Tips and tricks for a good cover letter

The application platform for the Master’s courses for the Fall Semester 2017 is now OPEN and soon enough you might be applying for one (or more) of our Global Master’s programmes in KI. One of the things that is  often stressful about the application process is the cover/motivational letter (*dreadful music playing: “DAN DAN DAAAAAN!”*), so I thought I would try to help. I am not an expert, I am only a 1st year Master’s student (read more about me here), but I have written some and hey, I believe I wouldn’t be here if I had written a bad cover letter.

The cover letter is very important (VERY IMPORTANT and did I mention VERY IMPORTANT?) for being accepted, it accounts for as much as 1/3 of your whole application. Consequently, it is a great investment of time if you work on it as much as possible.

When I was going to apply, I was searching through every website for a magic recipe to write THE mind-blowing cover letter…and guess what? There is none. But here are some tips and tricks that helped me write it and could be of use to you, in order to compose or evaluate your motivational letter:

1. Do your homework!

Before starting on your motivation letter it is best you find out as much as possible about the university and about the program itself. Our website is pretty clear and informative about the specific requirements, expectations and about what qualifications you should have. This will help you get an idea on what your letter should contain.

2. Brainstorm – dig deep into yourself

The most difficult part is the blank page on your computer. Start with writing down some of the main ideas , important points you would like to make in your letter and later build around them. Ask yourself:

  1. What is my goal?
  2. Why do I think that the university and the Masters programme are interesting and suitable for me specifically?
  3. What are my strongest qualifications, past experiences (international experiences are always relevant) and qualities? What makes me a better candidate than others?

The cover letter is very personal, it should give your readers some insight into you as an individual. Therefore, it goes without saying that the person writing the letter should be you and you should never copy from other templates. You can search on the web for examples, but in the end it should be all your work.

3. Give examples

In cover letters, you are expected to showcase your best features. That is why everyone is writing something along the lines of “I am creative, hardworking and perfect”. Yes, you need to write something like this, but always try to avoid bragging. Instead, let your actions do the talking: give examples. Write about a specific experience (relevant to the programme!) that required you to be hardworking and creative. That way, you come across as realistic and you are more convincing.

4. Keep it short and to the point

Motivational letters should be 1 page max. The KI CV form only allows for one page, anyway, so you need to limit yourself. The way to structure it would be:

1st paragraph: Who I am and why I like the programme
2nd (and possibly 3rd) paragraph: Examples and experiences
Last paragraph: Sum up and end in a powerful way.


5. Proof-read it

You need to present your letter in a professional format, style and grammar. To get the perfect cover letter, you will also need to have great English writing skills. Have it checked for spelling mistakes and be consistent. Have almost everyone that can understand English read it, ask for opinions, ask your friends, your teachers, people that have done similar applications. The more eyes that see it, the better.

These are all the points I wanted to make. I know that what I wrote is not that new or innovative, but I hope it did help you a little bit, to engage into writing a really striking cover letter. Once you have this, you might be truly 1/3 in the programme you desire already! 🙂


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