Northeastern University Graduate Programs

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. 

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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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Writing your academic statement of purpose.

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What is it?

Each applicant must submit an academic statement of purpose (ASOP). The ASOP is one of your primary opportunities to help the admissions committee understand your academic objectives and determine if you are a good match for the program you are applying to. The goal of this document is to impress upon the admissions committee that you have a solid background and experience in your area of interest and that you have the potential to be successful in graduate study.

Why is it important?

The ASOP is one of the most important pieces of your graduate school application because it:

  • Gives the reviewers an understanding of your academic background and interests.
  • Allows you to illustrate in your own words what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Helps them determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying.
  • Shows your communication style and ability.

Information to Include

Introduce yourself and your academic interests.

  • Provide simple background information on your area of interest and how it became of particular interest to you.
  • Here you can also share with them how and why you decided to pursue a graduate degree in this field.

Describe your academic background, preparation, and training

  • Skills you have learned from academic, lab, or research experiences (e.g., undergraduate coursework, research opportunities, scholarly writings, jobs in the field, presentations, etc.). Whenever possible, give specific examples and illustrate the points you are making, don’t just simply tell them.
  • Research you conducted – project title or focus, research mentor, your specific role, what you learned and the outcome. If there were challenges, don’t be afraid to mention what you learned from them. This shows persistence and resilience in the face of adversity– these are also things they are looking for!
  • Important papers or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your academic degree requirements.
  • Relevant work or internship experience as related to the field you are applying to.

Show them you are making an informed decision

  • Indicate what you would like to study in graduate school in enough detail to convince the faculty that you understand the scope of research in the discipline and are aware of research trends.
  • Show them that you have thoroughly researched the program, its faculty, and research focus areas, and why you are applying to this program specifically. This will help you write a more informed essay that is relatable to the faculty who will be reviewing your application.
  • Describe why you are a good fit for the program and why the program is a good fit for you.
  • If there are specific faculty you are interested in working with, check the program’s ASOP instructions and determine how best to mention this in your essay. Some programs require you to name a professor(s) with whom you would like to work.
  • Are there any aspects of the program that are of particular interest to you (immersion program, opportunities for collaboration with others outside of the institution, research centers associated with the program, etc.)?
  • Include information that is important to you outside of the program – supportive environment for first-year students, access to amazing literary resources, opportunities to participate in professional/career development programming, etc.
  • Professional goals – you may wish to outline what you plan to do after you complete the program as a way of underscoring the importance of your choice to pursue graduate study.
  • Share any extracurricular opportunities you have had that show leadership, ability to work with a diverse group of people, teaching skills, etc.
  • Research degree applicants should identify specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own interests. 

Important Things to Remember

  • Pay attention and follow instructions very carefully – every program is different and some have specific items/topics they want you to address.
  • Unless otherwise noted, this is an academically focused essay, not necessarily a personal essay. You will likely add some personal details here and there, but be sure to keep the focus on your academic background and future potential.
  • Proofread and pay close attention to details – they really matter!
  • Have others from a variety of perspectives read your essay before you submit it – they should be looking at it in terms of content, style, and grammar. Remember, those outside of your field can provide you with valuable perspective and feedback.
  • Keep in mind that you can continue editing your ASOP after you have submitted it to programs with earlier deadlines.

Length, Format and Tone

  • Unless otherwise noted one to two pages in a standard font and size is typical.
  • Include your full name and proposed program of study at the top of each page – if faculty are not reading an electronic version of your essay, pages can become separated.
  • Write with confidence and in an active voice – doing this makes your sentences clear and less wordy/complicated.
  • Language should be positive and focused. Since faculty are the ones reviewing your application, it is fine to use discipline-specific terminology, tone, and style in your ASOP.

Final Checklist

  • Described your academic background in enough detail to show your experience and preparedness in the field?
  • Shown that you are a good fit for the program you are applying to?
  • Defined why you want a graduate degree in this field?
  • Demonstrated that you are self-motivated, persistent, competent, and have the skills necessary to be successful in graduate school?
  • Followed the ASOP instructions as defined by the program you are applying to?
  • Polished, proofread, and had others review your ASOP?

