headerheader

How to write a Statement of Purpose for a Master's Degree in Germany? A Guide for International Students 2024

An SOP 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 Statement of Purpose (SOP). 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 SOP writing with regard to the German Master's degree context. We know that writing a Statement of Purpose 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.

This is part of our "SOP for German Universities" articles' series

Link

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

What is a Statement of Purpose for Master's in Germany?

Generally speaking, a Statement of Purpose (SOP) 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, a scholarship, a visa etc. and explain why you are the best fit/candidate. To put it differently, it is through the SOP 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 Statement of Purpose when it comes to the Master's degree program in Germany.

Statement of Purpose vs LOM 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 "Statement of Purpose/Motivation Letter", but instead use terms like "Letter of Motivation (LOM)", "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 Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Term

Context/Scope

Explanation

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

University Application

Dominant English-language term in German-speaking countries along with LOM; most widely used in British English

Motivation letter

University Application

The same as SOP but in a different word order

Letter of Motivation (LOM)

University Application

The same as SOP, but more dominant in American English

Personal Statement

University Application

Same meaning but less frequently used than SOP or LOM

Cover Letter

Job Application

Predominantly used for the job market

Do Master’s applications for German programs require Statement of Purpose?

Yes, German Master's degree programs do require Statements of Purpose 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 Statement of Purpose 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 SOP is the second-most important application document after the average grade (Grade Point Average, or GPA). Interestingly, different Master's study programs usually assign the SOP 10%-40% weight of your total applicant score during the selection process. For instance:

 

Note: You can find the SOP 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 SOP seriously and invest enough time in writing it if you want your application to be of high quality!

icon

Geeky Stuff 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 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 Statement of Purpose, 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 Statement of Purpose 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 Statement of Purpose?

 

Luckily, there is a standardized structure for the SOP 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 Statement of Purpose?

 

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 Statement of Purpose 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 is this letter 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 Statement of Purpose, 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 in Germany

In general, German Master's programs do not provide any specific guidelines for writing a Statement of Purpose (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.

Table 2: Guidelines by German Master's Programs

University

Program

City

Status

Guideline

University of Bonn

M.Sc. Neurosciences

Bonn

public

link

TU Munich

general

Munich

public

link

Leipzig University

M.A. American Studies

Leipzig

public

link

Heidelberg University

general

Heidelberg

public

link

Hochschule Niederrhein

general

Krefeld/

Mönchengladbach

public

link

University of Hannover

M.Sc. International Horticulture

Hannover

public

link

University of Stuttgart

M.Sc. Computational Mechanics of Materials and Structures (COMMAS)

Stuttgart

public

link

Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

MBA CSR & NGO Management

Rheinbach/ Sankt Augustin

public

link

University of Bremen

M.Sc. Control, Microsystems, Microelectronics

Bremen

public

link

University of Potsdam

M.A. Anglophone Modernities and Culture

Potsdam

public

link

Sample: Statement of Purpose for Master's in Germany

Actually, before writing their own SOP, students often try to find a Statement of Purpose 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 Statement of Purpose. Find out more about the Statement of Purpose samples here.

header

Further Reading

Sample: SOP for Master's in Germany 2024
icon

Advice Box

WARNING!

PLEASE, DO NOT COPY ANY SAMPLE! Just use the right samples for the purpose of getting an overall idea of what the SOP 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.

icon

Summary Box

Statement of Purpose is a document that has to be written by YOU! It is worth investing time into writing the SOP because:

 

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

  • It is crucial. SOP 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!