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How to Write a Motivation Letter for PhD, Postdoc, or Any Position: Sample Motivation Letter

A Successful motivation letter helps the admissions board or Professor to compare outstanding students and impressive ones. With help of  motivation letter, they can prosper in ending up choosing worthy research students. But Still, admission boards will surely think of this as the classification to significantly find a suitable candidate for his research group. Showing you are preferred depending on what you write, however much more on just how you design, particularly the tone you use and the level of interest you receive in your writing that matters a lot.

While applying for a Ph.D. or Postdoc or any research position, you will need to write a research proposal and a Motivation Letter. Especially, a motivation letter is more required for Ph.D. candidates. This defines why you wish to embark on that position and why you would be appropriate for studying there. Yet what requires to go in this, and what tone is suitable for it? To give you some suggestions, today, we’re sharing all about motivation letters, so you can see what your motivation letter needs to include or correct.


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How to Write a PhD Motivation Letter

A motivation letter has many similarities to a cover letter and a personal statement, and institutions will not ask you to submit all of these. However, it is a unique document and you should treat it as such. In the context of supporting a PhD application, the difference is nuanced; all three documents outline your suitability for PhD study. However, compared to a cover letter and personal statement, a motivation letter places more emphasis on your motivation for wanting to pursue the particular PhD position you are applying for.

Academic cover letters are more common in UK universities, while motivation letters are more common abroad.

For admission staff, academic qualifications alone are not enough to indicate whether a student will be successful in their doctorate. In this sense, a motivational letter will allow them to judge your passion for the field of study, commitment to research and suitability for the programme, all of which better enables them to evaluate your potential.

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Steps for writing research motivation letter

1. The first step to writing a good motivation letter is to read the job ad carefully
2. The second step is to try to understand the researchers and the kind of research they do
3. The third step is to carefully read a previous motivation letter and try to understand why the letter was successful
4. The fourth step is to make sure that you address the letter to the right people
5. The fifth step is to explain why you choose to apply to this position and this lab.
6. The sixth step is to explain how your research interests align with the research of the lab
7. The seventh step is to explain how your previous research background relates to the position
8. The eighth step is to explain why you are applying for that position


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How to Start a Motivation Letter

Introduction: Start with a brief introduction in which you clearly state your intention to apply for a particular programme. Think of this as describing what the document is to a stranger.

Education: State what you have studied and where. Your higher education will be your most important educational experience, so focus on this. Highlight any relevant modules you undertook as part of your studies that are relevant to the programme you are applying for. You should also mention how your studies have influenced your decision to pursue a PhD project, especially if it is in the same field you are currently applying to.

Work experience: Next summarize your professional work experience. Remember, you will likely be asked to submit your academic CV along with your motivation letter, so keep this section brief to avoid any unnecessary repetition. Include any other relevant experiences, such as teaching roles, non-academic experience, or charity work which demonstrates skills or shows your suitability for the research project and in becoming a PhD student.


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How Write Main Body of Motivation

Key skills: Outline your key skills. Remember the admissions committee is considering your suitability for the specific programme you are applying for, so mention skills relevant to the PhD course.

Motivation for applying: Show your enthusiasm and passion for the subject, and describe your long-term aspirations. Start with how you first became interested in the field, and how your interest has grown since. You should also mention anything else you have done which helps demonstrate your interest in your proposed research topic, for example:

  • Have you attended any workshops or seminars?
  • Do you have any research experience?
  • Have you taught yourself any aspects of the subject?
  • Have you read any literature within the research area?
  • Finally, describe what has convinced you to dedicate the next 3-4 years (assuming you are to study full time) of your life to research.


How to End a Motivation Letter

In the closing of your Motivation Letter, including a couple of sentences on your research’s impact on your life, research location, and experience generally. This will certainly aid you in showing the value of your research study in the context of a bigger photo. Mostly, demonstrate how the research community and also college can benefit from having you as a pupil.

Finally, thank the reader for considering your application.


