How to Write a Letter of Motivation?


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on May 13, 2022 03:26 PM IST

Writing a Letter of Motivation seems to be a daunting task for many study abroad aspirants. Scroll down your screen to learn what is a letter of motivation, how to write it and how it differs from SOP, PS, and a cover letter. 

How to Write a Letter of Motivation

The Letter of Motivation (LOM) or motivational letter is one of the application documents required by some universities abroad for masters or PhD degree applications. While the competition gets tough every year for admission to your favourite university, application documents like the motivational letter can help you stand out from the crowd. A well-written LOM should be able to capture the attention of the Admissions Committee (AdCom) and tip the scales in your favour.

Now that we have established how important motivational letters are, let us concentrate on how to draft an impressive and impactful LOM. A majority of students find writing motivational letters difficult. It can be very confusing to structure and write a compelling letter of motivation that will catch the attention of the reader.

Before you draft a motivational letter, it is important to understand what a letter of motivation is and what kind of content it should contain. A LOM provides an overview of the achievements and future goals of a candidate.

So, a motivational letter is a simple and effective way to highlight ones suitability for the course and university in front of the AdCom. A good motivational letter will be crisp, brief, and free of errors. Let us delve deeper into how to write an impressive letter of motivation?

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What is a Letter of Motivation?

A motivation letter or a letter of motivation is a brief, one-page letter that explains why you are the best applicant for a particular course or university. This should be supported by citing examples of your interests and accomplishments.

A Letter of Motivation is submitted directly to the admission committee/department faculty during the application process. You should highlight your ambitions, inspiration or motivation behind choosing the subject, and goals that align with the course.

The LOM is usually addressed to a professor or department head, under whose supervision you will be studying. This is more evident during PhD or MS Research applications where students are asked to submit a LOM to their preferred research supervisor.

There are two types of letters of motivation: An academic motivational letter and a professional motivational letter. The academic version of the motivation letter is sent directly to the faculty/department as confirmation of your interest in their programme as well as the university.

The professional version of the motivation letter serves as a cover letter for your resume/CV, explaining why you are a suitable match for the position. For study abroad applications, you need to draft an academic letter of motivation.

Difference Between a Letter of Motivation, Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and a Cover Letter

Students frequently struggle to distinguish between a Statement of Purpose, a Personal Statement, a Cover Letter and a Letter of Motivation (or Letter of Intent), or they simply conflate one with the other.

The following are the differences to provide you with a concrete understanding of the differences between a Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, Cover Letter and Letter of Motivation.

Personal Statement (PS): A personal statement is an assessment of your achievements, capabilities, interests, and objectives that is frequently included in university applications. Personal Statements for universities and careers are comparable in content, however, a personal statement for a university application is typically lengthier and more extensive.

Universities usually have precise requirements for what should be included in a PS, such as a maximum page length of two pages, a word count, format, etc.

Statement of Purpose (SOP): A Statement of Purpose is a great way to introduce yourself to the Admission Committee and highlight your skills and academic background. An SOP also contains a detailed analysis of your future goals and how the course will help in career development. Some universities may directly ask to explain why are you a good fit for the programme? in the SOP.

Cover Letter: A cover letter is mostly required for visa purposes, also known as a visa cover letter. These cover letters are meant to capture a synopsis of your application as well as your genuine interest in studying in that particular nation. Immigration officials also like to see that you are sincerely engaged in the specific programme that you want to study.

However, most students tend to confuse cover letters as the only thing required for job applications but this is not the whole story. A cover letter for a study abroad programme is different from a cover letter for a job application. This is normally a one-page letter that outlines why you want to study in another nation and what you aim to gain from the opportunity.

Universities abroad require a cover letter for many programmes and usually provide a list of details or points to be covered in the letter. On the other hand, visa cover letters can be used for a variety of travel purposes, including tourism, business, and medical. As a result, the cover letter you provide should be relevant to the goal of your trip.

How is a Letter of Motivation Different?

A motivation letter is different from a personal statement, statement of purpose and cover letter in terms of content, intention, and to some extent the format as well. While drafting your letter of motivation, you can use the typical three-paragraph structure or five to seven paragraph structure.

The three-paragraph structure includes an introduction paragraph, body of content, and conclusion. The five to seven paragraph structure is used where the body of the message can be divided into pointers elucidating one to three sentence paragraphs. Let us discuss in detail how to structure the content, intent, and format of the motivation letter:

Content: The content of your letter of motivation should reflect the impulse behind picking a particular course as well as the reason behind it. Additionally, you should be able to clearly state how it aligns with your past educational experience and future goals. You can also add past achievements (if any) related to the programme you intend to apply to.

Intent: It is important to realise the intent of your motivational letter. Your LOM intends to highlight notable achievements and relevant points related to your profile. It is unlike a lengthy and descriptive document like a statement of purpose.

In short, it should contemplate your objectives behind studying a particular course in a particular university or a specific faculty member. At times, students will find a list of pointers to be covered in the LOM, usually shared by the university. Students can also find this information on the university website or the dedicated department webpage.

Format: The format of a LOM is somewhat distinctive. Your letter of motivation should be short, crisp, and brief without any lengthy or descriptive passages. However, this must not look like another copy of your resume. Here, you will talk about your inspiration and goals.

