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How to Write Your Neuroscience SOP: A PhD Success Story
I fully admit, editing a neuroscience statement of purpose is a daunting task. When working with a PhD applicant, it’s even more intimidating. The research nuances are mindboggling. (Literally?) Molecular assays and signaling pathways – the jargon is dense, and the details are important. It takes a great deal of work to make sure the SOP portrays the applicant in the clearest and most compelling way.
Luckily however, some students are so awesome they make this job a breeze.
As a former professional ballerina with a 4.0 GPA, two years of neuroscience research, and publications in TWO different majors, Martina is the type of student who makes the rest of us feel lazy. Yet, like most STEM students, Martina didn’t feel 100% confident about portraying her candidacy in writing.
I’m telling you, this task is hard for everyone.
This was especially true during the super-competitive 2020-21 admissions cycle, when lots of amazing PhD applicants received surprisingly unfortunate results.
Yet, coming from a small regional college, and with only two weeks of revision, Martina wrote, edited, and perfected one of the most amazing SOPs I’ve ever read. And her success speaks for itself.
Martina applied to 12 top-ranked R1 programs . She received interview offers from 10. She interviewed at 7, was accepted at 5, and ultimately enrolled at her top-choice school.
“I feel really lucky to have done so well during this crazy application season,” she said.
But in my opinion, luck had little to do with it. Instead, Martina’s success was born in her incredible work ethic, her research accomplishments, and her willingness to write the strongest SOP possible.
What’s great about this SOP?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfect utilization of the Structure is Magic SOP template , and this is something that should inspire every applicant in every type of degree program or academic field.
- Two paragraphs in the Introductory Frame Narrative
- Two paragraphs for Why This Program
- Two paragraphs for Why I’m (Overly) Qualified
- One resounding frame narrative conclusion paragraph
The frame narrative starts with a highly memorable story. (She was a professional ballerina!) But like all great SOPs, it quickly moves into an intellectual journey. This journey concludes with a beautifully specific “academic goal.” It relates her research proposal to a larger humanistic issue, but lists the specific problems she hopes to explore in her PhD: “ I hope to continue elucidating hypothalamic metabolic circuits, and exploring how obesogenic diets affect long-term developmental outcomes in relation to the normal functioning of the satiety hormone leptin. ”
TIP: If you don’t know how to write a hyper-specific academic goal, the SOP Starter Kit will tell you exactly how.
Really, I love how Martina took great pains to elaborate her research proposal (just as I described in this previous article ). It’s a symphony of intellectual depth and research competence. As she describes her potential PIs’ work, she constantly links it to her own experience (and her future goals).
She doesn’t just say: “Dr. So-and-So’s work is fascinating, and I hope to contribute.”
Instead, she says: “[Dr. So-and-So’s work] has been critical to my understanding of sensitive periods for the trophic actions of leptin in the brain…[and] my experience with quantitative immunohistochemistry and RT-qPCR make me well qualified to contribute to such research…[and this is why] I am interested in studying the role LepRb and its developmental actions might play in leptin resistance and obesity in adulthood.”
Notice that 3-point argument? That’s the SOP in a nutshell.
- The professor’s work on X intrigues me…
- Because it correlates to my past experience in Y…
- And this is why I’m confident about studying the related topic Z at this university.
With every word, Martina crafts a persuasive intellectual argument. It’s not about her . It’s about the research . It shows that she has a solid understanding of how she might fit into these professors’ labs, and what they might accomplish together .
When Martina finally presents her credentials, it’s almost an afterthought. She’s written with such nuance and depth that the reader already knows she’s an incredible neuroscience researcher. Her successes as an undergraduate are icing on the cake.
Seriously, this essay makes me giddy. But enough of my rambling. Let’s take a look at the SOP that helped Martina achieve such awesome results:
A Brilliant Neuroscience Statement of Purpose
When I ended my career with the California Ballet in 2016, I looked forward to an academic experience studying the metabolic and neurological systems which had silently governed my physical reality as a performer for so long. Surprisingly, the opportunity proved more rewarding than I could have imagined. The perseverance I cultivated as a ballerina proved essential as I immediately dove into the Psychology, Biology, and Philosophy curricula at Stark University, and I soon developed an interest in the neural regulation of metabolic development. After joining Dr. Jean Grey’s research lab in my sophomore year (a position I have maintained ever since), I had the great fortune of studying the effects of obesogenic diets on conserved signaling pathways governing metabolic regulation in Drosophila melanogaster. Through this work, I have become singularly fascinated with the myriad factors that contribute to the growing obesity epidemic, and its developmental origins in particular.
The questions that underpin our work in the Grey Lab are compelling. How do critical or sensitive periods of neuroendocrine development contribute to long-term functioning in animals and humans at the behavioral and cellular levels? Interestingly, current research at Gotham University seeks answers to these very questions, and that is precisely why I apply as a PhD candidate to the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience.
At GU, I hope to continue elucidating hypothalamic metabolic circuits, and exploring how obesogenic diets affect long-term developmental outcomes in relation to the normal functioning of the satiety hormone leptin. I am quite interested in the work of Dr. Jonathan Crane, whose research on the development of hypothalamic circuits, and how they regulate feeding behavior, has been critical to my understanding of sensitive periods for the trophic actions of leptin in the brain. I believe my experience with quantitative immunohistochemistry and RT-qPCR make me well qualified to contribute to such research. In fact, Dr. Crane’s continuing work on the molecular signals connecting postnatal overnutrition to abnormal development of hypothalamic circuits represents questions similar to those that drew me to studying the neurobiological aspects of feeding and development. It also defines the kind of work I hope to accomplish as a doctoral candidate. While Dr. Crane’s investigation into the necessity of LepRb for typical hypothalamic development is fascinating, I am interested in studying the role LepRb and its developmental actions might play in leptin resistance and obesity in adulthood.
Additionally, Dr. Otto Octavius’s research on the effects of high developmental sugar consumption on memory circuits is fascinating to me; it dovetails nicely with my experience using high-fructose corn syrup diets to mimic obesogenic conditions, while using both behavioral and molecular assays such as weight, food intake, and RNA sequencing to investigate physiological and neural changes. For these reasons, I believe I would be a great fit in either the Crane Lab or the Octavius Lab, given my experience researching metabolic development at both the behavioral and cellular level.
Having averaged 25 research hours per week during the last few academic years, and up to 50 during the summers, I believe I have acquired all the necessary tools to succeed as a graduate student at GU. I lead the developmental subdivision at the Grey Lab, a project investigating how the timing of a high-fructose diet during development affects cellular and behavioral outcomes in adult Drosophila as it relates to unpaired 1 – the Drosophila analog of leptin – and its downstream JAK/STAT signaling pathway. In investigating this evolutionarily conserved circuit, I created a new experimental protocol for carrying out developmental feeding experiments with Drosophila larvae, as well as performing behavioral assays related to feeding such as weight, two-choice feeding preference, and capillary feeding assays. Additionally, I have performed dissections and imaging with destabilized transgenic fly lines to quantify neuropeptide-f and STAT92E expression at both the cellular and terminal levels, hoping to elucidate the potential role of SOCS36E in receptor functioning. This work has lead to me identifying a unique obese phenotype related to early dysregulation of unpaired 1, of which I was slated to perform RNA sequencing prior to COVID-19 related disruptions.
Pursuing these research projects as an undergraduate has been a monumental task, I admit, so I am proud to have maintained a 4.0 GPA, all while achieving numerous successes in my second major, Philosophy. Having coauthored a paper in the American Journal of Bioethics, as well as winning the California Philosophical Association’s undergraduate award and presenting at their annual conference, I am all the more confident in my readiness to succeed at GU.
When my career in ballet drew to a close, I looked forward to fully devoting my time to the study of the human brain’s infinitely curious adaptive processes. Now, I find myself in a similar situation, once again eager to devote myself to the study of the developing brain and how it governs metabolic regulation. The rigorous standards of The Grey Lab, along with Dr. Grey’s strict belief in personal responsibility, have shown me that (like dance) true intellectual contributions are only possible through perseverance, determination, and a ruthless eye for weakness in both experimental design and execution. Balancing laboratory workloads with a full schedule of undergraduate classes has been a taxing endeavor, but this too has been essential to my growth as a researcher. Today, I look forward to the new intellectual challenges that Gotham University will provide, and I am sure that I will discover new passions, curiosities, and questions as I prepare for my hopeful career in academia, as a professor.