Motivational letter for PhD, Postdoc, Scholarship etc.

It should be noted that a European-style motivation letter focuses on academic background and research history, avoiding too much personal information. The US-style personal statement, on the other hand, is much more ‘life experience’ based. Here, we focus on the European-style.


(01) Motivational letter Sample PhD Molecular Modeling


Dear Prof. XXXX

I am writing this letter to express my interest to apply for the PhD position available in the group XXXX under the project “Molecular modeling study of the activation of transmembrane receptors involved in chemical senses” at the University of XXXX.

In 2009, I graduated from the University of XXX in XXX with a five years degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Through my years of studying, I became fascinated by the research field in Computational

Chemistry and by the way how these techniques are applied to the design of new molecules with possible biological activity. For this reason during my last 3 years of bachelor degree I joined a research group and participated in different research projects under this research line. Between the projects I worked in this group, the most significant for me was my bachelor thesis titled “Theoretical Study of morphine derivatives using molecular modeling” with which I got an excellent mark of 4,8/5,0 and therefore a Meritorious qualification.

The Molecular modeling study of the activation of transmembrane receptors involved in chemical senses caught my attention immediately because it gives me the chance to apply computational techniques to biological systems that is what I like and enjoy the most. Besides, studying physiological phenomena related with the intersensoriality between taste and smell is a really fascinating topic that can have excellent applications in the field of new molecules design. I would like to be selected for this PhD position because I think this project gives me the opportunity to develop and improve in a research field that is part of my professional goals. I think this PhD position offers to me the possibility of receiving a complete training in computational chemistry applied to biological systems as well as the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment, of a highly qualified academic level.

I am aware of the dedication and perseverance that is needed to achieve the best results in this field and I believe that my experience will allow me to get it. I think that it is a great opportunity for me to demonstrate my abilities and acquire new skills, so I hope to be selected for this PhD position.

I remain at your disposal for any further information, thanking you in advance for your attention.




(02) Motivational letter Sample Marine Biology


Dear xxxxxxx,

I am writing to apply for the PhD position at xxxx Institute (Paris, France), for the subject « What shapes planktonic biodiversity hotspots in the open ocean?»

In 2008, I graduated from the University of Padova in Italy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with a curriculum of Marine Biology. Following my first degree, I remained at the same university, where in October I am abut to receive a Master Degree in Evolutionary Biology. Through my years of studying, I became fascinated with marine environment, and marine ecology especially. I still remember with great emotion my first boat trip in the lagoon of Chioggia (VE) where we were taught how to conduct an oceanographic campaign, how to take oceanographic chemical and physical data as well as biological samples, and how to use technical tools onboard. During university years, I also had the opportunity to take a diving license, thank to whom I could discover by myself for the first time that amazing underwater world I previously could see just in marine documentaries. Living in such an anthropogenically-modified environment, what I most like about marine world is the fact that, in spite of his often-dramatic effects, man has not already managed to put his “footprint”. From just a curiosity, marine environment and its preservation became my goal.

In the meantime, I attended a two-year Master Course in Science Communication at ISAS (International School for Advanced Studies), Trieste. This experience not only provided me the opportunity to practice different forms of scientific communication (newspapers, radio, multimedia, museums) and to deal with the overall of scientific subjects, but also developed my capacity of interacting with different actors: public, scientists, journalists, scientific and governmental institutions.

I am currently in an Erasmus exchange program at the University of Paris XI, where I chose to conduct my Master thesis project in the field of ecological modelling, at the Department of Ecology, Biodiversity and Evolution. There I had the opportunity to work with interesting people from all over Europe coming from different research experiences, who kindled my enthusiasm about prosecuting my studies with an international context. Furthermore, I could develop new skills in statistical analysis and software programming. I work especially in R software environment on a negative binomial model, readjusting the model by optimization search of new equation parameters with a maximum likelihood method. I could not say it was easy at the beginning, I did not know the language at all, and was be able to do hardly anything. But with a little help to start, I studied the language by myself, searched courses to
attend, and become able to manipulate a script in order to act autonomously on it and provide original improvement.

