A letter of intent for graduate school enrollment is part of the admission process in most universities, especially for research-oriented graduate programs. These letters are closely scrutinized by admission officers because the letter is the place where the graduate student can talk about him or herself, explain their goals and why they want to attend graduate school at that particular university. The letter should be well constructed, organized and written. It may be used by the university to determine if the applicant’s career goals fit with the program or to match the applicant to a supervisor.
The admission committee will want to know if the applicant has:
• The capacity to work through and solve problems independently
• The ability and initiative to develop ideas
• The determination to achieve his or her goals
Before writing the letter, the applicant should do some research about their university of choice and make sure there is a program that matches the applicant’s goals. The letter needs to cover a variety of subjects, and different schools are looking for different information. However, there are four basic things they are all looking for:
• What subject does the applicant want to study in graduate school
• Why the applicant wants to study that subject
• What experience does the applicant have in their field
• What will the applicant do with the degree once they have it
The letter of intent should focus on the applicant’s goals and explain how the degree will help the applicant achieve those goals. The letter can also explain the areas of research that most interest the applicant, and at least one area should be expressed in enough detail for the admission committee to form an idea of the applicant’s interests. There may be references to research literature mentioned in the letter as well as how any acquired skills will help the applicant succeed in the program. The information in a letter of intent is not a binding contract because most universities recognize that students’ interests may change, and these changes are legitimate.
The applicant may also contact a professor in the university who teaches in the area of interest. The professor will most likely be happy to discuss the program.
Some other information that may be included is the applicant’s:
• Experience in the field and how they became interested
• Quick description of undergraduate studies
• Awards and published work
• Work experience
A letter of intent for graduate school enrollment should be between 400 and 800 words and include a small reference list containing any sources if research is mentioned. These sources should be written in correct bibliographic citation.
By Andre Bradley