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An example: my motivation letter

Christmas is a time to relax for everyone —- everyone, except for the students applying for master programs. The deadline of application becomes closer, exams for the winter semester strike at the beginning of January, leaving Christmas break the only time for application, and most importantly/painfully, writing a motivation letter.

Writing a motivation letter is a presentation of yourself: you pack your academic excellence, related experience, qualifications and ideas in one essay, to convince the the admission panel that you are the best candidate they should choose. Normally, a motivation letter should include the following aspects:

  1. Introduce your academic background

  2. Past achievements: academic result, qualifications, related experience (with examples)

  3. Why the program interests you + your knowledge about the program

  4. Other personalities and experience (e.g. voluntary work)

  5. Summarize and restate your motivation

I still remembered that when I began to write my essay  on the 28th December, I started like this:

After one and a half hour, it looked like this:

True, writing a motivation is extremely difficult for everyone of us: you and me, him and her. I told myself: when I autonomously started the first sentence of my motivation letter,  I am already “motivated”: now what I need to do is to support my motivation with relevant arguments and organization.
Now let’s go back to my own motivation letter. At that time I found the opening ” My name is Tianlin He, a graduating student from……” too ordinary, so I changed it to a short summary, followed by each paragraph talking about an event that I had participated. This method worked quite well with me: when I tried to describe a particular event, inspiration came immediately and I finished it in only one night!

1st and 2nd paragraph: summary of my academic background and achievement.

I don’t like the “My name is XXX” doesn’t imply that it must be a bad idea. (Because I assumed that the panel must have known that my name is Tianlin He from reading my application) Indeed, there is no definite model, so make it the least boring in your own way.

The words in orange rectangle: diligence, team spirit, perseverance, curiosity are the qualities that I want to impress the panel: that is, my motivation. Of course, they should be supported with solid evidence and must never be bogus.

3rd paragraph: why the program interests me

4th paragraph: my idea about the program and future career path

I highlighted the word “academic“. May I take a personal approach? Yes. But the same time I have to admit that “I want to become a biologist since I was eight…” “I want to study medicine in your program because my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer when I was eight…” sound extremely cliche.

5th paragraph: more about personal qualities

I talked about my devotion in extracurricular activities during my undergraduate study. Some may argue that these activities are inconsequential to application; however, I believe it is a good opportunity to show or to re-emphasize the good qualities that I as an applicant possess.

Last paragraph: summarize and restate my motivation

I closed my motivational letter by stating  how I heard of this program and how eager I was to study in it. By now, I am prepared, I am serious!

Now, good luck with your own essay writing and application! Contact me if you have any questions or suggestions for writing a motivation letter!

Related reading:

Write a cover letter: sample and thought for application of jobs and doctoral studies