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for PhD Admission

Grad-student-writing-a-statement-of-purpose

The dreaded doctoral statement of purpose — every PhD program asks for it, but why is it so difficult to write? Writing a strong statement of purpose is essential to getting into your top PhD programs. A PhD statement of purpose gives admissions committees an introduction to your research interests and why their specific program is of interest to you.

Like a cover letter for a job application, a great statement of purpose allows you to highlight your strengths, interests and experience. If you need statement of purpose advice, keep reading for guidance on how to write a successful statement of purpose that will make your PhD application stand out.

Statement of purpose vs. personal statement

Though the two may sound similar, they’re not necessarily interchangeable. A personal statement gives insight into who you are, while a statement of purpose is meant to showcase what you want to do. Rarely will you be asked to write a personal statement for a PhD program.

As you go through the PhD application process, you will likely see schools requesting either a statement of purpose or a research statement. In most cases, they're both looking for the same thing. Admissions committees want to know about your academic background, your research goals and what you hope to accomplish as a candidate in a PhD program.

Your research goals should align with faculty research

Being admitted to a PhD program is a great feeling, but if you enroll in a program that doesn’t match your research interests or help support your career goals, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment later down the road.

Applying for admission to a program is all about fit. Faculty reviewers are looking for students who best represent the department’s mission and will help them obtain their research objectives.

By the time you apply, you should have a solid understanding of what the department’s primary research and content areas are, as well as which faculty members you’d like to work with more closely. This might mean finding information about what their labs do and reading published articles related to their work.

Be sure to include how your interests and past experiences align with the work that they do and how you would be an active contributor to those endeavors. This approach shows that you took the time to look into their program, so the committee will be more willing to invest theirs in reviewing your application.

Don’t be afraid to address your weaknesses

Many people assume they should avoid listing their shortcomings in their essays. The whole point of applying to a program is to impress the reviewers, right? But constructively addressing your weaknesses can be a great way to demonstrate how this program can help you achieve your academic goals.

Look at the catalog and read through the courses that are part of the program. If there is a particular class that fascinates you, talk about how it could help you obtain a new skill or a better understanding of a concept that you’ve struggled with before.

This demonstrates that you are actively seeking programs to help you better your education. It also exhibits that you’re mindful of what areas of your knowledge need some improvement, which shows maturity and the ability to self-assess.

Keep it succinct

If your program of interest does not specify a page word or word limit, it’s best to assume that your statement should not exceed two pages total. It should be enough to give them a glimpse of who you are and what you have to offer but not share your life story.

The aim is to communicate how and why this particular program will help you meet your academic and career goals. Limited space means you must prioritize what you include in your statement.

Create an outline before you start writing to ensure you are including points that are relevant to your application and the program to which you are applying. Your statement is also an example of how well you can write. By framing your essay before you write it, you can avoid stream-of-consciousness writing that can often come across as undefined and incoherent.

Proofread! And read it over and over

When you think you have a finished product, read your essay out loud. This makes it easier to catch typos, poor grammar, and oddly worded sentences. If you have a friend who is also applying to grad school, help each other out by editing each other’s essays.

Having someone else read your statement and ask questions can help you clarify your points and make it more compelling. Your statement is your one chance to present yourself professionally in your own words. The occasional mistake is excusable, but messy writing will make them think you lack attention to detail.

Before you hit submit on that application, be sure that you have attached the correct document for the right institution. It can be very embarrassing if your statement mentions the wrong faculty member’s name or refers to another school’s library! It could also cause the reviewers to think you are not as serious about their program.

You’ve spent a good amount of time perfecting your application, so take your time to review everything before you submit it so you can rest easy knowing you’ve presented your best.

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academic statement of purpose for phd

  • Academic Statement of Purpose

The Academic Statement of Purpose is an opportunity for you to share information that will help reviewers understand your academic interests and objectives, assess your academic background, preparation, and training, and determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying.

The Purdue University Graduate School application allows applicants to select up to three graduate campuses and/or majors per application. If you are applying to a 2nd or 3rd choice program, you are only required to submit one academic statement of purpose with your application. Be sure your academic statement of purpose is all-inclusive, and supports your suitability for your enrollment in all the graduate programs listed on your application.

