Purpose: Interprofessional Education (IPE) may depend for its success not only on cognitive gains of learners, but also on affective and motivational benefits. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a major motivation theory, autonomy (feeling of choice), competence (feeling of capability), and relatedness (feeling of belonging) drive motivation in a way that can improve performance. We investigated which elements of IPE in a clinical ward potentially influence students’ feelings in these three areas. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 21 students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy attending a three-week IPE ward and analyzed the data using a realist approach. Two researchers independently identified meaning units using open coding. Thirteen themes were synthesized. Next, meaning units, expressing autonomy, competence, or relatedness were discerned. Results: Students appeared motivated for an IPE ward, with its authentic situations making them feel responsible to actively contribute to care plans, by understanding how professions differ in their contributions and analytic approach and by informal contact with other professions, enhanced by a dedicated physical space for team meetings. Conclusion: Students valued the IPE ward experience and autonomous motivation for IPE was triggered. They mentioned practical ways to incorporate what they learned in future interprofessional collaboration, e.g. in next placements.