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Statement of Purpose vs Cover Letter: What’s the Difference?

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December 10, 2023

statement of purpose or cover letter

When embarking on the path to higher education or stepping into the job market, understanding the “statement of purpose vs cover letter” distinction is not just beneficial—it’s essential. This article aims to demystify these two critical documents, highlighting their unique purposes and guiding you on how to craft each one effectively. While both are pivotal in their respective arenas—be it applying for a graduate program or a new job position—they serve different goals and address different audiences. The statement of purpose is your ticket to showcasing academic prowess and research aspirations to admissions committees. In contrast, the cover letter is your opportunity to demonstrate to a potential employer how your past experiences and skills make you the ideal candidate for a specific job opening. Navigating these distinctions can be the difference between a successful application and a missed opportunity.

Understanding the Basics

What is a statement of purpose (sop).

An SOP is a formal document required for graduate school applications. It’s where you describe your academic journey. You highlight why you’re interested in a particular program. It’s your chance to showcase your passion for the subject. The SOP should reflect your research interests. It also shows how you can contribute to the program.

Role in Graduate Program Applications: The SOP is vital in grad school applications. It helps the admissions committee understand you better. They learn about your academic interests and goals. It’s more than just your grades and scores. The SOP paints a picture of you as a prospective student.

Emphasis on Academic Background and Research Interests: In the SOP, your academic history is crucial. You talk about key research projects you’ve been part of. Discuss how these experiences have shaped your career goals. The SOP should connect your past studies to your future plans.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a professional letter used in job applications. It complements your resume. The cover letter gives a personal touch to your application. It’s where you connect your skills to the job requirements.

Usage in Job Applications: In job searches, a cover letter is often required. It’s your first direct communication with a potential employer. The cover letter can set you apart from other applicants. It’s a chance to show why you’re a good fit for the job.

Focus on Past Experiences and Relevance to the Specific Job Opening: In your cover letter, highlight your work experience. Link your skills to the job description. Show how your past roles have prepared you for this new position. It’s about making a clear connection between your abilities and the employer’s needs.

Key Differences between Statement of Purpose and Cover Letter

Purpose and Audience: Firstly, the Statement of Purpose (SOP) specifically targets admission committees. Students use it for graduate school applications. It’s a tool to showcase academic potential and research aspirations. On the other hand, a cover letter addresses potential employers or hiring managers. Its goal is to connect the applicant with a job opportunity.

Content and Structure: Furthermore, the SOP involves a detailed discussion. It delves into your academic and research projects, along with future plans. This document allows you to elaborate on your educational journey and aspirations. Conversely, the cover letter aligns your professional experience with the job’s requirements. It relates your past roles and skills to what the employer seeks.

Tone and Style: Additionally, the tone of an SOP is notably academic. It focuses on intellectual pursuits and academic achievements. This style suits the purpose of impressing an admissions committee. In contrast, a cover letter adopts a professional tone. It’s tailored to demonstrate how you’re a good fit for the company. The style is direct and geared towards convincing an employer of your suitability for the job.

Importance in Application Processes

Statement of Purpose (SOP): The Gatekeeper for Graduate School Applications Primarily, the SOP serves as a gatekeeper in the graduate school application process. It plays a crucial role in determining your admission. This document allows you to showcase your academic strengths and research interests. Importantly, it gives the admissions committee a glimpse into your potential as a graduate student. Essentially, the SOP can make or break your application. Therefore, crafting an impactful SOP is critical for aspiring graduate students.

Cover Letter: Essential for a Strong First Impression in Job Searches Similarly, in the realm of job searches, the cover letter holds immense importance. It acts as your first point of contact with a potential employer. The cover letter provides a unique opportunity to make a strong first impression. It enables you to highlight how your experiences align with the job requirements. Effectively, a well-crafted cover letter can set you apart from other candidates. As such, dedicating time to personalize and polish your cover letter is key to a successful job application.

How to Write an Effective Statement of Purpose

Discussing Career Goals, Motivation, and Relevant Experiences First and foremost, clearly articulate your career goals in your Statement of Purpose (SOP). Explain why you are passionate about the specific degree program. Additionally, connect these goals to your motivation for pursuing higher education. Moreover, don’t forget to include relevant experiences. These could be academic projects, internships, or relevant work experience. These details provide a solid foundation for your SOP.

Tips for Highlighting Particular Interests and Connections Furthermore, it’s beneficial to highlight your specific research interests. This approach shows the admissions committee that you have a clear direction. Also, if applicable, mention any connection with specific professors or schools. For instance, you might be interested in a particular professor’s research. Or, you might find a school’s program aligns perfectly with your interests. Importantly, such details make your SOP stand out. They demonstrate your commitment and thorough research about the program.

Personalizing Your SOP Lastly, personalize your SOP. It should reflect your unique journey and aspirations. Avoid generic statements. Instead, offer a compelling narrative about your academic pursuits. This personal touch can greatly enhance the impact of your SOP.

Crafting the Perfect Cover Letter

Matching Skills and Experiences with the Job Description Firstly, when crafting a cover letter, it’s crucial to align your skills and experiences with the job description. Carefully analyze the job posting. Identify the key skills and experiences the employer is seeking. Then, reflect these in your cover letter. For example, if the job emphasizes teamwork, include a relevant experience where you excelled in a team setting.

Addressing the Letter and Including Contact Information Moreover, the way you address your cover letter sets the tone. Use a professional greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager.” This approach is respectful and universally appropriate. Also, ensure your contact information is clearly visible. Typically, include this at the top of the letter. This makes it easy for potential employers to reach out to you.

Enhancing Your Cover Letter with Professional Help Additionally, for those seeking an extra edge, Simply Great Resumes offers an invaluable resource. Their all-in-one bundle includes four professional resume and matching cover letter templates. These templates provide a unified and polished look. Notably, they are ATS optimized. This means they are designed for maximum compatibility with Applicant Tracking Systems. Moreover, the templates offer user-friendly customization. This allows you to easily adapt them to showcase your unique skills and experiences. For a one-time purchase of $29.99, you gain immediate, lifetime access to all these templates. This is an excellent value for those looking to streamline their application process.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding Overlaps in Content between SOP and Cover Letter Firstly, a common mistake is overlapping content between your Statement of Purpose (SOP) and cover letter. Although they may seem similar, it’s crucial to differentiate the two. The SOP should focus on your academic interests and research goals. In contrast, your cover letter should align your professional experiences with the job you’re applying for. Therefore, tailor each document to its specific purpose to avoid redundancy.

Steering Clear of Generic Statements Moreover, generic statements are a pitfall in both SOPs and cover letters. They lack personalization and fail to engage the reader. Instead, customize your content to the specific position or graduate program. For a cover letter, relate directly to the job description and company culture. For an SOP, discuss specific aspects of the graduate program that excite you. This approach shows you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested.

Emphasizing Unique Personal and Professional Qualities Furthermore, it’s important to highlight what makes you unique. In your SOP, share personal stories or experiences that led you to your academic interests. In your cover letter, mention specific professional achievements that make you stand out. This personal touch can make a significant difference in catching the reader’s attention.

Additional Considerations

Incorporating Volunteer Work, Extracurricular Activities, and Relevant Skills Firstly, when crafting your Statement of Purpose or cover letter, consider including volunteer work and extracurricular activities. These experiences often demonstrate skills that are valuable in both academic and professional settings. Additionally, they can showcase your character and personal values. Moreover, don’t forget to highlight other relevant skills that may not be directly related to your field of study or work but still add value to your profile.

The Importance of Tailoring Each Document Furthermore, tailoring each document to a specific company, school, or program is crucial. For the SOP, research the particular school or program. Then, mention aspects of it that align with your academic goals. Also, show how you can contribute to their academic community. Similarly, for the cover letter, study the company and the job description. Subsequently, align your experiences and skills with what the company seeks. Tailoring documents in this way not only demonstrates your interest but also shows that you have put thought and effort into your application.

Reflecting a Well-Rounded Personality Lastly, it’s important to present a well-rounded image of yourself. Both in the SOP and the cover letter, balancing professional achievements with personal qualities is key. This holistic approach can significantly enhance the appeal of your application, making you more memorable to the committee or potential employer.

Final Thoughts: Sealing Your Academic and Professional Journey

In conclusion, understanding the distinctions between a Statement of Purpose (SOP) and a cover letter is crucial for your success, whether in academia or the job market. The SOP, targeting admissions committees, emphasizes your academic journey and research aspirations. It’s your platform to showcase intellectual curiosity and suitability for a graduate program. Conversely, the cover letter, aimed at potential employers, highlights how your experiences and skills align with a specific job’s requirements. It’s your chance to demonstrate professional fit and interest in a particular role.

The key differences in purpose, audience, content, structure, tone, and style between these two documents cannot be overstated. A well-crafted SOP can open doors to academic opportunities, while an effective cover letter can pave the way to your dream job. Therefore, investing time and effort into personalizing these documents is essential. Tailoring them to specific programs or job descriptions, and ensuring they reflect your unique skills and experiences, will significantly enhance your applications.

Remember, these documents are more than just formalities; they are opportunities to make a meaningful impression. So, take the time to craft them thoughtfully, making sure they authentically represent your ambitions and abilities. With the right approach, your SOP and cover letter can become powerful tools for achieving your academic and professional goals.

Additional Resources

Here are links to resources for further reading on crafting excellent Statements of Purpose:

  • Purdue OWL’s Guide on Drafting Your Statement of Purpose : A comprehensive guide from Purdue University offering detailed advice on writing Statements of Purpose for graduate school applications. Access it here: Purdue OWL – Statements of Purpose: Drafting Your Statement .
  • Northeastern University’s Guide on Writing a Statement of Purpose : This article from Northeastern University breaks down the SOP writing process into manageable steps, providing insights on how to impress admissions committees. You can find it here: Northeastern University – How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School .
  • Scribbr’s Example and Guide for Statement of Purpose : Scribbr offers a detailed example of a successful Statement of Purpose for a Classical Archaeology program, highlighting key aspects to include in your SOP. Explore it here: Scribbr – How to Write a Statement of Purpose .

Cover Letter vs Personal Statement [With Examples]

When it comes to applying for a job or a graduate program, you may come across two common requirements: a cover letter and a personal statement. While they may seem similar, there are key differences between the two that every applicant should be aware of. In this article, we'll explore what a personal statement and a cover letter are, when they are used, their similarities and differences, and provide examples of each.

What is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a brief essay that highlights your skills, experiences, and goals. It is usually required for graduate school applications, but it can also be requested by employers. The purpose of a personal statement is to demonstrate your fit for a program or a position by showcasing your unique qualifications and motivations.

A personal statement should be well-crafted and tailored to the specific program or position you are applying for. It should showcase your strengths and demonstrate your passion for your field. Your personal statement should also highlight any relevant experiences, such as research projects or internships, that have prepared you for the program or position you are applying for.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume when applying for a job. It is a formal letter that introduces you to a potential employer and explains why you are interested in the job and how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the position.

A cover letter should be personalized for each job application and should not simply restate your resume. It should highlight your skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job, and explain how you will add value to the organization. A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and can increase your chances of getting an interview.

When is Each Used?

A personal statement is typically used for graduate school applications, while a cover letter is used for job applications. However, there may be some overlap in certain situations, such as when applying for a job in academia or research, where a personal statement may be requested instead of a cover letter.


Both a personal statement and a cover letter are used to showcase your qualifications and explain why you are a good fit for a program or a position. They are both formal documents that require careful attention to detail and should be tailored to the specific program or position you are applying for.


The main difference between a personal statement and a cover letter is their purpose. A personal statement is meant to demonstrate your fit for a program and showcase your unique qualifications and motivations, while a cover letter is meant to introduce you to a potential employer and explain why you are interested in the job and how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the position.

Another key difference is their length. A personal statement is typically longer than a cover letter and may be several pages, while a cover letter is usually one page or less.

Cover Letter Examples

Example 1: marketing coordinator cover letter.

Why this works: This cover letter is tailored to the specific job and company, highlighting the candidate's relevant experience and achievements. The tone is professional and enthusiastic, showing the candidate's passion for the industry and desire to contribute to the company's success.

Example 2: Sales Representative Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter focuses on the candidate's sales experience and achievements, emphasizing their ability to meet and exceed targets and build strong relationships with clients. The language is confident and persuasive, showing the candidate's ability to sell themselves and their skills.

Example 3: Human Resources Manager Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter highlights the candidate's extensive HR experience and achievements, showing their ability to lead and innovate in the field. The tone is professional and confident, demonstrating the candidate's ability to establish credibility and build relationships with stakeholders.

Example 4: Graphic Designer Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter showcases the candidate's design skills and experience, emphasizing their ability to create compelling visuals and drive user engagement. The tone is enthusiastic and passionate, conveying the candidate's love for design and eagerness to contribute to the company's creative vision.

