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I wonder if my motivation letter is strong enough or not. I have written the following letter for a Physics PhD position in a research group. This research group is working on applications of topological materials in spintronics (fancy terms, you can just ignore them if you don't understand them). And I am very much interested to explore this field on the applications side. I don't want to miss this Ph.D.

So, I want to request you to please read my letter of motivation and find the mistakes. I will really appreciate if you please highlight which one is stronger?


Version 1:

Dear Professor X,

I am writing to apply for a Ph.D. in Physics program, in which I am enormously interested. The degree from one of the most prestigious universities will not only enrich my knowledge but also help me in the purse of my personal and professional goals. My professional goal is to be a full-time researcher while my personal goal is to explore and learn an “idea” on a deep level and get an advance degree in it.

My research during MS was concentrated on developing a method to understand phase transitions from trivial insulator to a topological insulator. The method which I developed did not only visualize the topological phase transitions but also recover the well-known Mott-Insulator transition which occurs at a finite value of the interaction. I wrote the results of this exploration in a research article which get published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter in Oct 2018. My future interests are to explore these materials on a deeper level, especially the potential applications of these materials. This motivates me to join your research group as a Ph.D. student.

In my Bachelor’s program, my main focus was solid state physics and its applications in electronic devices. I took four courses about it which introduced me with the basic formalism of condensed matter physics. Other than this, I completed a self-motivated project named “Dip Coater” – a mechanical device that can coat any solid material with a thin (as thin as a micrometer) layer of other metallic or insulator liquid. After completion of this project, I presented it at Annual Project Competition 2014, UOG and won a prize of 30,000 pkrs.

I am not only motivated for a Ph.D. in this exciting field but also prepared. I have taken a research level course about topological materials (PHYS-566). The outline of this course was pretty much diverse, we started with simple one-dimensional models like Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model and explored the complex systems like quantum Spin Hall systems, Weyl semi-metals, fractional and anomalous quantum Hall systems. This course introduced me with the basic concepts and mathematical techniques (i.e. winding numbers and Rashba type spin-orbital coupling) of this field and enhanced my interests to the new levels. Moreover, I know two programming languages FORTRAN and MATLAB on an advanced level. In my research work during MS, I used these two languages.

To sum up, I am at the beginning of the road to my professional and personal goals, but I have already attained a substantial progress in it. I aspire to start research in your research group in order to obtain urgently needed research skills to make further progress on this road. My education, interests and skills prove that I am basically motivated and prepared to apply for a Ph.D. program in this stimulating field.


Yours faithfully,



Version 2:

Dear Professor X,

I am writing to apply for the Ph.D. in Physics program, in which I am enormously interested. The degree from one of the most prestigious universities will not only enrich my knowledge but also help me in the purse of my personal and professional goals.

I am the kind of person who always dreamt about being the creator of an extraordinary piece of knowledge that can be used for the preparation of unbelievable innovations. So, my professional goal is to be a full-time researcher while my personal goal is to explore and learn an “idea” on a deep level and get an advanced degree in it.

When I came to know that one of the most exotic phases of matter that are discovered in recent decade is the topological phase of matter, I decided to do my research in this field during my MS. My research was concentrated on developing a method to understand phase transitions from trivial insulator to a topological insulator. The method which I developed did not only visualized the phase transitions but also recovered the well-known Mott-Insulator transition at a finite value of the interaction. The results of my explorations were highly appreciated by my supervisor and we decided to write the results in a research article. This research article was published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter in Sept 2018.

During my research about this field, I also come to know about the variants of topological insulator i.e. Haldane’s anomalous quantum Hall effect and Kane’s quantum spin Hall effect, and the potential of these matchless phases of matter i.e. resistant-free charge transport, topological superconductors, and quantum computers. The idea to harvest these exotic phenomena for the development of science and technology is what motivates me to get a Ph.D. in this field. And I know that your research group is extremely active in the field of Spintronics – a field which is going to take control of the next generation of electronics. A Ph.D. in this field will help me understand the potential applications of these materials in next-level electronics.

