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Master's and PhD degrees: here's how to craft a cover letter for a program

05.06.2024

Writing a cover letter is essential for a variety of reasons, especially when applying for an academic master's or doctoral program. Drafting it requires objectivity, conciseness, and a good structure. Through it, the candidate has the opportunity to express, initially, their enthusiasm in participating in the selection process and their expectations of being approved.

The Public Administration and Government Program (CMCD APG) of the School of Business Administration of São Paulo (FGV EAESP) and the Professional Master's Degree in Economics (MPE) of the EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance (FGV EPGE) provided ten non-exhaustive tips for those interested in applying for the selection process for admission in 2025:

Introduction: The applicant must introduce himself succinctly, mentioning his name, academic and professional background, as well as his motivation for applying to the Program.

Motivation and objectives: Start your letter by explaining your motivation and goals. Describe why you chose to pursue an academic master's or doctoral degree, specifically in Public Administration, and how this aligns with your career prospects.

Connections to the program: Show that you know the program and understand what makes it appropriate for your goals. Comment on the lines of research and projects that align with your interests. The candidate must highlight the reasons why he or she considers himself or herself able and motivated to enroll in the course. This can include a passion for the field, a desire to hone analytical and research skills, and a willingness to contribute meaningfully to your field. In addition, it is important to highlight the reputation of the institution, the quality of the faculty, the infrastructure offered, the relevance of the program to your professional goals, among other aspects.

Academic and professional career: Tell us what you did, where you did it, and how you got here. Don't leave gaps in your resume. Include experiences that demonstrate your aptitude for the field. Very important: present an updated version of your CV on the Lattes Platform. The applicant must describe his/her relevant accomplishments in professional life. This can include work experiences, projects conducted, publications, participation in events in the area, among others. The goal is for the candidate to be able to demonstrate that the candidate has a solid foundation of experience and knowledge that will contribute to the program.

Professors and research of interest: If there are specific teachers whose work you admire or want to work with directly, mention them in your letter. This shows your interest in the program. Here, the candidate should discuss how they believe the program will be useful in their professional life. This can include acquiring new knowledge and skills, expanding one's network of contacts, accessing differentiated career opportunities, among other benefits.

Knowledge of the field: Demonstrate your understanding of the area by discussing emerging and current themes and challenges in the area you intend to explore. It is always good and demonstrates knowledge, to present some renowned authors on the topic of interest.

Research Experience: Comment on any research work you've done. If there are publications in national and international journals or presentations at scientific events, mention them. If you are applying for a master's or direct doctorate but do not have research experience, please explain your interests and how they align with those of the program."

Results and impact: Highlight the impact of your research, whether academic, practical, or social. Include contributions to public policy, improvements in management practices, or theoretical advances.

Methodological experiments: Show that you have relevant methodological skills, either through quantitative or qualitative methods.

Initial Research Proposal: If you are a PhD candidate, submit an initial research proposal, showing your ability to formulate research problems and familiarity with the literature and methodologies.

Knowledge of the English language: Knowledge of English is recommended, especially for PhD candidates, due to the program's growing effort to seek the internationalization of its activities. Highlight that knowledge.

Conclusion: In this topic, the applicant should reiterate his/her interest and willingness to contribute meaningfully to the program.

These tips are just suggestions to assist in the application process. The absence of any of these does not eliminate the candidate from the selection process, nor does it restrict the consideration of his or her application.

Learn more about the Public Administration and Government Program at FGV's School of Business Administration (EAESP) and the Professional Master's Degree in Economics (MPE) at EPGE's Brazilian School of Economics and Finance (FGV EPGE).

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