Before going over this article, it would be best if you read the interview about what to focus on in a study abroad letter of motivation first. A former international office employee, who read hundreds and hundreds of letters, shares her thoughts and experiences. After, come back here and continue reading the breakdown 🙂 You can find a .pdf and Word version of this study abroad letter of motivation template in the downloads section.
Study Abroad Letter of Motivation Template: Step-by-step Breakdown
1) Don’t add any header. Just go for a simple headline mentioning the university or program you are applying for:
Letter of Motivation to study abroad at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
2) Give a short introduction of yourself and the course you are majoring in:
After completing my higher education entrance qualification, I decided to follow my long-lasting interest and fascination for aviation and pursue a professional career in this field. That’s why I started to study aerospace engineering with a focus on lightweight construction.
3) Continue by explaining your background and interests. However, focus only on your CV positions you will refer to later or on the ones that function as a “build-up” for your choice. You can also add experiences or positions that highlight your interests (if it makes sense). In other words: Create an introduction to the more in-depth explanation of your motivation. Here I explain that I’ve previously worked in international teams and enjoyed it. Also, I demonstrate that I’ve gained some work experience in engineering already. By doing so, I want to show that I like both internationality and engineering.
To follow my interests and broaden my horizon, I decided to study abroad in the USA in 2014. This allowed me to experience a new academic system, join student clubs, and work in international teams. Next, I began working as a student assistant at the X institute. There I worked on project X, where I accomplished X, Y, Z. For my internship semester, I then decided to work in the field of X at Y company. During the internship at the (city) plant, I supported the team in optimizing manufacturing processes. Also, I got to know the working environment of an engineer in a globally active company across multiple locations in Germany.
4) It’s never wrong to mention what you are proud of. I used this, to sum up what I did in the past and prepare the reader for what follows. Based on my past, I explain what my future professional goals are.
I am proud of what I’ve achieved so far and consider the engineering positions I have held as extremely enlightening in several ways. However, due to my diverse technical and cultural interests, I’d like to work in an international environment in the so-called “bridge function”. My goal is to work at the intersection between the technical and non-technical areas and take responsibility as a project team lead.
5) Next, I explain what I need or still lacking to accomplish my goals. Basically, I am saying that I have an engineering background, but I still need more courses or experience in the field of innovation and project management. Based on that, I start explaining my choice:
In my opinion, in-depth interdisciplinary training in an innovative and future-oriented environment is essential to be successful in that role. In that regard, I see the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) Stockholm as the best choice for my ERASMUS study abroad program.
6) I continue by explaining my study plan, showing that I did some research to figure out the courses, I demonstrate that they fit in my curriculum, and I say that I need exactly these courses to achieve my professional goal. I also explain how I want to participate in cultural exchange:
As an exchange student at the KTH, I could follow my lightweight construction specialization by taking courses from the aerospace engineering program. Through additional language and culture courses, I could get to know Sweden, the language, and its people even better, just as I did in the USA. The high proportion of group work at the KTH would encourage international exchange and enable contacts with students from all around the world. To achieve my professional goal, I could also pursue innovation and project management classes, which are part of the “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management” and “Industrial Management” programs.
7) After explaining the academics or my study plan, I continue by talking more about the country itself. I am not just saying that I like Sweden. Instead, I am explaining my choice by backing it up with (easy) examples and facts. However, they are somewhat related to engineering and technology and therefore relatable.
Learning more about these areas right in the heart of Stockholm is a unique opportunity. In my eyes, Sweden is the leading country in Europe regarding innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. From Alfred Nobel and the invention of dynamite and the Laval nozzle by Carl Gustav Patrik de Laval, over things of daily life like Tetra Pak and Spotify (the founder was a KTH student himself) to Skype, I am amazed by the country’s innovative spirit. I’m also fascinated by Volvo’s sustainable vehicles and the company’s goal of becoming the first European automobile manufacturer that shifts completely to electromobility.
8) Next, I explain that I also appreciate the nation’s mentality and work culture:
The Swedes are also exemplary for equal rights and same-sex marriage. The work culture with its flat hierarchies, high employee motivation, and freedom at work is exceptionally future-oriented and unique, too – just typically Swedish.
9) I conclude by wrapping everything up. I even state that I’ve not applied for any other programs (no other priorities) because the KTH is just the single best choice for me. This is a bold move. If possible, add more preferences in your application form if you are not willing to take the risk of staying home.
I’d love to experience all areas related to society, culture, and mentality and the diverse student life as an exchange student at the KTH. This way, I could grow both professionally and personally. Therefore, the KTH in Stockholm is my first and only priority.
Summary: Letter of motivation in a nutshell
In general, I explained who I am, what I want to do in life, and what I am missing to achieve that goal. I described what fascinates me about the university and country I am applying for, what a great match it is, and demonstrated how I could benefit from the study abroad program. I also showed that I researched the courses and how I want to participate in cultural exchange. Feel free to use this study abroad letter of motivation template for your next application!