Doctoral programs -- Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees -- often have highly competitive admissions, and an application for a doctoral degree may require a letter requesting admission. In many ways, a doctoral admissions letter resembles other graduate school admissions letters, but since you are applying to a specialized program, your letter should also have a specialized focus. Your research focus, teaching experience and other considerations are important elements to include because they show that you are ready for the focused graduate-level work in the program.
Focusing on Research
If you are applying to a Ph.D. or other doctoral program, knowing your research focus is important because the doctoral level is where you specialize in your discipline. Include descriptions of your previous coursework in the discipline, research projects you have completed, conference presentations, publications and perhaps even your dissertation plans. Do not simply repeat information from other parts of your application. Instead, add information and examples that enhance and support the other materials.
Discussing your teaching experience is also important. You may be awarded a teaching assistantship or other financial aid that requires teaching undergraduate courses, or you may be able to teach as an adjunct instructor in the department. Thus, the department needs to know whether you are prepared for this work. For example, teaching experience includes master’s level teaching assistantships as well as part-time and full-time instructor positions. Also mention any training you have received through your coursework. Again, provide information that supports and enhances your other application materials.
Tailoring Your Goals
You should know your goals for both during and after graduate school, but you should also tailor your letter to fit each specific program. One way to do so is to explain how you will use the program’s resources to pursue your education and career goals. For example, if the program offers seminars that focus on your area in the field, say that you plan to attend and participate in them. In addition, a doctorate is a terminal degree, so you should also have a post-degree plan in mind and should tie it to what you study in the program. For instance, you may look for a university position, seek a post-doc position, join a private research company or decide to pursue a different path.
Writing Style and Advice
Last but not least, a letter requesting admission into a doctoral program is a formal letter. It should have a catchy introduction that says why you are writing -- you are applying for admission into the program -- and detailed body paragraphs that discuss the above information. End by thanking the admissions committee for its time. As you write, also consider the audience, who are faculty in the department, and the purpose, which is to be admitted into a competitive doctoral program. Be sure to revise, edit and proofread several times until you have the perfect letter.
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