A scholarship motivation letter can make or break your application. This is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge before an in-person interview. Motivation letters are not required for every application. Yet when they are necessary, they are critical. In this guide, we will provide tips for writing a scholarship motivation letter.
What is a scholarship motivation letter?
A motivation letter is like a cover letter you may include with a job application and resume. The goal of the letter is to explain:
- Why you are a good candidate for the scholarship
- What you plan to do with the education you receive.
Review committees often use motivation letters to narrow down their pool of applicants. Then they assess the rest of the application from the candidates they like best.
Motivation letters are usually required for graduate-level scholarships. Sometimes, you may need to write one for specialty programs at a bachelor’s level too. If you have the option to include a motivation letter with your scholarship application, take it. This may be the only chance you have to wow the review committee.
Motivation letter for scholarship applications – general guidelines
Usually, the application will not specify how long your motivation letter should be. You will need to use your best judgment to write a concise motivation letter. The letter should include:
- The most important elements of your resume
- Your education
- Your professional experiences and plans for the future.
Motivation letters are usually around 500-1,000 words. Split them into paragraphs for easy reading.
Tailor your motivation letter to fit the sholarship
Your motivation letter should link your future plans with the goals of the scholarship. How will you benefit from continued education in this field? How will you use this knowledge to support the mission of the scholarship provider?
Say that the scholarship is from an agency that supports wildlife preservation. Your letter should explain how you plan to apply your education towards a career in that field.
You also need to establish why you deserve this application more than other applicants. What specific experiences do you have now that set you apart from the rest? What specific plans do you have that will address a current issue in the world? Even if you currently have limited knowledge about the issue, use that to your advantage. Explain how you could thrive with more education and solve even more problems in the future.
The structure of a scholarship motivation letter
Scholarship motivation letters vary by award, but they usually consist of three elements:
- An introduction
- Three body paragraphs
- A conclusion
Your introduction should include your name, level of education and the degree program.
Your first body paragraph should include any work-related experience you have. This can include both paid and unpaid internships. You should show the growth of your career in chronological order. Finally, suggest where your career will go with continued education.
Your second body paragraph should explain what you hope to gain from your education. Think of which problems you aim to solve or uncover.
Your final body paragraph should explain your holistic plans for the future. Some ideas for inspiration:
- You can include extra education you plan to pursue after education.
- You can write about companies or agencies you’d like to work for after graduation.
- You can talk about programs or organizations you would like to develop.
Finally, your conclusion should re-emphasize why you are a good candidate for the scholarship.
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What NOT to include when writing a scholarship motivation letter
Your scholarship motivation letter should be well-written with no grammar or spelling errors. Use a professional tone and advanced phrasing (no slang). Provide specific examples about your past, present and future. Stay away from vague generalizations. Vagueness suggests a lack of care or knowledge. Neither of these are impressive to a scholarship review committee.
Some final tips
Writing a motivation letter for scholarship applications takes time and commitment. Plan what you will say in advance, and allow at least three days to write the letter, review it, step away from it and edit it. This extra time will provide the best chance of success with your application.
A Sample Scholarship Motivation Letter
9876 Smith St.
Stillwater, OK 74074The Scholarship Committee
123 Learning Rd. Suite 4A
Oklahoma City, OK 73127
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Julie Moore and I am a third year student at Oklahoma State University. I am currently pursuing a five-year Bachelor of Architecture Degree. My plan is to follow up with a one-year master’s degree after I graduate.
In high school, I worked extensively with my local Habitat for Humanity branch to help build homes for low income families. I learned about the construction process from the ground up, and I discovered the importance of function in architectural design. The homes we built during my four years as a volunteer were never extravagant. They served their purpose and became a beacon of hope for their owners.
My education has been focused on this mindset: function over form, stability over showmanship. I have enrolled in several classes that crossover to the Architectural Engineering major. My goal is to have a comprehensive view of how design meets structure. I have worked on three extra-credit residential design projects under the supervision of my architecture professors (Dr. X and Dr. Y). This helped speed up my research and education.
My goal is to become an architect to create accessible, affordable housing opportunities in underprivileged communities. Living in a college town, I have seen countless rental properties available. Yet there are few homes for sale that are affordable enough for college students and first-time buyers. This is the case in many towns throughout America, especially areas with a low standard of living. I want to create neighborhoods that include affordable starter homes. This would enable low and middle-class families to build equity, avoid excessive debt, and create financial stability for their futures.
This summer, I will intern with LMNOP Architects. Upon completion of my master’s degree, I hope to continue there as I further develop my skills. After working under acclaimed residential architects Suzan Craft and Peter Wood, I would like to open my own architectural firm focused on developing inexpensive, high-quality housing. I also would like to work with Habitat for Humanity again, this time as an architect instead of a general laborer. I believe firmly in their mission to build “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” I appreciate your consideration. With your help, I can continue my schooling in architecture and design to bring accessible homes to those in need.