The SOP Symbolizes and Summarizes Your Entire Candidacy
Again, I admit that Martina is a rock star. Not all of us can mimic her remarkable undergraduate experience. But we CAN learn from the thoughtfulness of her writing.
Martina didn’t cobble together an essay and expect her credentials to win the day. Instead, she understood that this piece of writing, these 900 words, represent everything about who she is and what she aims to be. Her statement of purpose wasn’t just a part of her application, one more sheet of paper in the pile. It represents her entire application. It integrates all of her strengths and intelligence. It presents her research goals fully, and convinced no small number of readers that she is a clear communicator too.
Everything we NEED to know about Martina is in this SOP. There’s no fluff. No out-of-place material better left to the CV. It’s just 100% airtight writing about a talented scholar and her specific goals.
I’m incredibly grateful to Martina for allowing me to publish this (pseudonymized) SOP. Students like her inspire me every day, and I hope her example inspires you as well.
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Motivational letter - Cognitive and Molecular Neuroscience
Rose_odm 1 / 1 Jan 26, 2014 #1 Hello evertbody, I'm applying to some PhD programs and I hope someone can help me with the correction of this motivation letter. Thank you so much in advance. "Dear professor XX, I am excited to apply for the XX program 'XXX' at the Department of XX at the XX. I graduated last year from University of XX with a Bachelor's degree in Biology, and I am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Neurosciences in the same University, with expected graduation in July 2014. Though I have always been interested in molecular biology at any level, during my last year as an undergraduate student I developed a fascination with Cognitive and Molecular Neuroscience, especially in the context of the study of neurodegenerative diseases. My course in Neurobiology as well as my practical works led me to go in-depth into this topic through literature, and finally to address my current Master's supervisor, at the Department of Cellular Biology in University of XX. As you will see from my CV, my Master's thesis focuses on changes in key components of the regulated secretory pathway in Alzheimer's disease, and I am particularly interested in changes in protein expression in both astrocytes and neurons. This experience has aroused my interest in understanding the role of glial cells in AD, and has provide me with extensive knowledge of methods, procedures and techniques that are commonly used in the field of neuroscience research, such as ELISA, Western Blotting, immunohistrochemistry and cell cultures. Therefore, my academic qualifications and laboratory training have provide me with many personal and professional skills. I am sure these solid base will permit me getting along within any laboratory work. Furthermore, my successful experience in working abroad to perform my Bachelor's thesis makes me feel confident of being a rapidly adaptive and autonomous person. After completing my PhD I hope to continue working as a researcher in the neuroscience field. I also consider the option of having a paralell teaching career in the future, because I find the idea of sharing knowledge with other people extremely fulfilling. I have read some of your publicatons, and I believe that my research interests fit very well in your group, since you are currently studying deficits in secretion of glial-derived factors and their implications in synaptic function in Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, giving our apparent research interests in common, I believe that having the opportunty of being in your research group will give me the opportunity of developing a project that continues my current interests. I strongly believe that both my academic qualifications and laboratory experience in the neuroscience field, joint to my enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance will allow me to fit perfectly in your group. Moreover, my fascination with the role of glia in neurodegenerative diseases will let me to contribute maximally in your group and guarantees that I will be extremelly concerned in the project. In conclusion, I find this a unique opportunity of working in the field I am passionate about, and I only understand this by being an enthusiastic, constant and extremely dedicated person. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing about this great opportunity. Yours sincerely, XX XX"
nivinjj 1 / 3 Jan 27, 2014 #2 Quote his publications and what aspect of these publications sparked interest in you to approach him.
OP Rose_odm 1 / 1 Jan 27, 2014 #3 Thank you for your quick reply, I will do it! Would you mind correcting my grammar mistakes? English is not my native language! Thank you again =)
- Graduate School
How to Write a PhD Motivation Letter with Samples and Expert Tips
Reading over some PhD motivation letter samples will give you an idea of how to make yours a strong, central component of your application to get into grad school . In addition to your grad school CV , a PhD motivation letter is a chance for you to demonstrate objectively why you are an excellent candidate for the faculty to which you are applying. Unlike a personal statement, a PhD motivation letter is distinct in its unique focus on your academic and research background with little mention of your personal story. This article will take you through the significance of the PhD motivation letter, describe what makes a stellar motivation letter, and provide examples.
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Article Contents 11 min read
Do you need to write a phd motivation letter .
Yes, you must write a PhD motivation letter. It is mandatory for most, if not all, PhD programs, regardless of your field of study. Disciplines ranging from arts and humanities to physics and computer science all consider motivation letters (aka “statement of purpose” in some countries) a major component of your application.
Of course, you will also have to fulfill the other documentation requirements, like submitting your transcripts, CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation, but a motivation letter has a specific intent: to summarize your academic achievements up to the present and what you plan to achieve in the future at this particular school.
The faculty who ultimately consider your application look for how you and your PhD topic match with the mission and values of their program. Personal details and other motivations are best left to your personal statement or letter of intent because the motivation letter is strictly an academic summary.
A great PhD motivation letter should highlight how and why you are prepared for the rigors of PhD-level work. It should include the details of your academic career that have propelled you further into your field of study, like an inspiring professor or undergraduate course that sparked interest in your field.
The following list will provide more insights, but you should remember that whatever you write must be backed up by a concrete, real-world demonstration. It is not enough to say, “I am interested in XYZ because of XYZ.” You must include specific events in your undergraduate and graduate studies where you excelled.
If you are applying for a PhD, that in itself suggests you have a bevy of academic and extracurricular experience to glean from, be it co-authoring a published paper, your time as a TA, or some type of academic recognition. Many stand-out motivation letters single out specific instances when you showed an outsized passion for your studies.
Dos and Don’ts in a PhD Motivation Letter
1. Gain Skills and Experiences
The track to obtaining a PhD degree is a long one, which is why anyone who wants to become a PhD should commit early on to what it entails. All PhD candidates must have both an undergraduate and a master's degree to even apply, so that means structuring your studies around those requirements.
You should gain as much experience in your field, learn new skills related to your studies (a new language, for example, or technical skills), and participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Gathering the necessary skills and experiences to enter a PhD program should be the first step, since they are a reflection of your commitment.
2. Start Writing Early
You should begin drafting your PhD motivation letter at least a few months before the deadline. Because it is one of the most important parts of your application, you want to give yourself time to refine it. Refining means going through multiple drafts, soliciting and receiving feedback from other candidates, getting professional grad school application help, and making changes as you go along.
3. Consider Your Audience
The people who will read your motivation letter are renowned academics who have devoted their lives to one particular subject. Your letter needs to reflect your respect not only for them, but for the field of study that you both share. You should write with genuine verve when talking about your topic. Remind them of why they committed so full-heartedly to their career by demonstrating how enthralled you are with your studies.
4. Use Active Voice
You should put “you” in your story. Avoid using the passive voice and hiding behind your achievements as if they spoke for themselves. The admissions committee members want to read about how you approached your studies and learn about your insights into the future of your field of interest. They do not want a cold recitation of your CV but a spirited defense or explanation of what you value most about your topic.
1. Don’t Forget About the Formatting
PhD admission requirements differ between the many programs out there, so be cognizant of how they ask you to format your paper. If the requirements state a two-page limit, then write two pages. The same goes for other criteria like font size, paragraph spacing, and word length. A rambling, incoherent letter is the last thing you want to submit, so make sure to keep it within the guidelines.
2. Don’t Include Personal Stories
A personal statement is the place for formative stories from the past, not your motivation letter. You can include personal thoughts and opinions about your field of study, even unfavorable ones, to show you have a unique perspective, but steer clear of using personal elements like early childhood experiences or anything unrelated to your program.
3. Don’t Ramble
Keep in mind that your writing and organizational skills are also on display when you submit your motivation letter, along with everything else about you (grades, college letter of intent , transcripts). Again, remember who you are writing for: professors with years of experience researching and writing. They, more than anyone, know what good writing looks like, so be concise and clear in your writing.
4. Don’t Shy Away from Failures
The collected experience of those reading your essay guarantees that they know a thing or two about failure. Whether it was an unpublished paper, or a failed experiment, showing your determination in the face of adversity paints a complete picture of who you are as a researcher and academic.
