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Suggestions for Letters of Intent


A Letter of Intent serves a number of important purposes and is considered by the Department of Biological Sciences to be a critical source of information about potential students. The Letter of Intent is often the final element used by a potential Graduate Advisor in deciding to invite or to decline to invite a student into their research program. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to the crafting of this document. The applicant should be aware that most graduate programs are designed to be substantially different from undergraduate experiences. Of primary distinction is the inclusion of a significant research component for most of the advanced degrees offered by this department. The Letter of Intent is expected to reflect the applicant’s understanding of this difference and to indicate that careful consideration has been given to the challenging issues involved. Evidence of this consideration can be provided in many ways but commonly, letters from successful applicants included information on the organism, model system and/or research questions of interest to them. In addition, evidence provided by the applicant that they are aware of the primary literature on a given research topic is considered by many faculty to be an important indicator of potential.

All Letters of Intent should provide information regarding both the short-term and long-term career goals of the applicant. In particular, potential advisors will be interested in why the applicant desires to pursue a specific degree and how acquisition of this degree will serve to advance the individual toward their professional goals. Finally, while a Letter of Intent is an important instrument, it is still a personal statement of interest and can appropriately contain any information that the applicant feels is unique or important about their academic or research experience.

Last Updated: 06/16/2016