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How to write a Letter of Motivation (LOM) for a Master's Degree in Germany? A Guide for International Students (2024)

A Motivation Letter is required for most of the graduate 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 Master'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 the LOM writing with regard to the German Master's degree context (if you are interested in LOMs for DAAD or Visa, please check the other LOM articles in regard). We know that writing a Letter of Motivation for a German Master'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.

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The basics that you need to know about the Master's LOMs for Germany

What is a Letter of Motivation for Master'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 the Master'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 Master’s in Germany Require Motivation Letters?

Yes, German Master's degree programs do require Letters of Motivation for application! According to our research, around 90% of Master'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 Master’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! It might be surprising, but overall the LOM is the second-most important application document after the average grade (Gross Point Average, or GPA). Interestingly, different Master's study programs usually assign the LOM 10%-40% weight of your total applicant score during the selection process. For instance:

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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"), which is mandatorily provided by Master'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!

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 Master's program and your desired program requires you to have a Bachelor's degree from a related field, a specific minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) and a Letter of Motivation, the latter is the only document which gives you an opportunity to strengthen your application, as the other two are more or less fixed.

How do I write a Motivation Letter for a Master'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 Master'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 Master's programs might require you to have even more than 800 words. Therefore, we suggest you to 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 Master's Program in Germany?

 

You start a Motivation Letter for a Master'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 Master's programs in Germany

In general, German Master'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.

Sample: Letter of Motivation for Master's in Germany

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.

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Further Reading

Sample: LOM for Master's in Germany (2024)


WARNING: PLEASE, DO NOT COPY IT! 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.

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Summary Box

Letter of Motivation is a document that has to be written by YOU! It is worth investing time into writing the LOM because:

 

  • It is required by most of the German Master's programs;

  • It is crucial. LOM is one of the key documents you need to apply to the study program, with the weight reaching 40% (sometimes even more!); 

  • It is doable. As long as you invest enough time into preparing it, it is Mission Possible!