A statement, not exceeding two pages in length, is encouraged.  The following topics should be addressed in your Academic Statement of Purpose.

  • What are your professional plans and career goals? How will attending graduate school assist you in reaching those goals?
  • Describe your research, scholarly, or creative interests. What topics are of particular interest to you? Reviewers know that interests change over time but try to be as specific as possible.
  • Discuss how your experiences, skills, and abilities have prepared you for graduate study. Relevant topics may include coursework, work and research experiences, internships, presentations, exhibits, publications, and community service. If you describe a research or scholarly experience, include information on the topic, research mentor, your role, and outcomes.
  • Describe how your skills, preparation, and interests are a match for the program to which you are applying. Identify faculty who share your research and scholarly interests. Reviewers will want to know that you have researched the program, faculty, and key focus areas.

The Academic Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement are two of the most important documents in your graduate school application. The documents should be concise, clear, and free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. You should have others review your document for content, organization, and to ensure that there are no errors. Information in the Personal History Statement should complement but not duplicate information in the Academic Statement of Purpose.

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Writing the Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should convince the admissions committee that your achievements show promise for your success in graduate study. Think of the statement of purpose as a composition with four different parts.

Make sure to check on the appropriate departmental website to find out if your statement should include additional or specific information.

Part 1: Introduce yourself, your interests and motivations

Tell them what you’re interested in, and perhaps, what sparked your desire for graduate study. This should be short and to the point; don’t spend a great deal of time on autobiography.

Part 2: Summarize your undergraduate and previous graduate career

a) Research you conducted. Indicate with whom, the title of the project, what your responsibilities were, and the outcome. Write technically, or in the style of your discipline. Faculty are the people who read these statements.

b) Important paper or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your curricular requirements.

c) Work experience, especially if you had any kind of responsibility for testing, designing, researching or interning in an area similar to what you wish to study in graduate school.

Part 3: Discuss the relevance of your recent and current activities

If you graduated and worked prior to returning to graduate school, indicate what you’ve been doing: company or non-profit, your work/design team, responsibilities, what you learned. You can also indicate here how this helped you focus your graduate studies.

Part 4: Elaborate on your academic interests

Here you indicate what you would like to study in graduate school in enough detail to convince the faculty that you understand the scope of research in their discipline, and are engaged with current research themes.

a) Indicate the area of your interests. Ideally, pose a question, define a problem, or indicate a theme that you would like to address, and questions that arise from contemporary research. This should be an ample paragraph!

b) Look on the web for information about departments you’re interested in, including professors and their research. Are there professors whose research interests parallel yours? If so, indicate this. Check the specific program; many may require you to name a professor or professors with whom you might work.

c) End your statement in a positive manner, indicating your excitement and readiness for the challenges ahead of you.

Essential Tips

1. What the admissions committee will read between the lines: self-motivation, competence, potential as a graduate student.

2. Emphasize everything from a positive perspective and write in an active, not a passive voice.

3. Demonstrate everything by example; don’t say directly that you’re a persistent person, show it.

4. If there is something important that happened to you that affected your grades, such as poverty, illness, or excessive work, state it. Write it affirmatively, showing your perseverance despite obstacles. You can elaborate more in your personal statement.

5. Make sure everything is linked with continuity and focus.

6. Unless the specific program says otherwise, be concise; an ideal essay should say everything it needs to with brevity. Approximately 500 to 1000 well-selected words (1-2 single space pages in 12 point font) is better than more words with less clarity and poor organization.

  • Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and Writing Sample

Details about submitting a statement of purpose, personal statement, and a writing sample as part of your degree program application

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Statement of Purpose 

The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your degree program of interest may have specific guidance or requirements for the statement of purpose, so be sure to review the degree program page for more information. Unless otherwise noted, your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. 

Personal Statement

A core part of the Harvard Griffin GSAS mission is to identify and attract the most promising students to form a dynamic and diverse community. We are committed to educating individuals who reflect the growing diversity of perspectives and life experiences represented in society today and who will contribute to our commitment to sustain a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment. Please share how your experiences or activities will advance our mission and commitment. Your statement should be no longer than 500 words.