I decided to pursue my career with a PhD in a foreign UE country, in order to acquire a highlevel international profile. I find working in a collaboration with three prestigious institutions like University Pierre et Marie Curie, Ecole Normale Superieur and MIT extremely challenging and as additional motivation for me. Moreover, this project would provide me the rare opportunity to join two different study fields: on one side, marine ecology, which still represent my strongest subject of interest; on the other side, statistical ecological modelling, a scientific approach which, even if difficult and not intuitive, I consider really satisfying for a science like biology, still in search of rigorous methodologies to deal with the complexity of living systems.

My academic curriculum provided me a solid knowledge of the different theoretical subjects implied in the research project: physical and chemical ocean dynamics, ecological processes, as well as marine organisms physiology are among the subjects I enjoyed and in whom I succeeded the most. My studies were characterized by great heterogeneity, but, far from being a defect, I consider it my best quality. In a project that aims to compare and integrate satellite data, virtual simulation, field and molecular data in a wide international cooperation, a person who is used to switch among different subjects and interact among different professionals could be undoubtedly of help. Finally, even if I could not say to be an expert of software programming at the moment, my master stage experienced proofed my strong motivation and tenaciousness, which allowed me to acquire autonomously new working skills, and the will to learn even more.

Given my record of good academic achievement and strong interest in your research program, I am certain that, if given the opportunity, I will enjoy working on the topics that ignite my curiosity the most. In addition to my academic qualifications, I am confident that my interdisciplinary and international background will meet your research school expectations.


Thank you for considering my application.

Yours faithfully,


(03) Motivational letter Sample 


Dear Sir/ Madam,

First of all let me introduce myself, I am …………and recently (August 2007) I passed my M.Sc in Telecommunication Engineering from Technical University of Denmark (DTU). I was drawn to the Radioplanlaegningenior opening at SONOFON, Denmark by my strong interest and skills in GSM Radio Frequency planning, optimization, link budgeting, nominal planning , drive test, interference calculation, site survey for site selections and command on using Radio Frequency planning tool like TEMS and NetAct Planner.

I did my M.Sc Telecommunication thesis project “Modeling Long Term Evolution (LTE) of 3G Mobile Networks” in collaboration with CommWyse A/S Denmark and Research Center COM at DTU. In my M.Sc thesis I have developed a working model for LTE mission critical applications to get the targeted performance evaluation specified by 3GPP which includes maximum data rate (100 Mbps in downlink and 50 Mbps in uplink), network latency (user and control plane), mobility management and radio resource management. The model covers the concepts of all interface, protocol heavy programming skills and UMTS, OFDM and HSPA. During this degree program I gained in depth knowledge of WCDMA, UMTS and HSPA at radio access as well as radio access network level.

I have done my M.Sc in Engineering Management and Bachelor of Electronics/Electrical Engineering (4 years degree program) degrees from University of Engineering and Technology Taxila, (…..Link…. ), which is rated as one of the best Engineering University in Canada.

I have worked in a GSM Mobile Communication operator engineering company, Pakistan Mobile Communication Ltd, Islamabad, Pakistan, as BSS and RF Planning Engineer for more than 1 year. My scope of work there consisted of installation, commissioning of BSS part and RF planning and optimization for GSM network. Where I completed project related to RF planning and optimization for giving the best coverage, capacity and QoS and solved the issues related to interference. I also worked in fiber optic based DXX and wireless communication system in PakDataCom (PVT) Ltd, Islamabad, Pakistan for about one year.

This is an ideal opportunity for me to apply the GSM/3G mobile communication RF planning experience I acquire during my academics and professional career so far. I would like to take this opportunity to apply for the said Radioplanlaegningenior position in your prestigious organization.

I am waiting for your kind and positive response. Thank you for your time and consideration. I‟ll be more than happy to provide any further information or documents if required.

