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Write a successful motivation letter for your Masters

by Alexandru Giurca
It is very common nowadays that European
universities that ofer diferent international Masters degree programs, ask applicants to
send a number of important documents like: C!, transcript of records, "achelors degree
diploma, language certi#cate etc but one of the key documents re$uired that might make
the diference and assure you a place in your desired Masters program is the motivation
The motivation letter (or cover letter) is probably the most personalized document of your application
considering that you actually get the chance to write a presentation about yourself accompanying your
CV. By requiring a motivation letter the !asters recruiting committee o"ers you the chance to prove
yourself in a short document shaped as a letter in which you are supposed to give some relevant and
interesting insights about yourself prove that you are the right and most motivated person to be
chosen for participating in the program.
#riting such a letter can prove to be sometimes tric$y and challenging for some applicants who often
%nd themselves wondering how the letter should loo$ li$e what it should contain and how to convince
coordinators that they are the right ones to be chosen for the program.
The internet is pac$ed with di"erent websites that o"er tips and tric$s on such letters. By simply
typing motivation letter on any of the consecrated search engines you will %nd a vast number of
e&amples of di"erent motivation letters with structural and content details.
This article will focus on a few $ey points drawn from personal e&periences that proved e"ective in my
case and will hopefully be useful in helping you write a good cover letter'
%o your homework
Before starting on your motivation letter it is best you %nd out as much as possible about the
university that is o"ering the !asters programme and about the program itself. (sually the
universities) website is pretty clear and informative about their requirements e&pectations and about
what quali%cations and qualities they hope their candidates have. *nowing a little bit about their
requirements about their main pro+ects activities personal philosophy and interests will help you get
an idea on what your letter should contain. ,elating with the main activities and interests of the
university will de%nitely help start a positive cooperation.
Ideas and main points
-tart with writing down some of the main ideas important points you would li$e to approach in your
letter and later build around them enrich their content. an e&ample would be '
/. !a$e your goal clear. provide a short preview of the rest of the letter.
0. #hy do you thin$ that the university and the !asters program are interesting and suitable for
you1 .
2. 3ocus on some of your strongest quali%cations past e&periences (international e&periences are
always relevant) and qualities. organize the middle paragraphs in terms of the quali%cations most
relevant for the program you can also refer to your CV for more details.
4. Conclude by restating your interest and show appreciation for the chance to prove yourself in
the letter (in some cases you can as$ for a personal interview).
&ersonal ' (riginal
5ive your readers some insight into you as an individual. ,emember this is a very personal document
in which you are e&pected to prove that you are di"erent from the rest of the applicants and that your
qualities s$ills and quali%cations ma$e you suitable for participating in the program. 6lthough it might
be sometimes helpful to have other e&amples do not copy other letters you have seen and try to be
original it will help a lot7 6lso avoid bragging too much about yourself. 8ou are not e&pected to present
yourself as a superhero but rather be ob+ective and realistic.
)irst impression
#hether it is the way your letter loo$s the way it is organized and structured in paragraphs the font
size the length of the letter or even the %rst paragraph %rst impression always counts7
"e professional and consistent
9resent your letter in a professional format style and grammar. :ave it chec$ed for spelling mista$es
and be consistent (e.g. use the same font the same abbreviations throughout the letter etc.).
(ther opinions and advice
;t is always a good idea to as$ your friends a teacher or someone who has already done such an
application for advice. (sually you can get in touch with students who are already doing the !asters
programme you are applying for and they can give good advice not only on what to include in your
motivation letter. :owever as already stated before remember to be original and avoid copying other
6ll these presented $ey points can prove e"ective and help you write successful motivation letters but
in the end your personal touch and $nowledge is what matters and ma$es the di"erence. 6 good
motivation letter will always be successful if the applicant is really interested and willing to get the
desired place in the !asters program of his<her choice. #hat you really need is to trust in yourself and
try it and if you are not successful the %rst time $eep on trying because you will for sure ma$e it.
5ood luc$ with your applications7
=eutscher 6$ademischer 6ustausch =ienst
5erman 6cademic >&change -ervice
:ow to #rite a ?etter of !otivation
#hen applying for a graduate programme leading to !aster@s degree in 5ermany
applicants are requested to submit
a letter of motivation (sometimes also called Astatement of purposeB). These letters
of motivation play an important
role in the selection process. ,egrettably however they often fail to convince any
member of a selection committee.
:ow do you write a successful letter of motivation1
/. Ta$e your time and start early. The letter of motivation is a crucial document in
your application. Cever try to write
it down in one evening.
0. =o not start your letter of motivation by repeating your CV.
2. The letter of motivation should answer the following questions'
#hat is your professional goal1 ;n which sector would you li$e to wor$ after
obtaining your !aster@s degree1
;n which way do you intend to contribute to the social political or technical
development of your home
country once you are in a respective position1 (8ou may refer to $nowledge from
boo$s and newspapers as
well as to your professional or personal e&perience. -ome facts and %gures are
highly welcome.)