Personal Statement Examples

Example 1: medical school personal statement.

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's motivation and passion for medicine, demonstrating their commitment to the field and their desire to make a difference. The language is clear and concise, showing the candidate's ability to communicate their ideas effectively.

Example 2: Law School Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's motivation and passion for law, demonstrating their commitment to social justice and their desire to use the law as a tool for positive change. The language is clear and persuasive, showing the candidate's ability to make a compelling argument.

Example 3: MBA Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's professional experience and goals, demonstrating their commitment to business leadership and their desire to use the MBA program as a platform for growth and development. The language is clear and results-oriented, showing the candidate's ability to apply their skills and knowledge to real-world problems.

Example 4: Education Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's experience and goals as an educator, showing their commitment to teaching, learning, and innovation. The language is clear and enthusiastic, demonstrating the candidate's ability to inspire and motivate both students and colleagues.

Statement of purpose vs. personal statement: knowing the difference

If you’re applying to graduate school, then you might remember the headaches of that application process that you encountered many years ago. Maybe you struggled to decide on a topic for the personal statement, maybe you debated which extracurriculars were worth listing, or maybe you were torn between taking the ACT or SAT. But for all the anxieties induced by college applications, at least those applications (especially, if you remember, those sent through the Common App) spoke the same language: that is, most schools needed the same essential materials, asked the same kinds of questions, and expected the same kinds of answers.

Graduate school applications, by contrast, are far less universal. Since many programs are highly specialized, you may be applying to several programs that each require their own unique statements and supporting materials. Even if you are applying to seemingly identical programs, one school may ask for a one-page statement while another asks for three pages, one school may ask for five recommendations while another asks for three; the variations are endless! Just wrapping your head around the different application requirements can be tiring. 

In this post, I want to de-mystify one difference that I found particularly disorienting when I applied to graduate school: the distinction between the “statement of purpose” and the “personal statement.” Most graduate schools will ask for a statement of purpose, and only some will ask for a personal statement, so in the majority of cases, the statement of purpose is considerably more important. But pointing out the difference between the two statements also emphasizes what exactly a statement of purpose is (and what it is not!).

As I mentioned earlier, the confusing lack of common terms across graduate school applications means that the following distinction might not even hold for all applications. You may, for example, come across a program that asks for a “personal statement,” but the actual essay prompt essentially describes the more standard “statement of purpose.” Or you might encounter a request for a very specific kind of personal statement--one that, for example, only focuses on your ethnic background. Be sure to fully read each application and any accompanying resources so that you address exactly what each application requires. With that important caveat aside, here are the distinctions for what are most commonly called the “statement of purpose” and the “personal statement:”

Statement of Purpose

Think of the statement of purpose like a cover letter. You might start off with something autobiographical or anecdotal, but most of the essay should be about your relevant training and technical career goals.

A strong statement of purpose should:

  • Focus on your specific research interests within a particular field
  • Detail how your academic and professional experiences have developed those research interests and prepared you to pursue them at a higher academic level
  • Explain how those research interests can be pursued at this particular institution in this particular program

Here are some tips for writing an effective statement of purpose:

  • Spend at least a paragraph discussing your interest in the specific program to which you’re applying. List specific professors whose work aligns with your own academic experience or research interests (and explain that connection). List specific institutions, programs, and opportunities associated with the program and explain how you would utilize them.
  • Be as specific as possible about your research interests. This doesn’t mean you should know exactly what your dissertation topic will be in five years, but you should be able to identify a specific field within the department and professors who work in that field. Often admissions decisions are based on specialties (an English department probably doesn’t want an entire class studying Victorian literature and a biology department probably doesn’t want an entire class researching genetics), so narrowing your field can be essential.
  • Anecdotes and autobiography can be effective in your introduction, but make sure the bulk of your statement is technical and academic. Only include extra-curriculars if they directly relate to your research interests. In all likelihood, your personal history has shaped your research interests, and your statement of purpose shouldn’t sound like a generic, lifeless script. But you primarily want to prove to the committee that you can succeed in coursework, excel in lab, finish a dissertation, or teach an undergraduate class.

Personal Statement

Think of the personal statement, by contrast, as more of a bio. You still want to mention your research interests and the specific program you’re applying to, but you also have an opportunity to flesh out your personal history. 

A strong personal statement should:

  • Focus on the intersection of your personal, academic, and professional lives
  • Detail various life experiences that have developed your character, work-ethic, and perspective
  • Explain how your background particularly suits your for this program and/or will allow you to contribute a unique perspective to the community 

Some tips for writing an effective personal statement:

  • Some institutions use the personal statement to assign various fellowships based on students’ backgrounds. If you’ve overcome or still face any barriers to education, this is an opportunity to explain those experiences.
  • If you haven’t overcome any significant barriers, don’t stretch the truth. Instead, you might talk about how certain experiences have shaped your perspective or widened your understanding of the barriers that others face. Maybe you haven’t experienced any significant hardships but are still driven to help others who do, and you can discuss how this program will help you to achieve that goal. Or you might explain how you look forward to learning from a diverse and dynamic academic community.
  • Though the personal statement is an opportunity to share information about yourself that might not directly map onto your academic career, you should still explain how your personal experiences ultimately make you a stronger student, colleague, and/or teacher.

Hopefully these distinctions have helped to clarify some key terms you’ll encounter while applying to graduate school. While these essays are usually the hardest part of applications, they can also be the most rewarding. If you think carefully about why exactly you want to apply to a program, what exactly you would study while there, and how that experience fits into your larger personal history, you’ll be both a stronger candidate and graduate student.

Related Content

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Statements of Purpose: Drafting Your Statement

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The statement of purpose is perhaps the most important, and most challenging, element of your application packet. This letter needs to reflect who you are and why you would be an asset to the program you are applying to. It needs to make you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and yet stay within the genre-based expectations for a statement of purpose. This resource provides information on writing statements of purpose specifically for graduate school applications.

Write one essay for each program. Although they may sound similar, each program’s statement prompts asks for slightly different pieces of information about who you are. You may be fortunate to have two or three similar prompts for a few programs, but even then, remember that you must meld your own interests with the opportunities available at each particular program--so, no two statements should read exactly alike. In essence, be prepared to draft (and continuously revise) dedicated statements for each program application. Don’t send out a boilerplate essay.

Attempt to create one unifying theme in your narrative. Some applications ask you to include the answers to broad prompts in your statement. For instance, the only instructions you get may be: describe your goals and preparation to pursue graduate study in no more than 1500 words. Conversely, others may ask you to answer a series of very specific questions such as your reasons for applying to their program in particular, how your background fits into your professional goals, how your past achievements would aid you during your time in graduate school, and what you have learned from your prior professional experience. Regardless of the particular kind of writing situation, attempt to fit your narrative into one unifying theme. For example, if your essay focuses on how family has played an important role in your decision to go to graduate school, do not throw in an experience from your trip to a foreign country as another factor in your decision making process unless it is strongly tied with the overall theme of family. Also, be sure to stick to the word limits.

Strong statements of purpose answer four important questions that inform admissions committees of who you are professionally and personally.

Professionally, statements of purpose answer two questions for the committee.

First: what kind of work are you interested in doing in graduate school?

Be specific, don’t make the mistake of thinking that being vague in your focus will reach a wider audience. For instance, if you mainly want to study business ethics with two prominent faculty members who focus on that topic, write that in your statement. Do not worry that you are pigeonholing yourself by being specific and instead list several other areas that you could be interested in. There will not be enough time to go into all of these areas and it will make your statement sound aimless and disconnected.

Second: why is the program you are applying to a good fit for you?

This is where your online research on each program comes into play. Be specific about what makes the program that you are applying to your ideal choice. Avoid general statements such as “your program is one of the best in the country.” Focus more on the specific things that you think make it great—for you and your research in particular. If it has a good instructor to student ratio, how will that benefit you? If what separates the program from the rest is that it provides excellent field training before you graduate, how will you take advantage of this? Be specific. You may also talk about your goals after grad school. Where do you see yourself? Does the program have a good history in helping other students get there? You don’t have to be one hundred percent certain about your future plans; no one will pull your application essay before you graduate and express shock and disappointment if your interests happen to change. But generally, going to graduate school is a huge commitment. Admission committees want to know that you understand this and that you envision some type of gain for your dedication.

A word of caution: Avoid changing your statement just to get into a program if it is a bad fit for you. You’ll save yourself time and money down the line.

Be aware that while it is generally a good idea to be as honest about your intentions as possible, avoid being too candid about your reasons for applying to a certain school if they are less than scholarly. For instance, admission committees do not want to hear that you are applying to their program primarily because of the school’s proximity to significant others, family, friends; because it is located in a place with a great college town feeling; or, because it offers a variety of funding opportunities (however, you could probably mention this last one in passing if their funding is outstanding among other programs, signaling a dedication to its students’ goals).

Personally, statements of purpose also answer two questions for the committee.

First: What matters to you—and why?

The committee will receive a lot of data about you. The statement of purpose allows you to give that data meaning. It is important that you not just rephrase whatever is on your CV or resume because this won’t get at the meaning behind your experiences. A job or a class may have lasted only a few months, but it may have been the impetus for you to go to graduate school because of a unique experience that occurred there. The statement of purpose should give the committee a sense of who you are and how you have personally interpreted events in your life.

Second: How are you unique from the other candidates?

Above all, avoid playing it safe with bland language. It can be tempting to resist making yourself stand out in your statement because you don’t want to ruin your chances by “sounding weird.” Ironically, this type of information may be what makes you the most compelling candidate. Graduate program committees receive dozens—sometimes hundreds—of applications each year. Make your voice stand out among the rest by showing that you are not only professional but that there’s a person behind the important decisions you have made. What was the human element that motivated you to get you to where you are?

Many people wonder whether they should mention their minority status. Generally, you should mention your minority status only if it pertains to your studies. For instance, did working with a minority group (that you belong to) motivate you to go to graduate school? How so? Are you interested in undertaking minority issues once you have earned your degree—and, if so, in what capacity? For example, once you earn your Masters in Social Work, are you hoping to help Hispanic individuals who suffer from serious and persistent mental illness? Tie this with your background to give this goal some context.

Remember to switch over between other graduate application tasks such as asking for letters of recommendation, ordering your transcripts, filling out the questionnaire for each school, and so forth. This will break up the writing task and help to re-energize you.

Works Consulted

Getting In: A Step-By-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 1997. Print.

Kaplan, Inc. Get into Graduate School: A Strategic Approach . New York: Simon & Schuster. 2003. Print.

Stelzer, Richard J. How to Write a Winning Personal Statement for Graduate and Professional School . 3rd. ed. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson’s Publishing, 2002. Print.

Stewart, Mark Allen. Peterson's How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement . Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson’s Publishing, 2009. Print.

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  • Knowledge Base
  • Applying to graduate school

How to Write a Statement of Purpose | Example

Published on February 13, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 1, 2023.

When you apply for graduate programs or scholarships, the admissions committee is looking for more than just a list of grades. The statement of purpose (also known as a statement of intent or motivation letter) is your chance to stand out from the crowd and showcase your motivation, skills and potential. It should:

  • Outline your academic or professional interests and goals
  • Discuss relevant skills, experience and achievements
  • Demonstrate why you’d be a good fit for the program

Table of contents

Successful statement of purpose example, requirements and prompts, personal introduction, experience and achievements, goals and motivations, fit with the program, tips for an effective statement of purpose, other interesting articles.

The torment of the Founding Fathers is responsible for my interest in Classics. My desire to learn Latin stemmed from reading American Revolutionary-era history during junior high and high school, and particularly from the countless Latin quotations I found in John Adams’ writings. Always eager for a challenge, I was intrigued by the American founders’ accounts of the torture of learning such a difficult language. In my first semester at university, I started learning Latin and thoroughly loved it. As I learned more and more about classical civilization through the language, I realized that I was passionately interested in many aspects of the field of Classics. I have since taken courses on mythology, art and archaeology, and religion, on ancient history, and on the classical tradition. I have also learned Greek, of course, starting with an intensive two-semester course at the university’s summer school. My experience studying abroad in Florence and traveling through Italy and Greece intensified my zeal for the field and, in particular, fueled my ambition to specialize in classical archaeology.

My personal philosophy of life is that everything is connected, and this conviction drives my desire to study Classics. The most rewarding moments for me are discovering and investigating connections – both broad ones, between fields and disciplines, and more specific ones, like the relationship between a piece of literature and an object of material culture. My liberal arts education has equipped me with a broad base of knowledge in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts, and in the honors program I pursued independent projects exploring academic and personal connections, including a paper on ancient Mayan astronomy, a self-observation study on the effects of nutrition and hydration on exercise performance, and a paper on the influence of political context on the changing artistic representations of John Adams. By seeking out connections between seemingly unrelated areas of academia, I have acquired a well-rounded outlook which helps me approach new ideas with both a range of prior experiences and a mind always open to different interpretations.