Note: Please find my CV attached with this application.

Sincerely yours,
Skodsborgvej 190, 1, 2408
2850 Nearum


(04) Motivational letter Sample Biology Physiology


Dear XXX,


I am writing to apply to Institute, for the phD project regarding (topic)–.


In 2010, I graduated from Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Following my first degree, I remained at the same university, where I ***will receive in October a Master’s(?? compare with original) Degree in Evolutionary Biology.


Through my years of studying, I became fascinated with ecology and environmental issues. After taking my high school diploma, in summer 2004, I worked as a volunteer in Riserva Naturale Isola di Lampedusa to support the local equipe in protecting sea turtles during reproductive season and ***educating tourists on our environment. ***At a camp for applied Eco-Ethology at Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, ***I studied the impact of the institution of natural reserves on local population. ***Through these activities, I ***became passionate about our environment and its preservation.


I ***completed my Bachelor’s thesis on animal pshysiology, studying adaptations of a sea water crustacean (Upogebia pusilla) to lower oxygen environments. ***I enjoyed my three month period field work in the lagoon of Chioggia (Venezia, Italy).(prior sentence needs more work) During Master’s degree, I excelled at animal ethology where I learned (xxx). (They have your transcripts and will see your marks. This letter should be self-contained.)


In the meantime, I attended a two-year Master Course in Science Communication at ISAS (International School for Advanced Studies), Trieste (Italy). This experience not only provided me the opportunity to practice different forms of scientific communication***, but also developed my capacity to ***interact with the public as well as scientists, journalists, scientific and governmental institutions. Through my studies, I learned how to use write and promote articles, (need more stuff here to make this flow smoothly) multimedia, animation work in science festivals, realisation of exhibitions, organisation of scientific events.

***At present, I am in an Erasmus exchange program at the Université Paris-Sud XI, where ***I am conducting my Master thesis project in the field of ecological modelling, at Department Ecologie, Biodiversité et Evolution. In this framework (framework??, doesn’t feel right) I had the opportunity to work with students and researchers ***from all over Europe, who kindled/strengthened my enthusiasm about prosecuting (nobody is prosecuting your studies…doesn’t make sense) my studies with an international research experience, and made me acquire a deeper appreciation of the different perspectives in ecology.(You have a habit of making your sentence long with extraneous non-valued added stuff at the end. Try making your sentences shorter with only essential information.) Furthermore, I sharpened my critical thinking and analysis as well as acquired new skills and techniques. (prior sentence is vacuous because you don’t support it.) I am working in R software environment on a statistical model describing reproductive pattern of sea turtles, readjusting it by search of new parameters by optimization. Attending extracurricular classes, I learned how to apply the R language on the analysis of biological and ecological data (this whole paragraph needs more work. I am not sure what the main purpose of this paragraph is. Is it that you’re an exchange student? Became more passionate about your studies? Or that you are working with soem statistical software? Help your reader by telling her exactly what she needs to read and understand. Everything else, eliminate.)

I found a great interest on this topic of research because it puts together some of my favourite topics: ecology, animal physiology and ethology. Moreover, I retain the opportunity to work in a prestigious institution like Université Pierre et Marie Curie extremely challenging and as an additional motivation for me. (This passion topic is repetitive. Not sure what you are trying to communicate here.)

My varied academic curriculum provided me a solid knowledge of the different subjects implied in the research project. I also developed good skills in science communication, which could make me easy to spread research results in scientific contexts as journals, workshop and conferences, as well as public ones, like newspapers, magazines and expositions. (Hasn’t your media stuff already been communicated? So why repeat? Given your emphasis on communication, a reader expects more from you. She expects tight, concise prose. Otherwise, she will question your prior communication studies.)

Given my record of ***solid academic achievement and strong interest in your research program, I am certain that, if given the opportunity, I will enjoy ***excel. (You want to leave the impression that you will excel at the entire program) In addition to my academic qualifications, I am confident that my interdisciplinary and international background will ***strengthen your ***class/students/something.

