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How to write a motivation letter for a university in Germany
How to write a motivation letter for a university in Germany

How to write a motivation letter for a university in Germany

News & tips on your studies and career!

Deciding to study abroad is a complex choice that involves various considerations. Before picking their preferred university program, aspiring students, undergraduate or postgraduate, have to choose the country in which they wish to pursue their education. Each country has its unique set of admission criteria, visa regulations, and cultural aspects that may present different challenges, so students need to make an informed choice.

Germany is a country with a revered higher education system that produces first-class scientists and scholars in every field. As a result, numerous foreign citizens decide to study in Germany every year.

University applications are similar worldwide, despite differences related to factors like an applicant's country of origin. Among other paperwork and information such as the candidate’s GPA, most educational institutes also require a letter of motivation. That is the case in the majority of German universities as well. So, if you want to study in Germany, you should prepare the right motivation letter.

Do all German universities require a motivation letter?

The short answer to this question is yes. Minus a few exceptions, German universities ask for a motivation letter to even consider someone as a candidate. So, if you have your eyes set on a degree from a German university, whether taught in German or English, you'll have to include a letter of motivation in your application.

The only thing that varies among different institutions is the terminology they may use instead of "motivation letter". You might come across names like Statement of Purpose or SOP, Personal Statement, or Cover Letter. If you do, don't get mixed up. In the educational context, at least, they all mean the same, a personal letter arguing why the candidate and the institution are a perfect match.

All you need to know beforehand is how to write a letter of motivation to stand out, honest, straightforward, and to the point!

Before writing a motivation letter for university admission in Germany…

For German universities, a letter of motivation holds exceptional importance and goes beyond being a mere requirement to complete the application process. It can prove to be the most influential component of an applicant's portfolio. This is due to the fact that the motivation letter plays a crucial role not only in the initial screening phase, where it helps select candidates who proceed to the next round but also as an aspiring student's best opportunity to advocate for themselves in their own words.

The admissions committee, consisting of individuals who are unfamiliar with the applicants, heavily relies on the motivation letter to gain insights into the applicant's character, aspirations, and suitability for the program. In other words, it's an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd and gain admission. You just have to take the task seriously and start writing your motivation letter long before sending in your paperwork in order to avoid mistakes.

In any case, you should keep in mind that:

  • You don't get a second chance with a motivation letter: The selection committee turns down the first wave of applicants based on it, so you shouldn’t take your letter of motivation lightly.
  • Motivation letter examples are for reference only: You may see many samples before you start writing your motivation letter, but you shouldn’t copy other people's words.
  • First drafts are made for rewriting: Whatever you do, don't leave your motivation letter for the last minute because it will undoubtedly take a lot of editing, rewriting, and proofreading to get it right in the end.
  • Honesty and passion win: Your motivation letter is formal correspondence and requires a modest approach, but it's essential that the committee hears your own voice in there and gets convinced of your passion and commitment to your plans.
  • This isn't the time to be creative: When we say "use your own voice," we don't mean you should write freely in the same way you’d speak to your friends, go for a mix of personal viewpoints and inspirational talk and you cannot lose.

So, now that you know what to avoid, you’re ready to start writing an excellent and inspiring motivation letter for studying in Germany.

If you plan to pursue a scholarship for your studies in Germany, read our detailed guide about how to get a scholarship to study abroad!

How to write a motivation letter for applying to a German university

Writing a letter of motivation for a German institution is no different from any other case. You should simply follow the general rules, keep a tight structure, and ensure the content is original. That said, a typical structure for a motivation letter is as follows:

  • An intro stating what the letter of motivation is about,
  • A summary of your educational background and how it relates to your next academic endeavor,
  • A presentation of your best arguments for being an excellent match for said institution,
  • A few words on how you believe your studies will increase your future prospects,
  • and a quick thank you to the evaluator.

The best thing you can do is to be straightforward, maintain a personal, warm, and serious tone of voice, and focus on what’s more likely to make you stand out from the crowd.

Sample motivation letter for university admission in Germany

To give you a headstart, here's a motivation letter sample. This example is for an application to a German master's program:

*Dear Sir or Madam,

With this letter, I would like to express my interest in studying for a master's degree in X at the University of X.

I have recently completed my bachelor's at the University of Y with honors, and I'm ready to follow my plan to extend my education and expertise in the X field. During my bachelor's, I prepared myself for the next level by working closely with my professors on two extra-credit research projects. Also, I worked as an X intern during the summers. These experiences made me more passionate about my field of study and strengthened my desire to further explore X academically before starting my career.

I chose this particular master's program because it matches my academic profile and focuses on the X field's aspects that intrigue me the most. As for my decision to move to Germany for a master's, that was simply a matter of pursuing the best available education. The University of X is one of the best, not just academically but also in terms of campus life, research activity, and internship opportunities. Moreover, the city offers high quality of life and a rich cultural and social environment.

My decision was also based on my future prospects. If I opt for a PhD in X later on, the University of X is an excellent place to complete it. If not, a master's degree from the university is a tremendous asset for pursuing a career with the best of the industry. To me, pursuing this degree is a huge step closer to fulfilling my dreams, and I plan to make the most out of it if admitted.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to your positive response.
Yours faithfully,

Whatever your case, whether you're applying for a bachelor's, a master's, or a PhD, it's easy to use this example as a guide by following a similar flow and keeping all the essential concepts demonstrated here. Just don't plagiarize, and always remember that a motivation letter is all about speaking honestly and without fear.

Do I need an extra motivation letter for my student visa application in Germany?

Depending on their country of origin, foreign nationals may need to apply for a student visa after they are admitted to a German university. If so, they are required to write another letter of motivation, this time addressed to the German State's officials.

The motivation letter for a student visa application in Germany is similar to the one required for university admission. The difference is that it should focus more on why the applicant chose Germany for starting or continuing their academic journey. The questions it should answer are:

  • Why did you choose Germany?
  • Why did you choose this university and program?
  • How does pursuing a degree in Germany fit into your plans?

As always, writing honestly, modestly, and with solid arguments is the best approach to convince your evaluators of your intentions and aspirations.

So, if you plan to study at a German university, don’t forget…

Most German universities require applicants to include a motivation letter in their application portfolio. The specifications, of course, are the same as in other countries, regardless of the terminology used by each institution (Letter of Motivation, Personal Statement, etc.).

All you have to do is:

  • Take the motivation letter seriously,
  • Start writing it the moment you choose the school you want to apply to,
  • Use guidelines and examples as reference only,
  • Follow the usual structure and include your personal story,
  • and put all your heart and soul into your "presentation".

After you’ve put your best effort into writing an excellent motivation letter for your university application, there's simply no reason not to feel optimistic about the outcome. You will be able to catch the committee’s attention and come closer to achieving your goals by studying in Germany.

Stay tuned!

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