Writing a strong letter of motivation is equally as important as having a strong proposal.
The main purposes of your application letter are to back-up your proposal and to give the examiners a hint of who you are, what you have done so far and where you would (possibly) want to head towards in the future. Because your past is a good predictor for your future you need to present yourself and the experience you have gained so far in a positive, optimistic light. Even though you should always be able to re-position and re-adapt yourself in every situation, your goal needs to be clearly stated and it has to be clear for everyone that you know or at least have a clue of what you would like to do. To sum it up nicely, your application letter should be able to answer the following questions:
1) Why do you want it and how can this program help you?
2) Are you passionate about this field/topic?
3) Are you well prepared academically and personally?
4) Are you able to face the challenge?
5) Will you be able to finish the program according to the deadline?
This probably sounds quite hard but it’s not. How are you supposed to write and convey this in only 300 words or so? Well, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to do this. Give them a summary of what you have done so far and try to convince how this would be the next step for you career and professional development. Be sure to mention how you came across the topic for your proposal, how this got you enthusiastic and how you are eager to fill this research gap and how you see yourself doing it for the next 3 years.
You need to get their attention and most certainly you need something to hook them up, something to draw their attention on your application, something to distinguish it from the other hundreds, possibly thousands of applications that they will be reading. Try to think of a personal experience that drew you to this field and to this specific research topic, because it’s so boring to repeat the same old boring and so obvious phrase:
“I am writing to apply for the PhD Program because I am interested in…”
Another very important aspect is editing your letter, you cannot afford to make a typing or spelling mistake. Turn on your AutoCorrect, call a friend and ask him to double check it and also ask him what is not so straight forward or where they had problems understating what you meant.
Some helpful tips: