Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of History

Letter of motivation

What is important in the motivation letter?


The letter of motivation should be about two pages long and should describe your motivation for participating in the Erasmus exchange programme: what you would like to study and experience at the partner institution and location. The justification should be tailored to one or two partner universities whose profile is most suited to the desired study interest. You should answer three questions:

  1. What is my motivation for participating in the Erasmus programme?
  2. Which modules would I like to complete abroad? What opportunities does the partner university offer me for this?
  3. To what extent does participation in the Erasmus programme serve my future career goals?

IMPORTANT: In the Erasmus programme, pure language acquisition is not a sufficient reason for a stay abroad, as applicants are expected to have good to very good language skills which will enable them to study abroad without major language problems.


How do I write a letter of motivation?


As a first step you should familiarise yourself with the courses offered at your favourite partner university and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I only take BA courses or MA courses at the partner university?
  • Which courses offered at the partner university correspond most closely to the modules of my study regulations that I would like to complete abroad?
  • Which courses offered at the partner university correspond most closely to my professional interests?


At some partner universities you may only take ready-made Erasmus modules; at other universities you are free to choose. Therefore, it is important to inform yourself about the possibilities in advance. Also, the lecture schedules are often not fixed at the time of application. Therefore, you may have to change your choice onsite. Your remarks in the letter of motivation are therefore more of a declaration of intent. However, they should be as concrete and conclusive as possible.


Next, you should prepare your own provisional study plan for your semester abroad. On the basis of your study regulations, you should determine which modules you have already completed and which modules are still outstanding. With the help of the courses offered by the partner university, you can now choose courses that fit well into your course of studies and/or your field of interest.


Finally, two things should become clear in your letter of motivation:

  • How have experiences in your previous studies influenced your current application?
  • Have you done your research on the desired university and its offerings using its website?


Sincerity is required! Your reasons should be honest. The text should not be written with the aim of saying what the Erasmus coordinator ‘wants to hear.’ In addition, the plausibility of the motivation/study project is far more important than your grades.

If you have any questions, please contact the Erasmus office of the IfG.