But, again, setbacks in your personal life should not be mentioned. Limit your story to problems you encountered during your undergrad, graduate, or research fellowships and how you sought to overcome them. Mention a class or subject you struggled with or a drop in your grades and how you improved them.
Structure of Your PhD Motivation Letter
The structure of a great motivation letter is easy to follow because its focus is so narrow. The body of your letter should only mention highlights from your academic career, in a very specific chronology starting with your undergrad and progressing from there. But the structure should also cover three main points:
You can adjust the structure based on the requirements of the PhD program you are applying to, but it should cover the reasons you want to commit yourself to this program, what you plan on achieving, and how you have prepared yourself to accomplish those goals. If you already went to grad school, then you can rework your college statement of purpose to use as a template.
PhD Motivation Letter Sample #1
Dear Members of the PhD Selection Committee,
My name is David White, and I am writing to you to express my interest in pursuing a PhD in the Migration Studies program at X University. I recently completed a Master of Ethnography at Y University with an emphasis on the cultural exchange between migrant communities and their adopted homelands viewed through the lens of shared trauma and memory.
In the media, migration is often described as a “crisis,” a designation that has always made me bristle. I assert that migration is one of the most fundamental aspects of our species, yet it has been flagrantly mislabeled to serve the political and socioeconomic interests of a few.
My research is centered around the ways that migrants form new identities based on their experiences. Conversely, I have also explored how an innate identity based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation impacts a migrant’s journey and how those markers expose them to further exploitation or, at the other end, fortify their resolve and inspire perseverance in the face of tremendous odds.
The need for further investigation into identity and the interplay of migration and culture came into focus for me during my second-year undergrad Political Science degree at XYZ University. I was influenced by the work of writers like Franz Fanon and Edward Said, who questioned the foundations of a post-colonial identity and whether it was ever possible for colonized people to form an identity separate from their colonizers. I took an anthropology course, The Nature of Humans, that impacted me greatly. It prompted a Cartesian examination of my own beliefs around identity, as it firmly associated the emergence of human societies with factors such as migration, evolution, adaptability, and diversity.
During my time as a graduate student, I secured a place on a research project headed by Prof. Mohamed Al-Nasseri, a diaspora studies expert. Professor Al-Nasseri's thesis was that policymakers were ignoring the psychological profiles of migrants when assessing their material needs and financial assistance levels.
Our four-person investigative team liaised with a local, non-profit resettlement agency who connected us with volunteer migrant families based in University Town. Under the supervision of Professor Al-Nasseri, we formulated a questionnaire based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V for traumatic events, while taking into account the newly revised definitions.
Mindful of the possible triggering effect our questions could have, we invited a peer, fellow survivor/migrant, and, in some cases, a religious leader before we conducted the interviews or to sit-in on our interviews.
During the interviews, I felt both inspired and indignant. I maintained my composure and objectivity, but the fire within raged. Unfortunately, our findings were inconclusive and what we discovered in our interviews did not wholly support Dr. Al-Nasseri’s thesis. But the experience and motivation I took from the project were enough to fuel my desire to explore the topic of identity formation in migrant communities who have undergone severe trauma.
The Migration Studies program at your institution will provide what I consider the perfect research and support network to further my investigation of these topics. I have followed the work of the esteemed Dr. Ellerman whose research into the treatment of post-traumatic stress has informed the direction of my own research. Dr. Ellerman has opened new pathways for thinking about trauma that I wish to incorporate into my thesis project when the time comes.
Until then, I am grateful for the opportunity to apply to this institution and am ready to discuss my future with you should my candidacy prove successful.
My name is Melanie Hicks, and I am writing this letter to fulfill the admission requirements of the Visual Arts PhD Program at Z University. I have already submitted my audiovisual portfolio, CV, and transcripts, along with three letters of recommendation from, respectively, my master’s degree supervisor, Dr. Dana Redmond, my thesis supervisor, Dr. Allan Lee, and my research colleague, Mark Fowler.
I would like to take this opportunity to expand further on the conceptual themes I have focused on in my artistic output over the past decade, contextualize the pieces I have submitted, and elaborate on the goals I have should my application to this program be successful.
My artistic career, from very early on, has been defined by modes of observation, the interplay of observation and reflection between subjects and objects within a sociopolitical realm, and the harnessing of Blackness as a form of radical self-interpretation – all of it couched within the media of still and moving images.
During my undergrad as a Fine Arts student at X University, I was lucky enough to be showcased at the Kepler Gallery for my series, Painted Faces, a collection of photographs I took while working as a freelance photographer for an independent newspaper in Chicago. My focus in that series was the effort and preparation female congregants of an all-Black church put into readying themselves for Sunday services.
After my undergrad, I traveled to Boston to volunteer in local after-school programs with children from minority backgrounds who had an interest in photography. All of them had grown up with easy access to a phone capable of taking crisp, digital images and had never taken film photographs, so it fell to me to show them how to develop prints in a darkroom.
As part of my portfolio, I have submitted photos I took during that time, along with selections from my Painted Faces series. I never constructed a specific narrative with the photos I took during my volunteer work, but they were informed by the social realist photographers and photojournalists who captured the Civil Rights Movement by participating in protests and documenting the unrest.
Gordon Parks is a major influence and part of the reason I am pursuing my PhD studies at this institution. Prof. Alys is a foremost expert on Parks’ work and curated the Parks Retrospective at the Local Museum. Parks himself said that the subject was always more important than the photographer, and I agreed with that statement for a long time, until I began reading Arthur Danto and his artist-centered philosophy of art. While many disagree with Danto’s definition of art as an elitist utopia, I would argue that he opens the gates to everyone, and that anyone can gain entry to the “artworld.”
There is no better exemplar, I think, of the democratization of the “artworld” first posited by Danto than Basquiat, who was not only “allowed” access to the “artworld” but redefined it, in his indomitable way. Basquiat’s quality of outsider-turned-insider and Danto’s liberating of the parameters of what defined art are central themes of my project to understand whether “outsider” artists still exist, given how new technologies and platforms have pushed Danto’s definitions beyond their logical boundaries, if not obliterated them completely.
I hope this program can help me refine my project while matching my urgency to further expand the definition of art and artists to be more inclusive of not only racial minorities, but non-binary and trans people, who are at the forefront of questioning the validity of assigned identities through the curation of their very genders or lack thereof.
I am grateful to this esteemed panel for considering my application, and I would like to close by expressing my profound admiration for the achievements in art, art theory, and the philosophy of art each of you has contributed to a long, continuing train of thought.
I would be honored to accept a place beside you as a PhD candidate.
Motivation letters are used in areas other than academia, but a PhD motivation letter is different for several reasons. Regardless of your particular field of research, the letter should include important points about your academic achievements, research interests, and why you want to continue your research at the faculty to which you are applying.
Even though PhD motivation letters tend to be short – between 500 and 700 words – their length is often the most vexing thing about them. Because students have a hard time condensing their years of study and research into a few words, we hope this article will help you focus your writing and give you insight into what to include.
No, they are not the same. A motivation letter has many different applications but is primarily a summary of your academic and professional achievements. A personal statement is an essay explaining your personal reasons for wanting to enter a specific profession or academic institution.
You should focus only on concrete, real-world examples of how you performed, learned, or grew as the result of an event in your trajectory toward a PhD and how you plan on contributing something new to your field of study. You should also make sure to have enough material, in the form of experience or academic goals, to write a compelling letter.
PhD motivation letters are important because they let prospective PhD candidates distill their background and experience succinctly, so that selection committees can more easily judge their character, commitment, and potential.
Some people do find it challenging to write a letter about themselves without rambling or sounding incoherent. But if you prepare ahead of time, think honestly about your answer, and write several drafts, you should be able to write an above-average letter. If you are still struggling you can also get application help from professionals.
Programs tend to ask for either a one or two-page letter, between 700 and 900 words.
You can talk about anything that has do to with your past work to get to the PhD level, including aspects of your academic career, internships, independent or supervised research, fieldwork in a specific context, and any work experience you have related to your field of study.
You should not mention any personal motivations for wanting to pursue a PhD. You can write about your intrinsic motivations to become a doctor of philosophy in your personal statement, if you are asked to submit one with your application.
PhD programs around the world have various entry requirements that differ among schools. Some institutions ask for a motivation letter, while others ask for a personal statement or letter of recommendation and letter of intent, which has elements of a motivation letter but is not the same.