Treat this as a formal document and use fonts like Arial or Times New Roman (TNR) with single spacing. Font size should be either 10 or 12 with normal margins. Try to keep your content within a page.

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What Courses Require a Letter of Motivation?

A letter of motivation is generally required by the universities offering STEM courses in European countries such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy, or Belgium. A few US, Canada, and UK universities may also require a LOM for research-based courses.

Masters degree: Before writing a motivation letter for a master's degree, it is important to rememberabout your experiences and not about how you sound like a better candidate.

Doctoral degree programmes: If you are writing a motivation letter for a PhD, the admission committee will most likely ask for more details about how you plan on living after completing that degree. You will not be able to meet the requirements of the admission committee if you fail to adjust your writing style to what the committee requires.

You must convince your professors that your degree will add value to their community. Similar to this, when writing a motivation letter for an exchange program, you should also explain why you believe you can bring something to the program. Not knowing these elements at the beginning can lead to you missing the target of your letter.

How to Write a Letter of Motivation?

A good motivation letter is a must-have for any student. It should be written with a clear structure and a compelling message. Consider the following tips while writing your Letter of Motivation:

Be personal and honest: Your essay should contain personal reflections that will demonstrate how you stand out from the rest of the applicants. It should also show that you have the necessary skills and qualities to take part in the Master's program.

Not to mention, do not copy because plagiarism is a serious offence. Be yourself and be original. Also, avoid being a braggart. It is also important to avoid including any false information. Do not try to be too dramatic or emotional in your letter. Instead, be realistic and objective.

Get proper feedback: It is always a good idea to ask for advice from people who have already applied for the same programme. This can help you get the most out of your application. Although these tips may help you write a successful letter, it's important to remember that the personal touch and knowledge you have will still make the difference.

What to Include in Your Letter of Motivation?

A well-written letter can convince the admissions manager to approve or invite you for an interview or grant admission. Thus, it is important to know the correct format of the letter of motivation and what to include in it. Follow these steps to write your letter of motivation:

Construct an Outline:Before writing a motivation letter for an application, think about the main reason why you want to take on a course. It is also important to research various programmes and universities to create a compelling reason why you should apply.

For your letter, make an outline that highlights the main ideas that you want to include. It should also include a list of the programmes and studies that the university provides.

For instance, why do you want to study a particular course or volunteer for that specific program? What are the skills and qualities that would make you the best fit for a non-profit organisation or university?

Prepare an Introduction:In addition to your introduction, include a personal note that details yourself. Give a brief introduction to introduce yourself. In addition, include the recipient's name to make it memorable. Your introduction should catch the attention of the potential reader and impress them with its content.

Create Content around your Outline:The body of your letter should include all the relevant points. Use compelling and persuasive facts to convince the recipient that you are an ideal candidate. For your letter, expand the details that were mentioned in the outline to include more details about yourself.

Include a Conclusion:A crisp conclusion is as important as an attractive introduction. A well-written motivation has both - a strong introduction and a compelling conclusion. So your letter should end with a conclusion that summarises your intent to study and eagerness to join the university. This will leave apositive impression on the reader.

Tips for Writing a Letter of Motivation

At last, let us see some useful tips to increase your chances of admission and better your Letter of Motivation:

Research: When drafting the letter, make sure you are aware of the concerned person to whom you are writing. Research the name and position of the person and write appropriately. Analyse the programme needs and mention how your values and interests match the goal and mission of the university.

Be direct and to the point: Follow a straight-to-the-point format and avoid using lengthy sentences. Also, make sure that the letter is clear and focused on what you want to achieve. Complicatedsentences are not ideal for any letter. Instead, make it clear what you intend to study at the university.

Find Balance:You must present yourself in the best light to convince the recruiters that you deserve the job. You also have to show that you are the best candidate for the job. However, do not be too arrogant and overestimate yourself.

Proofread and Edit:Before writing, make sure that all the necessary details are included in the letter. Doing so will help ensure that the letter stands out and is error-free. You can ask a trusted colleague or an experienced writer to help you write a cohesive and error-free motivation letter. Follow this checklist to make your letter a professional and well-written one.

Avoid Plagiarism: Plagiarism is counted as a serious offence and might affect your chances of acceptance or even your application may get rejected. If you search the web for ideas to write a better LOM, make sure you are not copying something directly. Always check for plagiarism before submitting your letter of motivation.

Check Formatting: Your letter of motivation should be easily readable and convey the message directly, for this, you must use proper formatting of fonts, structure, and fonts. You must keep a detailed eye on the formatting of your motivation letter before submitting it.

Check Grammar: Grammar does play a vital role in writing a creative LOM. For readability, credibility, communication, and clarity, proper grammar is required. Understanding grammar will help your content appear clearer and more readable. Therefore, a final grammatical check is necessary before submitting your letter of motivation.

A motivational letter can help you convey your passion and enthusiasm for higher education. It can also help you connect with like-minded individuals and institutions. An excellent motivation letter will always be successful if the applicant is truly interested and eager to get into a study abroad programme of his or her choice.

What you need to do is believe in yourself and give it a shot.Do notlet your admission slip away with a lousy Letter of Motivation. And, if you do not succeed the first time, keep trying for the best version!

For more guidance on how to write a Letter of Motivation, contact us at

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