Abstract The role of emotions in the educational context is one of the lines of research that has generated most interest in recent years. This study explores the level of emotional intelligence (EI) and motivation towards studying of primary school (PS) students, as well as the relationship between both variables. For this, a quasi-experimental design has been used with an accidental sample of 541 students from public centers in the province of Pontevedra (Spain). The instruments used were a School Motivation Scale and an EI questionnaire for primary school students, based on the five areas of Goleman EI. The results maintain a mid to high level of EI in all of the factors (self-conscience, self-control, emotional use, empathy and social skills) and a good level of academic motivation. Therefore, they show a positive and significant correlation of both variables. Girls have a higher emotional intelligence index and there is no difference in academic motivation in terms of gender. Based on these results, it is suggested to implement programs that consolidate emotional competences given their importance in the psychoevolutionary development of students and their relationship with academic motivation.