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Tips for Writing a Successful Motivation Letter for Ph.D. [+Sample]
How To Write a Motivation Letter For Ph.D. Application [+Sample]
Ph.D. applications are not just sorted out in the same way as any other random application. There are processes involved without which your chances of getting in might be truncated.
If you’ve been considering applying for a Ph.D. then this post is especially directed at you. A motivation letter as used in the case of a Ph.D. application can be much likened to a Personal statement.
There is a need to know if you’re truly qualified to do a Ph.D. while writing an application to a school, so the motivation letter is the perfect insight into who you really are and they expect you to do it justice.
- An introduction which should state in clear terms which program you are applying for.
- A Summary of your Academic Background.
- Why do you want to do a Ph.D.?
- The significance of your research on society.
- Your career plans.
Avoid Making Spurious Claims
It is quite easy to get lost while writing a motivation letter and forget that motivation cannot be achieved without the necessary evidence to back it up.
Nobody’s really interested in how awesome you are while writing a motivation letter, no offense but anybody can look good on paper but without the proper evidence to back it up, they wouldn’t be any motivation.
For Example, it is very common to see people write; “I work well with other people, or I am an expert at working under pressure”. Well, it is not a cover letter , it’s a motivation letter and you need to give realistic scenarios such as; “my leadership ability was demonstrated when I had to be in charge of a group of colleagues during my internship which required intense marketing management skills.”
Try As Much As Possible to Be Specific
It is equally very important to avoid being vague while writing your motivation letter. The reason why you’re required to write a motivation letter is that someone or some people have to know, if not you wouldn’t have to attempt one.
Saying that your undergraduate days in Marketing was very interesting is too vague to fit into a motivational letter, it sounds like something that should rather be written to a pen friend. You should be more specific about the courses you took as an undergraduate, why you love them and what you learned from them.
Show How Much Skill or Work Experience You Have
While writing a motivational letter, it is very important to concisely include how much skill and/or working experience you possess. A Ph.D. is about more than just a sequel to your past academic endeavors, it is a true test of education and education is more than just owning degrees.
They will be interested in the skills and/or work experience you’ve gathered over the years, skills which are strong enough to make you qualified to bag a Ph.D. That research, data analysis, etc. skills you thought you’d never have to flaunt, well I think this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about them.
It is equally quite important that you are very professional while writing a motivation letter for a Ph.D. application . It will be in your own best interest to ensure that you present your motivation letter with professional grammar, font and the appropriate writing style in which you’d rather prefer to be accepted.
Your professionalism sends a good message about your personality and would go a long way into helping you get accepted.
Sample Motivation Letter for a Ph.D. Application
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How To Apply
Applications for graduate study and supporting documents should be electronically submitted in time for evaluation in early December; members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. Admission to the program is based on college transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interviews. GRE scores are not needed nor accepted.
Application deadline: December 1 Application fee: $75.00
To apply for admission, please complete the online application through Liaison/GradCAS . Additional requirements needed to complete your application to the Center for Neuroscience Graduate Training Program are listed below.
- Three Letters of Recommendation: These letters of recommendation must be from professors or research supervisors with whom you have studied or worked, preferably including those who have sponsored independent research in the laboratory.
- Unofficial Transcripts: Please upload unofficial copies of your undergraduate transcript(s) and any graduate transcript(s). Students will be required to forward certified transcripts and translations of all undergraduate and graduate study at the time of matriculation (upon enrollment.)
- Tell us about your personal history, the events that lead you to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience, and how a PhD in Neuroscience would help prepare you for a future career (up to 400 words).
- Provide a description of your previous research experience, including the institution, the faculty mentor and the time commitment (e.g., 10 h a week for 2 semesters). Describe the scientific question(s) you were trying to address, your hypothesis, your technical approach, and the significance of your findings. If your work resulted in a publication, abstract or thesis, list those here too. If you have more than one research experience, please make clear headings for each one (no limit).
- Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Pittsburgh and list at least three CNUP training faculty members you would like to meet, along with a short rationale for your selections (up to 300 words).
- Success in scientific research requires personal qualities not measured by tests – attributes such as curiosity, creativity, adaptability, self-motivation, passion for research, conscientiousness, persistence, self-organization, grit, resilience, and integrity, just to name a few. Select one or two traits you feel are your greatest strengths and provide an example from your life experience that illustrate each trait (up to 500 words).
- We are highly invested in enhancing diversity, which is expressed in multiple forms — race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status and political perspective. In addition, we strive to create a community that is equitable, so that all persons have equal opportunity, and inclusive, so that everyone feels welcomed. We hope you share our values and goals. Feel free to tell us how you think we should achieve them, and what you might contribute to this effort. (Optional comments up to 500 words).
Non-U.S. Citizens whose native language is not English are required to submit an English proficiency test from within the last two years. English language proficiency is demonstrated by one of the following:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum TOEFL score of 90, with a minimum score of 22 in each section
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Minimum score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each section
- Duolingo English Test: Minimum score of 120
Apply for a fee waiver
In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted. All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST. To be considered for a fee waiver, Please complete the following fee waiver survey for review: https://pitt.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cD38CmmjcOT3Tvw .
Admissions Correspondence and Information University of Pittsburgh Center for Neuroscience A210 Langley Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15260 [email protected]
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How to write a successful motivational letter - Easy to use guide with free templates
Most university courses, from undergraduate degrees onwards, expect a fair bit from applicants. Not only does each course have set academic requirements and forms to fill out; most applicants will also be asked to provide examples of their work, a CV, and even undertake special course-specific preparatory exams. Many masters courses – especially some very competitive ones, like the top MBA s – encourage applicants to obtain letters of recommendation from senior colleagues or academic supervisors. Atop this sheaf of papers sits the most intimidating prospect of all: the motivational letter.
Free Motivation letter templates for your first job application
Free Motivation letter templates for an internship application
A motivational letter, also known as a personal statement or a cover letter, is a short piece of writing all about you; your past, your ambitions, your personality, and your interests. While completing CVs and forms can be a little dry and boring, motivational letters can be hard to write . The combination of needing to produce such an intimate piece of writing, worded in such a way that it comes across as both authentic and professional, and then using it to sell yourself to a university, creates the perfect recipe for social awkwardness and writer’s block.
Despite the difficulty of writing a decent motivational letter, it’s a fundamental skill in today’s jobs market – once you leave full-time education, you’ll need to write motivational letters to potential employers . With this in mind, writing a motivational letter for a masters degree is excellent practice. Below, we’ve prepared a couple of fail-safe techniques you can apply to writing a motivational letter so that it won’t either sound sterile or arrogant, and will help you stand out from the crowd.
Cover the basics: The central function of a motivational letter is to convince the admissions team at the university of your choice to offer you a place, or invite you to interview. Make sure that the letter is structured in such a way that it serves this purpose – it is usual to conclude a motivational letter by asking directly that you be admitted or invited for interview, depending upon what the next step of the admissions process is. Equally important is the calibre of your written language; if your motivational letter is riddled with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, or doesn’t make sense, the university will almost certainly refuse to admit you. A great starting point is to look at some templates for motivational letters in your chosen field, to see how they are structured, and what key points you need to cover.
Get personal: A standard for all cover letters – including those for job-seekers – is that you must address your letter to a specific person. For your masters course, it could be the Head of Department, or the academic staff member responsible for your masters study programme . If you will be working closely with an academic supervisor – as with most research degrees – your cover-letter should be addressed to the academic you’d prefer to supervise you. Use the university’s website to figure out who the right person is, and address the letter to them using their name and title.
Show, don’t tell: This is true of CVs, and is true of motivational letters too. “I am a good leader” sounds a lot weaker than “I led a group of my fellow students on a week long climbing expedition, where we successfully…”. Avoid any overly ambiguous statements, as these can diminish the confidence the admissions team may have in your motivations. Also, make sure not to show things twice – if you’ve discussed something extensively in your CV, don’t dwell on it in your motivational letter.
Do your research: Academic institutions often have a lot to say about their values, priorities and vision. What’s your target institution’s motto? Do they prioritise sports , arts , or something else? Do they have a statement of values? How do you reflect these things? The most important question to think about in relation to these things – why is it that you want to go here? Weaving your knowledge of these things into your letter is a great way to assure admissions tutors that your choice to study at their institution is an informed one.
