How To Write a Motivation Letter (With Tips and Examples)

Updated 20 June 2023

Recruiters and admissions managers often use motivation letters to get a better understanding of who each applicant is. A well-written motivation letter can help you stand out from other candidates who may have similar qualifications. If you're applying for an educational programme, a scholarship or a volunteer opportunity, then learning how to write a motivation letter may interest you. In this article, we explain what a motivation letter is, share how to write a motivation letter and provide examples to help you craft a professional one.

Related: Cover Letter vs. Resume

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What is a motivation letter?

A motivation letter is a document that highlights your professional skills and shares why you're applying for a specific course of study, a scholarship or a volunteer job. This letter accompanies your application and other supporting documents, such as a transcript of your grades or a resume. A motivation letter is also commonly referred to as a "statement of purpose" or a "motivational letter." While paid job applications typically require a cover letter instead of a motivation letter, there may be some circumstances where you're asked to provide one.

Related: How To Write a Compelling Personal Statement (With Tips and Examples)

How to write a motivation letter

Learning how to write a motivation letter well takes time, so make sure you plan ahead to ensure you include all the necessary content. Here are some steps you can follow to create a professional motivation letter:

1. Create an outline

Create a point-form outline to identify and organise the key content you plan to include in your letter. Some topics you might create bullet points for include:

  • Why you want to study the course or volunteer with the programme

  • What your skills or qualities are that can benefit the school or non-profit

  • Why you're interested in the school or non-profit organisation

Think critically about whether you're including all relevant details. For example, a motivation letter for a PhD programme may need more details about your experience and future career plans than a motivation letter for a bachelor's programme. Cross-reference your outline with information from the school or non-profit organisation to show you have the skills and qualifications they're looking for. Assess your format and structure to arrange your bullet points in a way that creates a logical flow. You can reference your completed outline when drafting your motivation letter to stay on track.

Related: 7 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)

2. Write an introduction

Write an interesting introduction that introduces yourself to the recipient. Address your recipient by name, if possible, to give your motivation letter a personal touch. Capture your recipient's attention with the introduction and encourage them to read on, so include details about your achievements in this section.

Related: How To Write A Professional Formal Letter

3. Expand on key topics

Expand on the key bullet points included in your outline to craft the body of your motivation letter. You can create a new paragraph for each topic to structure this section. Remember, your motivation letter aims to convince your recipient of your value, so use compelling facts to be persuasive.

Related: How to Show You're Self-Motivated on a Resume (With Example)

4. Conclude your motivation letter

Write a conclusion to your motivation letter that summarises your goals and why you're a good fit for the programme. Thank your recipient for considering your application to leave a positive impression. You may also encourage them to contact you if they have any questions.

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5. Proofread your motivation letter

Proofread your motivation letter to ensure it looks polished and professional. If time permits, complete this step at least two days after writing your motivation letter, so you can view it more objectively. To help ensure your letter uses correct grammar and spelling, ask a trusted friend, family member or colleague to proofread your motivation letter as well. You may also edit or remove information already listed in your application form or resume to ensure your motivation letter contains unique details that add value.

Related: ​​​​Motivation Letter vs Cover Letter (Differences and Elements)

Tips for writing a motivation letter

Here are some tips that can help you create a motivation letter that stands out and makes a positive impression:

  • Follow the application guidelines. Review the application guidelines carefully to make sure you follow any rules regarding formatting, length and content. If the organisation you're applying for doesn't provide guidelines, write approximately half to one page of text with a basic 12-point font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.

  • Write with personality. Your interests, feelings and perspectives are unique, so writing about them is a good way to separate your letter from others. Write in a natural voice that reflects how you would speak to your recipient if they were in a room with you. Include interesting details that help your motivation letter stand out from others.

  • Use accessible language. Try to use accessible language that readers can easily understand. Identify any unnecessarily complex terms or jargon when you're proofreading and replace them with simpler words. Write short, active sentences to convey your ideas clearly.

  • Focus on your strengths. Write about your personal strengths, rather than your challenges or limitations. Focusing on your strengths can help recipients understand the value you can bring to their organisation. It can also make your motivation letter sound more positive.

Related: Q&A: Should You Include a Cover Letter?

Motivation letter examples

Here are some examples of motivation letters you can reference when applying for educational programmes, scholarships and volunteer opportunities:

University application motivation letter example

If you're applying to a university, pre-university or polytechnic programme, you may create a motivation letter. You can review the following example to help you craft a motivation letter for your desired education programme:

Dear Anifah,

My name is Nathan Lau, and I am applying for the International Business Administration programme at NIS University. I am currently a student at Bishan Polytechnic with a passion for entrepreneurship and improving organisational structures.

One of the reasons I am applying for NIS University is because of your international presence and diverse student body. I enjoy learning about different global business strategies influenced by both Western and Eastern cultures, and I believe your course will provide me with the insights needed to become a well-rounded business leader.

As someone who enjoys networking and is a long-standing member of several student business organisations, I'm also looking forward to participating in the League of Leaders round table discussions and entrepreneurial events at your institution.

I believe studying at your school would help me hone my business skills and provide me with a strong foundation to build my career. Thank you for considering my request, and please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions about my application.

Nathan Lau

Related: 34 University Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Scholarship application motivation letter example

If you're applying for a scholarship, you can use the following example as a reference to create a professional motivation letter:

Dear Suriya,

My name is Lim Meng Chong, and I am writing to express my interest in a scholarship for your industrial design programme. I've always been passionate about developing new products and devices that can improve the everyday lives of consumers, and your scholarship would help me pursue the formal education I need to begin my career.

Growing up, my aunt and uncle raised me, along with my five cousins and my younger sister. They owned a small, but successful, convenience store that they opened and operated themselves. Throughout most of my childhood and adolescent years, I worked in the store with them, which taught me how important it is to remain dedicated to your dreams. My aunt and uncle have always encouraged me to give everything my best effort, which helped me become valedictorian of my graduating class at Jurong Secondary School.

I feel like my excellent work ethic and passion for industrial design will help me succeed at Bunga Orkid University. I would certainly make the most of this opportunity if I'm able to enrol with the help of your scholarship.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. If you have any questions or need additional information, please don't hesitate to contact me at

Lim Meng Chong

Related: How to Ask for a Scholarship Recommendation Letter

Volunteer opportunity motivation letter example

If you're applying for a volunteer opportunity, you can refer to the following example to craft a polished motivation letter:

Dear Adriel Heng,

My name is Kamal Hazri, and I am a nursing student at VFW University. I am writing this letter to express my interest in the volunteer position you have listed on the Curative Connections website. A few years ago, I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's disease and since then I have wanted to make a difference by working with elderly individuals to improve their lives.

My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life, and I enjoyed visiting her at Sunnyside Senior Homes to play board games and read together after school. During my visits, I also got to know many of the other residents, and seeing how happy they were to have company made me realise how important caring for our elders is.

Through my nursing studies, I've learned more about patient care, tracking vitals and updating records. I believe these skills, along with my personal experiences, would make me a wonderful asset to Curative Connections. I also believe I could learn a lot by working alongside your team.

I appreciate your taking the time to review my application, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Kamal Hazri

Related: How To List Volunteer Work on a Resume (With Examples)

The models shown are for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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