Looking at graduate school cover letter examples is a good idea if you plan on applying to a graduate school program, as you may be required to include a cover letter with your CV for graduate school and other application components. Even though it is not a required document for all grad school programs, a well-written graduate school cover letter can help you stand out to the admissions committee and improve your chances of being accepted into your chosen program. This is especially true if you are applying to a highly selective institution or trying to get into graduate school with a low GPA.
This blog will discuss everything you need to know about writing a cover letter for graduate school. You will learn why cover letters are important, learn tips to make your graduate school cover letter stand out, and you will get to review cover letter samples that will inspire you to write your own.
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What is a graduate school cover letter?
A graduate school cover letter is a brief letter that applicants attach to their graduate school application. Much like a work cover letter, such as a research assistant cover letter, for example, graduate school cover letters are meant to introduce you and your application to the reader. They give you an opportunity to make an excellent first impression, tell the admission committee that you are interested in their graduate school program and why you believe it is a good fit for you.
Graduate school cover letters have become less popular as graduate schools typically ask students to fill out their personal information and submit materials online. If you are sending specific application materials or your entire application by mail, then you will need to include a graduate school cover letter. Additionally, a few institutions, like the University of Illinois graduate college, for example, require students to submit a graduate school cover letter with their application, even when it is online.
Furthermore, even when a graduate program does not explicitly ask for a cover letter, including a well-written and informative letter can help differentiate you from the other students by leaving a lasting impression on the admission committee, thus increasing your chances of admission. That said, before you start writing a cover letter for such a program, you should verify the school's admissions website to ensure that the school accepts additional documents.
It should also be noted that many graduate students look for work and research opportunities at the school that they will be attending. If that is the case for you, then you will need a graduate school cover letter with your application for that school-related internship, job, or research opportunity. For example, if you’re interested in conducting research with a specific professor while you complete your master’s, then it would be a good idea to send them your application with a cover letter attached so that you can communicate your suitability for their research project.
The format of a graduate school cover letter
Graduate school cover letters are academic letters, meaning that they need to be formatted in a way that is professional, clear, and concise. Your graduate school cover letter should be no longer than a page, written in a classic font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Calibri, sized 11 or 12.
The text of your letter should be organized and separated into paragraphs. Keep in mind that your letter may go through several readers, and not all of them may be experts in the field you intend to study, so do not use overly technical language or industry-specific jargon. Keep your language succinct, clear, and consistent throughout the letter.
Lastly, your letter needs to provide a quick introduction to you as a candidate and pique the reader's interest so that they want to read the rest of your application. This means that you should not use your cover letter to list all of the experiences and skills that make you perfect for this graduate program. Simply express your interest in the program, select one or two experiences, skills, or values to focus on, and relate those to your suitability for the program you're applying for.
Wondering how to get into grad school with a lower GPA?
How to write your graduate school cover letter – a step by step guide
Step 1: Brainstorm & plan
The first thing you want to do before you start working on your cover letter, or any graduate school admission essay, is make a plan. Think about what you want to say in your cover letter and write it down. Remember that you only have a few paragraphs to work with, and you do not want to repeat information from your personal statement or other application components.
Once you know what you want your cover letter to say, organize it so that it flows nicely, and it is easy to follow. Your graduate school cover letter should follow the structure of a typical letter. It should have an introductory paragraph, the main body, and a closing paragraph.
Step 2: Address your letter
As mentioned earlier, your graduate school cover letter is, in fact, a letter! Therefore, you should begin by addressing it the way you would in a formal letter. Write your full name and mailing address at the very top. We also recommend including your email address and phone number, but this is optional. On the following line, write out the date, and then write the recipient's name (typically, this is the name of the head of the department or just the name of the school you are applying to) and their address. You should verify the school's admissions webpage for this information. If it is unclear and you are unsure whom to address in the letter, contact the school and ask for this information to ensure that your documents get to the right person.
