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How to Write a Cover Letter for Scholarship

Learn how to showcase your skills and personality in your scholarship cover letter and increase your chance of becoming a top applicant by reading our guide!

Feb 28, 2024
How to write a cover letter for scholarship

A scholarship cover letter is a crucial part of most scholarship applications. A well-written cover letter can have a significant impact in the decision-making process as it is your chance to showcase your unique experience and personality. In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know to write a great scholarship cover letter.

What is a scholarship cover letter?

A scholarship cover letter, also called a letter of motivation, is a letter you write to the scholarship committee to request their consideration for a grant and persuade them that you are a deserving candidate for the scholarship. The main intention is to highlight your academic accomplishments and academic record.

In this letter, you should showcase your strengths and skills in a way that explains why you are a great candidate for the scholarship. Also, this is your chance to provide a more detailed overview of your academic and extracurricular achievements and interests that may not be covered in a CV or resume.

3 reasons to write a scholarship cover letter

1. It can help make your application stand out

Academic scholarships are extremely competitive so you need to make sure you do everything in your power to be considered. Here's where a scholarship cover letter steps in. Scholarship committees receive numerous applications from students with straight A's, extensive lists of extracurriculars, and high exam grades. Use your cover letter to stand out and explain why you should win the grant.

2. It allows you to communicate your future plans

For institutions and foundations, a scholarship is an investment, thus naturally they want to be confident that it will pay off. That's why outlining how a particular grant aligns with your future research or work plans can make you a top applicant.

3. It can demonstrate your level of English

The majority of scholarships for international students expect the applicants to have high English proficiency. Most of the time, they require you to attach a certificate to your application. But even then, seeing your level of language skills in a scholarship cover letter can win you some additional points. However, it's important not to go overboard - remember this isn't an artistic essay.

Different forms of scholarship cover letters

Students discussing something they see on the laptop

Apart from the standard scholarship cover letter, particular scholarships may require you to submit information about yourself in a different form. It can be:

  • a personal statement, which is meant to tell who you are as a person, your interests and motivations;
  • a motivation letter, which communicates why you chose a particular program or scholarship, as well as how you fulfill the requirements;
  • an essay, which typically answers one specific question about you;
  • a form or a document with a few questions, where you'll have to answer specific questions (which may or may not cover the information you'd usually provide in a cover letter).

How to write a cover letter for scholarship: step-by-step guide

The main purpose of a scholarship cover letter is to showcase your strengths and goals and why those make you a great match for the grant. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you write a cover letter for scholarship:

Review the scholarship’s application requirements

Before writing your cover letter for a scholarship, always check the application requirements. Every scholarship can have different expectations, some applications even have specific questions they want you to answer, so make sure to do thorough research to tailor your cover letter to a specific grant.

This can give you a better idea of what to include in your application and highlight the experiences and skills that are not included in your resume but may increase your chances of being the winner.

Write an introduction

The introduction is where you can make a positive first impression on the scholarship committee and let them get to know you. In the introductory paragraph, you should cover:

  • who you are,
  • how you learned about the scholarship,
  • why it sparked your interest.

Avoid using generic phrases and templates, and adjust your introduction to better fit the specific scholarship you are applying for.

Highlight your professional experience and internships

In the first body paragraph, you should highlight relevant skills and achievements and your professional experience and internships. Depending on the scholarship requirements, choose suitable experiences from your previous education and explain how they allowed you to gain knowledge and skills related to a particular field. This can demonstrate your learning style and commitment to personal growth.

Share your academic ambitions and interests

Describe your academic interests and ambitions in the next body paragraph. Generally, scholarships search for potential and want to help promising students to pursue their interest in academia. So keep in mind that scholarship committees may look for candidates with academic aspirations and ambitions.

Talk about your aspirations post-graduation

It is also important to talk about your post-graduation aspirations and long-term goals. Whether you want to continue your education or enter the industry, show the reviewing committee how this scholarship is a good investment in your future. Highlight how this funding could impact your career post-graduation.

Summarize your goals and credentials with a conclusion

Restate your interest in the scholarship and why you are a great candidate in the last paragraph of your scholarship cover letter. You can include your contact information and encourage the reviewing committee to reach out to you. This is also a good place to express gratitude for considering your application.

Proof-read and update your cover letter

Always check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes at least twice as they can point to a lack of attention to detail. Consider asking someone else, ideally, a professor, to review it and provide their insights and feedback. This way you can avoid missing any errors and adjust your tone and writing style.

Tips for writing a scholarship cover letter

Here are some other important things you should keep in mind while writing a scholarship cover letter:

Make your cover letter unique and personal to your interests and achievements

The reviewing committee has gone through many cover letters, having seen those generic templates and patterns numerous times. This is a chance for you to make your cover letter personal and unique. Describe your specific goals, showcase your personality, and provide all relevant information that can help you stand out.

Format your letter in a professional manner and check for errors

Match your letter to the recommended formatting to make it look more professional:

  • use a simple font and an appropriate size
  • check the margins on the sides of the pages
  • check the spacing between the lines
  • try to make it one page long (unless a different length is specified)

Always double- or triple-check for spelling mistakes. According to Forbes, typos and grammar mistakes are among the top 5 reasons why many students have their applications rejected.

Include quantifiable accomplishments

Choose quantifiable achievements that reflect the criteria related to applicants' skills and accomplishments. It helps the reviewing committee determine how you compare to other candidates. Consider including your grade average, your most notable project, and numerical data that demonstrates your performance in relevant academic and extracurricular activities.

Don’t forget to provide evidence to back up your points

It is helpful to refer to evidence to support your points. For example, you may consider mentioning the specific source of your skills or situations where you have successfully applied them. It's best to avoid including any information that cannot be backed up.

Here's a piece of advice from Swedish Institute Scholarship recipient Suci Ariyanti:

Be honest. Never give false information, or exaggerate things. Not only will the SISGP committee do random checks on applicants, but it is also important to keep your integrity intact.

a photo and a quote from a Bachelor's in USA winner

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Application deadline: 22 September 2024 at 12:00 CEST

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Graduate Study in the USA scholarship is our first ever Master's degree scholarship. Students beginning their studies in the Fall 2024 semester or later can be awarded up to $5,000. It's open to international students from any country outside the USA who will be pursuing a Master's degree abroad at a college or university in the USA. It can be used to help cover tuition fees and get you one step closer to your next great adventure, in the USA.

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A scholarship cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight your academic accomplishments and academic record and persuade the reviewing committee that you are a great candidate for the scholarship. Providing more information about you lets them get to know your personality and adds details to your application.

Make sure to spend enough time on this cover letter since it's a very important evaluation point during the decision-making process. Thoroughly research the requirements and tailor your letter to a specific scholarship. And don't forget that transparency is key, the selection committee aims to choose you for who you truly are!

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.