Statement of Purpose for Netherlands: Requirement for Top Universities

Statement of Purpose (SOP) is an avenue for the student to introduce himself/herself to the institute or the admission officer. It gives them the opportunity to share their experiences, interests and vision and let the university know why they are interested in pursuing a degree. SOPs are commonly referred to as a letter of motivation or personal statements in universities of Netherlands.

Statement of Purpose is a crucial part of the application package since the content and quality of this letter distinguishes an exceptional candidate from all other applicants with similar academic and professional backgrounds. Many top universities in the Netherlands ask for a motivation letter from applicants of both at the undergraduate and the graduate level.

Requirements for Statement of Purpose for Netherlands

Common specifications for the motivation letter of top Netherland universities are mentioned below:

  • Length: In the Netherlands, motivation letters are usually limited to 1-2 pages in length. Word limit can vary from anywhere between 500 to 1500 words.
  • Language: In general, motivation letters should be written only in English, especially if the student is applying for a program taught in the English language. However, if the program is taught is Dutch, it could also be submitted in Dutch language.
  • Content: Almost all universities instruct applicants to avoid vague and generic statements in the motivation letter. It should thus, clearly outline an applicant’s achievements and aspirations in a precise manner.

Personal Statement Vs Motivation Letter

Depending upon the university of the Netherland and the program being applied to, students might either be asked to submit a personal statement or a motivation letter. Here you can find out some of the differences between the two.

Personal Statements as evident from the name itself is personal to the student. It should include the applicant’s unique experiences and clearly show how these experiences make him/ her an eligible candidate for admission.

Motivation Letters are more concerned about the student’s intentions behind applying to a particular university and program. In a motivation letter, students should chalk out their future goals and how the degree they are applying to will help them achieve these goals.

University Specific Requirements for SOP for Netherlands

SOP requirements for word limit, language and even content vary according to the university being applied to. SOP requirements of some of the top universities in the Netherlands are discussed as follows:

University of Amsterdam

Word Limit: 500 words

Language: English

Required For: Bachelors in Communication Science and all Masters programs

What to Include: The university instructs students to include the following information in their personal statement/ motivation letter

  • Why have they chosen the University of Amsterdam?
  • Why have they chosen a particular program?
  • Community service (if any)
  • Any special skills/ achievements which led to personal growth
  • Strengths and weaknesses of character
  • Details of educational and academic background
  • Future goals

The language of the essay should be clear, concise and accurate. It should demonstrate to the admission officials that the applicant is able to communicate effectively in the English language.

Utrecht University

Word Limit: 1-2 pages

Language: Language of instruction of the chosen program (Dutch or English)

Required for: All Bachelors and Masters programs

What to Include: University of Utrecht has provided the following guidelines for students which should be followed while writing the motivation letter:

  • Why have they chosen Utrecht University & a particular program?
  • Any practical experience in their field of interest
  • Academic Achievements
  • How the program will correspond to an applicant’s research/career ambitions?
  • What skills an applicant possesses to pursue the program?

Students can use the template available here to submit their motivation letter or upload the document separately.

University of Leiden

Word Limit: 700- 1500 words

Language: English

Required For: Selected Bachelor’s & Master’s programs

What to Include: The letter of motivation for Leiden University programs require students to address the following topics

  • Brief self-introduction
  • Relevant learning experiences & achievements
  • What makes the student a good candidate?
  • Why choose Leiden University?
  • Why choose a particular program?
  • How is the chosen program relevant to the applicant’s interests and career goals?

Specifics of motivation letters also vary according to the program being applied to. Students should check the personal statement/ motivation letter instructions for their specific program and not write a general essay.

“Do” and “Don’t” While Writing an SOP for Netherlands

Letter of Motivation or Personal Statement is a crucial part of a student’s application package. Students should devote sufficient time and effort into writing an impressive SOP. Some tips for writing a good Statement of Purpose for Netherlands universities are:

  • Should have a clear structure with an introduction, body and a conclusion.
  • The program applied to should clearly be mentioned.
  • Do proper research and devote sufficient time (even 2-3 months) for writing a great SOP.
  • Should be written in formal, academic English. Informal language and colloquialisms should be used with caution.
  • Should be free of plagiarism, grammatical & spelling errors.
  • Should clearly specify their previous learning experiences, academic interests, career aspirations.

It is also important for applicants to remember what mistakes to avoid while writing a motivation letter. Certain common errors to avoid while crafting a statement of purpose includes:

  • Should not be shallow or boring.
  • Should not be repetitive.
  • Should not just be a copy of the CV.
  • Should also not include new items unrelated to students' skill set.
  • Should explain their academic interests by giving specific examples. Vague words and generic statements make the statement sound less convincing.
  • Overall tone of the SOP should be positive and future-oriented.

Netherland is a popular study abroad destination for students from all over the world. A well-written motivation letter or a personal statement could indeed make a student stand out from a group of candidates with the same level of qualification and level of experiences.


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