This first section of your letter should follow this template:
1234 Imaginary Lane
NameofCity, TN 34421
December 12, 20XX
Dr. John Smith
Department of Psychology
BeMo Academic University
66 University Circle
NameofCity, TN 34457
Step 3: Open with a salutation
Once again, because this is a formal letter, you want to open your letter with the appropriate greeting or a personal salutation. If you have the name of a specific recipient, you can use the most common salutation for graduate school cover letters, which is "Dear [recipient's name]." Do not forget to include the recipient's title if you have it. If you do not have the name of a specific recipient, then you can simply address the letter "To Whom It May Concern".
Step 4: Introduce yourself and express your interest in the graduate program
The reader will already have your name at the top of the page, but your introductory paragraph should tell them why you're writing this graduate school cover letter. You should use it to state your interest in your chosen graduate program and briefly mention your academic background and accomplishments thus far.
Take a look at this example for context:
I am pleased to submit my application for the Master of Applied Psychology program at X university. As a recent psychology graduate of YZ university, this graduate program is the perfect next step toward achieving my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.
Step 5: Talk about your suitability for this program
This is the main body of your graduate school cover letter. You should try to limit this to one paragraph, but you can use up to two of them if necessary. You should briefly touch on why you chose this particular school and program, what skills you have that have prepared you for this program, and what makes you an ideal applicant.
You can talk about what you intend to do after this degree or specific professors and faculty members you wish to work with. The information you share here will be personal, so there is no golden template. Just ensure that it is written in an organized fashion that is easy to read and understand.
Step 6: Conclude and close your letter
In your last paragraph, make sure you thank the recipient for their time and consideration. You should also encourage them to reach out to you if they need additional information, or if they have any questions. Then finally, You can close your cover letter with a warm, professional closing salutation. "Sincerely" or "Warm Regards" followed by your name are some acceptable closing salutations you can use.
Step 7: List enclosed documents
This section of your graduate school cover letter will look different depending on the school you are applying to, and the application format used. If you are applying by mail, you should list the enclosed documents in the same envelope as your cover letter. If you are applying online or by email, verify that all of the documents listed on your cover letter are attached and ready to send.
This section should be at the very bottom of the page. It should list the documents in a bullet point format, in the order in which they are enclosed. The list should look something like this:
- Program application form
- Statement of purpose
- Academic transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
Graduate school cover letter examples
Graduate school cover letter example #1
1234 Dream St.
Winnipeg, MB R3J 8T6
August 12, 20xx
Dr. Trevor Thorne
Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media
BeMo Academic University
Toronto, ON M4C 2Y9
Dear Dr. Thorne,
I am excited to submit my application for consideration for the English literature master's program at BeMo Academic University. I have spent the past four years learning the basics of literature analysis through my bachelor's degree in the field, and I am eager to take this next step in my educational journey in order to further my training.
My undergraduate studies allowed me to explore and learn about different forms of literature from around the world. Still, I often found myself drawn to the impressive works of Shakespeare, Milton, Bronte, and many other great English writers. I had the opportunity to study in London for a year, where I attended a seminar on the impact of Charlotte Bronte's work on modern feminism led by none other than Prof. Jane Smith. She is one of the many brilliant professors in the English, Theatre, Film & Media department at BeMo that I hope to learn from.
You will find enclosed the required application documents, including my academic CV, which provides more information on the research I have been able to do and publish so far in my short academic career. I am especially interested in the role that authors such as William Shakespeare played in the development of modern English, and I wish to explore that further through research. I feel that the rigorous curriculum this program offers will inform my future writing and research efforts, and allow me to achieve my goals.
Thank you for your time, attention, and consideration. It is truly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.
Program application form
Statement of purpose
Official undergraduate transcripts
Letters of recommendation
Graduate school cover letter example #2
102-9876 Mainland Rd.
