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How to write a Letter of Motivation (LOM) for a DAAD scholarship: A Guide for International Students (2022/23)

If you want to successfully apply for a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship, get ready to submit an impressive Motivation Letter. Here is what you need to know about the length, format and structure and why you should not rely on a sample!

If you want to get into a German study program, whether it is at the Bachelor's or Master's level, it is almost impossible to do so without submitting a Letter of Motivation. The same is true for the DAAD scholarship: you do not stand any chance of competing for it without preparing a convincing Letter of Motivation.

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Further Reading

DAAD Scholarships: Guide

As in the case of other contexts (e.g., Master's, student visa, etc.), the Letter of Motivation is one of the most significant and arguably the most challenging elements of your DAAD scholarship application. Compared to other LOMs, the LOM for DAAD is even more complex. This is not surprising, as the DAAD scholarship is one of the most prestigious and competitive German scholarships. According to the DAAD itself, students often fail to write high-quality Letters of Motivation. The purpose of this article is to simplify the complex picture as much as possible by providing answers to the most crucial questions about the Letter of Motivation for the DAAD Scholarship.

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

22 videos plus checklist and template

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What is a Letter of Motivation for DAAD Scholarship?

Generally speaking, the Letter of Motivation (LOM) is a mandatory application document requested by the DAAD in which you need to demonstrate your motivation to obtain the scholarship and explain why you are an excellent fit/candidate for it. 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 the scholarship.

How important is a Letter of Motivation when applying for a DAAD scholarship?

According to various official DAAD guidelines (see Table 1), the Letter of Motivation plays a significant role in your DAAD application. Although these guidelines do not explicitly say it, based on our experience with the DAAD (our team consists of former DAAD country directors and a DAAD scholarship holder), you can consider the LOM as the second-most important application element after the average grade (Grade Point Average, or GPA). Furthermore, if you are successful in the first round of your DAAD Scholarship application, you will be invited to the interview, which is another crucial part of the selection process. During the interview, your LOM will be thoroughly discussed by the selection committee - they will ask you a lot of questions based on your LOM. In other words, the quality of your Letter of Motivation plays an important role during the decisive stage of your DAAD application.

Table 1: Letter of Motivation Guidelines by DAAD

Issuing DAAD Office

Country/Region

Scope

Guideline

DAAD Headquarters

All

DAAD Scholarships in general

Bewerbung um ein DAAD-Stipendium: Was soll ins Motivationsschreiben?  (source available only in German)

DAAD Information Center Islamabad (Pakistan)

Pakistan (but helpful also for other countries)

Master's

How to Write a Letter of Motivation (pdf)

DAAD Headquarters (Section ST32- Africa)

Africa (but helpful also for other countries)

Master’s & PhD

How to Write a Letter of Motivation (pdf)

DAAD Information Center Rome (Italy)

Italy, San Marino, Vatican City
(but helpful also for other countries)

DAAD University Summer Course 

Guidelines to the letter of motivation for a DAAD scholarship for a University Summer Course (pdf)

DAAD Headquarters (Section ST43 - Research Fellowship Programmes)

All

Specific Program/Master's & PhD (“Sustainable Water Management”)

Instruction - How to Write the Letter of Motivation (pdf)

In a word, you should take the LOM seriously and invest enough time in writing it if you want to substantially increase your chances of winning the DAAD Scholarship!

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Advice Box

Do not forget that the Letter of Motivation is where students can stand apart from the crowd. This document is not set in stone, as, for instance, your GPA in your previous degree is. That means that the LOM gives you the best chance to quickly and proactively improve the quality of your application, thereby increasing your chances of success.

How do I write a Motivation Letter for the DAAD?

There are different DAAD Scholarship programs (which you can browse in the DAAD Scholarship database), and they might slightly differ in terms of some LOM requirement details. In general, you should expect largely similar Letter of Motivation requirements when it comes to DAAD Scholarships. Let us tell you about them by answering five key questions:

1

What is the structure for the Letter of Motivation?

Just like in the case of other LOMs (e.g., for Bachelor's, for Master's, etc.), here you will also need to follow the standard structure:

  • 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 scholarship by convincingly explaining why you chose the given program(s) (professional and personal reasons). For example, in the case of "Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines" scholarship (see next section), you will need to write about three programs that you are going to apply to. Hence, this section can not be short.

  • Conclusion and Valediction.

2

What is the format for the Letter of Motivation?

The standard formula works here too:

 

  • 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?

This is one of the key aspects that differentiates the Letter of Motivation for DAAD from the Letters of Motivation for Master's, for Bachelor's and for Visa.  If in all of these other contexts, the LOM should usually be one to two pages long; in the case of the DAAD LOM, it may well be three pages (depending on the DAAD Scholarship program (see Table 2). In general, you should have at least 1000 words to be on the safe side.

4

How do you start a Letter of Motivation for DAAD?

You start a Letter of Motivation for DAAD by getting straight into the point:

  • Introduce yourself;

  • State what is this letter for;

  • Briefly present your most important details; and

  • Make a smooth transition to your first priority study program.

5

What to cover?

In general, DAAD wants you to share the following information in your Letter of Motivation:

 

  1. Relevant education, experience and skills;

  2. Reasons for choosing the given study program(s); 

  3. Why DAAD?; 

  4. Why are you an excellent fit?

Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines vs Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS)

As already mentioned, DAAD offers multiple scholarship options to students (both German and international). We will not go into each and every scholarship's specific LOM requirements. Instead, we composed a table comparing the Letter of Motivation specifications of the two most popular DAAD Scholarships: one is called Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines, while the other is known as Development-Related Postgraduate Courses or EPOS. From Table 3 one can clearly see proof of the trend outlined above: some details might differ, but the requirements for various DAAD Scholarship programs are largely similar

Table 3: Comparing LOM requirements of full DAAD Scholarships for Master’s

 

DAAD Master's Scholarships

 

Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines

Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS)

Structure

Similar

Similar

Content

Similar

Similar

Format

Similar

Similar

Length

1-3 pages

1-2 pages

Personal Signature

Not Required

Required

Note: Try to aim for the upper end of the given length ranges, as you will need to write convincingly about three target study programs.

Sample: Letter of Motivation for DAAD

Before writing their own LOM, students often try to find a Letter of Motivation example online (especially in PDF format) to have a hands-on guideline to follow. In general, we recommend that you be very careful with such 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 behave ethically and just 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

 

Moreover, you can get a Letter of Motivation sample created by our team as a part of our Video Course.

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Further Reading

Sample: LOM for DAAD (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 DAAD selection committee will find out about it, and your application will be immediately rejected.