Formal structure of the letter of motivation for studying abroad
A letter of motivation for studying abroad or a semester abroad should generally be formulated as briefly and precisely as possible. It is important to only include relevant information that highlights the applicant’s suitability for the course. Ideally, when reading, a common thread can be seen that runs through the entire text.
For a semester abroad, it is sufficient at some universities to justify the study plan on half a page. For a full course, a more extensive letter is usually necessary. A letter of motivation for studying abroad has an average of one to two A4 pages. If there are certain requirements on the part of the university, the department or the institute, it is of course necessary to orientate yourself.
The letter of motivation for studying abroad is usually written in English or in the respective national language. It should be stylistically and grammatically error-free. It therefore makes sense to check the letter for errors several times before submitting it. Ideally, a native speaker will proofread the text again.
The letter of motivation for studying abroad can be structured in a similar way to a normal cover letter with letterhead, provided that there are no layout specifications. It is often advisable to write a short introduction to introduce yourself and then justify the study project. At the end, the most important qualifications and knowledge can be summarized.
Advisory agencies support students applying to study abroad free of charge. The range of services also includes free viewing of application documents including a letter of motivation.
Special case medicine: Letter of motivation for studying medicine abroad
A letter of motivation is also often required for studying medicine abroad. This is primarily about the professional suitability of the applicants and less about their personal reasons. It is important to work out why you are qualified for the course. It also makes sense to put yourself in the perspective of the university and consider which criteria the university or department attaches particular importance to.
In summary, medical applicants should explain in their letter of motivation why they chose this course and why studying at the selected university appeals to them.
Special case UCAS: Letter of motivation for a bachelor’s degree in Great Britain
In the UK, there are some specifics to consider when it comes to the letter of motivation in the undergraduate sector. Normally, applications for full-time Bachelor programs or for country-specific courses such as a Foundation Degree go through the national coordinating office UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).
With UCAS it is possible to apply for up to five courses at the same time. Since this is a central application that applies to several institutions, applicants should not name individual universities. Instead, it is advisable to keep the letter of motivation for a bachelor’s degree in the UK as general as possible.
Often students apply for similar courses. In this case, they can generally argue in the letter of motivation for their choice of subjects and explain to what extent their previous knowledge and qualifications will help them during their studies. Students who apply for different subjects have the option of working out common topics of the degree programs, such as problem-solving skills or creativity.
In addition, it is possible to show the extent to which there have already been points of contact with the course or individual subject areas in the past. Also future plans can be discussed as long as they refer to it, as students want to use the acquired knowledge in the study in the future.
International students should also include in their letter of motivation why they want to study in the UK and not in their home country and what English skills they have.
Tips for a letter of motivation
A good letter of motivation for studying abroad shows the applicant’s enthusiasm for the subject. Ideally, the applicant succeeds in establishing a connection between extracurricular activities and the application requirements of the degree program.
In general, applicants should avoid illuminating the benefits of the course primarily from their own perspective. For example, improving language skills abroad is primarily an argument in favor of studying from an applicant’s perspective. To make the letter of motivation even more convincing, it can be helpful to put yourself in the position of the target university while writing.
Many universities also welcome students to include their background knowledge of the institution in the letter of motivation. In this way, they demonstrate that they have dealt with the university and thus underline their interest in a study place.
Before students start writing a letter of motivation for studying abroad, they should always find out about country-specific and university-specific features. Because a good letter of motivation can significantly increase the chance of a study place at the university of your choice.