Hints and Tips for Writing a Letter of
Master’s Program in Molecular Medicine
Charité University Medical School, Berlin
The letter of motivation is one of the most important parts of your entire application. It plays a decisive role in determining if you will be accepted or not. Therefore we highly encourage you to read this document very carefully. It contains the hints and tips we in the program have collected over the years and after reading many, many essays. In our experience we have seen that many applicants with otherwise outstanding records were not accepted to our program because their letters of motivation were inadequate. In this document we describe the typical problems and deficiencies in these essays and give you concrete examples showing the do’s and don’ts. We hope you find our suggestions helpful, not only for your application to this program, but also for other documents you may need to write in the future.
Why is the letter of motivation so crucial to the overall application? If you are a good student, with good grades in a field related to molecular medicine, and have already obtained some research experience, then most likely your application will make it to the last round of evaluations. By the time your application makes it this far your chances of being accepted to our program will depend largely your letter of motivation. The reason the letter becomes so important at this stage is that it enables the admissions committee to distinguish between those excellent students who will no doubt go on to succeed in science, and those who will be outstanding. Obviously, our admissions committee seeks the latter and the letter of motivation usually marks this difference.
What is the difference between an excellent student and an outstanding one? The excellent students possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to participate and even excel in our program. They often stand out because they are unusually ambitious, confident, and goal oriented. The outstanding students, whose backgrounds are generally also impressive, may not always appear to be so dedicated. However, these students, in the way they describe their interests, experiences, and motivation, indicate a degree of creativity and intellectual integrity that is missing from the otherwise top students. The content of their essays reflect a deep enthusiasm not so much for achieving success in the profession (though sometimes that too) as for science itself and engagement in the scientific process.
Hints and Tips for Writing the Letter of Motivation
In the picture they paint of themselves, their curiosity dazzles. The words and phrases they choose demonstrate creativity and an innate ability to think outside the box. If you are such a student, or aim to be, then it behooves you to do your best to show us these characteristics in your letter of motivation.
How do I show that I am an outstanding student?
The quick and dirty answer to this question is very simple. Show, don’t tell. You will read these words repeatedly in this document. They hold true not just when it comes to writing letters of motivation, but for writing just about anything. For some people this command extends to an entire life strategy or philosophy in and of itself. But for now, let us stick to the more practical aspects of writing your letter of motivation.
An important corollary follows from the general suggestion, “Show, don’t tell” and it certainly applies here. A good letter of motivation depends not only on WHAT you write, but HOW you write it. Keep this corollary in mind as you read through the rest of this document, and as you write your own essay (or anything else for that matter). A quick example; anyone can write “I am highly motivated to study molecular medicine.” In fact, that sentence probably appears in about 50% of all the essays we receive. It shows up so often that has become a meaningless cliché at this...
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