My ride on the ladder of education has been pretty much self-motivated and innovative at a personal level. In my Bachelor’s degree, I used to read about different basic level and advance lever research article and present them to my group of friends. When this action caught sight of one of our professors, he decided to arrange a poster presentation competition in the department. It was 2013 when the first departmental poster presentation was arranged and I was the first person who presented his poster. This competition became a yearly practice in the physics department and was arranged in 2014 and 2015. The most prestigious project that I completed and presented there was a “Dip Coater” – a mechanical device that can coat any solid material with a thin (as thin as a micrometer) layer of other metallic or insulator liquid. My self-motivation can also be visualized by the fact that even although my main research field has been topological insulators, I learned density functional theory software (VASP, Wien2K), entanglement in condensed matter many-body systems, and basics of DMRG. However, I don’t have any solid source to prove my skills in these fields. But I helped in the research work of a friend who was studying β-SiTe in 2D using VASP. It can be verified from the acknowledgment section of his thesis. Nowadays, I am working on distinguishing the phases of the interacting Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model using entanglement spectra.

Since studying at the university, I have been steadily developing management, communication and presentation skills. These skills were the reason that I get a job of Lecturer of Physics YYY. In my one year of this job, I didn’t only win the Teacher of the year award but also organized one sports event and coached my class team. In the end, my team won the tournament of Cricket. My management skills can also be elaborated by the fact that I was doing two teaching jobs (other was on ZZZ) and yet I was able to manage my time to keep myself connected with research. That is how I won an MS scholarship at XXX University.

I am not only motivated for a Ph.D. in this exciting field but also prepared. I have taken the research level course about topological phases (PHYS-566). The outline of this course was pretty much diverse, we started with simple one-dimensional models like Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model and explored the complex systems like quantum Spin Hall systems and fractional quantum Hall systems. This course introduced me with basic concepts and mathematical techniques (i.e. winding number) of this field and enhanced my interest to the new levels. Moreover, I know two programming languages FORTRAN and MATLAB on an advanced level. In my research work during MS, I used these two languages.

To sum up, I am at the beginning of the road to my professional and personal goals, but I have already attained a substantial progress in it. I aspire to start research in your research group in order to obtain urgently needed research skills to make further progress on this road. My education, interests, motivation, and skills prove that I am basically prepared to apply for a Ph.D. program in this stimulating field.

Yours faithfully,

+1

Both letters are good for different reasons. I would like to add that there are many idiomatic and grammar errors. That might not be a big problem in your field of study, though, so I don't know how dedicated or concerned you would be about that. It is easy to read and understand your writing. Many in your field are second language students of English, and I know from my contact with professors in the fields of physics, engineering, and math that their writing is often full of grammatically errors. I think they read only for content. Still, I would prefer your writing to be less cluttered with such errors.

I think there are good elements in both letters. Do you have a word or page limit? If you don't, I think you should incorporate some of the more personal explanation in the second letter into the first.

Comments  
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Thank you so much for your reply. Actually, there is a page limit of maximum one page for this letter. The second version makes nearly two pages while the first version fits on one page. I posted both versions to give everything about myself. Now, as you have explained that the second version has more personal details, and I think it is better to skip personal details in a motivation letter rather than skipping academic details.


I have rewritten the first version to minimized the grammar errors. I request you to please highlight the grammatic error in the following letter

I am writing to apply for a Ph.D. in Physics program in which I am enormously interested. The degree from one of the most prestigious universities will not only enrich my knowledge but also help me in the pursuit of my personal and professional goals. My professional goal is to be a full-time researcher while my personal goal is to explore and learn an “idea” on a deep level and get a higher degree in it.

