Scoring an application in the Master’s programmes at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences

These instructions regarding the motivation letter apply to all Master’s programmes at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. A motivation letter is used to assess whether applicants have the motivation and abilities required for completing a Master’s degree in the prospective degree programme.

In the motivation letter, applicants must give grounds for

  • Applying to the degree programme in question at the University of Helsinki
  • How previous studies support successful performance in the programme in question
  • How the studies in the degree programme supplement and expand their previous studies
  • How completing a Master’s degree in this programme would help them to reach their academic and professional goals.
  • For applicants to the Master’s Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability only: Applicants to the Master’s Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability must include a preliminary study plan in their motivation letter.

The language of the motivation letter depends on the programme applied for. Applicants intending to complete an English-language degree in a multilingual Master’s programme must write their motivation letter in English. When applying for a right to complete a multilingual Master’s programme in Finnish or Swedish, the motivation letter must be written in English, Finnish or Swedish. The quality of language in the letter will also be taken into consideration.

Maximum length of the motivation letter

The maximum length of the motivation letter depends on the Master's Programme to which you apply. The motivation letter will be filled in on the application form. The length of the motivation letter is limited on the application form. Please consult the following table on the maximum length of the motivation letter in each Master's Programme:

Name of the Master's Programme Maximum length of the motivation letter (including spaces)
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 8000 characters
Genetics and Molecular Biosciences 3000 characters
Neuroscience 8000 characters
Plant Biology 8000 characters
Environmental Change and Global Sustainability

motivation letter: 1000 characters

study plan: 3000 characters

Admissions to the EEB programme are based on the following criteria, each of which will be scored on a scale of 0–10:

1. Applicability of previous studies to the EEB programme

0-10 points

2. Academic performance (grades, study progress) in completed applicable studies required for the EEB programme

 

0-10 points

3. Motivation letter

0-10 points

The required minimum score for each criterion is 6.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked firstly on the basis of applicable studies, secondly on the basis of academic performance, and thirdly on the basis of the motivation letter.

First stage

All eligible applicants will be assessed on the basis of their application documents and in accordance with the criteria below (scored on the following scales):

Assessment criteria

Scoring scale

Minimum score, which the applicant must get in order to be selected for the interview

1. Applicability of previous studies to the Master’s programme

0-25

10

2. Academic performance in completed studies required for the programme

0-20

8

3. Laboratory skills and experience in practical research work

0-10

4

4. Motivation letter

0-5

2

Only those applicants who receive at least 40% of the maximum score for each section (ten points for criterion 1, eight points for criterion 2, four points for criterion 3 and two points for criterion 4) will be invited to an interview.

In the first assessment stage, applicants with more than the minimum score of 35 will be ranked based on their score. Of these, no more than the best 40 (double the maximum number of students to be admitted to the programme) will be selected for video interviews held in the second assessment stage.

Certificates of employment or statements made by supervisors on research related to the field of the programme can be attached to the application. These support the application questions that concern laboratory and research experience.

Second stage

The video interviews consist of a certain number of predetermined questions. The interview will be scored on a scale of 0–15. The required minimum score for the interview is 8.

The interviews will be conducted with the help of the Skype application. The Master’s Programme in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences is a multilingual programme. The interviews will be primarily arranged in English. Applicants who wish to complete the degree in Finnish or Swedish may, however, ask for the interview to be conducted in the language they have selected for their degree in their application. Interview invitations will be sent by email with the schedule and instructions attached. Applicants must have a Skype username and be able to conduct the interview online.

Student selection

Admissions are based on the combined score from the two assessment stages. The maximum score is 75. The minimum requirement is a score of 50. No more than the best 20 applicants will be admitted to the programme. The rest of the applicants with a score of 50 or more will be put on a reserve list.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked firstly on the basis of an interview, secondly on the basis of applicable studies, thirdly on the basis of academic performance and fourthly on the basis of the motivation letter.

Admissions to the Master’s Programme in Plant Biology are based on the following criteria, each of which will be scored on a scale of 0–10:

1. Applicability of previous studies to the Plant Biology programme

0-10 points

2. Academic performance (grades, study progress) in completed applicable studies required for the Plant Biology programme  

 

0-10 points

3. Motivation letter

0-10 points

 

The required minimum score for each criterion is 6.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked firstly on the basis of applicable studies, secondly on the basis of academic performance, and thirdly on the basis of the motivation letter.

On the application, applicants must indicate the study track of their choice, but their selection, however, is not binding. The study track selected by the applicant will be taken into consideration when assessing the applicability of previous studies and the motivation letter. Certificates of employment or statements made by supervisors on research related to the field of the programme can be attached to the application.

First stage

All eligible applicants will be assessed on the basis of their application documents and in accordance with the criteria below (each scored on a scale of 0–5):

1. Applicability of previous studies to the Master’s programme

 

0-5 points

2. Academic performance in completed studies required for the programme (grade level and study progress in relation to time used for the studies)

 

0-5 points

3. Motivation letter

 

0-5 points

 

In the first assessment stage, applicants with more than a minimum score of 11 will be ranked based on their score. Of these, the best 40 will be selected for interviews held in the second assessment stage.

Applicants with a degree from a university of applied sciences will be assessed at the same time and on the same grounds as other applicants. However, work experience of no less than a year in a scientific research group after completing their degree will be taken into consideration when a significant share of the experience is from independent research work. The quantity and quality of research work experience must be clearly stated on the certificate of employment or a statement made by the supervisor attached to the application. Research work experience will be assessed during the first assessment stage when assessing the applicability of previous studies.

Second stage

The video interviews consist of a certain number of predetermined questions that further delve into the prior studies, objectives and potential research experience included in the application documents. The interviews will be assessed and documented on a scale of 0–5. Admission to the programme requires participation in the interview.

The interviews will be conducted with the help of the Skype application. The interviews will be primarily arranged in English. Applicants who wish to complete the degree in Finnish or Swedish may, however, ask for the interview to be conducted in the language they have selected for their degree in their application. Applicants should have a Skype username and be able to conduct the interview online.

Student selection

Admissions are based on the combined score from the two assessment stages. The minimum requirement is a score of 16. Based on total scores, the best 20 applicants will be admitted to the programme. The rest of applicants with a score of 16 or more will be put on a reserve list.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked firstly on the basis of an interview, secondly on the basis of applicable studies, thirdly on the basis of academic performance and fourthly on the basis of the motivation letter.

Admissions to the ECGS programme are based on the following criteria, each of which will be scored on a scale of 0–10:

1. Applicability of previous studies to the Master’s programme

 

0-10 points

2. Academic performance in completed studies required for the programme (grades, study progress)

 

0-10 points

3. Motivation letter (including the study plan)

 

0-10 points

The required minimum score for each criterion is 6.

The applicant's preliminary study plan is assessed together with the motivation letter.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked firstly on the basis of applicable studies, secondly on the basis of academic performance, and thirdly on the basis of the motivation letter.