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I am writing a Motivation letter to be used in applying for masters from German or Finland Universities. I have following points explained in my motivation letter:

  • How I see this technical world
  • Why I chose Computer Science in my under-gradute
  • What I learned in under-gradute
  • What are my interests
  • Why I want to pursue Masters
  • Why I chose their University

What could be the format of a good motivation letter?

What other points could be included to make it more explaining about myself? And how to arrange those points? How to connect a motivation letter to your CV?

  • 2
    do you perhaps mean that you're writing a Statement of Purpose ? – Suresh Oct 22 '13 at 4:15
  • Hey! I don't know what your native language is, but in mine, what you want is literally called a Motivation letter, but last year when I had to write one, I realized that a proper English term is a cover letter. – penelope Oct 22 '13 at 7:31
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Well, just typing "motivation letter" or "cover letter" into Google seems to spew up links to loads of hints, tips, and how-to-s, so I guess it's not so hard to find materials outside of here.

So, instead, I'll focus on the advice that was given to me last year when I had to write one, since it worked for me :)

An important thing to realize is that a cover letter is supposed to complement your resume, not duplicate the same information. Thus, your qualifications and achievements should mostly stay in the CV.

Also, you should focus mostly on the position you are applying for, what makes you want it and what makes you think you would be good for it, which means that "how I see this technical world" probably does not deserve much elaboration (one sentence should be okay in my opinion). You are trying to convince them that you are the One and show them what makes you different from the bulk of people applying. What makes you more suited, more likely to succeed, or a better fit than other applications they're considering. (I would guess it's easier for a Master studies application since they will be admitting more than one/a handful of students).

Finally, the structure that I used, and will probably use the next time I will have to write something like that, is dividing the letter in to three parts:

  • you: here's where you'll put information on you. While you're not supposed to list all your achievements here, you should emphasize or elaborate on specific achievements, skills and motivations that make you especially suited for the position you're applying for
  • them: it is important to "prove" that you're not sending out generic application letters. You demonstrate that you're familiar with the work done in the university/lab/research group you are applying for.

    If you're applying as a PhD student to a lab/professor, you might want to mention a specific paper or project and write an intelligible sentence or two about that. If you're applying for a University, you might want to pick some specific of their programme that especially caught your eye.

  • you and them together: first section is about how awesome you are. The second, how awesome they are. Now (to conclude), you have to show why you thing you would be awesome with them. Why do you think you're a good fit, right there? This section is not only about what they can do for you, you also have to try and convince then of how they can benefit from you.

Finally, the letter should not be longer than one page. Somewhere, you can even find this as a hard limit on an application. In my experience, you should also not have more than 3 sections. I managed to put an introductory sentence and an finishing sentence just fine in the "sections" I mentioned. Also, your writing should be impeccable. If you can, get a native English speaker to check your language. Use a spell checker. Pay attention to details. Getting an address wrong, or a letter in a name, shows sloppiness. Maybe it does not consciously affect the decision, but it might on some level.

And the last advice I got, which I did follow, but you don't have to take it as a hard rule: avoid negative statements. It's supposed to give a better tone to your letter. So, instead of saying, e.g. "Unfortunately, I couldn't find and internship during my last summer", you should write something like "Having a free summer before my last year, it allowed me to spend more time reading upon the areas of my choosing". The positive statements should help you present the facts in a more positive light.

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I can talk to you by my own personal experience following a Master´s in a Finnish university (about the German case I am ignorant about that). Anyway Finns are very laconic people, try to submit your motivation letter as concise and direct as possible. I have taken a look at the questions that you are plan to answer in your motivation letter and they are just fine.

In my case I submitted my CV separated from the motivation letter, but a big plus would it be to show that you have some sort of research experience; for example if you have made some research article during your undergraduate or you have been a research assistant. In case that you do not have that, you can express your interest directly to make research in the field that you are applying for your master´s degree (I think that you have covered that part also in your questions stated before)

Good luck!

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