#hy do you apply for the chosen !aster@s programme1 #hich of the courses
o"ered in this programme are
particularly bene%cial in pursuing your professional goals1 (!a$e sure you are well
#hy do you thin$ you are the right person for this programme1
D #hat $nowledge and s$ills gathered in your previous education will be useful1
D :ave you already gathered any relevant professional e&perience1
D :ave you gathered any relevant e&perience as a member of any organization1
(-tudents association
C5E political party volunteer service F ;f so submit proof of your membership <
your social
D :ow do you estimate your own personality1 =o you thin$ you are a good leader1
6re you somebody
who can ma$e a di"erence1 #hat ma$es you thin$ so1 (>mphasize your strong
points but be realistic.)
#hy do you want to study in 5ermany1
D #hat do you $now about the 5erman university system and the speci%cs of
studying in 5ermany1 (Visit to learn more.) =o you e&pect it to be di"erent form studying at
your home university1 ;f
so in which way1 (5ather more information and tal$ to people who studied at a
5erman university.)
D ;s there anything in 5ermany (society political system economyF) which you
thin$ could serve as a
model for your own country1 Try to get some reading material from 5erman
organizations visit the
website (also ma$e use of the lin$s) or the website of
the 5erman
>mbassy ( and try to ma$e contact to 5ermans or people
who have lived in
D (3or technical sub+ects) ;s there any technology developed in 5ermany which you
would li$e to apply in
9a$istan1 #hich one e&actly1 #hy1
D 6re there any 5erman organizations institutions or companies you would li$e to
visit or learn more
about1 #hy1
4. !a$e sure your letter of motivation is well composed. 3irst reGect on all the above
questions ta$e notes read
more discuss with friends. Then write an outline. Then write the te&t. (Cot all of the
above questions have to be
addressed7) =o not include the outline or the questions in your te&t.
H. 6pply an appropriate style of writing'
D 6void all $ind of platitudes Gowery phrases and Gattery.
D =eal with your topics in a reGective and factual way. =o not campaign for your
I. 9roofread the te&t and delete all dispensable and redundant parts. 6t the end
your letter of motivation should
comprise not more than two or three pages. 9ay attention to grammar and spelling7
*eep in mind that your letter of motivation may be discussed with you during preD
selection interviews.
An important part of the application procedure for the MSc programmes at the Rotterdam School of Management
(RSM), Erasmus University is the motivation letter. To help give you an idea of hat e are loo!ing for, e have put
together this short article ith "ac!ground information and tips.
The main goal of the motivation letter is to find out if you are the !ind of student e are loo!ing for in our MSc
programmes. #mportant programme characteristics are$
Eur !-c programmes are international
Eur !-c students are high performers
These characteristics are fundamental success factors for our MSc programmes. #t is therefore of vital importance
that only students ho have a real interest in studying in an international setting and are illing to actively contri"ute
to the programme are admitted.
The international dimension
The importance of the international dimension of our MSc programmes e%plains hy e ould li!e you to$ &Tell us
a"out your international "ac!ground'$ here ere you "orn, here have you lived, hat is your nationality, here did
you go to school, in hat !ind of international activities have you participated. (ou can also rite a"out hat you feel
you can add to the international dimension of the programme.
Students ithout an international "ac!ground may find this )uestion to "e )uite dishartening and orry that this ill
put them at a disadvantage. *ur advice here is not to orry. #f you do not have an international "ac!ground, you don+t
have it and you cannot "e "lamed for that. (ou may have participated in other international activities, li!e "ac!,
pac!ing in Australia, a summer language course in Spain or may"e you attended an international or a "ilingual
secondary school. All of these types of activities can "e used as e%amples of your &international drive.'
The second item e ould li!e you to address in your motivation letter is your am"ition to "e admitted to one of our
MSc programmes. Some )uestions to as! yourself are$
#hy has attracted you to this particular masters programme1
#hy are you attracted to an international masters programme1 3or our =utch applicants it is
very important to e&plain your motivation for choosing the ;nternational >nglish language programme
as opposed to the =utch language programme.
Wh$ R#M?
#n the third )uestion e are interested in is hy you ould li!e to "e chosen to participate in a MSc programme
at RSM as opposed to another university. -e are interested in this "ecause it has "een proven that students ho
made a deli"erate, ell,thought out study choice, perform "etter and contri"ute more to the level of the programme.
.or RSM it is clear that am"itious and high,performing students influence each other in a positive ay.
#n the final )uestion e as! you to tell us a"out your plans for the future.
#n conclusion, the motivation letter for one of our MSc programmes is an important part of your application pac!age. #t
is something to "e ta!en seriously, "ut also something to have fun ith. Tell us ho you are, hat your dreams and
motivations are and most importantly, hy you thin! you should "e selected to study at the most prestigious "usiness
school in the /etherlands0