New Haven, CT 44567
April 8, 20XX
Department of Psychology
University of BeMo
175 Academy lane
New York, NY 34567
To whom it may concern,
It is my pleasure to submit my application for the Master's degree in Early Childhood Development in the Psychology department at The University of BeMo. I am currently completing my bachelor's degree in psychology and plan to graduate in the fall. Since my goal is to pursue a career as an educational psychologist, this particular program is the perfect next step toward achieving my goal.
My undergraduate degree includes coursework in childhood psychology, special needs education, school and family crisis intervention, and many other courses that have given me the basics required to keep up with the thorough coursework that awaits me in your rigorous program.
I have also gained valuable knowledge in the field through shadowing and internships in different schools in my community. Observing other child educators at work confirmed that this is the right career path for me, and it motivated me anew to learn how I can best help children develop a love of learning from the early stages of their educational careers. I know that there is only so much I can learn from observing, and the fact that this program provides six months of hands-on training is one of the many reasons why I am hoping to be a student at BeMo next year.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information or documents. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Program application form
Statement of purpose
Official undergraduate transcripts
Letters of recommendation
3 tips for making your graduate school cover letter stand out
Cover letters are supposed to be a brief introduction to your application, so unless otherwise specified by the school, they should not be longer than one page. We recommend sticking to three to four paragraphs, as this is long enough to share substantial information without losing your audience. Keep in mind that your reader will also be reviewing your other application components, so you do not need to address everything in this one letter. The information in your other application components, such as your statement of purpose, will complement your cover letter. So, treat your cover letter like a summary of your candidacy; keep it short but impactful.
Have you started working your graduate school CV? Check out this video for tips:
Be genuine & professional
The individual or committee that will review your application will probably be people that help run the program you're applying to. It is, therefore, best that they get a sense of who you genuinely are. Communicate honestly and let your personality shine through. This will help make your cover letter more memorable. That said, keep in mind that this is a professional document and that genuine does not mean informal or unprofessional. Your tone should still be courteous and consistent throughout the letter.
Proofread & edit carefully
We cannot stress how important this is. Remember that your graduate school cover letter will be one of, if not the first, document that the admissions committee will see from your application. You do not want their first impression of you to be negative. Your letter should be easy to read and follow, and it should be error-free.
Take the time to review your letter multiple times and edit for flow, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos. Better yet, reach out to a grad school essay tutor for assistance. They can review your cover letter and help you edit it to make sure it is up to par.
1. What is a graduate school cover letter?
It is a brief letter that you attach to your graduate school application. This letter should state your interest in the program, and briefly explain why you chose it, as well as why you are a good fit for it.
2. How common are graduate school cover letters?
Many programs do not request graduate school cover letters, but they are more common than most people think. Additionally, several programs accept grad school cover letters even when not required, so you can still submit a cover letter to help your application stand out.
3. Do I need a graduate school cover letter if I am applying online?
That depends on the program that you are applying to. Some schools may request a cover letter for online applications, and others may not require one, but they allow students to submit them as an optional component.
4. Do I need a graduate school cover letter and grad school essays?
Graduate school cover letters are not replacements for admission essays like a personal statement or statement of intent. So if your school requires a graduate school cover letter, do not assume that this means you will not have to write any grad school admission essays.
5. Who should I address my graduate school cover letter to?
Unless you are given the name of a specific member of the admission committee, you should address your graduate school cover letter to the "Admissions team," "[subject] Head of Department," or "To Whom It May Concern."
6. How do I make my graduate school cover letter stand out?
You can make your graduate school cover letter stand out by making sure your personality shines through in your writing, telling a short anecdote or interesting fact about you in the body of the letter, and detailing your relevant skills and experience.
7. How hard is it to get into graduate school?
Graduate school can be pretty competitive, but the level of competition depends on the specific program you will be applying to. Some programs have acceptance rates as high as 60%, while others admit less than 10% of applicants.
8. What is a private graduate school advisor?
Graduate school advisors are admission experts who help students plan and prepare for graduate school applications.
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