Each academic year, the Maastricht University (UM) Holland-High Potential Scholarship program provides scholarship assistance of €29,000, which includes living expenses and a full waiver of the tuition fee, to twenty four students from outside the European Union who have secured admission at a master's level program at Maastricht University.
In order to be eligible for the scholarship, candidates must:
hold nationality in a country outside the EU/EEA, Switzerland or Surinam and meet the requirements for obtaining an entry visa and residence permit for the Netherlands.
not hold a double nationality from an EU/EEA country.
have applied for admission to a full-time Master’s programme at Maastricht University, and meet the admission requirements for such programme.
have never participated in a degree-seeking higher education programme in the Netherlands. Students who have completed exchange programmes in the Netherlands are eligible to apply.
not be older than 35 years of age as on 1 September of the relevant academic year.
have obtained "excellent results" during their prior education programmes.
In our conversation with Sunishth Goyal, an LLM candidate at Maastricht University, we discussed the four primary application components i.e. the CV, letter of motivation, proof of academic excellence, and letter of recommendation.
CV Maastricht University does not offer any general track LLM options, and one must necessarily choose a specialization in a particular subject.
As a consequence of this requirement, it is preferable that one's CV also reflects an overall inclination towards that specialization. As an example - since Sunishth did several internships in criminal law during his undergraduate studies, he was able to highlight such internships in his CV while applying for a specialization in criminal justice.
If, however, your CV contains a diverse range of activities and experiences, then Sunishth suggests tailoring it to meet the requirements of the specialization for which you're applying.
Another point to keep in mind would be to look at the different facets of the academic program offered by Maastricht University. In particular, since Maastricht places a fair bit of emphasis on it's teaching assistant program, Sunishth took this as a queue to bring out his own experience as a teaching assistant at NALSAR, Hyderabad while drafting his CV.
Do you need excellent grades?
There are two answers to this. First, academic excellence is required for the scholarship. As the application requirements clearly state: you need to be in the top 20 students of your class. Second, grades might not be a monumental concern when applying to Maastricht University (without the scholarship). As Sunishth explains, it does make a difference if your university is over 500 years old, like some of the top universities in the UK. Since Maastricht was founded in 1976, they are not as selective as some of the older European universities, and admission per se is not dependent on grades.
Average grades can also be bolstered with the help of co-curricular activities and teaching assistantships, but it would be important to ensure that the activities are focused and aligned with the overall thrust of your profile.
Letter of motivation
As the title suggests, the letter of motivation should be used to put forth your motivations for applying for the LLM program, and should be aligned with the specialization which you choose. It should explain the experiences and activities which encouraged you to pursue higher education in a particular field, but at the same time it should not be a restatement of your CV.
The letter of motivation provides an excellent opportunity to elaborate on the gaps which your CV does not address, and can be used to describe how you've managed to do what you've done.
Structuring the letter of motivation - A possible structure for the letter of motivation can be to start out by laying out a strong foundation about what brought you to law in the first place. This can be followed up with a bit of elaboration about your interest in the specialization for which you are applying. The final part of the letter of motivation you can talk about how you hope to benefit from the LLM program, and further, how you can contribute to the field in which you've studied or to society at large.
Selecting a referee
Your referee should ideally be a person who knows you and has worked with you. This allows them to craft a pointed recommendation which brings out your best qualities and actually provides a substantive insight into your work product and ethic. A generic recommendation may also work, but then you'd be running the risk of your recommendation getting lost amongst the plethora of other recommendations reviewed by the admissions committee on a regular basis. As an example, Sunishth initially decided to approach the vice-chancellor of his university to write the recommendation, but eventually approached an associate-professor of criminal law at the university. Sunishth had taken multiple criminal law courses taught by such professor, and had even been a teaching assistant for them for two successive semesters. The professor, based on their interactions with Sunishth, would have been better placed to speak about his performance in the classroom, and later as a teaching assistant for their courses - resulting in a more substantive and detailed letter of recommendation.