Writing Sample 

Please visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a writing sample is required. When preparing your writing sample, be sure to follow program requirements, which may include format, topic, or length. 

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School Slide

When writing your statement of purpose for graduate school, focus on your specific plans and how the graduate program and its faculty will help you meet these goals. Graduate study is not for slackers. It takes focus and determination to pursue an advanced degree. That's why admissions committees examine your statement of purpose (also called a letter of intent or research statement) very closely—they want to see whether you have the right stuff to succeed in grad school. Follow these tips to write an effective graduate school statement of purpose.

1. Know what grad schools are really asking.

Different grad school programs have different prompts. Nonetheless, they're all asking for the same four pieces of information:

  • What you want to study at graduate school?
  • Why you want to study it?
  • What experience you have in your field?
  • What you plan to do with your degree once you have it?

Admissions committees look for candidates with clear, well-defined research interests that arise from experience. With that in mind, your statement of purpose should reveal that you care deeply about your chosen discipline and that you have the background to support your ideas and sentiments. It should also demonstrate that you're a diligent student who will remain committed for the long haul. Always answer the question asked of you. Being substantive and direct is much better than being creative or flashy.

2. Be selective about the details you include.

Grad schools don’t care that you make a great chicken casserole or play intramural bocce ball. They do care about those activities that speak to your suitability for graduate work. As a graduate student, you'll be called upon to do difficult coursework and research. You may have to teach undergraduate classes within your field and conceivably even design a course. And you'll have to get along with a diverse group of colleagues who will sometimes work very closely with you. Any experience in school, work, or your extracurricular life that speaks to those abilities is worth talking about.

Read More: 5 Tips for Choosing a Grad School

3. Make your statement of purpose unique.

While it's important to be focused, there's no need to be boring. To distinguish your essay, add unique (yet relevant) information. One of the best ways to do this is to discuss—briefly—an idea in your field that turns you on intellectually. It's an effective essay-opener, and it lets you write about something besides yourself for a bit.

Remember, the idea you choose to talk about can tell an admissions committee a lot about you. And it demonstrates your interest in your field, rather than just describing it.

4. Ask for feedback.

Be sure to show your statement of purpose to someone you respect, preferably the professors who are writing your recommendations, and get some feedback on the content before you send it in. Have someone else proofread your essay for spelling and grammar. A fresh set of eyes often picks up something you missed.

Finally, don't just reuse the same statement of purpose for each school to which you apply. You can recycle the same information, but make sure you change the presentation to fit each individual program.

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Statements of Purpose: Drafting Your Statement

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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.

8 Tips for Writing a Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose, sometimes called a personal statement, is an essential part of PhD applications. It functions similarly to a cover letter; it should convince the reader (in this case the selection committee) that you have the right qualifications, motivation and professional goals to pursue graduate studies in their program. Use the tips below to write a statement of purpose that stands out.

This first tip is the most important. It is essential that you customize your statement of purpose to every school, program, or project that you apply to. You don't have to start from scratch for each statement of purpose, but you should make sure that significant portions of the document are school-specific. Your statement of purpose should tell the committee why you chose to apply to their school over other options.

Show Your Qualifications

Explain why you are qualified for this PhD program. Include a brief summary of your undergraduate and previous graduate career (if applicable). Talk about the research projects you conducted and your thesis or any resulting publications. Mention any relevant scholarly extracurricular activities you were involved in. If there are special requirements for the program, such as foreign language proficiency or prerequisite courses, you should explain how you fulfilled them in your statement of purpose.

Explain Your Interests

Your research interests should be a major part of your statement of purpose. Set up the topic you want to research by indicating a theme, defining a problem, or posing a question. Talk about what inspired your interest in this topic and how it will contribute to the field and the current state of scholarship.

Show Them You Belong

Your statement of purpose should connect your research interests to the school you are applying to. You should name professors with parallel interests who you would like to work with and use specific examples of their work to explain why. Be explicit about how this school will help you succeed in your research goals. Is the department known for taking a unique approach or having a strong focus in a particular area? Do they have special access to resources that will help you research? This paragraph will have to be tailored to each school you apply to.

Unless a specific word count is mentioned in the application, the statement of purpose should not be longer than one to two pages. Make every word count. 

