Guide to Writing a Grad School Application Cover Letter

By Karen Palmer on November 2021
Category: College Life

a folder with paperwork

Cover letters are often underestimated by applicants because they don’t really understand what these letters are for. However, cover letters are an important part of the application process as they give the first impression and tell more about your personality. So, it’s crucial to write one, even if it’s not a necessary part of an application.

Cover letters not only give more information on you as a person but also show your dedication and willingness to become a part of the learning institution that you are applying to. Basically, it gives you more points when the decision is being made. It speaks for you when you have no such an opportunity.

If you want to write a strong cover letter for your grad school, keep reading the article, and you will learn about the most important aspects and elements of a high-quality cover letter that makes you stand out from the crowd. Lets’ get started.

Definition and Structure

You probably know what a cover letter is, as it’s often needed when you are applying to various learning institutions, internships, projects, etc. A cover letter is a document that is a part of the set of required documents for your application and is a representation of your skills, experience, and goals for the future. It should tell the committee members about your past – your academic history, achievements, and experience, as well as your hopes and plans for the future; for example, about your plans on continuing your education or specific field of work that you would like to contribute to.

In general, a grad school cover letter consists of the following elements:

  • Personal information: name, address, email
  • Date
  • Recipient’s information: name, department, address of the learning institution
  • Greetings: Dear Mr. Green, Dear Professor Green.
  • Two or three paragraphs of the body of the letter with the basic information about you and your motivation behind the application.
  • Closing paragraph with the information about documents and materials enclosed. Thanking for recipient’s attention and time.
  • Closing phrase.

When you are working on a cover letter, it’s crucial to follow the basic rules of writing letters like that—for example, polite tone, concise and well-structured text. Chances are you will need to edit your letter more than once, so make sure you have enough time for this work. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to write a cover letter below.

Step One: Starting Your Letter

The easiest part of the work of writing a cover letter is its beginning. Start your work by writing your contact information, including your name, address, and email. For example:

“Patricia Howard,

12 Howard Str.

Detroit, MI 12345

Then put the current date and write your recipient’s information, including their department. For example:

“Prof. Abraham Kole

Department of History

123 Kole Str.

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI 12345”

Usually, this information is placed in the right upper corner of a document, one under another. Make sure you check the guidelines of the learning institution you are applying to.

Step 2: Write the Body of Your Letter

To start the main part of your grad school application letter, you need to greet your recipient in a polite and formal manner. Usually, one uses words like “Dear,” accompanied with the title Mr., Mrs., Ms., Prof., and the last name of the recipient. For example, “Dear Professor Kole.”

After your greetings, your first paragraph should be placed. This is the part where you talk about your motivation and why the letter is written in the first place. You can also add some basic information about your academic past. For example:

“With great pleasure, I would like to apply for the Master of Arts in History program at the Department of History at the University of Michigan. I recently have finished my bachelor’s program at the University of Maryland and would like to continue my education in order to get more in-depth knowledge. I think that the Master’s program offered by your department is the best, and I would love to be a part of it.”

The next paragraph should highlight your strength and show why you are a great candidate. Sometimes it’s hard to write such self-promoting texts, but don’t be shy to mention your achievements, as this would really make you stand out. For example:

“The University of Maryland where I was studying provided me with a great knowledge base which I would love to expand even more. During my senior year, I was very fortunate to try myself as an intern for Dr. Phill Francis’s – a great mind and an unbelievable curator. He provided me with a very positive recommendation letter which I also will add to my application. I was also more than once named as one of the most perspective students by the dean of our faculty Dr. Timothy Bolton. My exam results enclosed might prove his words.”

The last paragraph should contain information about your plans for the future and also express your gratitude. For example:

“As I am planning on starting my career in the state of Maryland and contributing as much as I can to the field of historical research, I would appreciate an opportunity to be a part of your Master’s program. Thank you for your time and consideration of my application.”


Patricia Howard”

Step 3: Edit and Proofread Your Letter

The last step of the writing process is as important as the rest of them. Editing and proofreading might seem like a tedious task; however, it allows one to avoid unfortunate mistakes, such as punctuation and grammar errors, wrong information, typos, etc. So, make sure you read your letter at least two times before you print it or send it. Polish your letter by checking the spelling and all the other details of your letter, including contact information. 

We hope that you find our tips useful and wish you the best of luck in your application process.


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