How to Write a Letter of Intent

How to Write a Letter of Intent
The Editorial Team June 24, 2011

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A statement of purpose, also known as a letter of intent, or LOI, is a brief, focused essay submitted as part of your admission package to a school or university. The LOI establishes intent to enroll by informing Admissions of your educational and career background. The admissions department reviews the LOI, along with the other submitted materials, to assess whether a student is a worthy candidate for their school’s graduate program.

It is in your best interest to deliver a high-quality LOI, one that highlights your best qualities, both academic and professional. Think of your LOI as a document that sells your strengths, your background and your drive. Consider the following tips as you begin to structure your letter of intent.

  • Genuine reflection: Take some time to genuinely reflect on why you want to work toward your (advanced) education.
    • What value will you gain?
    • What are your short- and long-term goals?
  • Research: Research the colleges and universities you are considering and gather as much background information as possible.
    • How long does their program run?
    • What is their graduate rate?
    • Do alumni speak well of the program?
  • Outline: Outline on paper the qualities about yourself — academic, personal and professional — that would best fit in a letter of intent for your desired degree program.
    • What makes you a solid candidate?
    • What skills and passions do you bring?
  • Rough draft: Sketch out a rough draft of your LOI.
    • Why are you considering working toward this degree?
    • What do you plan to do with your earned degree?
    • What can you bring, academically and professionally, to the school’s degree program?
    • What makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Review: Have someone review your rough draft. It’s best if you can have two or three colleagues look it over and give you feedback.
    • Use that feedback to revise your LOI until you have a solid final draft.
    • Have a fresh set of eyes review it for content, clarity and errors.
  • Finalize and send: Submit your LOI to the admissions department of the desired program.

A letter of intent is a serious and heavily-weighted piece of your admissions package. Unlike a college application essay, where your goal is to impress the admissions committee with your passion and your enthusiasm, a LOI is a more studied document, a sample of your productive, disciplined process. Be as specific as possible about why this particular program is the right one. Describe how your background led you to school as the next step, and how your background qualifies you for admittance. Pay attention to detail and adhere to the admission deadlines.

With some time and focus, you can make your LOI an effective piece of the package that not only highlights, but also sells, your academic and professional potential.

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