Aug 2, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

If you’re wondering what an acceptance letter is, you should read this.  Here’s what it is: the letter you need to write to the graduate program that’s accepted you and the one which you plan to attend.

Why do you need to write it?  You need to accept an offer formally.  This means you need to write it.  And it needs to be good.  Really good.  And really short. 

Why?  It shows your commitment to the program and respect to the program faculty who accepted it.

Follow these simple steps to writing a great acceptance letter.


1. Take your time…

…But not too much time.  Regardless of how you’re notified—phone, email, or formal letter, don’t say yes immediately.  This can be hard, especially if you receive a phone call.

Why shouldn’t you accept immediately?  Give yourself time to think, share your good news with family and friends, and most importantly, thank those who helped you earn that acceptance. 

Within one to two weeks of learning of your acceptance, write a thoughtful letter accepting the offer.

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.  Your first sentence should state something to the effect of this:

“I am writing to accept your offer to enroll in [program] at [university].”

Read on.


2. Be enthusiastic.

While it’s great to be excited and to express your excitement, your acceptance letter shouldn’t have exclamation points!  At all!

Something like this works well:

“I am delighted to accept your invitation to begin graduate studies at [university].

Bottom line?  Make it clear that you’re happy to be there and looking forward to it. 


3. Discuss important or upcoming issues.

This is the place to address anything that was brought up in the acceptance phone call, email, or acceptance letter.

Make sure that your student ID number is obvious, if necessary, and ensure that you’ve clearly stated the program to which you’ve been accepted.  If, in the acceptance, you’re invited to an open house or a department meeting, indicate that you will attend.  If you need to make an appointment with your advisor, indicate that you will. 

Sometimes, formal acceptance letters from universities ask you about housing or indicate paperwork that you need to fill out.

Address their requests succinctly.  If you’ll need housing, state it, and state the presence of any attachments with your letter (see #4).


4. List all the attachments.

Any forms that your program or university sent should be returned with your acceptance letter, and listed at the end.  If you’re sending payment, please indicate that too.

Your list of attachments can be in bullet form after your closing, or summed up in a closing paragraph.


5. End politely.

Thank the admissions committee again for their offer and indicate your excitement.  End with “Yours truly” or “Sincerely” in closing.  Be sure to leave space for your signature.  Write your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.


6. Don’t forget to write your declined offer letters, too.

Hopefully, you received more offers than you can accept.  Be sure to write polite letters declining the offers you don’t intend to accept. 

Make it short, direct, and respectful.

Bottom line?  Don’t burn any bridges that you may need to cross in the future.  You never know, do you?

Congratulations!  You’ve written your acceptance letter.  Now off you go! 

Learn more about graduate programs


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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