Resumes & Cover Letters

Guide to Writing a Cover Letter For Graduate School (With Template and Example)

April 9, 2021

If you are planning on applying to a graduate school program, you may need to include a cover letter with your graduate school application. Knowing how to write a graduate school cover letter can help you stand out to the admissions committee and improve your chances of being accepted into your program. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about writing a cover letter for graduate school with tips, a template and an example.

Is a cover letter for graduate school important?

A cover letter for graduate school is important because it is often the first impression the admissions committee gets of you as an applicant. Many graduate school programs require a cover letter as one of the application documents. However, even if the graduate school you are applying to accepts cover letters voluntarily, writing a cover letter can help you stand out as a stronger and more serious candidate than applicants who don't include a cover letter.

Related: 7 College Resume Tips (With Examples)

How to write a cover letter for graduate school

Follow these steps to write a cover letter for graduate school:

  1. Begin by addressing your cover letter.
  2. Use a personal salutation.
  3. Introduce yourself.
  4. State your purpose for applying to this grad school.
  5. Close your cover letter.
  6. Enclose requested application documents.

1. Begin by addressing your cover letter.

The first step to writing any cover letter is addressing it properly. You should begin by writing your full name and address. You may also include your phone number or email address on an additional line, but this is optional. On the next line, write out the date. Then write the recipient's name (including their title), the name of the department or school and their address. If you aren't sure who to address the letter to, contact the school and ask for this information. Here is what a completed address section looks like:

Sarah Johnson
2341 E. Main Street
Chattanooga, TN 37341

December 7, 2020

Dr. Timothy Greer
Department of Psychology
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
800 University Lane
Chattanooga, TN 37341

2. Use a personal salutation.

Next, you should open your letter using a personal salutation. The most common salutation used for graduate school cover letters is "Dear [recipient's name]." It is best to use the recipients' name when you know it. However, if you are not able to find out the name of the person you should address the letter to, "Head of Admissions," "Graduate Coordinator," "Head of Department" or "To Whom It May Concern" are all also appropriate salutations.

3. Introduce yourself.

In the first paragraph of your graduate school cover letter, you should briefly introduce yourself, state your interest in applying to your chosen graduate program and describe your academic background and accomplishments thus far. Your introductory paragraph should be brief, direct and specifically tailored to the program you are applying to.

4. State your purpose for applying to this grad school.

The second paragraph of your graduate school cover letter will go into greater detail about why you are interested in applying to this specific graduate program and what makes you a strong candidate. This section should include your transferrable skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for your chosen graduate program. You should also identify the reasons you chose this specific graduate program by explaining how you can benefit from the program and how you expect the program to benefit you.

5. Close your cover letter.

Next, you should close your letter by thanking the recipient for their time and consideration. You should also include a statement encouraging them to reach out to you if they have any questions or need any additional information. You can then close your cover letter with a warm, professional closing salutation such as "Sincerely" or "Warm Regards" followed by your name.

6. Enclose requested application documents.

Finally, you should identify any application documents you are enclosing at the end of your cover letter. If you are sending your application and cover letter via email or online, make sure the documents are properly attached to your email or uploaded into your application. If you are sending your cover letter and application via mail, make sure you include any documents identified at the end of the letter in the same envelope.

Some people prefer to add a line in their closing paragraph listing the enclosed documents. This format is acceptable as well. When identifying enclosures in the closing, separate the name of each document with a comma. When identifying enclosures at the end of your cover letter, you can use a bullet list format.

Related: How to Include Relevant Coursework On a Student Resume

Tips for writing a cover letter for graduate school

Here are a few general tips to remember when writing a graduate school cover letter:

  • Remain polite, enthusiastic and professional throughout your letter.
  • Be concise and try to avoid repeating information you have discussed in other parts of your application.
  • Use a professional font in 11- or 12-point font and black text color.
  • Use block paragraphs with a blank space in between each section of your letter and justify everything to the left.
  • Proofread and revise any spelling, grammar or formatting errors before sending your letter.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter: Tips and Examples

Graduate school cover letter template

Use the following template to create your own graduate school cover letter:

[Your name]
[Your address]
[Your city, state and zip code]

[Date]

[Name of recipient]
[Department name]
[University or school name]
[University or school address]
[University or school city, state and zip code]

Dear [recipient's name]:

It is my pleasure to submit my application for the [name of graduate program] at [name of department] at [name of university or school applying to]. As a recent graduate of [name of university or school attended] with a [degree type] in [major], this graduate program is the perfect next step toward achieving my goal of [specific post-graduate goal].

During my time in the undergraduate program at [name of university or school attended], I was able to develop several skills that make me a strong candidate for your program such as [list of transferrable skills]. A few of my greatest accomplishments achieved while in my undergraduate program include [list of achievements]. I have chosen the [name of graduate program] at [name of university or school applying to] because of [specific interest relevant to this specific school and program].

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if there is any additional information or documents I can provide. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Enclosed:
[Enclosure one]
[Enclosure two]
[Enclosure three]

Download Cover Letter Template
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Graduate school cover letter example

Here is an example of a completed graduate school cover letter:

Sarah Johnson
2341 E. Main Street
Chattanooga, TN 37341

December 7, 2020

Dr. Timothy Greer
Department of Psychology
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
800 University Lane
Chattanooga, TN 37341

Dear Dr. Greer:

It is my pleasure to submit my application for the Masters of Family Psychology program at the Psychology department at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As a recent graduate of Belhaven University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, this graduate program is the perfect next step toward achieving my goal of becoming a Licensed Family and Marriage Counselor and opening my own practice.

During my time in the undergraduate program at Belhaven University, I was able to develop several skills that make me a strong candidate for your program including time-management skills, analytical skills and strong research and writing skills. A few of my greatest accomplishments achieved while in my undergraduate program include interning for the esteemed counseling program at The University of Tennessee and graduating with high honors. I have chosen the Masters of Family Psychology program at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga because of the university's core focus on family counseling within the master's program.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if there is any additional information or documents I can provide. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Sarah Johnson

Enclosed:
Application
Curriculum Vitae
Statement of purpose
Letters of recommendation
Official transcripts

Related

View More 

How To Write an Art Teacher Resume (Plus a Template and Example)

Read this step-by-step guide on how to write an art teacher resume and review a template, example and tips to help you get started.

How To Write Accounting Department Accomplishments on a Resume

Discover how to identify your own accomplishments in accounting roles, how to phrase them for your resume and where else to mention your accomplishments.