Thank you for considering my application, ***and I look forward to your acceptance.

Yours sincerely,



(05) Motivational letter Sample Finance


Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to apply for the Master in Finance & Accounting program at the London School of Economics and Political Science starting in the autumn 2022. The degree from one of the most recognized and prestigious business schools is my chance to make a substantial progress in personal career and thus contribute to Ukrainian economic development.

Ukrainian economy is an emerging market whose economic evolvement is extremely dependent on investments. I started explorations in investment valuation when studied at the university. I found out that low sovereign risk was one of the most important factors for successful investment activity in emerging markets. My research was concentrated on development of an econometric model for measuring a sovereign risk of Ukraine. The model allowed not only to obtain a quantitative assessment of Ukrainian sovereign risk but to define macroeconomic factors that influenced it the most. The results of my explorations were highly evaluated by Emly Mann’s and Ivan Puluy’s Foundations as I won two scholarships. Studying at the Cambridge School of Economics and Political Science will allow me to obtain necessary skills and knowledge in investment valuation and analysis to proceed with my explorations and make my model widely circulated among domestic and foreign investors.

In addition, the Master’s degree from the LSE is crucial for my career growth. I have already made a substantial career progress from an intern position to a senior analyst at Metinvest Holding, the largest steel & mining company in Ukraine. It took me only two years to grow up and prove to my colleagues that my knowledge and abilities were enough to work in a highly competitive and complex business environment. My future career perspectives strictly depend on educational progress due to the fact that my managers and directors already have foreign institutions’ diplomas that allow them to communicate with our overseas partners in one language of business and financial terms.

As a senior analyst at Strategy & Business Development department I studied opportunities for steel consuming sectors development in Ukraine. One of the most attractive options exists in wind energy sector that is very steel intensive. During the project I had a chance to participate in the international conference devoted to consideration of successful factors to implement wind energy projects in Ukraine. All of participants, included foreign wind turbine manufacturers, investment banks and international financial institutions, pointed out that they needed reliable partners to start business in Ukraine. As a representative of Metinvest Holding I experienced lack of world-class investments valuation and expertise practice to assure foreign investors that our company could be a reliable partner in this complex and cross-industrial business. Diversification of energy sources is one of top priorities in the long-term national energy policy that is why succeeding in wind energy projects is significant for energy independence of Ukraine.

I am pretty sure that acquaintance with world-class investment valuation and risk assessment procedures is my chance to make substantial career progress. As the Master of Science in Finance & Accounting I would manage complex investment projects in steel and related industries, for example, wind energy attracting foreign investments in Ukraine. I would also be able to assure foreign investors that sovereign risk can be easily measured and we know what factors influence it.

Since studying at the university I have been steadily developing personal communication and presentation skills. I participated in more than ten international and regional student scientific conferences in Ukraine and abroad. There were no conferences where I did not take a prize place. My presentation skills were significantly strengthened during work at Metinvest Holding as I was urged to prove rationale of various investment projects and market strategies to company’s top management. During studying at the university I also managed to demonstrate leadership potential. I was a captain of a team which participated in student business games. Our team showed very good results at the regional stage and was chosen to participate in the final. I highly appreciate this experience as it was my first serious successful management practice.

To sum up, I am at the beginning of my career path, but I have already attained substantial progress in it. I aspire to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science in order to obtain urgently needed investment valuation and analysis skills to make further progress in personal career. My educational results as well as communication and leadership potential prove that I am basically prepared to apply for the Master in Finance & Accounting program.


Yours faithfully,



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2 thoughts on “How to Write a Motivation Letter for PhD, Postdoc, or Any Position: Sample Motivation Letter”

  1. This is outstanding website for PhD aspirants to prepare an ideal and promising motivation letter. You are requested to post an motivation letter for PhD in plant genetics. It would be grateful to me. I would appreciate your kindness.


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