Be specific: One of the biggest problems at application is that candidates don’t adequately explain why it is they want to study what they’ve applied for. Remember, you’ve got to explain your choice of subject, and your choice of institution. Not just “Why Biology ?” but “Why Biology at this university?” If you don’t yet have answers to this question, then it is well worth going through the University’s website again, to work out what inspired you to take the next step, and apply for your chosen course.
Write a story: People love stories. They like to be taken on a journey, and brought to a satisfying conclusion. A list of superlatives or accomplishments is nowhere near as compelling as an epic story that weaves all that you’ve done into a coherent account, that supports the choice you’ve made to apply. Like all stories, make sure your motivational letter has a clear beginning, a middle, and an end . These should all follow logically on from one another, so that the reader is left feeling convinced of the suitability of your chosen course and institution, to your skills, experience, and goals.
Be interesting: This is without doubt the most important feature of a motivational letter – you absolutely must capture the reader’s interest. If you come across as boring (or worse, bored) on paper, it’s much less likely that you’ll get a positive reply. But furthermore, the interest you express has got to be personal, and it must relate directly to your motives . It’s absolutely no use whatever to produce some bland, boring page or two about hard work and how interested you are in your subject. This is exactly what every other candidate will write, and for the most competitive courses, you will want to stand out. But the best way to do this is not to try to be someone else; be yourself. Mention the fact that you like juggling. Talk about how you felt when your father was laid off work. Begin from your earliest memory. So long as what you say relates to what makes you the person you are, and then why that person has chosen to apply for this course, it deserves to be there.
What underscores all these points is a simple, and very ancient, piece of advice; know thyself . Nobody expects you to have everything figured out when you apply for a masters, but they will at least expect you to have a firm grasp of what you want out of the degree you’ve chosen to apply for. It’s in nobody’s interests for students to undertake courses for which they are ill-prepared, or that they haven’t really thought through – all you need to do is show your chosen university that this doesn’t apply to you.
And let’s face it; a masters degree is a fantastic opportunity, that will allow you to gain an expert understanding of a field about which you are passionate, and will build a bridge to a career that excites you – what could be easier to write about than that? But if you prefer to get some guidance, have a look at our motivational letter templates below.
Example 1: Motivation Letter for a Masters of Science Degree (MSc)
Dear sir /Madam,
My name is [name] and most recently I have been working as a [job title] at [company name]. I hold a B.Sc degree in [subject] from [university name].
The undergraduate curriculum in [subject], [university name], introduced me to a wide variety of subjects in the field of [subject]. Various courses like [course 1], [course 2], [course 3] (name all relevant courses) provided me with a strong footing in [subject of the masters degree].
While offering both depth and breadth across this field, these courses put into perspective the importance and relevance of [subject] and the application of its fundamentals to the problems faced by the real world.
I am much eager to adopt and know new technologies. I am really enthusiastic to attend a Master of [subject] at [university name] in order to understand different [subject] concepts and its applications to more complex real life situations. The good reputation of high-quality education standards, an extremely distinguished faculty members, and research facilities are the factors which have motivated me to apply for my masters studies at [university name].
Moreover, I feel I am responsible for making a big move in this field and this scholarship will give me a big chance to be one day someone who is remembered for his innovations. I think it is our duty as people sharing life in this world to make our future better because the future is not only ours. The next generation should be proud of us one day when they look back and find how hard we worked to make the world a better place. I believe my qualification and your needs would be an excellent fit. I will be happy to provide any further information or documents if required. I look forward to your positive response. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example 2: Motivation Letter for a Masters of Art Degree (M.A.)
Dear Prof. [name],
I am writing to inform you of my interest in the Masters of Arts [name] program at [university name].
I currently hold my Bachelor’s of Arts in Art History [subject] from the University of [name], having graduated with cum laude with a GPA of 3.82 [grade]. After attending the University of [name], I completed a 3 month internship at the National Gallery in London (GB) followed by a 6 months internship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (USA).
During my studies and internships I developed a deep interest in Italian Art, with a particular focus on artists form the 17th century. Having worked under the supervision of Prof. [name] at the National Gallery enabled me to get a very deep understanding of [specific subject] and I see the Masters of Arts [name] program at [university name] as a unique opportunity to intensify my knowledge and continue my studies.
Given my education and experience from [university name], National Gallery and Museum of Modern Art, I am confident that I am an excellent fit for the Masters of Arts [name] program at [university name]. I have researched the program and determined that the coursework and research profile of the college are a strong match. I’m particularly impressed by the volumes of [name] books in the university’s library, which are of particular interest for me and which I would love to study in great detail.
If you have any further questions, please contact me using the information at the top of this letter.
Did you know that most students apply to 5-7 different masters programs? The reasons for that are very simple: the more programs you apply to, the more options will you have to choose from in the end. You should therefore always apply to multiple programs. The best way to find alternative programs is to just search for them here on mastersavenue . It's free and super fast. Why don't you give it a go?
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How to Write a Motivation Letter for PhD Programs?
- Updated on
- Apr 25, 2023
A successful motivation letter allows the admission committee of any institution to select students of excellent academic backgrounds. While applying for Ph.D. programs, a student has to submit a motivation letter that states why they wish to embark on that particular position and how appropriate they are to be studying in the chosen program. Ph.D. applications are not classified as any other random sample application. There are processes without which your chances of getting in may be reduced. For some institutions, academic qualifications are not enough to indicate whether a candidate is suitable for a Ph.D. In this sense, a Motivation Letter for Phd Programs are the perfect insight into who you really are.
This Blog Includes:
How should you structure your motivation letter for ph.d., avoid false statements, be specific , include your skills and work experience , write in a professional manner , top things to be included in a motivation letter for ph.d. programs , sample of motivation letter for ph.d. programs , top ph.d. programs.
Ph.D. Scholarships in India
To write a strong motivation letter for Ph.D. applications you must include:
- A concise introduction that must state the program you are applying for,
- All about your academic background as well as professional work experience,
- You can include skills you possess that make you the ideal candidate,
- Your motivation and interest in applying for the program,
- Concluding remarks with thanks.
Tips for Writing a Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs
Here are the best tips for acing your writing a motivation letter for Ph.D.:
While writing a Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs, candidates often forget to add necessary things in the letter. It is important to know that without adding important information the application wouldn’t stand out. For instance, candidates tend to write, “I work well with other people or I am good at working under pressure.” Well, this is not how you write in a motivation letter as you should provide some real examples like, “My leadership skills were demonstrated when I had to lead a group of colleagues during my internship, which required intensive marketing management ability.”
Avoid being vague and imprecise while writing a Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs. Be specific while putting information in the letter. For example, If you describe it as “My marketing days were very interesting in my undergraduate days”, it would be inappropriate to fit it into a motivation letter. It depicts a very informal manner of writing a letter. You should include specific details about the courses you took as an undergraduate student such as, what made you choose them and what you learned from them.
In a motivation letter, it is essential to add the skills you possess and the work experience you have. A Ph.D. is more than a continuation of your previous academic endeavors, it is a real educational test, and education is more than obtaining degrees. A Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs become impressive when you write about the skills and experiences you possess over the years which are strong enough to make you a qualified Ph.D. candidate. You can flourish your research and analytical skills in a motivation letter.
It is equally important to add information in a Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs professionally. It is in your own best interest to submit the motivation letter with an appropriate font, writing style, and professional grammar. This will ensure your chances of getting accepted into a Ph.D. program. Professionalism plays a vital role in sending a good insight into your personality and helps you gain acceptance.
Benefits of Pursuing a Ph.D. after MBA
A Motivation Letter for Ph.D. Programs share similarities with a cover letter and a personal statement. All three documents describe your suitability for a Ph.D. program. However, as compared to a personal statement and cover letter, a motivation letter gives more precision to your motivation for wanting to pursue a Ph.D.
- An introduction to the Ph.D. program: Begin with a brief introduction in clear terms that why you are applying for a particular Ph.D. program. Think of it as you telling it to a stranger.
- A summary of your academic background: Focus on your educational background and state what you have studied here and where. It is important to highlight extra curriculums that were a part of your studies. Mention what made you interested in a Ph.D. program, especially if you are applying in the same field. In addition, summarize your professional work experience and include any relevant work experiences such as teaching roles, or charity work.
