Letter of Motivation for German University Admissions


How to Write a Motivational Letter For University Admission in Germany

If you are browsing the meaning of, samples for, and structure of a motivation letter or letter of motivation, it is safe to assume that you have already made your decision to apply for higher education at a German institute. But you may be wondering what the letter of motivation or the motivation letter (as often used interchangeably) is and what value it holds for the entire admission process to a German institute of higher education. Well, you have landed on the perfect page to find answers to all your questions pertaining to the letter of motivation for admission to German schools.

Often used interchangeably, the letter of motivation or the motivation letter is a crucial part of all your applications to German schools of higher education. It is almost the same as the statement of purpose and/or the personal statement (as required by the USA or UK schools). The letter of motivation is a statement or a letter that helps you to advertise yourself to the Admission Committee. Your application form, test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters, and resume – each of these documents play a significant role in putting forth crucial aspects of your profile as a whole. The letter of motivation also has a similar and more important role to play in the application decision. Depending on the weightage asserted to the letter of motivation by each school, which usually varies between 10 – 40%, a strong, impactful statement can definitely secure your spot for your program of choice.


Letter of Motivation – What it Entails?

The letter of motivation has three distinct parts – the introduction, body, and conclusion. However, it is not a summary of your resume. The letter of motivation is supposed to give the Admissions Committee a glimpse into you as a person – your strengths and weaknesses, your passions, your skills, your choice of the program, and your plans for the future. It analyzes every decision that you have taken and what has propelled you to decide on this program and to pursue the same from this school at this given point in your life.

Often specific programs will define the exact information that they want you to include in the letter of motivation – follow that or you will risk cancellation of your application. If no formatting specifics are mentioned, try to stick to the following general rules:

  • Standard or narrow margin – do not customize the margins
  • Lien spacing of 1 – 1.5
  • Standard font of 11 or 12 in Arial or Times New Roman
  • Standard font color of black
  • You may italicize quotations or names of books, if important
  • Justified alignment (same on both sides)
  • Always convert your document into a PDF format prior to uploading the same
  • You may add your name, program name, and application number in the header of the document
  • Usually, letters of motivation are asked to be 500 – 800 words or 2000 – 4000 characters. If no such specification is mentioned, simply ensure that your letter is about a page long (depending on the font size, line spacing, and margins used) or at least 750 – 900 words.


How Do I Write a Letter of Motivation?

To begin with, decide on what you wish to be the focal point of your document. Is it any particular skill set that you want to highlight? This can be anything from your cognitive and non-cognitive background. You can opt to highlight your intellectual curiosity, your ability to take initiative, think out-of-the-box, take ownership, your imaginative prowess, your team-working skills, anything. But however you choose to begin, make sure that it relates to your conclusion to make the letter one complete, holistic document of interest.

Try to open with a catchy, different statement – quotations from famous persons are oft-used; try something different, be genuine, be you. The letter should be your story, in your voice. Tell the Admissions Committee your story. Remember, the Admissions Committee receives thousands of applications for each program and they should be hooked on your letter to read it end-to-end.

Divide the body into related, comprehensible paragraphs. Do not simply explain the projects that you have worked on – always avoid technical jargon because the Admissions Committee member reading your document may not be from a technical background. Your technical proficiency has been justly highlighted in your resume, focus on you, and your skills in the letter of motivation. Remember, each paragraph should logically flow into the next one.

Add a paragraph on why you are applying to the given program at the particular school. This is an important piece of information. The school wants to see what motivated you to apply to their school only. Why being admitted to their program is important for you. Justify that with proper examples – do your research. Do not copy-paste from the website to say because the school is ranked such and such. Say what motivates you about their program –What do you like about their curriculum? How is it going to help you attain your learning goals? What other resources do the school offer in terms of research, internship, hands-on learning, and networking that you like? Why are these important to you? How are you going to use these resources to meet your goals? What about the faculty excites you? Is any of their research interests or specialization related to your field of interest? What about the beyond-classroom opportunities?

Next, mention what you bring to the table – both within and beyond the classroom.

Last but not the least, include a definite plan for your career goals – what you will do immediately after completion of the program. This should be a realistic, attainable goal. And where you wish to see yourself 5 – 10 years down the line post-completion of the program, or the long-term goal.



  • Avoid exaggeration
  • Keep the language as formal and neutral as possible
  • Make your letter stand out
  • Use personal details sparingly and only to the extent that it is related to the letter
  • Each school and program will have specific requirements; do your research and tailor your letter to meet the needs accordingly.
  • Proofread – always!


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Is the letter of motivation and statement of purpose the same?

Yes, often used interchangeably, the terms denote the similar document that you need to submit. Usually, German schools ask for a letter of motivation while the USA schools ask for a statement of purpose.

Is the letter of motivation the same as a cover letter?

 No. A cover letter is more formal and usually used for job applications or for networking. It is a brief 1-page document, highlighting your skills and motivation for the role or the program. A letter of motivation, instead, is a more detailed story about you as a person and your motivation to study the given program, complete with related examples and justifications to make your cause.

Is the letter of motivation a mandatory part of the application?

Mostly, yes. For every application to programs of higher education in Germany, you will be needed to submit a letter of motivation.

How long will it take me to write the letter of motivation?

This is a crucial part of your application, sometimes carrying almost 40% weightage of the admission decision. Hence, instead of rushing with the document – take your time to plan, research, and write your story for presentation to the Admissions Committee.

What are the three crucial parts that must be included in the letter of motivation?

Your interest to study this program and from this school; your background – your strengths and weaknesses – and how you are fit for this program – your academic/professional goals.

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