Don’t Tell Your Life Story

On a similar note, avoid excess storytelling in your statement of purpose. Don’t waste your limited space telling the committee how you’ve always wanted to be a physicist or about the moment that sparked your passion for history. They already know you’re passionate about the subject—you wouldn’t be applying for a PhD if you weren’t! While your past achievement have prepared for this PhD program, the statement of purpose should focus on your future as a scholar.

Ask For Feedback

When you have written a draft you are satisfied with, ask one of a professor in your field who knows you and your interests to read it over. They can help you see your statement of purpose from the perspective of someone with experience on admissions committees.  

This is the crucial last step for any application. Read your statement of purpose over several times to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. It can be hard to spot errors on the screen, so print out your statement and read it over. Double check that you have spelled the professors’ names and titles of their work correctly. If grammar isn’t your strong suit (or even if it is) it’s a good idea to ask someone else to proofread your statement of purpose as well.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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).

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

academic statement of purpose for phd

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

academic statement of purpose for phd

  • Graduate School

15 Winning Graduate School Statement of Purpose Examples

Featured Expert: Dr. Shiti Malhotra, PhD

graduate-school-statement-of-purpose-example-and-tips

Here’re the top 15 graduate school statement of purpose examples that got their writers accepted! In this article, you will learn how to increase your chances of getting into graduate school by submitting a statement of purpose that stands out among thousands! Let’s get started! 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

Graduate school statement of purpose example #1.

This graduate school statement of purpose got 5 acceptances!

“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.” I was 16 when I first read this quote by Mies van der Rohe, and, back then, I thought I really understood what it meant. Thinking of this quote one summer evening, as I walked around my beloved New York City, I was inspired to commit to a future in architecture. At that early stage, I cherished romantic ideals of designing grandiose buildings that would change a city; of adding my name to the list of architectural geniuses who had immortalized their vision of the world in concrete, steel, glass, and stone. It was in college that I became passionately interested in the theoretical design and engineering concepts that form the basis of architecture, while also exploring in greater detail the sociological and economic impact of architecture.

The true breakthrough for me took place in my sophomore year of college, when I was volunteering at The Bowery Mission, a women’s shelter situated in Queens, New York. The shelter was in a poorly ventilated building, with an essentially non-functioning air conditioning system. The little bit of relief for the people who stayed there was a small park nearby, a patch of green between suffocating buildings. One day when I was working the afternoon shift there in the peak of summer, I looked out to see bulldozers in the park. It was being torn up to make room for yet another building. I saw that completed building a year later – a grey block of steel that did not utilize any of the original park space. Witnessing this injustice, while learning every day about how climatology, materials technology, and engineering mechanics intersect with urban planning and architectural design, ignited a passion for sustainable design in me. [BeMo2] How can we, as architects, minimize our harm to communities and eco-systems? How can we design buildings with a view to sustain long-term energy and resource efficiency without sacrificing immediate economic viability? What are the eco-conscious solutions that architects can put forward to address the environmental changes of the 21st century? These were the questions that plagued me then and I have pursued the answers to these questions throughout my academic career so far.

I found the answers to some of these questions in the robust curriculum I pursued at ABC College of Architecture, New York. I took up advanced coursework in Engineering Mechanics, Surveying, Soil Mechanics, Steel Structures, Model Making etc. which helped me hone my technical skills. As my interest in sustainable architecture developed, I became curious about the social and anthropological impact of architecture. I studied Art History, African American Literature, Anthropology, and Cultures of Ancient Greece, which helped me develop a deeper understanding of the socio-ecological impact of architecture and ethical responsibilities of architects. With this strong background of academic exploration, my architectural philosophy continued to evolve. I became interested in cutting-edge design techniques and their application to sustainable design. In my junior year at college, I participated in the New Dimensions of Architecture conference held in New York City, presenting my own paper on “Analyzing the Implications of the Weiszman Design Theory for the Sustainable Architecture of the Future”. In fact, it was at this conference that I met Professor Richard Wright, the esteemed architect and professor emeritus at the Architecture department of XYZ University. Talking with him was one of the most enlightening moments of my life. We discussed our shared passion for ecologically efficient and socially cohesive architectural solutions, and he introduced me to the works of Leonard Nieman, Mary Andrews, and other cutting-edge green architecture firms that are making a real contribution to ecologically sustainable urban planning.