My research during MS was concentrated on developing a method to understand phase transitions from trivial insulator to a topological insulator. The method which I developed not only visualizes the topological phase transitions but also recovers the well-known Mott-Insulator transition which occurs at a finite value of the interaction. I wrote the results of this exploration in a research article which got published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter in Oct 2018. My future interests are to explore these materials on a deeper level, especially the potential applications of these materials. This motivates me to join your research group as a Ph.D. student.

In my Bachelor’s program, my main focus was solid state physics and its applications in electronic devices. I took four courses about it which introduced me with the basic formalism of condensed matter physics. Other than this, I completed a self-motivated project named “Dip Coater” – a mechanical device that can coat any solid material with a thin (as thin as a micrometer) layer of other metallic or insulator liquid. After completion of this project, I presented it at Annual Project Competition 2014, UOG (<country name>) and won a prize of $X.

I am not only motivated for a Ph.D. in this exciting field but also prepared. I have taken a research level course about topological materials (PHYS-566). The outline of this course was pretty much diverse, we started with simple one-dimensional models like Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model and explored the complex systems like quantum Spin Hall systems, Weyl semi-metals, fractional and anomalous quantum Hall systems. This course introduced me with the basic concepts and mathematical techniques (i.e. winding numbers and Rashba type spin-orbital coupling) of this field and enhanced my interests. Moreover, I have an advanced level knowledge of Fortran and MATLAB which I used in my research project during MS.

To sum up, I am at the beginning of the road to my professional and personal goals, but I have already attained a substantial progress in it. I aspire to start research in your research group in order to obtain urgently needed research skills to make further progress on this road. My education, interests and skills prove that I am basically motivated and prepared to apply for a Ph.D. program in this growing field.

I took the liberty of making some corrections for you, rather than point them out to you. I added in some articles, changed preposition, and made a few other small changes. I included other comments in parentheses. Here is your revised letter:


I am writing to apply for a Ph.D. in Physics program in which I am enormously interested. A degree from one of the most prestigious universities would not only enrich my knowledge but also help me in the pursuit of my personal and professional goals. My professional goal is to be a full-time researcher, while my personal goal is to explore and learn an “idea” (learn an idea doesn’t make sense) on a deep level and get (better word than “get”) a higher degree in it.

My research during MS concentrated on developing a method to understand phase transitions from a trivial insulator to a topological insulator. The method which I developed not only visualizes the topological phase transitions but also recovers the well-known Mott-Insulator transition which occurs at a finite value of the interaction. I wrote the results of this exploration in a research article which was published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter in October of 2018. My future interests are to explore these materials on a deeper level, especially the potential applications of these materials. This motivates me to join your research group as a Ph.D. student.

During my bachelor’s program, my main focus was solid state physics and its applications in electronic devices. I took four courses about it, which introduced me with the basic formalism of condensed matter physics. Other than this, I completed a self-motivated project named “Dip Coater” – a mechanical device that can coat any solid material with a thin (as thin as a micrometer) layer of another metallic or insulator liquid. After completion of this project, I presented it at the Annual Project Competition 2014, UOG (<country name>) and won a prize of $X.

I am not only motivated to obtain a Ph.D. in this exciting field, but I am also prepared to do so. I have taken a research level course on topological materials (PHYS-566). The outline of this course was quite diverse; we started with simple one-dimensional models like the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model and explored the complex systems like quantum Spin Hall systems, Weyl semi-metals, fractional, and anomalous quantum Hall systems. This course introduced me to the basic concepts and mathematical techniques (i.e. winding numbers and Rashba type spin-orbital coupling) of this field and fostered my interest in it. Moreover, I have an advanced level knowledge of Fortran and MATLAB, which I used in my research project during MS.

To sum up, I am at the beginning of the road to my professional and personal goals, but I have already attained substantial progress in it. I aspire to start research in your research group in order to obtain urgently needed research skills to further progress on this road. My education, interests, and skills prove that I am very motivated and prepared to apply for a Ph.D. program in this growing field.