What is a statement of intent?
A graduate school statement of intent is an essay backing your application for postgraduate Master or doctorate program. It focuses on who you are, why you’re applying to that particular Master or Doctoral program, and why that program should consider your application. In some schools, it is requested in letter format and so must be written like a cover letter.
How to write a statement of intent
There might be a few different ways to write a letter or statement of intent. You might focus your letter on specific achievements related to your application and goals. Or you could write in a more personal way, showing who you are and why you are committed to grad school. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to pay close attention to the style and mechanics of effective writing.
Profile Your Audience
You will need to tailor your statement of intent to the target audience that will be reading it. Put yourself in the shoes of the admissions committee that must read dozens of such statements during the course of a day. Therefore, choose your angle with a view to presenting a fresh take on why you have chosen that particular institution, avoiding stale, or predictable statements.
Observe the Structure
Watch for any specific instructions from the institution and adhere to them. Each school can have different requirements, so tailor your intent to those specifications. For example, some schools may have restriction on word count while some may have restriction on the number of pages. Adhere to all restrictions imposed by the school.
Include Key Elements
The body of your statement/letter of intent is where you could introduce yourself to the application committee and make your case for acceptance. You might take a few different approaches, depending on your purpose of writing a statement/letter of intent. Your statement/letter of intent must make the case for why you are applying at that institution. For example, your statement might address the following:
- Background information and circumstances that brought you to the program.
- Previous training and readiness for the program.
- Why and how the program in question will help you further your career goals.
- Summary of your relevant experience.
- How the department or program is relevant to your goals.
- Contributions you can make to the department.
- Courses you wish to study.
Observe the Formatting
Take note of the requirement of the school you are applying to. Some schools may request for a statement of intent while others may require a letter. Your statement/letter must be written in the format requested by the school. Statements will have header that will show the sender’s full name, address, and contact information (phone and/or email) and they are written in essay.
Letters have header, which should contain each of the following elements, separated by a line break:
The sender’s full name, address, and contact information (phone and/or email)
The date the letter is being sent
The recipient’s name and address, which you should personalize as much as possible. That is, if you have the name and address of the decision-maker that will be reading your application, address the letter to that person, unless instructed otherwise. If you can’t find this information, something more general like “Graduate Selection Committee” could be used instead.