In fact, the possibility of learning from and working directly with Professor Wright is one of my main reasons to seek admission into your M.Arch program. His innovative design theories have a tremendous potential for sustainable architecture solutions. I would love to learn from him and collaborate with him to continue to explore my interest in these topics. I am also deeply interested in the scope of studies afforded by your wide-ranging curriculum that focuses on the latest architectural innovations as well as socio-economic evolutions in architecture. Moreover, for a budding green architect, nothing is more attractive than your quarterly line-up of seminars and conferences that frequently feature the names of the architects at the forefront of design innovation. With my strong academic background in both the technical and socio-economic aspects of architecture, and my focused passion on sustainable architectural solutions for the future, I think I am a perfect candidate for your master’s program. This education is exactly what I need to launch me into the next phase of my career, where I hope to gain experience at one of New York’s top green architecture firms, working on problems of low-budget housing, eco-friendly factory designs, and organic city planning. Eventually, I hope to specialize in sustainable, low-budget urban planning for socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

It’s funny to think how far I’ve come from my early romanticized ideals of what it meant to be an architect. Those sunset walks around New York city from my teenage years, surrounded by the works of Mies van der Rohe and Rem Koolhas, inspired in me an awe for the cultural power an architect can wield. It was an early lesson that a building can both represent and transform spaces. Today when I walk around my beloved city, what I see are the innumerable missed architectural opportunities to organically inhabit and improve any given space with sustainable design. And now, when I consider Mies van der Rohe’s famous quote, I no longer think of my own petty will or the limited scope of individual genius; I think of the will of an entire generation committed to saving our planet with teamwork, collaboration, and true passion, and how grateful I am to be a part of this generation of architects. (998 words).

Click here to read this grad school statement of purpose example.

Graduate School Statement of Purpose Example #3

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A graduate school statement of purpose provides the admissions committee with a way of understanding more about you as an applicant. This essay gives them the opportunity to assess your suitability for their particular program and institution. Finding the right fit between an applicant and a graduate program is crucial for both parties, and your statement of purpose is your opportunity to explain to the admissions committee why you believe this graduate program is right for you. Here’s what our admissions expert Dr. Malhotra, PhD, shared about her experience writing an SOP:

“I found the graduate school statement of purpose to be the hardest application component, as I was not sure which experience to include and which to exclude. Additionally, it was difficult to know how to present me as a unique candidate; someone who will be a good fit for the graduate program. My biggest advice for writing the statement of purpose is to keep a balance between academic and non-academic aspects of your background.” – Dr. Shiti Malhotra, Ph.D.

With this in mind, it is important to use the statement of purpose as a way of showcasing what led you to graduate school and your chosen program , and what you hope to achieve if accepted. Here’s a quick list of what should be included in your grad school statement of purpose:

  • Why you are pursuing a PhD or a Master's program
  • Why you are interested in a field or a specific program
  • How you have prepared yourself academically or professionally for a career in this field
  • What you will contribute to the program
  • Your future career goals and how the program will help you achieve them

Here's a quick guide to writing a grad school statement of purpose if you'd rather watch a video:

How to Write a Graduate School Statement of Purpose

You need to lay some groundwork  before  you even start drafting your statement of purpose. Here are the steps you need to take to prepare yourself.

#1 Set Aside the Time

Preparing and writing a statement of purpose is not a quick undertaking. Since the statement itself will also require several drafts before reaching its final form, always keep in mind that this is not something to leave to the last minute! Ideally, you should give yourself 6-8 weeks to write your statement.

#2 Research Your School and Program

 Visit the school’s website and pay close attention to any mission statements or values that are stated. Visit the pages dedicated to your department and program of choice to glean clues regarding their academic culture.

#3 Brainstorm How and Why You Would Fit into the School and Program

It’s not enough to want to attend a particular school just because of their good reputation or nice location. While learning about your program of choice and its faculty, you should be constantly reflecting upon how and why you would fit in as a member of that community. Think about what you can contribute to the school and how the program will help you achieve your career goals.

