Writing a Letter of Intent for Graduate School [with Sample]

A letter of intent for graduate school is part of the admission process in most universities, especially for research-oriented graduate programs. 

These letters are closely scrutinized by admission officers because the letter is the place where you can talk about yourself, explain your goals and why you want to attend graduate school at that particular university. 

The letter should be well constructed, organized and written. It may be used by the university to determine if your career goals fit with the program.

Before writing the letter, you should do some research about your university of choice and make sure there is a program that matches your goals. 


The letter needs to cover a variety of subjects, and different schools are looking for different information.

However, there are four basic things they are all looking for:

  1. What subject does the applicant want to study in graduate school
  2. Why the applicant wants to study that subject
  3. What experience does the applicant have in their field
  4. What will the applicant do with the degree once they have it

The letter of intent should focus on your goals and explain how the degree will help you achieve those goals. 

The letter can also explain the areas of research that most interest you, and at least one area should be expressed in enough detail for the admission committee to form an idea of your interests.

There may be references to research literature mentioned in the letter as well as how any acquired skills will help you succeed in the program. 

The information in a letter of intent is not a binding contract because most universities recognize that students’ interests may change, and these changes are legitimate.

You may also contact a professor in the university who teaches in the area of interest. The professor will most likely be happy to discuss the program.

Some other information that may be included:

  • Qualifications
  • Experience in the field and how they became interested
  • Quick description of undergraduate studies
  • Awards and published work
  • Work experience

Below is a sample of a letter of intent for graduate school. It should be between 400 and 800 words and include a small reference list containing any sources if research is mentioned. These sources should be written in correct bibliographic citation.

Sample Letter Of Intent For Graduate School

Linda Crab
125 Silver Streak Road
Camden, NJ, 08030

May 27, 2022

Lisa Cowen
ABC University
4567 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ, 08035

Dear Ms. Cowen:

This letter is to inform you of my interest in the Masters of Science in Environmental Applications Program at ABC University. I have submitted my completed application form with the required documentation.

I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Engineering from First University, where I graduated cum laude with a GPA of 3.88. 

I entered the competition for Innovative Methods for Plastic Recycling that is sponsored by ABC Corporation and won first place with a method I invented for treating shredded plastic bags for street resurfacing.

I first became interested in waste management in high school, when I was taken on a field trip to the local land fill. When I learned about the time it takes for many common waste materials to decompose.

I realized I wanted to enter the field and focus on quicker and more useful ways of waste management. In order to secure a high enough position to make a difference, I need a graduate degree in the field, and Name of University has the best program in the state.

During my undergraduate years I worked part-time for several waste management companies in the state, including ABC Company and 123 Recycle Company.

Twice, I was commended and given a financial bonus for innovations I created for disposing of plastic water bottles and recycling broken toys. I wrote two instruction booklets that are still being used today, and have included them with this letter.

I believe that my education and experience make me a good candidate for a graduate degree in your Environmental Engineering Program.

I have talked to two professors who teach in the program, Name of Professor and Name of Professor. Each encouraged me to apply to the program and believe I can reach my goals with this degree.

If you would like any more information, I would be happy to talk to you or meet you at a time of your convenience. I can be reached at [323-222-3344] or at [linda@email.com].


Linda Crab
Enclosed: Two Instruction Booklets