headerheader

How to write a Letter of Motivation (LOM) for a Bachelor's Degree in Germany? A Guide for International Students (2022/23)

A Motivation Letter is required for most of undergraduate programs at German Universities. Learn more about the length, format and structure and why you should not rely on a sample!

Let us make a guess: if you are reading this article, it means that you have already found out that one of the key documents that you would need for applying to a Bachelor's program in Germany is the Letter of Motivation (LOM). If you did not know that, now you know it! 

 

The purpose of this article is to provide clear answers to the most crucial questions about LOM writing with regard to the German Bachelor's degree context. We know that writing a Letter of Motivation for a German Bachelor's program is one of the most (if not the most) challenging application tasks for students. That is why we decided to make your life easier and put the answers to the central questions in one place.

Check out our Video Course (64 min.) on "How to write a Letter of Motivation"

22 videos plus checklist and template

Go to the video course

Motivation Letter for University Admission: Bachelor

What is a Letter of Motivation for Bachelor's in Germany?

Generally speaking, a Letter of Motivation (LOM) is a (mandatory) application document requested by most of the German Universities, where you need to demonstrate your motivation to get into the given study program and explain why you are the best fit/candidate. To put it differently, it is through the LOM that you can "advertise" yourself in the best possible ways (i.e. showing your strengths, your determination, your qualifications and so on) and make a formal request for placement. The same is true for the rationale behind the Letter of Motivation when it comes to Bachelor's degree program in Germany.

Letter of Motivation vs SOP vs Motivation Letter vs Personal Statement - What are the differences?

Do not be confused or surprised if while surfing through the different study programs listed in our Studyfinder you find out that some of them do not mention "Letter of Motivation", but instead use terms like "Statement of Purpose (SOP)", "Personal Statement" or "Cover Letter". Usually, German Master's programs use these terms interchangeably - so do not worry about that! Depending on the cultural and linguistic background of the people that administer the given study program, they will use one of the following expressions for what is called in German “Motivationsschreiben''.

Table 1: Different wordings of the Letter of Motivation (LOM)

Term

Typical Context/Scope

Explanation

Letter of Motivation (LOM)

University Application

Dominant English-language term in German-speaking countries; widely used in American English 

Motivation letter

University Application

The same as LOM but in a different word order

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

University Application

Same meaning, widely used in British English

Personal Statement

University Application

Less frequent than LOM or SOP

Cover Letter

Job Application

Predominantly used for the job market

Do German Bachelor's Programs Require Motivation Letters?

Yes, German Bachelor's degree programs do require Letters of Motivation for application! According to our research, around 80% of Bachelor's programs in Germany require you to submit a Motivation Letter in order to be considered as a candidate. This includes both English-taught and German-taught study programs. And again, do not forget various wordings that you might come across! Let's have a look at some examples.

How important is a Letter of Motivation when applying for a Bachelor's in Germany?

You might be wondering now how vital this document might be for your application, and you are on the right track if you are asking this question! We would like to assure you that a Motivation Letter for an undergraduate program in Germany is indeed quite important. For example, Bard College in Berlin is very straightforward about this issue, stating that the Letter of Motivation is one of the key documents when applying for a Bachelor's program at their University. To be more specific, different Bachelor's study programs usually assign the LOM 10%-30% weight of your total applicant score during the selection process. However, you can also find some exceptions. For example:

  • The (German-taught) Bachelor Lehramt Grundschule at the Karlsruhe University of Education assigns the Letter of Motivation between 8% and 9% of the total applicant score. (source)

  • The (German-taught) B.A. Materielle Kultur: Textil program at the University of Oldenburg assigns the Letter of Motivation 40% of the total applicant score, and under certain circumstances, it reaches over 70%! (source)

icon

Geeky Stuff Box

You can find the LOM weights for various programs in the document called "Examination and Study Regulations" (in German, it is called "Zulassungsordnung"), mandatorily provided by Bachelor's study programs in Germany.

In other words, you should take the LOM seriously and invest enough time in writing it if you want your application to be of high quality!

icon

Advice Box

Do not forget that the Motivation Letter is where students can stand apart from the crowd. This document is not set in stone, meaning that it gives you a great chance to improve the quality of your application, hence increasing your admission chances. For instance, if you are applying for a Bachelor's program and your desired program requires you to have a specific final grade from your high school and a Letter of Motivation, the latter is the only document which gives you an opportunity to strengthen your application, as the former is already fixed.

How do I write a Motivation Letter for a Bachelor's degree in Germany?

This is a very popular yet very broad question to answer compactly. Hence, let us break it down into five frequent questions that we get at MyGermanUniversity.

1

What is the structure for the Letter of Motivation?

 

Luckily, there is a standardized structure for the LOM available for you, which you should always follow:

  • Introduction and Salutation.

  • Main body. This is supposed to be the longest part because here you elaborate on why you are a very good fit for the program and vice versa.

  • Conclusion and Valediction.

2

What is the format for the Letter of Motivation?

 

Keep in mind that your desired Bachelor's program may have some specific guidelines regarding the format. If it is not the case, follow the standard recommendations:

  • Margins: 2.5 cm, or one inch, on all sides.

  • Font size: 11- or 12-point of a standard script like Times New Roman or Arial.

  • Line spacing: 1.5-point.

  • Text alignment: justified (text is aligned with both margins).

3

How long should the Letter of Motivation be?

 

Usually, it should be between 500 and 800 words. In pages, this means between one and two pages of text if you follow the standard format. For example,

However, some Bachelor's programs might require you to have even more than 800 words or two pages. Therefore, we suggest you follow the specific requirements set by the individual program. If the program of your choice does not provide any details, go for the standard "formula". 

4

How do you start a Motivation Letter for a Bachelor's Program in Germany?

 

You start a Motivation Letter for a Bachelor's program by jumping straight into the point:

  • Introduce yourself;

  • State what this letter is for;

  • Briefly present your most important details;

  • Briefly describe why the program is the best fit for you and vice versa.

5

What to cover?

Basically, the last point of the previous paragraph is the answer to this question. To be more precise, in the Letter of Motivation, you should convincingly demonstrate why you are the best candidate and why the given study program is the best fit for you. To put it simply, you can do this by showing that you are very well aware of the specifics of the program, which perfectly fit your profile with respect to your education, experience etc.

Guidelines provided by German Bachelor's Programs

In general, German Bachelor's programs do not provide any specific guidelines for writing a Letter of Motivation (intentionally - it’s supposed to be an open-ended task). In fact, sometimes it seems impossible to find any. But do not worry - we did that for you! Our team managed to find some examples, which you can explore in the table below.

Letter of Motivation for Bachelor's in Germany: Sample

Actually, before writing their own LOM, students often try to find a Letter of Motivation Example online (especially in the pdf format) so that to have a hands-on guideline. In general, we do not recommend you to use any samples. It is fine to use a sample as long as you want to use it just as a guideline. However, beware that the Internet is full of low-quality samples, meaning that even if you use it as a guideline, you are at high risk of ending up with a bad Letter of Motivation. Find out more about the Letter of Motivation sample here.

header

Further Reading

Sample: LOM for Bachelor's in Germany (2022/23)

WARNING: PLEASE, DO NOT COPY ANY SAMPLE! Just use our sample for the purpose of getting an overall idea of what the LOM should look like. In general, if you plagiarize or copy anything directly from any source, you will not be able to get away with it. The study program will find out about that, and your application will be, at best, rejected.