In accordance with my personal philosophy, I have also continued to explore connections within Classics and between Classics and other fields. In 2007, I published an article in my university’s undergraduate humanities journal; inspired by my studies in Florence, I compared representations of the birth of Venus in ancient and Renaissance literature and art. My major academic achievement to date, however, has been my senior honor thesis on John Adams’ connection to the Classics. Funded by a Hilldale Research Fellowship, I conducted research in the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society and in John Adams’ personal library at the Boston Public Library on the influence of the classical tradition on Adams’ worldview and how he consciously modeled himself on classical ideals. It was particularly fulfilling to connect historical and classical research in writing about the figure most responsible for instigating my study of the Classics.

As well as my research skills, I have demonstrated proficiency in the classical languages, winning prizes for both Latin and Greek translation from the Classics Department, as well as receiving an enthusiastic nomination from the department for the Pearson Fellowship from the American Philological Association. I am also the president of the undergraduate Classics Society, which allows me to share my enthusiasm for Classics with other students and the larger community.

One of the most appealing aspects of studying Classics is the vast range of topics encompassed by the field. Because my interests are broad and I value an interdisciplinary approach, I would like to pursue graduate study ultimately leading to a PhD in Classical Archaeology. Archaeology in itself is, of course, a multi-faceted field, requiring knowledge of history, language, anthropology, and various scientific and technological methods. I have already started building my skills in this area: I participated in a microartifact analysis from the excavation of a Maya site in Belize as part of an honors project, and this summer I will take part in two archaeological projects in Turkey after working as a research assistant on related material in the spring semester. This PhD program includes many other opportunities I am eager to explore, such as palaeography and papyrology courses, and especially the variety of fieldwork and museum experiences available. I believe that my strong background in the classical languages and wide range of courses on classical civilization and archaeological methods have prepared me well for this program, and I am convinced that, guided by my philosophy of interconnectedness, I will flourish in this program.

The first step is to read the application instructions. These should include the length of the document (usually 1-2 pages), any formatting requirements, and often a question or prompt that indicates what you should focus on.

In some cases, you might also be asked to submit a personal statement . Similar advice applies to both of these documents—both should give a sense of who you are, what you’ve done and what you want to do. But a statement of purpose is often more formal, tightly focused on your academic background and your suitability for the program.

If you are working on multiple applications, don’t try to write a one-size-fits-all text—tailor your statement of purpose to each program. Make sure to respond to the prompt and include all the information you’re asked for. A typical statement of purpose prompt looks like this:

Your focus will be slightly different depending on whether you’re applying for research-based academic programs (such as a PhD ) or professional qualifications (such as an MBA). But all statements of purpose should contain the following elements.

This is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and let them hear your voice. The statement of purpose shouldn’t tell your life story, but it should give a glimpse into who you are.

Academic and personal background

Give an overview of your academic background, and show what drives your interest in this field or profession. You might want to include some personal background too—your family history, social circumstances, personal relationships and life experiences have all shaped your trajectory and perspective. What unique insights will you bring with you?

Characteristics and personality

Think about aspects of your character that make you well-suited for graduate school. Don’t just list generic adjectives—give examples that demonstrate your strengths and show why they’re relevant.

  • Are you organized enough to handle a high-pressure workload?
  • Do you have the creativity needed to develop original ideas, or a systematic mindset perfect for problem-solving?
  • Do you have strong leadership skills, or are you great at working collaboratively?

Avoid including irrelevant autobiographical detail in the statement of purpose. Everything you include should be aimed at showing why you’d be a strong candidate for the program.

Your experience shows that you have the necessary skills to succeed in graduate school. Don’t just summarize everything you’ve done—pick out some highlights to build a clear picture of your strengths and priorities, illustrating how you’ve learned and developed along the way.

Academic experience

If you’re applying for a research-focused program, such as a PhD, show your knowledge of the field and outline your research experience. This might include:

  • A brief summary of your thesis or final project
  • Courses that you found particularly valuable
  • Projects you contributed to
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Extracurriculars that gave you relevant skills or experience

Professional experience

If you’re applying for a professional program, such as an MBA, outline your experience so far and show how it relates to your career plans. This might include:

  • Past or current job roles
  • Projects you led or participated in
  • Internships
  • Voluntary work
  • Training courses

In all cases, give specific examples with details of what you worked on, what you achieved, and what you got out of the experience.

As well as showing that you’re prepared for the program, explain what you expect to get out of it. What are your motivations for applying? How do you plan to make the most of its opportunities, and how will it help you achieve your goals?

Academic motivations

For academic programs, indicate your research interests, showing how they follow from and build upon what you have studied so far. This might include:

  • A subfield that you want to strengthen your expertise in
  • A specific problem or question that you’d like to address
  • An initial idea for a research project
  • A theoretical or methodological approach that you want to develop

This isn’t the place for an in-depth research plan, but it’s a chance to show your enthusiasm and knowledge of your field.

Professional motivations

For professional programs, outline your career aspirations and show how your experience informs your goals. This might include:

  • The next step you want to take in your career. What position are you aiming for and how will the program help you achieve it?
  • Your motivations for a career change. Can you make a link between your previous experience and your new direction?
  • Your long-term goals. Where do you want to be in five or ten years, and how do you see yourself getting there?

The admissions committee wants to know that you’re genuinely motivated to complete the program, and the clearer your plans, the more convincing your commitment.

It’s important to show not only why you want to study this subject, but also why you want to do it in this particular institution and department.

  • Do your research, and mention particular classes, specialisms or faculty that attracted you.
  • Show why you’re a good fit. Do your priorities align with the values and culture of the institution? What will you contribute to the department?
  • Discuss the specific skills, knowledge and experience you expect to get from the program.

The statement of purpose isn’t only about selling yourself—it’s about illustrating an ideal match between you and the program.

Once you’ve made sure to cover all the key elements, you can work on strengthening and polishing the text. Follow these tips to make your application the best it can be.

Stay focused

It can be tempting to try to cram in everything you’ve done, but a good statement of purpose requires careful selection to craft a focused narrative. One way to do this is by building your text around a central theme—for example, a character trait, an intellectual interest, or a career goal.

This strategy helps structure your text and puts your priorities centre stage. Link each paragraph back to the central idea, making it clear how everything fits together.

Think about your structure

The structure of a statement of purpose is somewhat flexible, as long as you include all the relevant information in an order that makes sense.

For example, you might start with a chronological story of where your interests began, or you might open with your goals and then select a series of examples that show your capacity to achieve them. If you’re desperate to study in this specific program, you could lead with a summary of why it’s your ideal choice, and then elaborate on each aspect to show why you’re a perfect fit.

The important thing is that the text showcases your strengths and motivations in a compelling, coherent way. As in any other piece of academic writing, make sure each paragraph communicates one main idea, and that each sentence flows smoothly and logically from the last. Use transition words and topic sentences to move between paragraphs.

Add meaning to your resume

The bare facts of your achievements—grades, prizes, work experience—are already included in your graduate school resume and transcripts. Use the statement of purpose not to repeat yourself, but to add personal meaning and texture to these facts.

If you got top marks for your thesis, describe the research process and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the topic. If you completed an internship or participated in a project, explain what new skills you learned and which aspects you found most valuable. If you already have lots of experience in the field, show how each step developed your skills and shaped your current plans.

Revise, edit, proofread

Your statement of purpose isn’t only about the content—it’s also a chance to show that you can express yourself fluently, confidently and coherently in writing. Spend plenty of time revising, editing and proofreading your text before you submit.

Make sure you stay within the recommended length, and check if there are any specific formatting requirements. If not, use a standard 12pt font, 1-inch margins and 1.5 line spacing.

When you have a final draft, our professional statement of purpose proofreading service can offer an extra pair of eyes to make sure every sentence is perfect.

Proofread my statement of purpose

Checklist: Statement of purpose

My statement of purpose clearly responds to the prompt.

I have introduced my academic, professional and/or personal background.

I have described any relevant experience and shown my development over time.

I have highlighted key achievements that demonstrate my talents.

There is a clear connection between my previous experience and my future plans.

I have explained how the program will help me achieve my goals.

I have mentioned specific aspects of the program, department and institution that appeal to me.

Every paragraph focuses on one central idea.

The paragraphs are organized in a logical order and tell a clear, coherent story.

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Congrats! You’ve chosen a graduate program , read up on tips for applying to grad school , and even wrote a focused grad school resumé . But if you’re like many students, you’ve left the most daunting part of the application process for last—writing a statement of purpose. The good news is, the task doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming, as long as you break the process down into simple, actionable steps. Below, learn how to write a strong, unique statement of purpose that will impress admissions committees and increase your chances of getting into your dream school.

What is a statement of purpose?

A statement of purpose (SOP), sometimes referred to as a personal statement, is a critical piece of a graduate school application that tells admissions committees who you are, what your academic and professional interests are, and how you’ll add value to the graduate program you’re applying to.

Jared Pierce, associate director of enrollment services at Northeastern University, says a strong statement of purpose can be the deciding factor in a graduate student’s admission.  

“Your statement of purpose is where you tell your story about who you are and why you deserve to be a part of the [university’s] community. It gives the admissions committee the chance to get to know you and understand how you’ll add value to the classroom,” he says.

How long should a statement of purpose be?

“A statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words,” Pierce says, noting that it should typically not exceed a single page. He advises that students use a traditional font at a readable size (11- or 12-pt) and leave enough whitespace in the margins to make the statement easy-to-read. Make sure to double-space the statement if the university has requested it, he adds. 

Interested in learning more about Northeastern’s graduate programs?

Get your questions answered by our enrollment team.


How to Write a Statement of Purpose: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you understand how to format a statement of purpose, you can begin drafting your own. Getting started can feel daunting, but Pierce suggests making the process more manageable by breaking down the writing process into four easy steps.

1. Brainstorm your ideas.

First, he says, try to reframe the task at hand and get excited for the opportunity to write your statement of purpose. He explains:

“Throughout the application process, you’re afforded few opportunities to address the committee directly. Here is your chance to truly speak directly to them. Each student arrives at this process with a unique story, including prior jobs, volunteer experience, or undergraduate studies. Think about what makes you you and start outlining.”

When writing your statement of purpose, he suggests asking yourself these key questions:

  • Why do I want this degree?
  • What are my expectations for this degree?
  • What courses or program features excite me the most?
  • Where do I want this degree to take me, professionally and personally?
  • How will my unique professional and personal experiences add value to the program?

Jot these responses down to get your initial thoughts on paper. This will act as your starting point that you’ll use to create an outline and your first draft.

2. Develop an outline.

Next, you’ll want to take the ideas that you’ve identified during the brainstorming process and plug them into an outline that will guide your writing. 

An effective outline for your statement of purpose might look something like this:

  • An attention-grabbing hook
  • A brief introduction of yourself and your background as it relates to your motivation behind applying to graduate school 
  • Your professional goals as they relate to the program you’re applying to
  • Why you’re interested in the specific school and what you can bring to the table
  • A brief summary of the information presented in the body that emphasizes your qualifications and compatibility with the school

An outline like the one above will give you a roadmap to follow so that your statement of purpose is well-organized and concise. 

3. Write the first draft.

Your statement of purpose should communicate who you are and why you are interested in a particular program, but it also needs to be positioned in a way that differentiates you from other applicants. 

Admissions professionals already have your transcripts, resumé, and test scores; the statement of purpose is your chance to tell your story in your own words.

When you begin drafting content, make sure to:

  • Provide insight into what drives you , whether that’s professional advancement, personal growth, or both.
  • Demonstrate your interest in the school by addressing the unique features of the program that interest you most. For Northeastern, he says, maybe it’s experiential learning; you’re excited to tackle real-world projects in your desired industry. Or perhaps it’s learning from faculty who are experts in your field of study.
  • Be yourself. It helps to keep your audience in mind while writing, but don’t forget to let your personality shine through. It’s important to be authentic when writing your statement to show the admissions committee who you are and why your unique perspective will add value to the program.

4. Edit and refine your work.

Before you submit your statement of purpose:

  • Make sure you’ve followed all directions thoroughly , including requirements about margins, spacing, and font size.
  • Proofread carefully for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Remember that a statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words. If you’ve written far more than this, read through your statement again and edit for clarity and conciseness. Less is often more; articulate your main points strongly and get rid of any “clutter.”
  • Walk away and come back later with a fresh set of eyes. Sometimes your best ideas come when you’re not sitting and staring at your computer.
  • Ask someone you trust to read your statement before you submit it.

