time working in a lab environment will be the most suitable candidate. It is very important to spend enough time thinking about yourself, and what you want from your life. By knowing your goals precisely, you have plenty of attractive material to include in your Letter of Motivation.


2. Follow the program specific instructions

The important step in constructing a strong Letter of Motivation is to follow the instructions if they are mentioned on the program website. Sometimes, universities a list of questions to address in Letter of Motivation. For instance, why you selected this specific program? Which of the specializations area interests you most and why? How does your previous studies or work experience is related to the selected program? What are your future plans? How this program will help you to achieve your career goals? Don’t forget to check the word count and number of pages limitation.


3. Structure of Letter of Motivation

You must be wondering, how to write a perfect Letter of Motivation.Well, here you go! Try to follow the below-mentioned format while writing your Letter of Motivation for admissions or scholarships.

     I. Opening

At the starting of the Letter of Motivation, you should have to show your attraction by answering: why you are applying for this program?. For example, ‘’There are many significant reasons to explain why the Master studies in Electrical Engineering at Tampere University of Technology (TUT) is the ideal program for me to accomplish my research and career goals. The reasons are combined with my educational background, work experience and interests. The first and foremost driving force that encouraged me to apply for this program is its specialization in Smart Grids. This program will facilitate me with knowledge of electrical power systems, renewable energy and integration of distributed energy resources’’. These lines are from a Letter of Motivation which was written for admission and scholarship in Finland. The effective starting of the Letter of Motivation can be your real-life incident directly related to the chosen course and scholarship or it may be some quotations and famous saying.

      II. Body part 1: Academic background and achievements

Most importantly, you have to advertise and sell yourself based on your previous academic performance and related achievements. You have to sell your strengths and qualities in a way that will make you an ideal and unique candidate. Don’t repeat your CV, if achievements are already mentioned in the Academic CV, then be very smart to include your achievements in your Letter of Motivation by highlighting your struggle, efforts hardships in achieving the awards. Also, try to mention, what you learned while struggling, learning can be anything, it can be a technical skill e.g. learned a specific computer simulation technique, or it can be a soft skill as well, e.g. team-working, determination, time management, etc. Achievements can be anything, it can be successful completion of final year thesis, internships, publications, extra-curricular activities, rising GPA, etc.

     III. Body part 2: Course, Scholarship and you

In this part of the Letter of Motivation, try to answer the questions:

  1. How this scholarship will modify your professional life?
  2. How you will use the skills gained from this program to contribute to the field and society?
  3. How can you utilized the outcomes of this program to meet your long term, or short term desired goal?

     IV. Conclusion

In the ending of the Letter of Motivation, mentioned your future goals clearly and straightforwardly. By the term goals, what you want to do upon the completion of the studies. For instance, if you’re applying for the master’s program, and intended to purse a doctoral study, then clearly mentioned it. Contrary, if you want to get into industry, there is no shame in mentioning it directly. The scholarship committee generally look for a candidate with clear aims and goals, therefore it is the great practice to mentioned your long-term goals. And in the end, summarize your Letter of Motivation with salutation.


4. Proofreading and review

Proofread, proofread and proofread. An effective Letter of Motivation must be grammatically correct and without typos. There is no need of high English vocabulary to compile an effective Letter of Motivation. It should be straight, simple and easy to understand. It is also suggested to find a person who can honestly and effectively comment and review your Letter of Motivation. Try to seek help from your seniors, colleagues, and university professor.

5. Make sure you start writing it early

A good motivational letter cannot be written overnight. Experts advise starting compiling a motivational letter a few weeks before or even a month prior to the application deadline. Faye Deal (Director of Admission, Stanford Law School), said: “If you are going to write a winning personal statement, you cannot do it in two or three hours; it requires a lot of thought.” At the start of the application process, try to give ample time in brainstorming ideas. Try to find the answer of the basic questions relating to your personality, your interest, goals, perceptions and intuitions. After finding the answer, try to create a first draft. The best advice narrated from Vince Gotera; “I would guess virtually all grad-school applicants, when they write their first draft of the statement of purpose, will get it wrong.”  After the compilation of first draft, analyze Letter of Motivation by yourself, and try modify the weak corners. It is also very important to proofread by yourself, not don’t forget to revise. 


6. What do college admission committees look for?

An effective Letter of Motivation should be clear, precise, straightforward and simply stated your thoughts, ambitions and perceptions towards the program and scholarships. As mentioned in Mark Alan Stewart’s book How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement, here are some of the expectation and advices recorded from the selection committee members of America’ top schools.

Edward Tom (Assistant Dean Admission, Berkeley University)

“Applicants can include a resume in their application; but their personal statement should focus on what they want us to know about them that is not readily available from a resume or other parts of their application. We would encourage applicants to write their personal statement in the first person and avoid using styles like poetry or rhyme that are not conducive to our learning about the applicants.”

Richard Geiger (Dean of admission and financial aid, Cornell University) 

“The biggest mistake applicants make is to bite off more than they can chew by trying to make their personal statement an epic or a life story. One of the keys to success is finding something manageable that still conveys some substance to the reader; that is the challenge.”

Ethan Hanabury (Columbia Business School, Specifically for business application)

“In the essays, we are particularly interested in what applicants plan to do after business school and how that relates to what they have done in the past. We look closely at their past work experiences. We are looking for a type of person who will succeed in this particular environment.”



Thanks for reading our article, we hope you found these guidelines helpful. If you have further questions or queries regarding admission and scholarships, don’t hesitate to comment below. You can also read our Letter of Motivation sample as a guideline. We wish you best of luck for securing admission and scholarship from your dream university.

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