How to Write a Scholarship Motivation Letter
A scholarship motivation letter can make or break your application. This is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge, skills and interests before an in-person interview takes place. Motivation letters are not required for every application, but when necessary, they are critical. In this guide, we will provide effective tips for writing a motivation letter for scholarship applications.
What Is a Scholarship Motivation Letter?
A motivation letter is similar to 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 and how you will use the education funded through it. Review committees often use motivation letters to narrow down their pool of applicants, and then they will assess the rest of the application from the candidates they like best.
Motivation letters are typically required for graduate-level scholarships, but they may be used for specialty scholarship programs at the bachelor’s level. 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
In most cases, the scholarship application will not specify how long your motivation letter should be. You will need to use your best judgement to write a concise letter that still conveys the important elements of your resume, education, professional experiences and plans for the future. Motivation letters are typically 500-1,000 words, and they are split into paragraphs for easy reading.
Unlike a scholarship essay that includes a prompt, motivation letters do not have specific questions for you to answer. This can make it more difficult to compose. The application may say something like “provide a motivation letter explaining why you are a good candidate for this award,” but it will not go into detail about the information needed in the letter. It is your job to include details that highlight your value as a potential recipient.
Tailor Your Motivation Letter to Fit the Scholarship
Your motivation letter should link your plans for the future 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? For instance, if you are applying for a scholarship from an agency that supports wildlife preservation, you would explain how your education would facilitate a career in that field.
Furthermore, you 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 have limited knowledge about the issue at this time, use that to your advantage. Explain how you could thrive during your additional education efforts and ultimately solve even more problems in the future.
Find out how to answer common scholarship essay questions.
The Structure of a Scholarship Motivation Letter
Scholarship motivation letters vary by award, but they usually consist of these elements:
- An introduction that states your name, current level of education, and the degree program you’re looking to pursue with the help of the scholarship
- A section explaining any work-related experience you have, including paid and unpaid internships. This should show the growth of your career in chronological order and suggest where your profession will go with continued education
- A section explaining what you hope to gain from your education – what problems you aim to solve or uncover
- A section explaining your holistic plans for the future. Include additional education you may pursue after graduation, companies/agencies you wish to work for, programs/organizations you would like to develop, etc.
- A conclusion that re-emphasizes why you are a good candidate for the scholarship
What NOT to Include When Writing a Scholarship Motivation Letter
Your scholarship motivation letter should be well-written with no grammar or spelling errors. It should be created with a professional tone using advanced phrasing (no slang or colloquialisms). As we mentioned above, you must provide specific examples about your past, present and future, not vague generalizations. Vagueness suggests a lack of care or knowledge, neither of which are impressive to a scholarship review committee.
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.
For more help, read about the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for writing a scholarship essay.
Get more tips on applying for scholarships.