Making a Lasting Impression

Your statement of purpose can leave a lasting impression if done well, Pierce says. It provides you with the opportunity to highlight your unique background and skills so that admissions professionals understand why you’re the ideal candidate for the program that you’re applying to. If nothing else, stay focused on what you uniquely bring to the classroom, the program, and the campus community. If you do that, you’ll excel.

To learn more tricks and tips for submitting an impressive graduate school application, explore our related Grad School Success articles .

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2017. It has since been updated for thoroughness and accuracy.

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Statement of Purpose vs. Cover Letter: Understanding the Differences and How to Write Them Effectively

This blog post highlights the differences between a Statement of Purpose and a Cover Letter, two crucial documents for international students aspiring to study abroad. It provides valuable insights on how to write them effectively, including tips, dos and don'ts, and examples, to help you create compelling and persuasive application documents. Whether you're a first-time applicant or seeking to improve your application package, this blog post is an essential guide to enhance your chances of acceptance.

Express Content

Express Content

Jun 29, 2023

Statement of Purpose vs. Cover Letter: Understanding the Differences and How to Write Them Effectively

Table of Contents

Understanding the Differences

Statement of purpose: defining your academic journey, crafting a compelling cover letter for study abroad applications, introduction and personalization, highlighting relevant experiences and skills, demonstrating passion and fit, professional tone and clarity, closing with gratitude and contact information, final thoughts, writing tips for an effective cover letter, dos and don'ts for both documents, dos for statement of purpose, don'ts for statement of purpose, dos for cover letter, don'ts for cover letter, tips and examples for writing, using clear and concise language, showcasing achievements and impact, demonstrating cultural awareness and adaptability, including specific examples and anecdotes, seeking feedback and proofreading, other important considerations, understanding the university's specific requirements, meeting the application deadlines, seeking assistance from study abroad consultants or mentors, utilizing online resources and samples.

  • Tailor the cover letter for each university and program: Customize your Cover Letter to align with the university's values, program offerings, and specific requirements. Highlight why you are interested in that particular institution and how it fits into your academic and career aspirations.
  • Showcase relevant skills and experiences: Highlight the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the program. Discuss any relevant coursework, internships, or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your passion and expertise in the field.
  • Express enthusiasm and passion for the chosen program: Use your Cover Letter to express your genuine excitement about the program and convey your motivation to contribute to the academic community. Share specific aspects of the curriculum or faculty members that attracted you to the program.
  • Address any potential red flags or gaps in academic history: If you have any gaps in your academic history or lower grades in certain subjects, use the Cover Letter to explain the circumstances and show how you have grown or overcome those challenges.
  • Keep the tone professional and concise: Maintain a professional tone throughout the letter and avoid using overly casual language. Be concise and focused, highlighting the most relevant information that showcases your qualifications and potential.
  • Do conduct thorough research on the university and program you are applying to.
  • Do showcase your academic and research goals clearly.
  • Do personalize your statement and tailor it to each university.
  • Do highlight your relevant experiences and achievements.
  • Do proofread and edit your statement carefully before submission.
  • Don't use generic statements or clichés.
  • Don't exceed the recommended word limit.
  • Don't focus solely on your past achievements; instead, emphasize your future aspirations.
  • Don't neglect to show your enthusiasm for the program and the field of study.
  • Don't forget to seek feedback from mentors or study abroad consultants.
  • Do customize your Cover Letter for each university and program.
  • Do showcase your relevant skills and experiences.
  • Do express enthusiasm and passion for the chosen program.
  • Do address any potential red flags or gaps in academic history.
  • Do keep the tone professional and concise.
  • Don't use a generic template for all your cover letters.
  • Don't repeat information already provided in your Statement of Purpose.
  • Don't make the letter too lengthy or overly detailed.
  • Don't forget to proofread and edit your Cover Letter carefully.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of a well-written and personalized Cover Letter.
  • Use clear and concise language to convey your ideas effectively.
  • Avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse the reader.
  • Write in a straightforward manner, ensuring your message is easily understood.
  • Provide specific examples of your achievements, such as research projects, publications, or leadership roles.
  • Highlight the impact of your work and how it relates to your future goals.
  • Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible to demonstrate your skills and abilities.
  • Showcase your cultural awareness and ability to adapt to new environments.
  • Discuss experiences where you have engaged with diverse communities or demonstrated cross-cultural understanding.
  • Emphasize your openness to learning from different perspectives and embracing new challenges.
  • Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your experiences and skills.
  • Paint a vivid picture for the reader, allowing them to understand your journey and motivations.
  • Connect these examples to your future aspirations and how they align with the program you are applying to.
  • Seek feedback from mentors, professors, or study abroad consultants.
  • Ask for their input on your Statement of Purpose and Cover Letter.
  • Proofread your documents multiple times to eliminate any errors or typos.
  • Consider using online proofreading tools to ensure accuracy and clarity.
  • Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and guidelines of each university and program you are applying to.
  • Pay attention to word limits, formatting instructions, and any additional documents or forms required.
  • Be aware of the application deadlines for each university and program.
  • Give yourself enough time to complete and review your documents before submission.
  • Submit your application well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications.
  • Consider reaching out to study abroad consultants or mentors who can provide valuable guidance throughout the application process.
  • They can offer insights, review your documents, and help you present yourself in the best possible way.
  • Take advantage of online resources, such as university websites, writing guides, and sample Statement of Purpose and Cover Letter templates.
  • These resources can provide inspiration and help you understand the expected format and tone.

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Writing the Statement of Purpose: General Advice

Excerpts from an article on statement of purpose writing by Dr. Steven Olswang, University of Washington Provost, written for the Fulbright Commission:

Applying to Graduate Schools in the US: The Statement of Purpose

Copyright © The US-UK Fulbright Commission, used by permission of the author:

Steven G Olswang, JD, PhD Vice Provost and Professor, University of Washington; Fulbright Academic Administrative Fellow

"Perhaps the most difficult part of the application process for admission to graduate school...is the composition of a Statement of Purpose. It may be helpful first to understand a little about graduate education...before undertaking to write this Statement.

Graduate Education Overview " ...Faculty at institutions of higher education in the United States take their work with graduate students very seriously. Faculty take strong personal interest in their graduate students (after all, they will work with those students for many years), and expect their students to complete their programs once admitted. Faculty expect their students to go on after graduation to important positions in academia, industry, or government. Therefore, the work of graduate students affects the reputation of the Faculty. As a result, the selection of the right graduate students is very important to both the faculty and the long term reputation of the department and university.

Why the Statement of Purpose? " Faculty want to know as much as they possibly can about all applicants. This is especially true today because most graduate programs have only a limited number of admission slots available. Test scores, grades and degrees, institutions of previous study and personal recommendations are all important indicators of an applicant's future success. However, these data do not reveal much about the individual, his/her motivation, why the applicant is interested in that particular program, or whether the applicant is the kind of student the Faculty want around the department. The Statement of Purpose exists to allow applicants to convey something personal about themselves and to convince the Faculty making the admissions selection that the applicant is an especially attractive candidate.

" The Statement of Purpose should not relate a life story or flatter either the applicant or intended readers. It provides applicants the opportunity to present information that is not conveyed through objective data, in a clear, direct, and concise way, to explain their interests, motivations, goals and special talents. It must be honest.

Writing the Statement of Purpose " So with this broad understanding of the Statement of Purpose and its function, how should it be written? " The first thing to remember is that each application process for each university is different. That means that the questions asked in the application MUST be the questions answered, and answered directly. An effusive, evasive, or non-responsive answer will inevitably result in rejection. Be absolutely clear what the application instructions ask of you and tailor your statement accordingly. That may mean that each application requires that you write a somewhat, if not entirely, different Statement of Purpose, since each Statement must answer a particular question.

"As a general rule, the two generic questions that need answering, at least inferentially, in most Statements of Purpose are: "Why are you interested in this program?", and "What makes you special?". This allows applicants the opportunity to provide Faculty substantive information about themselves. This is where applicants can demonstrate that they did their homework about the program and that they thought seriously about the strengths and weaknesses they bring to graduate study.

Answer the Question! " The following are some questions that Faculty ask themselves when they read a Statement of Purpose:

Why are you interested in graduate study? " There is some personal reason that made you decide to continue your education beyond the bachelor's degree. Tell them directly why. This may be something that you have always wanted to do, or for which your parents or others were role models, or perhaps you have recently been excited by new possibilities of learning. All the Faculty had their own reasons for going on to get their graduate degrees and they will want to know that you are truly interested for a legitimate reason. Do not try to write what you think Faculty want to hear ("to advance the field"); they have heard it all already.

Why are you applying to this particular graduate program? " Is the program noted for a particular emphasis, speciality, or orientation? Is it in the same city where your sister lives, and you could get free housing that would allow you to go to graduate school? Are there particular professors with whom you want to study because of their area of expertise? Whatever the reason, explain it. This is where the Faculty evaluating your application will be able to tell if you have thought seriously about their particular program. It will indicate your interest in them and show that you did your homework, a good early sign of a serious student.

What is it about you that is special? " It is important that you explain your motivations and your goals This is what will distinguish you from all other applicants and make you memorable to the Faculty...Explain your academic background and your performance in the bachelor's degree program. If you wrote a bachelor's thesis, briefly explain its importance and what you learned from writing it. Be sure to mention any prizes you may have won. If you worked while in school, tell why, especially if it was for a Faculty member. If you had any special experiences outside the formal learning environment that directly relate to the field of study you are interested in pursuing (e.g. travel or study abroad; employment in the field) tell about those. Describe any experience that demonstrates your creativity, dependability, and independence - these are important personal characteristics that Faculty desire in their students.

Are there items that need special explanation? " Faculty will first look at the empirical data in your application: your grades, transcripts, test scores, even the recommendations, before reading the Statement of Purpose. They will spot peculiarities they want explained. Is there a gap in your years of study; did it take you more than the traditional time to finish your degree; did you leave to work to support your family, or to care for an ill family member; did you change fields; do you have related work experience? All these are questions that need to be answered. Unexplained voids in your record make you a less attractive candidate. On the other hand, honest explanations make you human and the kind of person with whom others will want to work.

Do you add diversity to the program? " American institutions of higher education are very interested in diversifying their student body, particularly at the graduate level. If you are a woman, a member of a minority group, disabled, or have another distinguishing characteristic that may be relevant, let the Faculty know in your Statement in an appropriate way. It may relate to your motivation to pursue a graduate degree. Understand that under American law, Faculty cannot ask questions about many personal topics. Since it is unlikely that many international students will interview in person at all the graduate schools where they submit applications, the Faculty will know you only by what you write in your Statement.

What to Avoid " While there are some things that a Statement of Purpose must address, there are some matters that generally also should be avoided.

Do not be overly informal. " The written Statement of Purpose for many applicants is the way they first introduce themselves to their prospective professors. The Statement should be formal, direct, and appropriately respectful in tone. Undue informality or attempts at irrelevant humour should be avoided.

Do not include irrelevant information. " Try to keep to the topics that directly relate to your qualifications and desire for admission to the graduate program. Information about hobbies, outside interests, academic pursuits that do not have any real connection to your credentials for success in your chosen field only take up valuable space and divert the Faculty's attention from what is really important in your Statement.

Do not write your life story. " If the application instructions give a specific -or maximum - length for the Statement of Purpose, do not exceed it. If there is no stated length, remember that Faculty on admissions committees may be reading hundreds of such Statements. Be brief, yet complete. Do not talk about anything in your life before you began your baccalaureate program, unless it's absolutely relevant. A suggested maximum length is four pages, three is even better.

Style & Presentation " A guide of this kind would be incomplete if it did not mention something about the presentation of the Statement. We live in an era of word processors and personal computers. Unless the directions specifically require that the Statement of Purpose be hand-written - and I doubt that any still say that - it should be typed or printed, double spaced, with absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors. It does not matter if you are applying for a graduate program in English Literature or Physics, Art or Physical Education, you are expected to be literate and to be able to communicate well. A spelling error on your application will make the Faculty evaluating your application view you as careless and not really interested enough in their program to consider you further. Many will stop reading the Statement at that point, regardless of how good your other records are. They will react similarly to errors of grammar, pronoun errors, using plural verbs with singular subjects, and the like. Proof-read your statement many times. Have someone else read your Statement critically. Run it through 'spellcheck' and 'grammarcheck' on your computer. " ...In sum, the Statement of Purpose is your way to introduce yourself personally to a group of intelligent people . In this document you are asking strangers to allow you to enter their working homes for an extended length of time to learn from them. This presents them with a major decision. In this statement you must present yourself in a favourable light, show who you are, express your interest in them and the subject they teach and tell them why you are special enough to be admitted. It must be honest in conception, accurate in detail, and direct in address. And it must look good and be error-free.

