How I won DAAD master study scholarship – Part I
If you’ve ever thought about studying in Germany in any aspect, then you’ve probably heard of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). DAAD is like a goldmine where you can find all sorts of information about studying abroad in Germany including insurance, accommodation, and scholarship.
I am extremely honored to be awarded the Study Scholarships – Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines by DAAD. It had been quite a journey until I received a final notification. When I was preparing for this scholarship, I had a pretty hard time finding resources online, especially reviews written by applicants. Therefore, I would like to write a series of posts sharing my experience with DAAD Master scholarship application into a great detail. Just to illustrate, my intention is to share information and lessons I have gained, absolutely not to brag about it. I might be stating the obvious, but if few of you could get some value out of this series of posts, I would be more than happy!
In this post, I am mainly going to talk about letter of recommendation, which won’t be a short post. If you feel like watching me speak about the identical topic instead of taking your time to read this post, here’s my nicely timestamped youtube video!
- Start early
Unlike other scholarships that might ask you to submit an application about 6 – 8 months before your admission, DAAD wants your application a year before your admission. At this point, some applicants wouldn’t even be sure if they want to go to Germany for a master program. This is super early because the deadline is far earlier than admission application for graduate school, which is January or February (earliest: 9 months before the admission).
Thus, this might be the most important step. I cannot stress this enough since you need time to think about where you want to go and what you want do study in order to write a successful application. It’s good to have a pretty solid idea about your prospective schools and funding sources including DAAD at least 1.5 years in advance.
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
I don’t have much to say about CV because I did nothing more than listing out my experiences. I just tried not to excess more than 3 pages and to be relevant to my graduate school program. Since I was applying to microbiology programs, I prioritized microbiology research experiences over others.
- Letter of Recommendation
I was surprised (and felt less overwhelmed:)) by the fact that German master programs don’t really require recommendation letter from undergraduate professors. If it were the US grad school, I would have needed 2 or 3 reference letters per university. But recommendation letter plays a huge role in DAAD scholarship application (refer to the website for 2021 applicants due to pandemic).
First step is obviously finding someone to write you a nice letter of recommendation. This could be a hard task because receiving A or 95 percentile in the class doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great recommendation letter. I would say it’s more about your passion and effort you showed in a research or project. So, try to choose a professor who offered you a project about which you were most enthusiastic. In this way, the professor would know you both at personal and academic level, which will lead to a high-quality reference letter.
It’s also important to ask early because your faculty will have to send this letter by post (at least in my year, refer to DAAD website for pandemic situation). I personally asked my professor 2.5 months in advance and sent him a couple of reminder emails. I just wanted to take responsibility and showed some signs of respect by doing this.
Next step is to send them an email itself. I believe it’s highly crucial to organize email as best as possible to help them write the best recommendation letter for you. Remember, even though they knew you when you guys were working together, they don’t know much about your graduate school and scholarship program. I tried to state the followings in the email:
- Why I want this scholarship,
- How this scholarship is going to help my academic journey,
- What aspects of this master program are appealing to you,
- My further plan after this Master program
- Scholarship information (postal address, deadline, etc)
Since this was a quite long and overwhelming email, I tried my best to well-organize my email by color-coding, bolding, underlining so that it’s easy for them to catch the main point. I think DAAD also has a reference template on its portal. So make sure to send that as well!
Lastly, don’t forget to keep them posted with progress. They dedicated their valuable time to write a nice reference letter for you. I am sure they would be more than happy to hear about what’s going on regardless of the outcome. A brief email will do.
I realized this is becoming a lengthy post. I’ll stop here and continue with motivation letter on my next post. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below. Thanks for reading and stay healthy!