- Reason to pursue a Ph.D.: Describe your long-term aspirations, and show your enthusiasm and passion for pursuing a Ph.D. program. You can also mention what made you interested in this field. You can also demonstrate your interest in proposed research topics such as the seminars you attended, research experience, and aspects of the subjects, and finally, specify what has convinced you to devote 3-4 years of your life to the research field.
- The significant effect of your research on society and career goals: At the of your motivation letter, add a few sentences on the research’s impact on your life and the experience as a whole. It should conclude the new contributions it will make to your field, and how it benefits society and fits in with your aspirations. In addition, state your career goals, for example, do you want to become a researcher or pursue an academic career? This will enable the reader to judge you based on how passionate you are about pursuing a Ph.D. program.
How to Write a Motivation Letter
- Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship
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- Ph.D. in Management
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- Ph.D. in Marketing
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- Ph.D. in Finance
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- Ph.D. in Political Science
- Ph.D. in Education
- Ph.D. in Statistics
- Ph.D in Psychology
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Ans: A motivation letter for the Ph.D. program should be 400-600 words.
Ans: Start with the introduction about yourself and the intent. Describe your experiences in the body of the letter.
Ans: A motivation letter is the exact same as a statement of purpose. You might hear colleges and companies use one or more of these letters.
This was all about Motivation Letters for Ph.D. Programs. We hope you find this insightful. Are you interested in making your career in Ph.D. abroad? Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts on 1800 57 2000 and we will help you in finding the best university.
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PhD Application Details
Visualization of copper in normal (top row) and mutant (bottom row) zebrafish brains. Image by Tong Xiao, Chang lab.
The Neuroscience PhD Program grants PhDs only. We do not offer a master’s degree. Applications are accepted in fall for the class entering in August of the following academic year.
The application deadline for Fall 2024 admission is November 27th, 2023 (by 8:59 pm Pacific Standard Time). All application materials including the online application, application fee (or fee waiver), transcripts, test scores (if applicable), and recommendation letters must be received by the deadline. Late applications are not accepted or reviewed. We do not accept applications for spring semester. The entire application process is online, and it includes uploading transcripts, Personal History Statement, and Statement of Purpose, and providing test scores for the TOEFL/IELTS and/or GRE (submission of GRE scores is optional in our program), and contact information for at least three recommenders. Applications will be reviewed holistically, using a rubric that considers academic preparation, research experience, contributions to diversity and community, initiative and motivation, and synergy with the program, each evaluated in the context of the individual applicant.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all materials, including recommendation letters, are submitted by the deadline.
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division website to apply. Applications are accepted from mid-September through the end of November for admission the following year.
Application fee waivers are administered by UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions and not by the Neuroscience PhD Program. Please visit the fee waiver website for more information.
Fall 2024 Admissions Virtual Information Session:
Thursday, November 2, 2023 10-11am Pacific Time Ask Me Anything Panel for Prospective Applicants ( flyer ) Hosted by Current Students RSVP here: https://forms.gle/9woNxw31BvpVCYGEA
Friday, November 3, 2023 11am-12pm Pacific Time Neuroscience PhD Program – Diversity Admissions Fair Info Session Hosted by Program Faculty with Current Students Registration is required. More information here: https://bit.ly/ admitdivfair
Previously Recorded Sessions: Friday, October 21, 2022 11am-12pm Pacific Time HWNI Neuroscience PhD Program Info Session - Diversity Admissions Fair Hosted by Program Faculty with Current Students Session Recording Friday, November 4, 2022 10-11am Pacific Time AMA Grad Student Panel for Prospective Applicants Hosted by Current Students Session Recording -->
Inform yourself, start early.
Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the application. Faculty recommenders are usually busy and have requests from many students. It is imperative to ask for recommendation letters early and to clearly communicate the application deadline.
Which graduate program is right for you.
The Neuroscience PhD Program provides broad training at multiple levels of neuroscience. Other PhD programs at Berkeley also offer training in neuroscience, or in specific sub-disciplines of neuroscience. These include the PhD programs in Molecular & Cellular Biology, Psychology, Biophysics, and Vision Science. These programs differ in overall academic focus and course curriculum, and in the subset of neuroscience laboratories available for thesis research. UC Berkeley allows each applicant to apply to only one graduate program per application cycle. We want you to pick the one that best matches your intellectual interests.
Neuroscience PhD Program
Classes cover neuroscience at all its levels, including molecular, cellular, biophysical, developmental, circuits, systems, computational, behavioral, and human cognitive neuroscience. Thesis research is available in all these areas, studying normal brain function from cellular to systems levels, behavior, cognition, and disease. See complete list of the labs available for thesis research in our program here (be sure the box next to “Show Only Neuroscience PhD Program Faculty” is checked).
Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Program
Classes provide broad training in molecular and cell biology, including genetics, biochemistry, structural biology, immunology, and molecular, cellular, synaptic and developmental neurobiology. Thesis research is available in neuroscience labs within the MCB department, which include molecular/cellular to circuits-level neuroscience research.
>> Go to MCB Graduate Program website
Psychology Graduate Program
Within this program, students can undertake thesis research in Psychology faculty laboratories. Training that is most related to neuroscience falls within 3 areas of specialization: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior; Behavioral Neuroscience; and Change, Plasticity, and Development. This program has no rotations, and students directly enter a specific faculty laboratory.
>> Go to Psychology Graduate Program website
Biophysics Graduate Group
This program focuses on molecular biophysics and systems biology, including selected faculty in neuroscience. Neuroscience areas include systems neuroscience, molecular imaging/optical probes, cellular signaling, structural biology, and brain imaging.
>> Go to Biophysics Graduate Group website
Vision Science Program
This program offers broad training in vision science, eye diseases, and development. Thesis research is available in visual neuroscience, including visual perception, visual system neurophysiology and signaling, development, and control of eye movements.
>> Go to Vision Science Program website
Other programs have some overlap with specific areas of neuroscience, including the Integrative Biology Graduate Program, Bioengineering Program, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and Community Health and Human Development.
Areas of Neuroscience
The Neuroscience PhD Program provides research training in four broad areas of neuroscience: cellular & molecular neuroscience, systems & behavioral neuroscience, human cognition, and computational neuroscience.
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Cellular and molecular neuroscientists at Berkeley study neuronal cell biology, cellular physiology, and molecular and genetic basis of neuron, synapse, and glial function. Specific topics include sensory transduction, cellular-level neuronal development, synaptic transmission and plasticity, ion channel physiology, neurodegenerative disease, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Many faculty develop novel molecular genetic tools to more precisely measure cellular physiology or to develop new therapeutical approaches to disease. Methods from molecular biology, computational biology (bioinformatics), and cellular physiology are often used in this research.
Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience
Systems and behavioral neuroscientists at UC Berkeley study how neural circuits, ensembles, and large-scale neural systems process information in order to interpret the sensory world, make and recall memories, and produce specific behaviors. Our faculty study neural systems for sensory processing (vision, audition, touch), innate behaviors, memory, navigation, motivated behaviors, sleep, circadian rhythms, social behaviors, decision making, and more. This research often involves neurophysiology, imaging, and optogenetics experiments, usually in behaving animals. Computational models of neural circuits, and sophisticated data analysis involving modeling and machine learning, are often used in this research.
Cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley focuses on human cognition and its brain correlates. Our faculty study the human cognitive abilities and neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory, decision making, perception, reasoning, attention, sleep, motor control, etc. Berkeley human cognition labs employ a broad range of experimental techniques, including functional and structural neuroimaging, electrophysiology, brain stimulation, pharmacology, computational modeling, and quantitative behavioral analyses.
Although quantitative methods are used in all sub areas of neuroscience for analyzing complex data sets, the focus of Computational Neuroscience is to model the brain or brain function: computational models can attempt to model experimental data obtained in neurophysiological experiments (biophysically plausible models) or model functions achieved by the brain such as object recognition, language comprehension, symbolic manipulations, etc. A strong mathematical and programming background is required for research in Computational Neuroscience.
Requirements For Application
Minimum requirements for admission.
- A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (for US institutions).
- Submission of GRE scores is optional. If you decide to include GRE scores in your application, use Institution Code 4833 and Program Code 0213.
- At least one year of laboratory research experience.