"If you are satisfied that you have given a fair and accurate picture of yourself, as seen in your best light, Faculty will be equally pleased."

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SOP (Statement of Purpose): Format, Samples, and Tips

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  • Updated on  
  • Feb 17, 2024

sop statement of purpose

To aesthetically present a movie on the screen, great actors are the requisites. Similar is the case when one is carving their own career path. From choosing the right course to getting into your dream university, you need to take each step carefully. As a crucial part of the eligibility criteria, the universities often demand LOR s, SOPs or entrance test scores to assess the candidates and their suitability for the chosen course. A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is one such element that beholds great value in the admission process of those aspiring to study abroad. Creating an alluring SOP is essential to help the assessment committee understand your willingness for the program you have applied for. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide on drafting a statement of purpose that can help you sail smoothly through the assessment process and get entry into your dream academic institution.

This Blog Includes:

What is a statement of purpose (sop), why is sop important, sop format, 2. formulate, 3. revise and modify, what do colleges look for in an sop, how to write a perfect statement of purpose (sop / admissions essay), introduction, academic background and professional experience, career goals, why this course, why this university, how long should an sop be, what to include in an sop, what not to include in an sop, 10 tips to write a successful statement of purpose, sop sample for business analytics, sample statement of purpose for mba , sample statement of purpose for masters, sop formats for usa, canada, uk, and australia, top 5 mistakes to avoid while writing an sop, how can you reduce your chances of rejection from your chosen university, can sops help with scholarships, sop vs letter of motivation, sop vs personal statement.

A Statement of Purpose can be referred to as an informative document, containing personal statements, and is essentially required as part of the admission procedure of study abroad programs. Also referred to as an application essay, it comprises the basic details of a candidate along with their professional and personal interests, academic highlights as well as future aspirations. An SOP plays an integral role in the application process of a study abroad program as it provides the admission board with the key information about the candidate and why they want to study a particular course at their institution. It not only describes who you are as an individual but also gives an idea about your writing skills and proficiency in the English language.   

A well-written SOP is an extremely significant element during your admission process. While the academic record and other exam scorecards, academic transcripts and backlog certificates are essentially objective in nature, an SOP is the only truly subjective aspect of your application. It is the only document in your application that allows you to prove that you have something unique which makes you stand out from the crowd. As such, it is the document of your application docket that can hugely determine your admission.

Also Read: Statement of Purpose vs Personal Statement

As such, there is no particular or proper format for writing a statement of purpose or an SOP. Students have to write an SOP just like an elaborative and descriptive English essay dividing the whole context into different paragraphs. Each paragraph must be having distinctive features describing different scenarios, features or characteristics about yourself. You can take the help of the below-provided structure and get started with writing an SOP for the university you want to study in. 

How to Write a Statement of Purpose?

As a pivotal document for any study abroad application, an SOP needs to be precisely well-written. To help you understand the different elements of this document, we have curated a step-by-step procedure that you can follow to curate an impressive statement of purpose.

The first step of the process of drafting a statement of purpose is to think about the varied aspects of your candidature that you should mention in it. The mandatory inclusions of an SOP are academic achievements (especially at the undergraduate level), prior work exposure or volunteering experiences. Start with framing an outline for the document and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which field of study excites me the most?
  • Why do I want to pursue this degree?
  • What are my expectations from this degree?
  • What outgrowth can this degree offer me?
  • Where can this degree take me, personally and professionally? 
  • Through my pre-requisites, what values can I add to this program?

Once you have made key pointers for most of the questions mentioned above, you can begin jotting them down in a thorough and comprehensive manner.

Now that you know what you want to mention in your SOP, it’s time to curate a rough outline for the document. Here is a list of some essential tips you need to keep in mind while formulating your statement of purpose:

  • Since the admission committee strives to understand your candidature through the SOP, you need to be honest in describing your career aspirations and objectives. Focus centrally on maintaining the authenticity of your mentioned details. Duly elaborate on your advantageous perception of the chosen course.
  • Creatively cite your personal and professional interests. Mention what you are passionate about and what excites you. Then, sensibly connect it with your chosen program and how it will assist you in grooming your skills. For instance, you can state that you are aspiring to gain experiential learning or training in your desired industry through the course.
  • What brought you here should be a sure-shot mention in your SOP. You can begin with stating those features of your chosen course that convinced you to opt for it. Then, write down the objectives you want to fulfil by studying the program. It can be personal growth or professional upliftment or even both. Try to be unique and precise when listing your reasons. 

Once you have jotted down your SOP as per the above-mentioned necessary tips, the final and concluding step is to revise and make changes accordingly. Go through the list that you created in the beginning and ensure that you have added all of them.

  • The word limit for a statement of purpose is between 500-1000. 
  • Do not miss out the predefined sizes for spacing, margins and font size.
  • Try getting a second opinion but getting your SOP read from a friend or an experienced professional.

Many foreign and even national universities ask for a Statement of Purpose (SOP) from candidates wanting to enrol in suitable courses that the university has to offer. They ask for the SOP from candidates in order to check and look at the following things:

  • The writing capabilities of the writer or the candidate 
  • The X factor that makes their writing stand out from the crowd
  • Choice of thoughts and ideas that has been explained in the SOP
  • The unique personality of the candidate 
  • Candidate’s talent, previous experiences, interests and potential
  • How and what can the candidate contribute to the department of the college/university
  • Candidate’s motivation or inspiration to study a selected course must be evident and justified
  • The reason behind to choose a particular university/college and a particular course of study
  • Academic and extracurricular achievements and recognitions (if any)
  • Originality and clarity of the SOP as a whole. 

To know more, read our blog on – How to Write an SOP?

Check out the video on the same below!

How to Write a Powerful and Convincing SOP?

Whether applying for undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate programmes, the strategy of writing a powerful statement of purpose should be sound focused throughout. Starting from your academic and professional background to your career aspirations, you need to carefully connect all the dots between reaching your goals through your choice of school and course. The essay should always go in a flow covering your past experience, present involvements, and future plans. An important point to remember while writing your SOP would be to divide it into paragraphs that cover all the pointers. Here is a look at how you may write the SOP presenting your profile strongly:

This paragraph is often confused with self-introduction. It should not introduce you but should discuss what you are about to discuss in your SOP. There are multiple approaches you may adopt to go about this paragraph:

  • Discuss your long-term goal and connect it with your idea of pursuing the course you are applying to
  • Present your understanding of the chosen field and write how you want to contribute to that field
  • Explain your background in 2-3 lines and connect it with your future goals
  • Write about an anecdote that helped you realise your professional interest in the chosen field

This comprises of your academic background: what you have done so far, what you are currently pursuing, your academic strengths and projects, and the industrial exposure you have attained.

This is the most important paragraph, where you should discuss your short and long-term goals. Your immediate goal would be where you would want to work right after completing this course. You should be able to name some companies within India along with the designation you see yourself working at. This should explain the kind of job profile you would be working on.

Then comes your long-term goal, wherein you should mention where you see yourself from 10-12 or 15 years down the line. This may include your desire of working at the CEO/CFO/CTO level or maybe establish a firm that you own. It may also include your dream of expanding your existing family business overseas. You may also be interested in further studies like a PhD which can be included here.

More in this section may include your desire of becoming a professor or researcher. In any case, it is suggested that you discuss your business aim, principles, and core values or how you would influence the young aspirants of this industry. You should be able to portray ‘how you wish to make a difference in the industry keeping in mind the current industrial scenarios and emerging trends.

In this paragraph, you should discuss why you want to join a course and what modules would you tap during this course. It should also cover the skills you would acquire in this duration along with the exposure that would help in developing the skills desired to realise your goals.

This is a specific paragraph wherein you can convince a university as in how they are suitable for your profile and you are an ideal candidate for their university. You should discuss the course curriculum, research work, faculty names, as well as the university-specific activities that would help you in enhancing your profile.

Also Read: How to Write a Best Statement of Purpose?

Ideally, if considering an internationally renowned university, then the statement of purpose should be at least 1-2 pages long. In terms of word count, then the same should be around 1000 words. Having said that, the word limit and the length may also sometimes depend on the university that the candidate is targeting and also on the level of degree. Like for example, a candidate who is writing an SOP for an undergraduate program may not exceed 800 to 1000 words whereas a candidate who is writing an SOP for a PhD or M.Phil degree course has to write it in around 1200 words and sometimes even more. Some universities even have a fixed length and word count which is uniform for all the programs and courses. 

There are many elements to an SOP. Universities could ask question-based essays or simply a general statement of purpose. Until and unless categorically asked, an SOP must include your goals and the career path you have taken up so far as well as your academic progress. Other elements that are further important to the SOP are also the personal motivations that lead you to choose the university/course you have applied to as well as how you intend to use that experience to achieve that goal.

Following are a few things that you must do in order to make your SOP application strong:

  • Your Statement of Purpose should have a unique and engaging beginning as well as an end. It must be original, a reflection of you. 
  • Explain your academic background, present and future aspirations. Through this, you must justify your choice of a particular course for masters or doctorate courses.
  • Upon reading your SOP, the admission officer should be able to understand how you can contribute to the university in terms of research and further scope in your chosen area. 
  • Always write your SOP in an active voice and ensure you provide information in a manner that is a reflection of your passion and optimism. If you have any statements or references, try quoting them with relevant examples rather than being direct.

Often universities come across a lengthy statement of purpose and yet they reject it. Even when you cannot find one grammatical error, the seemingly excellent SOP would be rejected. And the primary reason is – too much unnecessary information. For instance, just because you might want to talk about your family, does not mean you go on and on to talk about only your family. While your SOP should be a brag sheet, it should be a brag sheet with a substance. You need to pick and choose what to include. Pick a theme and mention the accomplishments that make the most sense to your candidacy.

  • Weave your career path into a story, not statements.
  • Do not write what you think should be written. Personalise the SOP and make it your own.
  • Do not stress over it. Although it is an important part of your application, the SOP should be a direct reflection of you.
  • Find the deeper meaning behind the events of your life and pen them down.
  • Give a strong reason as to why you chose the particular school and course.
  • Be specific in the timeline of events.
  • Use a formal but conversational tone.
  • Accept your mistakes and explain how you are willing to act on improving. Use action items.
  • Give yourself enough time to write the SOP and edit it constantly. 
  • Proofread, edit, re-edit and then edit it again! There is always room for improvement, remember that.

Also Read: SOP for Scholarship

Statement of Purpose Samples

Here are some good examples of well structured SOPs that you can refer to while writing your own.

“ A successful career in Business Management requires adequate knowledge to utilise the strengths and weaknesses of an individual. In my undergraduate degree, I majored in economics and psychology because I believe that understanding these two fields is important for leading a successful business. I want to increase my experiences and knowledge further by pursuing an Executive MBA, which will equip me with advanced skills that are necessary to achieve my career goals.

As I have carried out various leadership positions, I have learned how to efficiently work in teams and pursue the specified goals. In my previous company, ABC, I successfully implemented the strength-cum-weakness finder software which helped us assign projects to the groups based on the mapped data. As employees got allotted tasks as per their efficiency, it resulted in a 30% net gain for the company over the following year. I believe that a successful business leader understands the importance of strategically utilizing a company’s resources to ensure the maximum potential and development of the company. Further, the pivotal thing I learned about myself by taking up leadership roles is that teamwork is a crucial element of successfully achieving an organisation’s objectives. An Executive MBA will help me furnish my leadership skills imparting me with the knowledge of hierarchical structures and how to work with other leaders of different domains in an effective manner.

Studying for an Executive MBA, I plan to take charge of multiple team projects throughout the duration of the degree so that I can polish my teamwork skills. I aspire to work under industry leaders and attain global exposure. Pursuing this degree from your institution, I aim to gain professional as well as personal skills that can help me soar through my career journey. ”

I had a keen interest in Biology since childhood. I was eager to learn about the living organisms around my surroundings and how they function. I took this interest forward and decided to pursue my higher education in biology. When I was first introduced to the field of biotechnology, I was mesmerized by what technology can do to improve the life of any living organism. This inspired me to look at various research programmes in biotechnology and how we are moving towards a phase where technology can alter even the basic fragments of any living organism and change the course of life an organism goes through. I observed the various research patterns that have been taking place in the agricultural industry with the advent of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) giving birth to the Green Revolution. This was only one potential achievement in the extensive list of achievements that biotechnology was progressing towards. I worked with a reputed biotech firm which gave me an insight into how fast-paced the research in biotechnology is. The firm gave me the necessary exposure leading me to decide that I want to pursue MS in Biotechnology. My ambition to work in this field lies essentially in bringing changes in the lifestyle of people in a way that I can research and extensively study the required positive steps towards climate change. My goal is to achieve a sustainable lifestyle for every individual. The exposure that your esteemed institution will give me in the field of research will help me achieve this goal by working at a reputed platform

  • Sample SOP for Australian Student Visa
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  • SOP for MBA: Essentials to Mention & Samples
  • SOP for Australia

Here is the basic format for USA, Canada, UK and Australia:

statement of purpose or cover letter

If you are planning to study abroad and want to write a good and outstanding statement of purpose for the university that you are targeting, then here are some of the common mistakes that you can avoid from the very beginning while writing an SOP:

  • Writing the SOP at the last moment without any plan of action or a roadmap
  • Writing a weak and vague introduction and conclusion 
  • Using informal language, slangs, short forms in your SOP
  • Exceeding the word limit and not reaching the correct word limit at all
  • Making your SOP excessively flashy and flattery


If you are eligible for any college-specific scholarships, then during the application process you will be required to write a separate essay/SOP. Either you will be given an essay prompt/question along with a word limit or they would simply ask for an SOP stating the reasons why you think you deserve this scholarship and/or what makes you unique from the rest of the candidates? Thus, a generic SOP is different from a scholarship SOP.

