I have done my master's from an institute in Asia in 2021 and I planned to write for PhD in Pure Math in 2022 in France. One prof suggested me to also apply to 1 year Research Masters(M2) in France called Fondamentales Mathematique.

I have to supply a cover letter for scholarship applications and I am confused on how to write them.

My approach:

Dear Sir/madam, I am applying to M2 Research in Mathematics program of University of X because this program is very well suited to my aim of doing PhD research in [Branch Y of Math] after completing master’s studies. M2 program will allow me to gain more specialized knowledge in [Branch Y of Math] and other branches of Pure Mathematics. Although, I have completed my Masters in Mathematics in 2021 from institute Z but ... . France has a lot of researchers working in number theory and so it will also help me in getting in contact with them and discussing PhD research opportunities. 2 paragraphs describing my interests and motivation in [Branch Y of Math].

2 paragraphs describing work done by me in my Master's thesis in institute Z in 2nd year of my master's.

last 1 para.



The length of the letter of motivation is 2 pages and 70 % of a page is taken by explaining the work I did in my master's thesis because I did very detailed study of 5 papers and I can't squeeze an explanation of that in less than 70% of a page.

Is it a good way of writing a motivation letter?


3 Answers 3


General answer

Points customarily expected, when applying to a master's program in France, are:

  • Are you a good fit for the master, from an academic point of vue? Do you have all the pre-requisites? Will you be able to follow? This is especially important for foreign students - if you already have a master, you should cover its contents quickly in your letter. Also, did you check what language the classes will be in? Universities with classes in English only are rare, so your knowledge of the French language should be mentionned.
  • Is the master a good fit for you regarding what you want to do next? This is where you talk about your research interests, why this specific master is intersting for you, and so forth.

Points to consider

1 Prof suggested me to also apply to 1 year Research Masters(M2) in France called Fondamentales Mathematique.

  1. There is no master called "Fondamentales Mathematique" in France, but there are masters in "Mathématiques Fondamentales" (it is a field, not a lab name!). What makes this specific masters program interesting for you, compared to all the others existing on the same topic?
  2. Can you mention this teacher? Does he know the people on the committee? Did he already send students here?

Letter structure

To go back on your specific letter, here is what I would suggest:


My name is A, and I just obtained a masters in Mathematics from institute B, specialized in X. As I am interested in field Y, and intend to do a PhD in it, prof Z suggested I should broaden my knowledge of the field by coming to your program.

I am very interested in coming to your masters, as it teaches bla, bla and bla, which are essential to learn about Y. (You need to be specific about the masters!) I am also particularly enthusiastic about meeting researchers working on Y, and discussing with them about research and PhD opportunities (if you can, be specific about the researchers!).

Field Y interesses me because ... (though it's likely not the most relevant paragraph)

During my previous master, I have studied the necessary prerequisites (Add info about your grades and achievements here! This part is important and missing.) During my masters, I also did my master's thesis on ... Lastly, following classes in French will not be a problem, since...

If you can add a paragraph on what you can bring to the lab, like relations with researchers you know or worked with..., it's a plus.

A version of "Thank you for reading, I am at your disposal for any further information you might need".



I am not sure if using sir/madam is usual in France. That's Indian subcontinental style. Usually, in western countries, supervisors are addressed as Dr. . So, first of all, I would ask you to make sure of this thing.

In the first paragraph, instead of saying France has lots of researchers, I would say more about the institution and/or the supervisor. This will make an impression that you are interested in the institute itself, not any place in France.

The rest of the structure looks good. The overall letter will depend on how you write your experiences, motivation, and other staff.

  • 1
    It’s common in France to start with « Madame, monsieur… ». But it is good to address the person with his/her title.
    – Chopin
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 10:17

I would not write “France has a lot of researchers”; you should specify which researchers you want to work with at the university you’re applying to. So while much of your cover letter will discuss your thesis work, you also need to include how your interests and goals intersect with the work and labs of your potential professors.

  • do you mind writing a detailed answer?
    – user135061
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 8:17

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