#4 Contact any potential mentors

If during your research you have discovered a faculty member whose work sounds intriguing to you, reach out to them to introduce yourself. Forming a direct connection with a faculty member could significantly boost your candidacy, especially if the faculty member is willing to supervise you or write you a  graduate school recommendation letter . Plus, you can mention your interest in their research in your statement:

"My advice for writing [a statement of purpose] is to always include some specific faculty members and their research that was interesting to you. Look into their research! Find some recent publications that you can offer some ideas for!” – Dr. Hanlin Liu, PhD, University of Toronto

"statement of purpose was the hardest [application component]. i did not know how to structure it based on my university/program requirements.” - helen martin, phd.

Every program is unique. Make sure you understand the specifics of what they are looking for, e.g. length, emphasis, any required formatting guidelines. Many graduate schools will provide prompts to make your writing process easier. Make sure to read the prompt carefully, as they provide clues as to what the admissions committee expects to see in your statement.

#6 Choose Experiences to Include

“the hardest part was narrowing down my experiences into a concise impactful narrative.” – dr. reem sabry, phd.

And our admissions expert Dr. Sabry is not alone! To make this process simpler, make a short list of which experiences and achievements you would especially like to highlight in your statement. Ideally, include 1 to 3 experiences in your SOP. Note down specific examples of achievements you want to highlight. Make sure your experiences reflect WHY you are pursuing a graduate degree. Make sure the experiences you choose align with the program’s mission and culture. Think of your accomplishments and strengths in relation to what you know about the school. Do they value research? Share your top research experience. Does the program tout the importance of community? Discuss any community service you have participated in. Dr. Sabry continues:

“The biggest advice for a SOP is to highlight specific experiences that align with the specific program/research you are applying for.”- Dr. Reem Sabry, PhD

When you are ready to write, take a moment to review the length requirements. A statement of purpose is typically between 500 to 1,000 words long.

The statement of purpose should follow the structure of an academic paper, with a clear introduction, main body, and conclusion.

Introduction:

You need to grab your reader’s attention. Start with a compelling first sentence: choose an anecdote, a quotation, or jolt the reader with a gripping personal fact. Your opening statement would make a reader stay with you to the end. The second half of your introduction should provide a brief snapshot of what you will cover in greater detail in the main body of your statement.

If you find yourself struggling to write your introduction, set it aside until you have written the body and conclusion of your statement, since you will then know how the introduction could tie it all together.  

The main body of your statement should highlight 1-3 formative experiences that led you to grad school. Avoid making your statement of purpose just another grad school CV – you need to create a narrative! Remember, it’s more important to show why you are a great candidate, rather than simply talk about it.

Conclusion:

Your conclusion needs to tie everything together and should leave the reader wanting to know more about you. Try to leave your reader with one last compelling thought or insight as you reflect upon what enrolling in the program would mean to you. You could speak about the current challenges faced by experts in your discipline, and your own eagerness to become more involved in contributing to the field.

Otherwise, your conclusion might also be a good place to address your career plans, as it ends the statement by looking to the future. You could end by specifying how the program will help you achieve your professional goals. 

Be prepared to write and re-write your statement as many times as necessary! Carefully review your statement after every draft to look for areas you could improve or elements you might need to add or replace. ","label":"Important Note:","title":"Important Note:"}]" code="tab6" template="BlogArticle">

Checklist for Submitting Your Statement of Purpose

Click here for the checklist.

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Here's how we helped Nikki get into graduate school!

A strong statement of purpose offers a compelling narrative about your interests, abilities, and experiences, to show the committee that you are a strong applicant and the right fit for their institution and graduate program.

A graduate school statement of purpose usually ranges between 500 and 1,000 words in length. Be sure to check the specific requirements stated by the program as you prepare to apply.

A graduate school statement of purpose should contain an introduction, a main body based on 2 or 3 experiences, and a conclusion. Your statement should be clearly written and well-organized to help the reader follow the flow of your narrative.

A statement of purpose should include four main elements: your research interests in your chosen field, your academic and professional preparation, and your career plans. You need to give specific examples for each of these main elements, and to explain what you have learned from every experience you mention.

