Study in Canada: How to Write a Motivational Letter

Do you want to study in Canada? Have the perfect university in mind but aren’t sure how to write the perfect motivational letter? Not to worry, if this is something you generally struggle with, you’re not alone. There a certain tricks to writing an effective letter to motivate your application to study at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

What is a DLI?

A Designated Learning Institution or DLI is a government-approved university or college where International students are allowed to enroll to get a Canadian qualification. There are over 300 to choose from nationwide and once you’ve chosen your perfect university or college, the last thing you want to do is spoil your chances by messing up your motivational letter.

There are currently over 530,500 international students in Canada, with more than 400,000 new Canada student visas issued every year, 60 percent of which will more than likely plan to apply for permanent residency once they’ve graduated.

Ready to get motivated and tell your university or college of choice why they should accept your application?

Take a look at these top tips for how to write a motivational letter to study abroad in one of the most dynamic countries in the world.

How to Write a Great Motivational Letter for a University Application

African American man celebrating reading letter | study in Canada

Most Master’s programs in Canada require submitting a motivational letter with your application. Admissions departments take this very seriously as it speaks to your character, goals, ambitions, and commitment.

What is a motivational letter?

A motivational letter or cover letter is an important part of the international university/college application process. It explains why you think you’d be a good fit for your study program and the university as well as how you arrived at your decision for both. Essentially, a well-written motivational letter could be the difference between being accepted or rejected.

It's important to note that this could also be referred to as a statement of purpose but is not the same thing as a personal statement. Both have personal elements however, a personal statement is more focused on the past whereas a motivational letter will focus on your future plans

Step 1: Research university/college requirements

Before you start to write anything it’s always best to do as much research about your chosen institution as well as the program you intend to apply to. Make sure to make note of any compulsory requirements as well as any expectations they may have regarding qualifications and the qualities they’re looking for in applicants. Take a look at some of the main activities and projects at the university and make sure that you align yourself with the university's interests.

Step 2: List of Main Points

Before you start writing, make sure you jot down the main points that you wish to cover in your motivational letter to study in Canada. Below are some tips on how to approach this planning step:

Planning Topics to Cover in Your Letter

  1. Write down main ideas;
  2. Have a clear goal ie. short preview of the letter;
  3. Points of interest in your university or program;
  4. Focus on strongest and most relevant qualifications, past international experiences, qualities you possess;
  5. Keep it short and concise (half a page to one-page max);
  6. Choose either a 3 or 5 paragraph structure;
  7. Sources of inspiration in life - what set you on your current path; and
  8. Summary of main points and your main goal ie. to get accepted to the program.

Top Tip: in your final paragraph make sure to restate your interest and show appreciation for the opportunity to apply. You could even ask for a personal interview, just make sure that you keep it short and to the point.

Tips for giving reasons to study in Canada

When giving your reasons for applying, be careful of how you phrase your intentions and reasons to study abroad. For example,

Don’t Say:

  • I just wanted to get out of my country.
  • I want to meet and marry someone “international.”
  • My friend tried it, and it sounded fun.

Rather Say:

  • I anticipate developing both personally and professionally from an international experience.
  • I have a deep interest in the culture, history, and language of the country, which I am excited to continue to explore and experience.
  • As someone who prides themselves on their ability to communicate across cultures, I believe I would be the perfect fit for a program that incorporates students from around the globe.

Tips for work experience abroad

Many recruiters look at whether or not international students have the right experience and are prepared to meet the challenges of living and studying abroad. Here are some great ways to get this across,

Don’t Say:

  • I have never traveled or lived abroad, but I think I will like it.
  • Every time I have traveled it was a bad experience, but I’m hoping this time will be different.

Rather Say:

  • Although I have never lived or studied abroad before, I love to travel and experience new cultures, and therefore, I’m looking for an opportunity to expand my horizons while doing something I love.
  • Although I have never been abroad, I have done a lot of research to make sure this country is the right match for me. I also look forward to the challenge of living and studying independently abroad, which I am sure I am ready to handle.

Tips to convey your personality

Chances are that you are not going to be the only international student at your university. Whether introverted or extroverted, recruiters need to know that you will be able to adjust to your new environment and handle multicultural interactions with maturity.

Don’t Say:

  • I’m always the life of the party or the loudest in the room, so I know I will make friends easily.
  • I plan on keeping to myself so that I will not upset or offend anyone.

Rather Say:

  • I am the kind of person who gets along well with others due to being open and considerate of people and their beliefs.
  • Above all else, I pride myself on my cultural sensitivity when I find myself in the company of others who do not share a similar background as mine.

Step 3: Make it Personal

When writing your cover letter it is important to show the admissions committee a little bit of personality and give them some insight into who you are. Reading through generic letter after generic letter can be tiresome and you want to stand out among the thousands of applications and make sure that you are in the chosen 400,000 students! If need be work from a template but always make it your own.

There is no real standardized format but below is an example template that you can use.

Template of motivational letter | study in Canada

Step 4: Make it professional and consistent

When it comes down to the look, format, style, length, or grammar, your first impression is what matters the most and as an international student, this is the opportunity you’ll have to not only get an interview but potentially get accepted!

Make sure that you spell check, check for any inconsistencies like different font styles and sizes as well as typos. Keep sentences as short as possible and try not to use overly complicated phrasing. Also, edit your letter to ensure that you haven’t repeated yourself unnecessarily.

Step 5: Get feedback

If you are unsure of anything, it costs nothing to get a second opinion from someone you trust, whether it be from a friend, family member, or someone who has written a motivational letter before. Make sure that your enthusiasm shines through in your letter. It's that sense of desire and ambition that will more than likely win the university admissions department over.

How to Get a Study Permit for Canada

happy young female student studying at the college library using laptop  | study in Canada

When applying to study in Canada, you will need a confirmation letter from your university or college. This must be a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Studying at a DLI will give you access to stay on and work in Canada if you like.

Remember, you can already start racking up those hours of Canadian experience by working up to 20 hours per week as a student, part-time or full-time during vacation periods. Having work experience in Canada will stand you in good stead when searching for a job later.

To apply for a Canada study visa, all you will need is:

Study Permit Requirements

  • Acceptance letter;
  • A valid passport or travel document;
  • Proof you can support yourself during your stay in Canada.

infographic top reasons to study in Canada | study in Canada

Taking the Next Step

Making the choice to study in Canada is a big step and when doing so you want to ensure that you have not only met all the requirements but have made a good impression and put your best foot forward. There are challenges that you will face not only as an international student in Canada but also as a foreigner in a new country. The best steps you can take when applying for your Canada student visa is to make sure you meet your DLI’s requirement and that you submit a motivational letter that communicates your intentions, your goal, and your reasons to study at your chosen institution.

Need help? Why not use our services and get access to your very own student advisor?