Cover Letter Example For PhD Application (2020)

Do you want to write a cover letter for a PhD application? Check out our Youtube tutorial and cover letter example for PhD applicants.

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Cover Letter Example

[Julia McGill]
[Number, Street Name]
[Cambridge, MA 92872]
[Email Address]

[October 12, 2020]

[Alex Spencer]
[Recipient Job Title]
[Number, Street Name]
[Cambridge, MA 83726]

Dear Mr. Spencer,

With reference to the subject areas listed on [URL] under section [‘Degree Programs’], I am writing to express my interest in the Computer Science program at the [University] starting in August 2021. I recently completed my bachelor’s degree with a specialisation in Big Data Engineering, and this doctoral program is exactly what I seek to leverage my experience within the field of professional scientific research.

To shortly introduce myself, my name is [Julia McGill] and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam with an expected completion date of November 2020. After speaking with several of my professors, I am convinced to continue my research on [subject]. In my master thesis, I use [Professor X’s] research findings on [subject] and the prospect of working closely with such a reputable advisor allows me to discover more important findings. In addition, this doctoral program also supports my career goal to become a professor at a university or research institute.

I will graduate summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) with relevant coursework in software engineering, systems programming and operating systems. At university, I developed analytical skills and learnt how to deal with complex problems in a systematic way. During my internship as a research assistant at [University], I led a team of 10 undergraduate students for two projects in machine learning. We designed a new algorithm to increase run time by 25% and for more efficient logical problem solving in the future. I received recognition for my contribution and was awarded 1st place in the Engineering Design Competition.

I would like to draw your attention back to my enclosed recommendations and resume, which demonstrates my professional and academic history. If you need any additional information, you can reach me at [Phone number] or [Email Address]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards, 

Julia McGill

Writing Tips For PhD Applicants

  1. Pick a standard font and font size that is easy to read. For example, ‘Verdana’, ‘Arial’, or ‘Times New Roman’ with a 10 to 12 point font size is most suitable. Stick to a word count of around 300 to 400 words on a one page document, and divide your letter in four paragraphs.
  2. Choose a proper greeting for your cover letter. In the context of a university, there are three options, ‘Dear Mr. / Ms. Spencer,’, ‘Dear Dr. Spencer,’ and ‘Dear Prof. Spencer,’. Don’t use ‘Mrs.’ as the abbreviation, unless you know that the contact person is a married woman. If you write to an unknown recipient, then I’d advise you to write ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’.
  3. Don’t be vague in describing your interest and motivation. Saying that you enjoyed your physics undergraduate course or that you find physics interesting won’t drag the reader’s attention. After all, they already assume your interest in this subject or else you wouldn’t apply for the PhD program. Instead, inform the reader about particular courses and/or topics that interest you most. What have you learned from them, and why you want to further educate yourself in this subject?
  4. A cover letter is a supplement to your resume or CV. That means you need to provide context to skills and personal traits listed in your resume. For example, if you claim to obtain analysis and problem solving skills, then you need to substantiate these statements with measurable results. What have you achieved in numbers, statistics or awards you’ve been granted.
  5. Choose a proper closing salutation for your cover letter. For example, ‘Kind regards’, ‘Best regards,’ or ‘Sincerely,’. ‘Yours sincerely’ is British, and Americans tend to reverse the order and write ‘Sincerely yours,’. Nowadays, ‘Sincerely’ is a common and an acceptable close for American cover letters. You can also write ‘Yours faithfully’, which can be used when the recipient is not addressed by name, like in, ‘Dear Hiring Manager’. It is a British usage. ‘Yours truly,’ is the American equivalent.

Cover Letter Example For PhD Application