Must Read: LOR: Types, Format, Sample and Tip s

A Letter of Motivation is a letter directly addressed to the admission committee/department faculty explaining your objectives, motivation and goals related to the course. The SOP is not addressed to any specific person or department, it is drafted in an essay format, whereas, the motivational letter is always addressed to a professor or department under whose guidance you will be studying.

Also Read: How to Write a Motivation Letter?

Very much similar to an SOP, Personal Statements are an on-page essay where you write about your motivation, inspiration, goals, and achievements. Personal Statements usually have a more intimate tone than SOP as it talks about the highlighted incidents of your life. Another crucial difference between an SOP and a Personal Statement is that an SOP is addressed to no one in particular, while a Personal Statement is addressed to a professor or department under who you choose to study.

Relevant Reads:

Only your LORs need to be attested by your college or company. An SOP need not be attested/self-attested until and unless specified by the university. If you take a LOR from your college professor/school teacher or a Principal/Dean, then that LOR needs to be signed by the recommender along with the college/school stamp and letterhead. Similarly, for professional LORs, they need to be signed by their respective recommenders on the company’s letterhead and company stamp.

Once you have finalised your SOP draft, give it a double-check for grammatical and formatting mistakes. Your next step should be to analyse and critique your essay. Look at your SOP through the eyes of the Adcom and see what you find lacking. For more effective inputs, you can show your drafts to your friends and family and see how they react to them. Accordingly, you can make some changes but do not overdo it or deviate from the format. Lastly, check for spacing errors and save the final SOP which you will be using for the application process.

You should avoid mentioning any low marks or shortcomings about yourself in any of the application documents, including SOP. There are very few universities that ask you about your gap year. For them, you can mention the reason for the gap between your studies. Generally, no university asks about low grades during your study period as your selection depends on various criteria like exam scores, student profile, financials, and so on. Thus, it is advised against mentioning any flaws or low marks.

Hence, we hope that now you are geared up with all the quintessential tips to start carving out your SOP. If you still have doubts or need further professional guidance, you can always reach out to our Leverage Edu experts and we’ll assist you throughout the admission process, be it selecting a suitable course and university or drafting impressive SOPs and LORs. Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session. Further, also follow us on  Instagram ,  Youtube ,  LinkedIn ,  Quora   and  Facebook   for more educational content.

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I was really impressed and happy with the informations I was able to get reading through your well documented page.

I am really impressed reading through your sample and guides in writing an SOP.I was able to put mine together and I have submitted awaiting feedback from the Admissions office. Thanks so much.

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Gre prep online guides and tips, 7 successful statement of purpose examples.

statement of purpose or cover letter

Not sure what graduate schools are looking for in a statement of purpose? Looking at successful graduate school statement of purpose samples can help! In this guide, we’ll orient you to what makes a great statement of purpose or letter of intent for graduate school. Then we’ll provide you with four successful statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts. We’ll also provide analysis of what makes them successful. Finally, we’ll direct you to even more helpful examples that you can find online!

The Graduate School Statement of Purpose: An Overview

A statement of purpose (also called a letter of intent or a research statement) introduces your interests and experience to the admissions committee. For research-focused programs, like most PhDs and many master’s degrees, your statement of purpose will focus primarily on your past research experience and plans. For more professionally-focused graduate programs, your statement of purpose will primarily discuss how your pursuit of this professional program relates to your past experiences, and how you will use the skills from the program in your future career.

A statement of purpose for grad school is also where you sell the admissions committee on why you belong in their program specifically. Why do you fit there, and how does what they offer fit your interests?


What’s in a Great Grad School Statement of Purpose?

Here are the essential elements of a strong graduate school statement of purpose:

Clear Articulation of Goals and Interests

A strong statement of purpose will clearly and specifically lay out your goals in undertaking the program and what you hope to accomplish with the degree. Again, for a research-focused program, this will focus primarily on the research project(s) you want to undertake while you are there. For a more professional program, discuss what interests you within the professional field and what skills/knowledge you hope to gain through the program.

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You should be as specific as possible in discussing what interests you. Use examples of particular phenomena, tools, or situations that you find exciting. If you are vague or say that everything in the field interests you, you run the risk of seeming unfocused or not actually that passionate.

Don’t worry that being too specific will box you into a particular research area or subfield during your entire tenure in graduate school. Your program understands that interests change—they won’t be pulling out your research statement to cross-reference with your dissertation proposal!

Evidence of Past Experience and Success

A great graduate school statement of purpose will also show programs that you have already been successful. They want applicants that will be able to follow through on their research/professional plans!

To this end, you’ll need to provide evidence of how your background qualifies you to pursue this program and your specific interests in the field. You’ll probably discuss your undergraduate studies and any professional experience you have. But be sure to draw on specific, vivid examples.  You might draw on your thesis, major projects you’ve worked on, papers you have written/published, presentations you’ve given, mentors you’ve worked with, and so on. This gives admissions committees concrete evidence that you are qualified to undertake graduate study!


Interest and Fit With the Program

The third essential ingredient to a great statement of purpose is to clearly lay out why you and the program are a good fit. You should be able to identify both specific reasons why your work fits with the program and why the program suits your work/interests! Are there particular professors you’d like to work with? Does the department have a strong tradition in a certain methodology or theory you’re interested in? Is there a particular facet to the curriculum that you’d like to experience?

Showing that you and the program are a match shows that you chose the program thoughtfully and have genuine interest in it. Programs want to admit students who aren’t just passionate about the field. They want students who are genuinely enthused about their specific program and positioned to get the most out of what they have to offer.

Strong Writing

The final essential piece of a strong statement of purpose or letter of intent is strong writing. Writing skills are important for all graduate programs. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can clearly and effectively communicate your ideas in a way that flows logically. Additionally, you should show that you know how to write in a way that is descriptive but concise. A statement of purpose shouldn’t ever be longer than two pages, even without a hard word limit.

Admissions committees for humanities programs may be a little more focused on writing style than admissions officers for STEM programs. But even in quantitative and science-focused fields, written communication skills are an essential part of graduate school. So a strong statement of purpose will always be effectively written. You’ll see this in our statement of purpose for graduate school samples.


Real, Successful Statement of Purpose Samples

In this section, we’ll present four successful graduate school statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts, along with a brief commentary on each statement. These statements come from a diverse selection of program types to show you how the core essentials of a statement of purpose can be implemented differently for different fields.

Note: identifying information for these statements have been changed—except for example four, which is my statement.

  • Statement of Purpose Sample One: Japanese Studies MA

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.31.42 PM

This statement of purpose is notable for its great use of space and its vivid descriptions. The author is able to cram a lot into about a page. She discusses how she came to her two primary research interests (and how they are connected). She integrates this discussion of her interests with information on her past experiences and qualifications for pursuing the course of study. Finally, she includes details on her goals in pursuing the program and components of the program that interest her. Her examples are specific and fleshed-out. There’s a lot very cleverly included in a small amount of page space!

Additionally, the language is very vivid. Phrases like “evocative and visceral” and “steadily unraveling,” are eye-catching and intriguing. They demonstrate that she has the writing skills necessary to pursue both graduate study and her interest in translation.

  • Statement of Purpose Sample Two: Music MM

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.32.01 PM

This sample is fairly long, although at 12 point Times New Roman it’s under two pages single-spaced. The length of this statement is partially due to the somewhat expansive nature of the prompt, which asks what role music has played in the applicant’s life “to date.” This invites applicants to speak more about experiences further in the past (in the childhood and teen years) than is typical for a statement of purpose. Given that this is for a master’s degree in music, this is logical; musical study is typically something that is undertaken at a fairly young age.

This statement does an excellent job describing the student’s past experiences with music in great detail. The descriptions of the student’s past compositions and experiences performing new music are particularly vivid and intriguing.

This statement also lays out and elaborates on specific goals the student hopes to pursue through the program, as well as features particular to the program that interest the student (like particular professors).


  • Statement of Purpose Sample Three: Economics PhD

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.32.25 PM

One of the first things you’ll likely notice about this statement is that it’s a little on the longer side. However, at 12 point Times New Roman font and single-spaced, it still comes in under 2 pages (excluding references). It makes sense for a PhD statement of purpose sample to be longer than a master’s degree statement of purpose—there’s more to lay out in terms of research interests!

The writing style is fairly straightforward—there’s definitely a stronger focus on delivering content than flashy writing style. As Economics is a more quantitative-focused field, this is fine. But the writing is still well-organized, clear, and error-free.

The writer also gives numerous examples of their past work and experience, and shows off their knowledge of the field through references, which is a nice touch.

  • Statement of Purpose Sample Four: History of the Book MA

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.32.39 PM

This is actually my statement of purpose. It was for a program that I got accepted to but did not end up attending, for a Master’s in the History of the Book. You’ll notice that the two essay prompts essentially asked us to split our statement of purpose into two parts: the first prompt asked about our research interests and goals, and the second prompt asked about our relevant experience and qualifications.

I’ll keep my comments on this graduate school statement of purpose sample brief because I’ll do a deep dive on it in the next section. But looking back at my statement of purpose, I do a good job outlining what within the field interests me and clearly laying out how my past experiences have qualified me for the program.

Obviously this statement did its job, since I was accepted to the program. However, if I were to improve this statement, I’d change the cliche beginning  (“since I was a child”) and provide more specificity in what about the program interested me.


Deep Dive Analysis of a Sample Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Next, we’ll do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of my statement, statement of purpose sample four. I’ll analyze its strengths and suggest ways I could shore up any weaknesses to make it even stronger.

Essay 1: Academic Interests

To refresh, here’s the first prompt: Please give a short statement that describes your academic interests, purpose, objectives and motivation in undertaking this postgraduate study. (max 3500 chars – approx. 500 words)

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Paragraph 1

Since I was a child, my favorite thing has always been a book. Not just for the stories and information they contain, although that is a large part of it. Mostly, I have been fascinated by the concept of book as object—a tangible item whose purpose is to relate intangible ideas and images. Bookbindings and jackets, different editions, the marginalia in a used book—all of these things become part of the individual book and its significance, and are worth study and consideration. Books and their equivalent forms—perfect bound, scrolled, stone tablets, papyrus—have long been an essential part of material culture and are also one of our most significant sources of information about the human historical past. Through both the literal object of the book, the words contained thereon, and its relationship to other books—forms of context, text and intertext—we are able to learn and hopefully manage layers of information with which we would otherwise have no familiarity.

First, the good: this paragraph does a good job introducing my academic interest in the book-as-object, and shows off pre-existing knowledge both of the study of material culture and literary theory. Additionally, the language is engaging: the juxtaposition of “tangible” and “intangible” in the beginning and phrases like “perfect bound, scrolled, stone tablets, papyrus” lend life to the writing and keep the reader engaged.

If I were to go back and improve this paragraph, first, I would absolutely change the first sentence to something less cliche than talking about my childhood. I might try something like “My love of books is a multifaceted thing. I don’t only love them for the stories and….” Second, I would chill out on the em dashes a little bit. Three sets in one paragraph is a little excessive. Finally, I might actually cut this paragraph down slightly to make more room word-wise later in the statement to discuss what specific things about the program interest me.


Paragraph 2

Furthermore, blogs, webcomics, digital archives, e-readers, and even social media sites like tumblr and Facebook have revolutionized the concept of the book by changing how we share and transmit ideas and information, just as the Gutenberg printing press revolutionized the book all those years ago in the fifteenth century. Once again there has been an explosion both in who can send out information and who can receive it.

This paragraph briefly and effectively introduces my other main academic interest: how new technology has changed the concept of the book-as-object. The tie-back to the printing press is a nice touch; it’s a vivid example that shows that I’m aware of important historical moments in book history.

