Essential writing tips on letter of intent for PhD programs

23rd November 2018 by Varada A | SOP For PhD

How to write a letter of intent for PhD programs? Read more for essential writing tips on the letter of intent for PhD programs.

Here the article comes in 2 parts. Firstly, I have included some general tips for writing a letter of intent for PhD programs. Then in the following section, there are some worthy remarks from the academic counsellors of different universities which are added for reference, which I gathered during my years of content writing services.


Many times, candidates approach me very late, when the deadline for submitting their application is quite near. Being involved in the tedious task of completing loads of paperwork and selecting the samples and requesting academic references, the PhD letter of intent gets neglected naturally. But an applicant should know the real significance of such a draft well before he attempts to compose one. It is actually a significant factor for admission faculties to either select you or reject you.

Why is it so important?

It’s because the PhD letter of intent tells more about the candidate and his research interests and opens before the admission committee his real suitability for the course.

The majority of the PhD applicants will be well qualified and may have stunning scorecards and a CV. But that alone cannot confirm that the applicant has the required skills and abilities needed to carry out research and face obstacles and challenges if any occurring during his course of study, without bringing any affliction for the college authority.

What is its subject matter?

One specifically has to write in their PhD letter of intent why he chose that particular program. But it can take only a few lines to state the reason and it will not be enough.

What more then?

Align your research interests with the field of engagement of the university and the department to which you are applying. It is not similar in this aspect with a letter of intent for university admission.

What are the Dos and Don’ts?

Don’t show your excitement for getting admission into the course or the university. Also, don’t be childish enough and mention like – you really don’t know what you want and will be adaptable to any field. This makes sense that you are not an organised person. Universities need genuine and dedicated players. Through the PhD letter of intent be oriented towards making yourself a hardworking and devoted person. Don’t be shy. Be confident and prove yourself through your related accomplishments. Past sings about the future. Showcase a prosperous future from your past achievements.

Is there a need to talk about the university?

Definitely yes. Because the universities need someone who is fit for them too. Standard institutions don’t merely select students for the sake of filling their seats, unlike some amateur schools. Before getting down to write the phd letter of intent,  do enough research on the college or university, visit their websites and if found any faculty or research area matching with that of yours contact them if possible and don’t forget to mention that too.

How long it should be?

Even though there is a prescribed word limit for these kinds of statement letters, better than blindly sticking to that, think from the view of an admission officer. Each day they have to read and evaluate stacks of applications and if it was you who has to select the best from that heap. What will you prefer – pages, a long essay or a short and precise draft? That’s it. Make your PhD letter of intent short and not more than two pages if not asked for a particular length for the letter. Maintain adequate spacing and justify your draft to give it ease of reading.

Are there any rules to be followed strictly?

Many universities have some set of rules which they ask every applicant to follow while submitting applications including what they want them to clarify in their phd letter of intent. Mainly they ask for the real motivations of the candidate to pursue a research course. Some needs more specificity where you will be asked to show your interest in a specific area with the research course you are applying for.

What is the format of writing a PhD letter of intent?

As the name implies, it needs to be drafted in a letter format with header salutations and a subject line. Get a general idea of this by referring to some letter of intent samples on the internet. It needs to be concluded with a signing off statement and the name and signature of the applicant.


Most students avail the help of some professional content writing service providers to get them draft their personal essays and letters to be submitted to foreign universities. There are many reasons for doing so, including their lack of confidence in the writing skills. Also, I have had opportunities to communicate with some experts and admission officers who told me that the students get rejected mostly since they miss some common elements in their essays. Their opinions are included below for your reference.

“The students ignore the fact that the committee members have to review hundreds of essays daily and write very elaborately without making the points clear. While trying to make it quantifiable, they miss the quality feature.”

“Less focussed and out of the point essays are sometimes submitted.”

“Some essays are drastic failures with lots of spelling and grammar errors and sometimes a wrong vocabulary or a misplaced phrase have been used. This feels like they may have not done proofreading and also they drafted it at the last minute.”

“Many academically scored candidates fail to showcase themselves as goal-oriented and writes the essay in the style of a fiction or a story which is not at all convincing”.

Besides, some faculty members and students who got admission to their dream course pointed out some advice to help the aspiring candidates to write their PhD letter of intent without any flaws.

Do understand the philosophy of the program you have been applying for. The universities will have some specific qualities to be showcased like willingness to adapt to a new environment, flexibility, curiosity to learn new things, open-mindedness etc. Also, they choose and select students who show a balance between both personal qualities and academic skills.”

“It will be of great help if you have done projects, internships or thesis works related to the program you have applied.  Strategically mention it in your PhD letter of intent.”

“If you have experiences in a field totally different from the program you have applied for, make it linked with the present course very perfectly, like the social work seminars you attended made you understand the need to investigate more about the pros and cons of problems before arriving at a solution on in a sudden, which lighted your interest for research program further”.

“If possible get in touch with some professors or educational counsellors who work in the field of research program you are aspiring to apply and know how to write a letter of intent for PhD programs. They can help you by giving information about the format to be used, what particulars about your academics and which of your achievements to be included, what the research program actually means etc. It is also good to get them to proofread the final copy of PhD letter of intent and take their feedbacks and end up transforming your essay into a winning one.”

Hope the article on writing a PhD letter of intent was very informative and resourceful for you. For further clarifications, please feel free to contact us by dropping a mail…..

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