- Three letters of recommendation. Letters should be from individuals who have supervised work in a laboratory, research, or academic setting and can comment on intellectual ability, creativity, scientific leadership skills, and scholarly potential.
- Evidence of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) is required of international applicants. (For the TOEFL, use Institution Code 4833, no department/program code). More information about the university’s English language proficiency requirements for graduate admissions and under which circumstances an applicant may be exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS can be found on the Graduate Admissions website .
Strong undergraduate preparation for neuroscience includes at least one year of college level coursework in one of the following disciplines: biology, physics, chemistry, calculus, or engineering.
Additional coursework in cognitive science, psychology, biophysics, or neurobiology is advisable.
Applicants should describe their research experience in the Statement of Purpose.
If your GPA is not based on a 4-point scale, please do not convert to this scale. Instead complete the “Other Scale GPA” section on the application.
Applications are reviewed by an admissions committee comprised of faculty and a senior graduate student. The admissions committee review takes into consideration all aspects of an application: transcripts, prior research experience, test scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and the personal history statement.
Top applicants will be invited to one of two virtual interviews visits scheduled for January 29-30 and February 12-13, 2024. During the visit, candidates interview with 5-8 faculty members and interact with current graduate students. The purpose of the interviews are to evaluate applicants’ preparedness for graduate research.
Faculty evaluations from the interviews inform final admissions decisions, which are made shortly after the second virtual interview visit. Official admission offers are sent to successful applicants by early March.
Applicants that are recommended for admission and waitlisted are invited for an in-person visit March 17-19, 2024. During the in-person visit, recruits will interact with current graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty, and attend social events such as a program dinner. The goal of the in-person visit is to introduce new admits and waitlisted applicants to the neuroscience community at Berkeley, both socially and professionally.
Your application has two essays: the Statement of Purpose (SOP) and the Personal History Statement (PHS). In the SOP, you should describe your motivation, preparation and aptitude for PhD study in neuroscience. Please include a description of your prior research experience and accomplishments, with enough detail (for at least one project) to illustrate how you think scientifically. You should also discuss your future research interests and career goals and why you think Berkeley is a good fit for your PhD training. The SOP should be 2-3 double-spaced pages.
In the PHS, you should describe how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. The PHS should not duplicate the SOP but should provide broader context on your personal story and goals. This may include how you overcame barriers to access higher education, how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, your service to advance equitable access to education for under-represented groups, research you may have done that focuses on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, your leadership roles in such groups, and/or your plans in graduate school and your future career to address societal issues. The PHS should be 1-3 double-spaced pages.
Submitting Your Application
For questions about the PhD Program, please contact [email protected] .
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For comprehensive information on university-wide graduate application and admissions processes:
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Home » Best Motivation Letter for Phd: 07 + Samples
Best Motivation Letter for Phd: 07 + Samples
When applying for a PhD program, one of the most important parts of your application will be your motivation letter. This is your chance to sell yourself to the admissions committee and convince them that you are the right candidate for the program. So how do you write a strong motivation letter?
One of the most important things to remember is to tailor your letter to the specific program you are applying to. Every school is looking for something different in their students, so you need to make sure that your letter highlights why you would be a good fit for that particular program. In addition, you need to demonstrate your passion for research and explain how your previous experiences have prepared you for a PhD program.
Finally, remember to proofread your letter carefully before submitting it. A well-written and error-free letter will make a strong impression on the admissions committee and could be the difference between being accepted into the program or not. So take your time and make sure that your motivation letter is the best it can be.
Table of Contents
How To Write Motivation Letter for PhD
Many people believe that a successful PhD application must include a standout motivation letter. While it’s true that your CV and research proposal are important, the motivation letter is your chance to explain why you’re the best candidate for the program. In other words, it’s your chance to sell yourself! When writing a motivation letter for PhD, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, be clear about your goals and what you hope to achieve by pursuing a PhD. Second, make sure to demonstrate your passion for research and highlight your previous successes. Finally, be sure to proofread your letter carefully – mistakes can reflect poorly on your application. By following these tips, you can write a strong motivation letter that will help you get accepted into the PhD program of your choice.
Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (And Get Hired in 2022!)
Motivation Letter for PhD
Dear Sir or Madam,
So, I am writing to apply for a Ph.D. program in your esteemed university.
So, I have always been interested in research and academia, and a Ph.D. is the natural next step for me in my academic journey also, i am confident that I have the necessary skills and qualifications for a successful Ph.D. program, as well as the motivation and commitment to see it through.
Also, I am looking forward to contributing to your university’s research efforts, and I am confident that I can make significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge in my field of interest. So, I would be grateful for the opportunity to pursue a PhD at your institution, and I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Sincerely, Your name
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PhD motivation letter sample
Dear hiring manager,
Also, I am writing to apply for the Ph.D. program at your university. I am immensely excited about this opportunity to pursue my passion for research and contribute to knowledge in my field.
Also, I have always been driven by a deep curiosity and a desire to understand the world around me. My undergraduate studies in psychology gave me a strong foundation in scientific methods and critical thinking. I was particularly drawn to research on human cognition and behavior. My honors thesis, which investigated how people process and remember information, confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in research.
During my Masters’s degree, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant on a number of projects, including a large-scale study of memory and aging. This experience solidified my interest in research and confirmed my desire to pursue a Ph.D.
I am confident that I have the skills and abilities necessary to be successful in a Ph.D. program. In addition to my academic achievements, I have developed strong research and analytical skills through my work experience. So, I am also familiar with a variety of statistical software programs, which will be essential in completing my doctoral research.
So, I am committed to pursuing a career in research and am confident that I have the skills and abilities necessary to be successful in a Ph.D. program. I would be grateful for the opportunity to pursue my studies at your university and contribute to my knowledge in my field.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Related: Great Psychology Motivation Letter : 9+ Samples
Motivation letter for Ph.D. application
Dear hiring committee,
I am writing to apply for the Ph.D. program in your department also i am very interested in pursuing a career in research and academia, and I believe that your program would be an excellent fit for me.
I have a strong academic record, having graduated with honors from my undergraduate and master’s programs and I have also published several research papers in peer-reviewed journals. My research interests include (name a few areas of interest), and I believe that I would be an excellent addition to your department.
I am eager to begin my Ph.D. studies, and I believe that your department would provide me with the necessary resources and support to succeed. I look forward to discussing my application further with you.
Sincerely, (Your name)
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Motivation letter for PhD sample
Dear Scholarship Committee,
I am writing to apply for the PhD program in XXX at XXX University.Also, I am immensely interested in this program as it will allow me to explore my interests in XXX and develop my skills in research and academic writing.
So, I have always been passionate about XXX and have been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to pursue this interest through my studies and work experiences. My undergraduate research project in XXX was particularly instrumental in sparking my interest in pursuing a career in academia. Also, I am confident that I have the skills and motivation necessary to succeed in a PhD program and contribute to the field of XXX.
I would be grateful for your consideration of my application to the XXX PhD program. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Related: 7+ Sample Motivation Letter for Masters Degree
Motivation letter for PhD scholarship
I am writing to apply for the PhD scholarship in your department. Also, I am immensely interested in pursuing a career in research and academia, and I believe that this opportunity would be invaluable in helping me reach my long-term goals.
So, I have completed my undergraduate and masters degrees with excellent grades, and I have been actively involved in research throughout my studies. I am confident that I have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in a PhD program.
In addition, I am passionate about making a difference in the world through my research. My previous work has focused on issues such as climate change and sustainable development, and I believe that my research can contribute to finding solutions to these pressing global problems.
I am confident that I can be a valuable asset to your department. And I look forward to contributing to your research program. I thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Related: Best Motivational Letter For Graduate Program:7 Sample
5 Things To Include Motivation Letter for PhD
A motivation letter for PhD admission plays a significant role in determining whether you will be accepted into the program or not. The Although your transcripts and GRE scores provide valuable information about your academic accomplishments. The motivation letter gives you an opportunity to tell your story and demonstrate your passion for the field. When writing your motivation letter, be sure to include the following five elements:
- First, provide an overview of your academic background and research experience. This will give the admissions committee a sense of your qualifications for the PhD program.
- Next, describe your motivation for pursuing a PhD. What are you hoping to accomplish with your degree? What do you find most exciting about the field of study? Why do you want to attend this particular program?
- Third, explain your research interests. What specific topics are you interested in exploring during your studies? How do these interests align with the research programs of the faculty at this university?