Paragraph 3

I am deeply interested in the preservation of the physical book, as I think it is an important part of human history (not to mention a satisfying sensory experience for the reader). However I am also very concerned with the digitization and organization of information for the modern world such that the book, in all of its forms, stays relevant and easy to access and use. Collections of books, archives, and information as stored in the world’s servers, libraries and museums are essential resources that need to be properly organized and administered to be fully taken advantage of by their audiences. My purpose in applying to the University of Edinburgh’s Material Culture and History of the Book is to gain the skills necessary to keep all forms of the book relevant and functional in an age when information can move more radically than ever before.

This paragraph actually has a focus problem. Since it covers two topics, I should split it into two paragraphs: one on the integration of my two interests, and one on my goals and interests in the program. I could also stand to expand on what features the program has that interest me: professors I’d like to work with, particular aspects of the curriculum, etc.

In spite of these things, however, this paragraph does a good job clearly integrating the two academic interests related to the book I introduced in the first two paragraphs. And the language is still strong —“satisfying sensory experience” is a great phrase. However, I’ve been using the word “information,” a lot; I might try to replace with appropriate synonyms (like “knowledge”) in a couple of places.

Paragraph 4

Additionally, I intend on pursuing a PhD in Library and Information Sciences upon completion of my master’s and I feel that this program while make me uniquely suited to approach library science from a highly academic and interdisciplinary perspective.

This final paragraph offers just quick touch on my future goals beyond the program. It’s typically fine for this to be relatively brief, as it is here, just so long as you can clearly identify some future goals.


Essay 2: Relevant Experience

The second prompt just asked me to describe my relevant knowledge, training, and skills.

As a folklore and mythology student, I have gained a robust understanding of material culture and how it relates to culture as a whole. I have also learned about the transmission of ideas, information, stories and pieces of lore among and between populations, which is an important component of book history. Folklore is also deeply concerned with questions of the literary vs. oral lore and the tendency for text to “canonize” folklore, and yet text can also question or invert canonized versions; along with this my studies in my focus field of religion and storytelling have been deeply concerned with intertextuality. One of my courses was specifically concerned with the Heian-period Japanese novel The Tale of Genji and questions of translation and representation in post-Heian picture scrolls and also modern translations and manga. In addition to broader cultural questions concerned with gender and spirituality both in historical Japan and now, we considered the relationships between different Genji texts and images.

This is a strong, focused paragraph. I relate my academic background in Folklore and Mythology to my interests in studying the book, as well as showing off some of my knowledge in the area. I also chose and elaborated on a strong example (my class on the Tale of Genji ) of my relevant coursework.

I also have work experience that lends itself to the study of the book. After my freshman year of college I interned at the Chicago History Museum. Though I was in the visitor services department I was exposed to the preservation and archival departments of the museum and worked closely with the education department, which sparked my interest in archival collections and how museums present collection information to the public. After my sophomore year of college and into my junior year, I worked at Harvard’s rare books library, Houghton. At Houghton I prepared curated collections for archival storage. These collections were mostly comprised of the personal papers of noteworthy individuals, categorized into alphabetical folders. This experience made me very process-oriented and helped me to understand how collections come together on a holistic basis.

This paragraph also has a clear focus: my past, relevant work experience. Discussing archival collections and presenting information to the public links the interests discussed in my first statement with my qualifications in my second statement. However, if I were to revise this paragraph, I would add some specific examples of the amazing things I worked on and handled at Houghton Library. In that job, I got to touch Oliver Cromwell’s death mask! An interesting example would make this paragraph really pop even more.

Finally, in my current capacity as an education mentor in Allston, a suburb of Boston, I have learned the value of book history and material culture from an educational perspective. As a mentor who designs curriculum for individual students and small groups, I have learned to highly value clearly organized and useful educational resources such as websites, iPad apps, and books as tools for learning. By managing and organizing collections in a way that makes sense we are making information accessible to those who need it.

This final paragraph discusses my current (at the time) work experience in education and how that ties into my interest in the history of the book. It’s an intriguing connection and also harkens back to my discussion of information availability in the paragraph three of the first statement. Again, if I were to amp up this statement even more, I might include a specific example of a book-based (or book technology-based) project I did with one of my students. I worked on things like bookbinding and making “illuminated manuscripts” with some of my students; those would be interesting examples here.

This statement is split into two parts by virtue of the two-prompt format. However, if I were to integrate all of this information into one unified statement of purpose, I would probably briefly introduce my research interests, go in-depth on my background, then circle back around to speak more about my personal interests and goals and what intrigues me about the program. There’s not really one correct way to structure a statement of purpose just so long as it flows well and paragraphs are structured in a logical way: one topic per paragraph, with a clear topic and concluding sentence.


More Statement of Purpose Examples

We’ve provided you with four great graduate school statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts. However, if you’re looking for more, there are other sample letters of intent and statements of purpose for graduate school online. We’ve rounded up the best ones here, along with some strengths and weaknesses about each example.

Majortests Statement of Purpose Sample

This is a fairly straightforward, clearly written statement of purpose sample for a biology program. It includes useful commentary after each paragraph about what this statement of purpose is accomplishing.

  • This statement of purpose sample is well-organized, with clear topic sentences and points made in each paragraph.
  • The student clearly identifies what interests her about the program.
  • The student proactively addresses questions about why she hasn’t gone directly to graduate school, and frames her professional research experience as a positive thing.
  • She gives a tiny bit of color about her personality in a relevant way by discussing her involvement with the Natural History Society.
  • In general, discussing high school interests is too far back in time unless the anecdote is very interesting or unusual. The detail about The Theory of Evolution is intriguing; the information about the high school teacher seems irrelevant. The student should have condensed this paragraph into a sentence or two.
  • While this statement is cogently written and makes the candidate sound competent and well-qualified, it’s not exactly the most scintillating piece of writing out there. Some of the constructions are a little awkward or cliche. For example, the “many people have asked me” sentence followed by “the answer is” is a little bit clunky. This is probably fine for a STEM program. But just be aware that this statement is not a paragon of writing style.

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UC Berkeley History Statement of Purpose Sample

This is a graduate school statement of purpose example from the UC Berkeley History department’s PhD program, with annotations from a professor as to why it’s a successful statement.

  • The author is able to very clearly and articulately lay out her research interests and link them to past work she has successfully completed, namely, her thesis.
  • She is able to identify several things about the program and Berkeley that indicate why it is a good fit for her research interests.
  • She addresses the time she spent away from school and frames it as a positive, emphasizing that her use of time was well-considered and productive.
  • Her writing is very vivid, with excellent word choice and great imagery.

While very well-written and engaging, this sample statement of purpose for graduate school is a little bit on the long side! It’s a little over two single-spaced pages, which is definitely pushing the limits of acceptable length. Try to keep yours at 2 pages or less. Some of the information on the thesis (which comprises over half of the statement of purpose) could be condensed to bring it down to two pages.


Pharmacy Residency Letter of Intent Sample

This is not technically a sample letter of intent for graduate school because it’s actually for a pharmacy residency program. However, this example still provides illumination as to what makes a decent graduate school letter of intent sample.

  • This is a serviceable letter of intent: the writer clearly lays out their own goals within the field of pharmacy, what qualifications they have and how they’ve arrived at their interests, and how the program fits their needs.
  • The writing is clearly structured and well-organized.
  • The main weakness is that some of the writer’s statements come across as fairly generic. For example, “The PGY-1 Residency Program at UO Hospitals will provide me with the opportunity to further develop my clinical knowledge, critical thinking, teaching, research, and leadership skills” is a generic statement that could apply to any residency program. A punchier, more program-specific conclusion would have amped up this letter.
  • While the writer does a decent job providing examples of their activities, like working as a tutor and attending the APhA conference, more specificity and detail in these examples would make the statement more memorable.
  • There’s a typo in the last paragraph —a “to” that doesn’t belong! This is an unprofessional blip in an otherwise solid letter. Read you own letter of intent aloud to avoid this!

NIU Bad Statement of Purpose Example

This is an ineffective graduate school statement of purpose example, with annotations on why it doesn’t work.

As you might imagine, the main strength in this document is as an example of what not to do. Otherwise, there is little to recommend it.

  • The annotations quite clearly detail the weaknesses of this statement. So I won’t address them exhaustively except to point out that this statement of purpose fails at both content and style. The author includes irrelevant anecdotes and lists without offering a decisive picture of interests or any particular insight into the field. Additionally, the statement is riddled with grammatical mistakes, awkward sentence structures, and strange acronyms.
  • You’ll note that the commentary advises you to “never start with a quote.” I agree that you should never start with a freestanding quote as in this example. However, I do think starting with a quote is acceptable in cases like the Berkeley history example above, where the quote is brief and then directly linked to the research interest.


Graduate School Statement of Purpose Examples: 4 Key Points

Graduate programs ask for statement of purpose to hear about your interests and goals and why you think you and the program would be a good fit.

There are four key elements to a successful statement of purpose:

  • A clear articulation of your goals and interests
  • Evidence of past experiences and success
  • Interest and fit with the program
  • Strong writing

We’ve provided you with four successful statement of purpose samples from our graduate school experts!

We also provided additional statement of purpose samples (and a sample letter of intent) for graduate school from other sources on the internet. Now you have all kinds of guidance!

What’s Next?

If you’re looking for more information on graduate school , see our guide to what makes a good GPA for grad school .

Not sure if you need to take the GRE ? See if you can get into graduate school without GRE scores .

Want more information about the GRE? We can help you figure out when to take the GRE , how to make a GRE study plan , and how to improve your GRE score .

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statement of purpose or cover letter

Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

statement of purpose or cover letter

Difference Between Letter of Intent and Statement of Purpose

Learn about the difference between letter of intent and statement of purpose in education or employment. 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

The difference between letter of intent and statement of purpose in education or employment is that the letter of intent is an outline, while the statement of purpose is more detailed and requires substantial research.

Statement of Purpose

When you are applying to a university, a Statement of Purpose, or SOP, is a way to create a connection between your history and future plans. Creating the statement requires significant research about the specifics of both the degree program and university you have interest in applying to. Building a link between the past and present requires you to:

  • Review your past and present experiences.
  • List instances that match the direction of the degree program.
  • Show how these experiences will positively impact your future success in the degree program.

In some degree programs like MBA or Master's, this level of research is not necessary, as the area of interest in a particular field is already known. If a particular of interest is already known, it can be added to the statement of purpose as long as it is realistic in nature.

When writing the statement, follow these steps:

  • Complete all research.
  • Write the statement of purpose like a story.
  • Include the motivation for your interest in higher education.
  • Include facts without over embellishment.
  • Keep to the word limit if one is given, or stop at 1,000 words.
  • Avoid overusing words to the point that the statement sounds like a thesaurus.
  • Never commit plagiarism .

The statement should be fluid and easy to read, and it should include statements supported by facts. As a prospective candidate, be sure to show that your intent is serious in nature. If a Statement of Purpose is for employment, the focus should be a look into possible future work.

Letter of Intent

A Letter of Intent, or LOI, is used to show an outline of an agreement or intention. In general terms, a letter of intent is a non-binding proposal to another party. When a student is applying to a college, or a particular program, the letter should list the following:

  • The applicant's intended course of study.
  • The timeframe that will be expected to complete the program.

The letter should also include the following:

  • An introduction to the applicant.
  • An outline to explain the applicant's interest in the organization.
  • A list of all relevant skills and credentials.

When writing a letter of intent for employment, think of the letter as a sales pitch to show off the applicant's skills and abilities. The letter is usually written and sent when a prospective employer has shown interest in a candidate. The prospective employer can then use the letter as a way to see if the candidate should to the interview stage. The letter is an important tool and should be a way to help the candidate stand out from the rest of the candidates who have submitted applications.

When drafting the letter, follow these important steps:

  • Address the letter to a specific person to create a connection with the reader. Do not use a general title or "To Whom It May Concern."
  • The first paragraph should be a summary that includes a personal introduction and why you are applying.
  • Mention your qualifications in a sentence or two to show why you are the right candidate for the position.
  • The conclusion should include a request for a response to the letter.

Technically speaking, the letter should include the following:

  • Follow proper business letter format.
  • Use simple fonts like Arial or Courier New.
  • Use 12 point font size. Do not use anything larger.
  • Use black ink. No other color will be seen as acceptable.
  • Use plain white paper that is 20- or 24- pound weight .
  • If possible, use a laser printer to avoid ink smudges.
  • Write the letter in a formal manner.
  • Slang, offensive remarks or trite sayings should not be used.
  • Social Security Number.
  • Marital Status.
  • Social activities.
  • Never lie about any credentials, education, or experiences.
  • Never use more than one page for the letter of intent.

