What is a Motivation Letter
The motivation letter, motivational letter or a letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to or accompanying another document such as a résumé or curriculum vitae. The main purpose of a cover (motivational) letter is to persuade an HR specialist that you are the most suitable candidate for a given position.
Always customize your motivation to the vacancy, internship, your open application and the organization. Or for example to the event you are interested in, such as a business course or career fair which applies a CV selection. Your motivation letter supports your CV. Show the organization that you paid attention to the information they have provided.
What is the difference between a motivation and a cover letter?
The motivation letter is usually used when applying for something e.g. for acceptance to a university, to a student programme, to a non-profit organization for voluntary work etc.
You have to explain why you are interested in the specific activity, your motives, why you want to study or attend the programme, why you choose the specific university or programme etc.
The cover letter is used when you apply for a job. You send both a letter and your detailed CV.
In the cover letter, you must state clearly the position you are applying for and explain why your profile matches the position. To put it simply, it must answer the question ‘’Why you?’’
You may find more information about the cover letter on CVs & Cover Letter. However, you must keep in mind that the cover letter should highlight your relevant skills and experience to relative to the position. Leave the details in your resume and take the chance to say things that cannot be expressed through your CV.
Always finish your cover letter by asking for an interview, and by saying how you can be contacted (e.g. by phone).
Example of a Motivation Letter
Dear Sir or Madam:
With this letter, I would like to express my interest in studying at the University of XY as an Erasmus student.
I am currently studying Master’s Degree programme in Regional Geography at the ABC University in London. Having looked through the materials of the Foreign Department of my university, I was very delighted to find the opportunity to spend one-semester learning geography at the University of XY. I have decided to apply for this programme because I am sure it would strongly enrich my future studies and help me in my prospective career. Moreover, I consider this programme as a great opportunity to get in touch with British culture and educational system. Last but not least, I am very curious about different approaches to the geography at the foreign university.
I have chosen to apply for the University of XY because I really like its module system of study. I especially appreciate the wide range of offered modules and the freedom in making your study plan. Many of the modules offered are unique for me because there is no equivalent at my home university. Very important for me is also an “Excellent” rating for the teaching of the Geography department and the overall friendly atmosphere at both the university as well as the city. The third main reason why I have chosen XY is its Urban and Regional Policy Research Institute. It specializes in interdisciplinary research on key regional and urban policy issues, which is the field of geography very familiar to me.
During my prior studies, I have found out, that I would like to specialize in Urban and Transport Geography. The University of XY gives me a chance to get in touch with these subjects through modules from both the Department of Geography and Department of Town and Regional Planning. In my last year at the ABC University, I worked on an empirical study with the main focus on transportation costs of suburbanization and urban sprawl. I really liked my project and I am keen to continue with it. I would like to use my stay in XY for further developing my skills in empirical research and start working on my diploma project. The possibilities that give me the University of XY further expand those at my home university. I would take modules focusing on Transport and Urban geography and European Studies.
I would very much like to spend one semester at the University of XY. This would give me a chance to deepen my geographical knowledge in the inspiring, creative, and cosmopolite environment of one of the largest British universities. Furthermore, I could improve my English and increase my confidence in passing the TOEFL examinations after I return. Moreover, I am confident that my experience in London would be extremely exciting, fun, and valuable for both my studies and overall general development.
Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to your positive response.
It is very common nowadays that European universities that offer different international Master’s degree programmes ask applicants to send a number of important documents like CV, transcript of records, Bachelor’s degree diploma, language certificate, etc.
Still, one of the key documents required, that might make the difference and assure you a place in your desired Master’s programme, is the motivation letter.
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.
By requiring a motivation letter, the Master’s recruiting committee offers 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, and prove that you are the right and most motivated person to be chosen for the programme.
Writing such a letter can prove to be sometimes tricky and challenging for some applicants, who often find themselves wondering how the letter should look like, what it should contain, and how to convince coordinators that they are the right ones to be chosen for the programme.
The internet is packed with different websites that offer tips and tricks on such letters. By simply typing ‘motivation letter’ on any of the consecrated search engines, you will find a vast number of examples of different motivation letters with structural and content details.
This article will focus on a few key points drawn from personal experiences, that proved effective in my case, and will hopefully be useful in helping you write a good cover letter:
Do your homework!
Before starting on your motivation letter, it is best you find out as much as possible about the university that is offering the Master’s programme and about the programme itself. Usually, the universities’ website is pretty clear and informative about its requirements, expectations and about what qualifications and qualities they hope their candidates have.
Knowing a little bit about their requirements, about their main projects, activities, personal philosophy and interests will help you get an idea of what your letter should contain. Relating to the main activities and interests of the university will definitely help start a positive cooperation.
To get the perfect motivation letter, you will also need to have great English writing skills. If you need to improve your English speaking,
Ideas and main points
Start with writing down some of the main ideas, important points you would like to approach in your letter and later build around them, then enrich their content. An example would be:
- Make your goal clear: provide a short preview of the rest of the letter;
- Why do you think that the university and the Master’s programme are interesting and suitable for you?
- Focus on some of your strongest qualifications, past experiences (international experiences are always relevant) and qualities; organize the middle paragraphs in terms of the qualifications most relevant to the programme to the least, and you can also refer to your CV for more details;
- Conclude by restating your interest and show appreciation for the chance to prove yourself in the letter (in some cases, you can ask for a personal interview).
Personal & original
Give your readers some insight about you, as an individual. Remember this is a very personal document in which you are expected to prove that you are different from the rest of the applicants and that your qualities, skills, and qualifications make you suitable for participating in the programme.
Although it might be sometimes helpful to have other examples, do not copy other letters you have seen and try to be original, as it will help a lot! Also, avoid bragging too much about yourself. You are not expected to present yourself as a superhero, but to be objective and realistic.
Whether it is the way your letter looks, the way it is organized and structured in paragraphs, the font size, the length of the letter, or even the first paragraph, the first impression always counts!
Be professional and consistent
Present your letter in a professional format, style, and grammar. Have it checked for spelling mistakes and be consistent (e.g. use the same font, the same abbreviations throughout the letter, etc.).
Other opinions and advice
It is always a good idea to ask your friends, a teacher or someone who has already done such an application for advice. Usually, you can get in touch with students who are already studying the Master’s programme you are applying for and they can give good advice.
However, as we mentioned before, always remember to be original and avoid copying other letters!
All these key points can prove effective in helping you write a successful motivation letter, but, in the end, your personal touch and knowledge is what matters and makes the difference.
A good motivation letter will always be successful if the applicant is really interested and willing to get the desired place in the Master’s programme of his/her choice. What you really need is to trust yourself and try it. And, if you are not successful the first time, keep on trying, because you will make it!
Here are a few examples of successful motivation letters:
- Motivation letter for a Biomedical Engineering degree;
- Motivation letter for a Tourism and Entrepreneurship degree;
- Motivation letter for a Computer Science degree;
- Motivation letter for an Information Systems degree;
- Motivation letter for an Advanced Optical Technology degree;
- Motivation letter for an International MBA;
- Motivation letter for a Food Safety degree;
- Motivation letter for a History and Oriental Studies degree;
- Motivation letter for a Political Science degree.
Apply right now to a Master’s abroad
If you are determined to apply to a graduate degree abroad, Studyportals can help you. Now you can apply directly through our portal to one of our partner universities, so be sure to check their programmes out and find the one for you.