- Fourth, identify your career goals. What do you hope to do after completing your PhD? How will this degree help you achieve those goals?
- Finally, provide a summary of why you believe you would be an excellent candidate for the PhD program. What are some of your unique strengths and experiences that would make you an asset to the university?
By including these five elements in your motivation letter, you will give yourself the best chance of being accepted into the PhD program of your choice.
Related: What is Cover Letter? Complete Guide To Get any Job.
I hope you found this blog helpful as you write your own motivation letter. The most important thing to remember is to be genuine and passionate about your research – admissions officers can tell when a student is simply trying to check off the boxes on a form. So, take your time, be honest with yourself, and let your excitement for learning shine through in your writing. Best of luck as you pursue your academic dreams!
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Letter Of Motivation For Masters In Neuroscience?
hello everyone, am applying for masters in neuroscience. Here is my letter of motivation, kindly go through and make the necessary corrections and criticisms. Please note is a new field, my B.Sc these is not related to the M.sc programme but i offered a course during my undergraduate days.
I am writing to express my interest in applying for a master’s degree program in neuroscience in University of Bremen. I graduated from Kogi State University Anyigba, Nigeria, one of the top-ranked state university in the country and I awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a CGPA of 4.33/5.00. After graduation, I worked as a high school Biology teacher and also had an internship program with Kogi State University Biological Sciences laboratory. I believe my educational background would enable me make a strong contribution in your university.
After graduation my curiosity for plant Biology vaporized, I then shifted my focus to neuroscience which I find really fascinating because of the brain’s ability to learn, how memories are created, connected and how neuronal circuits come together to give rise to extremely sophisticated cognitive processes. Hence, my research interest is focused on Understanding how the memory process works and develops. These two aspect of brain functionality are key points to address solution for neurological disorders that involve one or both processes.
In addition, further studies in neuroscience will provide me with a better understanding of the functions of the normal human brain. This will equip me with the needed knowledge to improve our understanding of neurological disorders such as depression and Alzheimer.
After completing my M.Sc. I hope to continue working as a researcher in the neuroscience field. I also consider the option of having a parallel teaching career in the future, because I find the idea of sharing knowledge with other people extremely fulfilling.
Furthermore, I want to study in University of Bremen because the main focus of the programme is on cognitive neuroscience which is my area of scientific interest. Also, because of its excellent reputation in neuroscience and the number of graduates are quite low which provides the opportunity to interact with the highly qualified teachers/professors every day.
In addition, if I am selected for this programme, I will have the opportunity to learn from the best and the fact that I will study in an international environment will give me the opportunity to create new relationships with people from different cultures.
Finally, I strongly believe my academic qualification and laboratory experience, joined with my passion, enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance will allow me to fit perfectly into your program. I look forward to join this program in order to satisfy my thirst for knowledge in neuroscience and prove my abilities.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
H ello everyone, I am applying for a maste r's in neuroscience. Here is my letter of motivatio n. K indly go through it and make the necessary corrections and amendments. criticisms. Please note this is a new field, and my B.Sc . these is not related to the M. Sc. p rogramm e, but I offered did a related course during my undergraduate days.
I am writing to express my interest in applying for the master’s degree program in neuroscience in the University of Bremen. I graduated from Kogi State University - Anyigba, Nigeria, one of the top-ranked state universit ies in the countr y, and I was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a CGPA of 4.33/5.00. After graduat ing, on, I worked as a high school b iology teacher and also had did an internship program with Kogi State University Biological Sciences L aboratory. I believe my educational background would enable me make a strong contribution in your university.
After graduating from my bachelor's program, my curiosity for interest in plant b iology somewhat diminished, vaporized, and I then shifted my focus shifted to neuroscience which I find really fascinating because of the brain’s ability to learn, how memories are created and connected and as well as how neuronal circuits come together to give rise to extremely sophisticated cognitive processes. Hence, my research interest is focused on u nderstanding how the memory process works and develops. These two aspec ts of brain functionality are key points to address finding solution s for neurological disorders that involve one or both processes.
In addition, further studies in neuroscience will provide me with a better understanding of the functions of the normal human brain. This will equip me with the needed knowledge to improve our my understanding of neurological disorders such as depression and Alzheime r's .
After completing my M.Sc ., I hope to continue working as a researcher in the field of neuroscienc e. field. I will also consider the option of having a parallel teaching career in the future, because I find the idea of sharing knowledge with other people extremely fulfilling.
Furthermore, I want to study in at the University of Bremen because the main focus of the your programme is on cognitive neuroscience which is my area of scientific interest. Also, because of its your excellent reputation in neuroscience and the limited number of post graduate places available are quite low which will provid e me with the opportunity to closely interact with the highly qualified teachers/professors every day.
In addition, I f I am selected for this programme, I will have the opportunity to learn from the bes t, and the fact that I will study in an international environment will give me the opportunity allow me to create new relationships with people from different cultures.
Finally, I strongly believe my academic qualificatio ns and laboratory experience, joined combined with my passion, enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance will allow me to fit perfectly into your program. I look forward to join ing this program in order to satisfy my thirst for knowledge in neuroscience and prove my abilities.
Yours faithfully, sincerely
Thank you for your quick response, I love this.
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PhD position in Neuroscience
Job information, offer description, project title, transient receptor potential (trp) channels as novel target for precision medicine in pain, painful peripheral neuropathy is a debilitating disorder, reflected in reduced quality of life. therapeutic strategies are limited and, in most cases, targeted treatments are not available. transient receptor potential (trp) channels are key cellular sensors of noxious external stimuli at the beginning of the pain pathway. this research project involves the search for recurrent mutations of trp ion channels in patients with severe chronic pain to understand whether there is a genetic predisposition to the development of the pain conditions and to develop personalized therapies to normalize the activity of the mutant channels., the present project is strongly multidisciplinary and combines genetic screening of patients, biophysical study of trp channel variants, use of patient-specific ipsc-derived sensory neurons, and rational design of trp channel modulators., to this end, we use functional techniques, including patch clamp electrophysiology and cellular imaging, to measure ion channel activity and the effects of mutations and pharmacological agents on the biophysical properties of ion channels. in addition, we employ animal models that mimic neuropathic pain conditions to conduct preclinical testing of potential therapies., principal investigator and host laboratory:.
Roberta Gualdani, Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), UCLouvain, Belgium.
The candidate should hold a master's degree in Neuroscience, Biology, Medicine, Chemistry, Biomedical and Health Sciences or related fields at the start of the position. In addition, the candidate should have a keen interest in ion channel biophysics and pain signaling.
The candidate should be fluent in English and/or French.
The application should include a complete CV, a motivation letter explaining why the applicant is best suited for this project, and 2 letters of recommendation.
Work location(s), where to apply.
Student assistant position (m/f/d) | Real-time data analytics dashboard for tracking drug resistant Malaria
Job Code: 1511-2023
The Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (MPIIB) in Berlin-Mitte is an institution of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science and is one of the leading research institutes in the field of immunology and infectious diseases.
In the research group Malaria Parasite Biology Laboratory we are offering a part-time Student assistant position (m/f/d) - real-time data analytics dashboard for tracking drug resistant Malaria.
Malaria causes over half a million deaths annually, of which 95% are in children below the age of five. In 2021 drug resistant malaria was detected in Eastern Africa and is now spreading, threating to undermine currently available treatments and causing major concern in the public health sector.
Our team uses portable genome sequencing technologies to track drug resistant malaria, working closely with researchers and public health institutes in Zambia, Namibia, Kenya, DRC and Nigeria. We develop both laboratory techniques for genome sequencing of malaria in low-resource settings, and software tools to support data analysis, statistical modelling, and visualisation.
- Develop and optimise a real-time data analytics dashboard for tracking drug resistant malaria from genome sequencing data
- An initial version exists in Python using the Dash software library. Your tasks will involve adding new features, improving architecture and implementation, testing the dashboard, and collecting and responding to feedback from users.
- Strong Python
- Experience with OOP, including knowledge of SOLID principles / Software Design Patterns
- Comfortable with unit testing and using git
- Fluent in English
The payment is above the statutory minimum wage.
Please send your application (including a CV, certificates, and motivation letter) in one single document to Dr. Jason Hendry ( [email protected] ) until 11th December 2023 .
We look forward to hearing from you!