When the letter is completed, a third party should review the letter for spelling and grammatical errors. The third party should also confirm that the letter is cohesive and shows a clear vision.

If you need help with understanding the difference between a letter of intent and statement of purpose, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

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What is a Letter of Intent? How to Write One for a Job [+ Examples]

Stephanie Trovato

Published: March 14, 2024

Standard job applications have a standard set of practices. You turn in a resume and cover letter, and then, if selected, you move through a few rounds of interviews and get the job.

person at their computer writing a letter of intent

However, not all potential job opportunities start with an application. In fact, many begin with initiative from a job seeker.

Free Kit: Everything You Need for Your Job Search

Those job seekers will send in a letter of intent rather than a  cover letter . In this article, we’ll take a look at what a letter of intent is and highlight some strategies for writing the best LOI you can. We’ve even included a template to help you get started. 

Here’s what you’ll find:

What is a letter of intent?

Letter of intent vs. cover letter, letter of intent vs. letter of interest, when to use a letter of intent.

How to Write a Letter of Intent for a Job

Letter of Intent Samples

Letter of intent template.

A letter of intent is a less common way of expressing interest in a company. It targets reasons you’re looking for opportunities with a specific organization.

A letter of intent does include elements of a traditional cover letter, such as relevant experience and skills, but it’s used in slightly different contexts. LOIs emphasize alignment between a job seeker and an organization.

letter of intent example for Publishing Now

There are a few key differences between a  cover letter  and a letter of intent, including:

Context. While a cover letter responds to a specific job listing, a letter of intent targets an organization more generally. It may or may not have a specific job opening at the time that the LOI is sent in.

Focus. A cover letter explains why an applicant is a  good fit for a specific role . An LOI, on the other hand, addresses an individual’s compatibility with an overall organization or more general role.

Initiative. A cover letter is a reactive document responding to a job opening. A letter of intent, however, demonstrates more initiative and provides information before an organization specifically requests it.

statement of purpose or cover letter

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Letter of intent and  letter of interest  are often used interchangeably. While there are a lot of similarities between the two documents, there are also a few key differences:

Level of intent. Letters of intent have a high level of intentionality, while letters of interest are more exploratory. A letter of intent proposes action, while letters of interest are for information gathering.

Commitment level. A letter of intent is a high-commitment way of expressing interest in a company, while a letter of interest is a lower commitment. An individual is more likely to send out multiple letters of interest. 

Action orientation. A letter of intent always ends with a call to action, while a letter of interest is more laid-back and may not request anything specific from the recipient.

While both letters demonstrate initiative and are closely tailored to the company, they do serve slightly different purposes.

There are lots of scenarios where a job seeker may want to send out a letter of intent. Here are a few examples: 

You have a high level of interest in a specific company, but there’s not an open role.

You are interested in networking with a company in a committed way.

You want to reach out with a formal follow-up after a networking event.

You’re applying to a highly competitive field.

You’re aware of a potential job opportunity with an organization that hasn’t been published yet.

Additionally, students or job seekers switching industries may use letters of intent to apply to educational opportunities like internships and apprenticeships — though those may also be called  cover letters . 

when to use a letter of intent

How to Write a Letter of Intent

There are plenty of ways to approach writing a letter of intent for a job. Here’s a step-by-step process for writing your LOI draft:

1. Provide your contact information.  

At the top of your LOI, you’ll want to provide contact information so your recipient can contact you about future opportunities. This can include your phone number, email, and address.

2. Use an appropriate greeting.

For some opportunities, a formal greeting is appropriate. In other situations, a more informal approach may be ideal. If possible, address the specific recipient. 

3. Provide an introduction.  

In the intro paragraphs, you’ll want to tap into three specifics:

Who you are.

Why you’re reaching out.

How you got this company’s information.

Feel free to vary the order of this information. Your LOI intro may be formal or more playful, depending on who you are and the organization you’re submitting to.

4. Dive into your strengths and company alignment.  

An LOI is created to clearly convey why you’re a good fit for the organization. In the body paragraphs of your letter, you’ll want to explain:

  • Your strengths.
  • What you do.
  • How those things would fit with the organization.

5. Guide the conversation into the future.  

All LOIs end with a call to action, which is one of the things that differentiates it from a letter of interest or a cover letter. Map out potential next steps so it’s easy for the reader to take action. It could include:

A request to schedule a meeting.

Making a specific pitch.

Encouraging the recipient to send a follow-up email.

6. Write a thoughtful conclusion .

Conclude your LOI by reiterating your interest in the company. Make sure to thank the recipient for their time, too — there wasn’t a job opening request, so they took time out of their day to read your letter.

If you’re sending your LOI because of an internal referral, be sure to reference them within the letter. 

how to write a letter of intent

Let’s go through a few different samples of LOIs and highlight what each does well. Refer to these samples as you draft your own letter of intent for guidance on incorporating the elements of an LOI seamlessly.

Internal Connection

Dear Mr. Waterhouse, My name is Jennifer Orlando, and I am an accomplished sommelier with a decade of experience. I recently enjoyed a glass at your wine bar, and I would love to chat with you more if you’re hiring soon. My colleague, Jackson Marymount, has worked at Italiano Wine Bar for several years and highly recommends working with your organization. I have a wine service background and a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 certification. I’m passionate about Italian wines — Nebbiolos are my favorite! Jackson says you’re a fan, as well. My passion for Italian wines, combined with my experience, make me a great candidate for Italiano Wine Bar if you’re ever in need of an extra hand. I appreciate you taking the time to read my letter today, and if you’d like to chat further, please email me, and we can schedule a time to sit down together. Thank you again for your time. Warm regards, Jennifer

In this letter of intent, Jennifer leverages an internal connection. This is a great way to earn a few extra points when explaining how you know about the business. Beyond that, Jennifer’s experiences align well with the work that the wine bar does.

What I like:  This letter of intent does a great job of personalization, weaving through the internal connection perfectly in a few different spots. A referral is a powerful aid to incorporate into an LOI, and Jennifer did a great job dropping hints of her connection.

Making a Pitch

Dear Elise, My name is Mark Morgan, and I’m a freelance graphic designer with a passion for bold marketing materials. I found your marketing company while on LinkedIn the other day, and I would love to collaborate with you in the future. As I read up on your company, I discovered a lot of similarities between my work and your organization. I, too, advocate for bright and forward advertising, and creating smart and attractive ads is my specialty. While I noticed you don’t have any posted project needs at this time, I was browsing your offerings and saw an opportunity to bolster your products. Your “Full-Stack Ad Copywriting” package covers strategy and copy, but it doesn’t offer graphic design. I’d love to bring my skills to the table to supplement your product. If you’d like to chat further, please shoot me an email, and we’ll set up a time to discuss potential collaboration. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my letter. Take care, Mark

What I like:  In this letter, Mark is making a pitch. He still covers the bases of a great LOI — discussing his strengths and alignment with the brand. But instead of just calling for a meeting, he makes a pitch that is specific to the organization. This provides value to the recipient and makes Mark look like a strong collaborator. 

Mark could benefit from HubSpot’s CMS Hub to manage his pitches. Lead generation and content creation are important parts of freelancing, and Mark needs to stay organized in order to do it well. Learn more about  HubSpot’s CMS Hub here .

Diving Into Alignment

Dear Michael, My name is Jordan, and I’m a non-profit manager. I’m reaching out today because I discovered your organization through one of my colleagues. I’d love to see if you’re in need of any managerial services. My values are in close alignment with the values of Trees 4 Life Canada. I’m dedicated to service and passionately believe saving the trees is one of the best ways we can save the world. I studied agriculture in college and have since dedicated my professional life to collaboration with tree nonprofits. If you’re seeking a manager in the near future, I’d love to be considered for the role. With my experience and alignment with your values, I’d surely be a great fit. Please feel free to send me an email at jordanlovestrees@example.com. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Jordan

Letters of intent are standard documents, so you don’t need to worry about reinventing the wheel each time you send one. Use this template as a resource to ensure your letter includes all the important parts.

[Your name]

[Your contact information]

[Recipient’s Name]

[Recipient’s contact information]

Dear  [Recipient or To Whom It May Concern] ,

My name is  [Your Name] ,  [title/relevant information about yourself] , and I heard about your organization through  [how you know the organization] . I’m reaching out to connect. I would love to chat if your team plans on expanding.

I have skills in  [skills]  that I believe would be a great fit for your organization. Your values of  [company values]  are in close alignment with my strengths, and I believe I could make a great contribution.

I believe that my  [abilities/skills/interests]  would benefit your company, and I’d love to talk more about any potential opportunities that arise with  [name of organization] . If interested, please reach out by  [phone/email]  to schedule a time to meet with me.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and I hope to talk with you further in the future.

Of course, you’ll want to edit the template for tone and specifics related to yourself and the organization you’re contacting. 

Finding Success With a Great Letter of Intent

Sending a letter of intent can be vulnerable, but it’s a great way to make new connections and set yourself up for employment success.

Refer to these strategies, samples, and templates to make sure your LOI is going to be the most effective letter possible. Emphasize your alignment with the organization, and you’re sure to see success!

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Sec adopts rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors.


Washington D.C., March 6, 2024 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission today adopted rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures by public companies and in public offerings. The final rules reflect the Commission’s efforts to respond to investors’ demand for more consistent, comparable, and reliable information about the financial effects of climate-related risks on a registrant’s operations and how it manages those risks while balancing concerns about mitigating the associated costs of the rules.

“Our federal securities laws lay out a basic bargain. Investors get to decide which risks they want to take so long as companies raising money from the public make what President Franklin Roosevelt called ‘complete and truthful disclosure,’” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “Over the last 90 years, the SEC has updated, from time to time, the disclosure requirements underlying that basic bargain and, when necessary, provided guidance with respect to those disclosure requirements.”

Chair Gensler added, “These final rules build on past requirements by mandating material climate risk disclosures by public companies and in public offerings. The rules will provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information, and issuers with clear reporting requirements. Further, they will provide specificity on what companies must disclose, which will produce more useful information than what investors see today. They will also require that climate risk disclosures be included in a company’s SEC filings, such as annual reports and registration statements rather than on company websites, which will help make them more reliable.”

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  • Climate-related risks that have had or are reasonably likely to have a material impact on the registrant’s business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition;
  • The actual and potential material impacts of any identified climate-related risks on the registrant’s strategy, business model, and outlook;
  • If, as part of its strategy, a registrant has undertaken activities to mitigate or adapt to a material climate-related risk, a quantitative and qualitative description of material expenditures incurred and material impacts on financial estimates and assumptions that directly result from such mitigation or adaptation activities;
  • Specified disclosures regarding a registrant’s activities, if any, to mitigate or adapt to a material climate-related risk including the use, if any, of transition plans, scenario analysis, or internal carbon prices;
  • Any oversight by the board of directors of climate-related risks and any role by management in assessing and managing the registrant’s material climate-related risks;
  • Any processes the registrant has for identifying, assessing, and managing material climate-related risks and, if the registrant is managing those risks, whether and how any such processes are integrated into the registrant’s overall risk management system or processes;
  • Information about a registrant’s climate-related targets or goals, if any, that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect the registrant’s business, results of operations, or financial condition. Disclosures would include material expenditures and material impacts on financial estimates and assumptions as a direct result of the target or goal or actions taken to make progress toward meeting such target or goal;
  • For large accelerated filers (LAFs) and accelerated filers (AFs) that are not otherwise exempted, information about material Scope 1 emissions and/or Scope 2 emissions;
  • For those required to disclose Scope 1 and/or Scope 2 emissions, an assurance report at the limited assurance level, which, for an LAF, following an additional transition period, will be at the reasonable assurance level;
  • The capitalized costs, expenditures expensed, charges, and losses incurred as a result of severe weather events and other natural conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, drought, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and sea level rise, subject to applicable one percent and de minimis disclosure thresholds, disclosed in a note to the financial statements;
  • The capitalized costs, expenditures expensed, and losses related to carbon offsets and renewable energy credits or certificates (RECs) if used as a material component of a registrant’s plans to achieve its disclosed climate-related targets or goals, disclosed in a note to the financial statements; and
  • If the estimates and assumptions a registrant uses to produce the financial statements were materially impacted by risks and uncertainties associated with severe weather events and other natural conditions or any disclosed climate-related targets or transition plans, a qualitative description of how the development of such estimates and assumptions was impacted, disclosed in a note to the financial statements.

Before adopting the final rules, the Commission considered more than 24,000 comment letters, including more than 4,500 unique letters, submitted in response to the rules’ proposing release issued in March 2022.

The adopting release is published on SEC.gov and will be published in the Federal Register. The final rules will become effective 60 days following publication of the adopting release in the Federal Register, and compliance dates for the rules will be phased in for all registrants, with the compliance date dependent on the registrant’s filer status.

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