Reference letters and statement of purpose


Reference letters or letters of recommendation from employers, supervisors and professors and statements of purpose (sometimes also referred to as letter of motivation), which each candidate must write, are important parts of all application processes.

If you need to write reference letters or statements of purpose in English or German, we strongly advise against downloading and using sample reference letters or recommendation letters from the internet. Many candidates want to save time and use examples of statements of purpose, which can be found in forums, internet advisory pages and commercial agencies. The consequence is that the addressees of applications can recognize patterns and repetitions. For example: a total of 19 cover letters for the same bachelor’s degree program in the same year began with the following introduction: “My interest in economic issues awoke in middle school and was supported in the family home, but also by my excellent teachers. After it became clear that economic issues and challenges would characterize my career, I drew the consequences … “

Admission officers read up to 3,500 applications per year. If they realize that your application is a multi-used example, it does not have the best chance of success. Some even warn off publicly as did for example, a Stanford admission officer, who repeatedly read the same story. In addition, it is generally difficult to answer specific questions for a reference letter or a letter of motivation with a sample text.

Conclusion: Although it is more convenient and easier to look for ideas on the internet, you should definitely take the time to write individual cover letters or letters of reference if you value your application.


Below you will find ideas and inspirations:

Reference letters

Actually, a reference letter should have a strictly confidential nature. But in our experience most referees leave the job to the candidate, after which they sign the letters of reference and submit them mostly having only made minor changes. On the one hand this means that the applicant must write letters of reference (if necessary in English); on the other hand it allows the applicant to write the content and the message to their advantage. Thus, it is entirely the applicant’s responsibility to submit an essay and cover letter which coherently describe their character.

Usually two letters of reference and letters of recommendation from supervisors or employers are required for most applications. If you are applying for an MBA program, most business schools require two, some even three, letters of reference. In this case, one of them should be of an academic nature. When two letters of reference are required they should ideally come from two different people, for example, two different employers. Candidates who submitted reference letters from their own customers have had positive experiences. If you wish to apply for an international MBA, appropriate forms will need to be completed. These types of letters of reference require certain questions to be answered and specific information to be given, therefore, the search for example reference letter usually yields no useful results. In this case it only helps to develop a concept in German or English and have this checked and if necessary translated by specialists. Numerous reference letters contain tables which allow the referee to evaluate a candidate graphically.

Although admission officers know that most letters of reference (about 94%) were written or designed by the candidates themselves, one should – as in the essays – put modesty aside and describe oneself in very positive manner, especially if you are interested in studying in the United States.

Statement of purpose (letter of motivation)

A letter of motivation – referred to as a „Statement of Purpose“ in English – describes the candidate’s motivation for applying and often also the reason for choosing a university or institution. As it is written by the candidate, it will operate as their business card, and also enables direct comparison between candidates with similar profiles, grades, background etc. For this reason, a statement of purpose should be thoroughly thought through and formulated with the utmost care. In a statement of purpose, it is important to present information so that it helps making a positive decision. It is important to put one’s knowledge and skills in the foreground and to clarify the extent to which one differs from other candidates. Our recommendation: if you value your application, you should take the time and write an original, interesting, textured and varied portrait of yourself, your wishes and ideas in your statement of purpose.

Whether in English or German, whether for a Bachelor or Master degree, motivation letters must be stylistically and grammatically perfect. Have them read and checked by specialists. If you need help with letters of reference (recommendation letters) or cover letters, you can refer to the MBAhelp consulting and editing service. Our specialists will help you to define the main content of your reference letter and cover letter (including do’s and don’ts), assist in the formulation in German and English or translate into English or verify what you have written.


Structure your motivation letter chronologically (i.e. you first describe what you have done so far, then explain your career planning); do not forget to explain why you are applying for the specific university or degree.

How to write a statement of purpose or a reference letter:

Draft your reference letter or statement of purpose and send it to MBAhelp. If you need to write a statement of purpose or a reference letter in English, you can write the original version in German or English. First, you will receive our comments and proposed changes. After having revised your text and ensured its creative, structured and informative content, it can be checked grammatically and stylistically again by us and possibly revised or translated into English. You will receive a separate estimate for this.

Your advantages:

  • Professional advice and support
  • Direct personal  contact with our MBAhelp consultants and specialists- no anonymous webpages
  • Fast processing
  • High transparency —  you will receive a cost estimate for each step

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If you are interested in our professional application service, please send us an email with your draft and which institutions you are applying at.
Or even more convenient, use our form with file upload. Our experts in statement of purposes and reference letters will send you a free and non-binding offer for editing.

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    Benjamin D.:
    Dear Elaine, Brian and Martin,
    Thank you very much again for all the good work in regard to my applications!
    I received the offer from London Business School today, which was my number one priority. The last couple of months have fully paid off; I very much appreciate your support! I will still take the trip to Barcelona following the invitation from IESE, but I am not overly worried as I am already on the safe side

    Christoph S.:
    I’m pleased to inform you that I have received the admission for the major „Transportation & Logistics“at the university GIST-TUM Asia in Singapore. Thank you for your excellent support, you did a great job!

    Martin A.:
    I just wanted to say thank you, really the job that you made with me was great.

    Malte A:
    This is just to say thank you MBAhelp! Although just scoring 590 on the GMAT, every school I applied to accepted me (HHL, Copenhagen Business School, Stockholm School of Economics, Maastricht and EADA). I have enrolled at EADA. The GMAT courses were excellent and put me on the right track. Thanks.

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