In writing your statement of purpose, you need to commit to writing several drafts to make sure your statement is as strong as it can be. You should ask for feedback from trusted academic mentors or professional consultants to ensure that your statement is effective and compelling. You also need to carefully proofread your work multiple times before submission.

You must never plagiarize your statement of purpose. Avoid using clichés and tired phrasing to keep your writing original and fresh. It is also important to favor clarity over artfulness, so be sure to avoid using overly-fancy language so that the focus is always on the substance of what you’re saying. Also avoid technical or overly specialized language unless absolutely necessary, and be sure to define any technical or specialized terms that you must use. 

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Have a question ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions, 19 comments.

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Ablie! Thank you for your comment! We are glad you found this helpful!

Ayman Alfadil

Thanks a lot for your information. If my intended field of Ph.D. research is quite different from my previous research experiences, what am I suppose to do to link my previous interest with the new one? and Is it possible to have feedback on my writing?

Hello Ayman! Thank you for this wonderful question! It is not a problem that your previous research experience is not related to your new PhD interest. Even if they are not related in theme, it is important to showcase how your previous research experience honed your skills as a researcher. Demonstrate that the expertise that you acquired throughout your research history can be easily translated into this new field. Do not forget to give the admissions committee some sense of how you got interested in this new field, but it is not a problem that you decided to switch disciplines/interests. And of course we can help you with feedback on your writing. Please contact us for a free initial consultation (https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/Contact-Us.php) and we can discuss how we can help you make your statement the best it can be.

Ayman Alfadil, you are the winner of our weekly draw. Please email us by the end of the day tomorrow (June 19) at content[at]bemoacademicconsulting.com from the same email address you used to leave your comment to claim your prize!

Joana Smith

This is indeed the best Statement of purpose ever ,I love everything written here! It has really help me thank you!!!

Hello Joana! Thanks for your comment! We are glad you enjoyed this article!

Asra Tabassum

Hi...I want the sample for statement of purpose (for masters) where the student changes his filed/background/majors from science to IT... Atleast one sample which helps me to write my own. Thank you.

Hi Asra! Thanks for your comment and suggestion! We will try adding this kind of example as soon as possible!

Segun Abiri

I am so much in love with the way you make a big and difficult task simple. As a practitioner in adult education in Nigeria with over 6 years of experience, I intend to further my experience by having a Masters program in Canada. Problem is, my first degree is not in education, but Arts - Philosophy. I hope to scale through. Thank you for this great write ups.

Hi Segun! Thanks so much for your comment! We are glad you enjoyed the article. When you apply to a Master's program in Education, you do not need to have an undergrad degree in education. Your first degree in liberal arts will be a perfect fit for an Education graduate degree. Good luck and let us know if we can help you any further!

Chika happiness nwachukwu

Hi,indeed is the best statement of purpose ever,please I want the sample for statement of intents for masters,where the student changes his field,background/ majors from accounting education to educational foundations that will help me write my own. Thank you.

Hello Chika! Thanks for your comment! We will keep your request in mind when we update this blog! Thanks!

Hi, I wonder if you can only help me with SOP edits? Thanks.

Hello Bob! We can absolutely help you! Please contact us here https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/Contact-Us.php to schedule your free initial consultation.

Nwabueze Kewulezi

Hi, this is the best article on SOP I have read. Please, I need your advice. I am very passionate about teaching. I studied English, but my M.A. thesis is related to pragmatic. How do I relate both to my deep flare for education?

Hello Nwabueze! Thanks for your comment. Try to reflect on what connects your educational and professional background to teaching? Just because your MA thesis is not related to education, it does not mean that it cannot inform your love for teaching. Try making connections between your experience in the MA and what you want to do next. Hope this helps!

Samuel Frimpong

Can i get samples of these write-ups in Music?

Hello Smuela! Thanks for your comment. When we update the blog, we will make sure to keep your request in mind.

Chisa Amadi

Good morning, please I want to start up personal statement but don't seem to know how to go about it am applying for Agricultural science soil and water option. Please I will need a guide. Thank you

Hi Chisa! Thanks for your comment. Please feel free to reach out to us to discuss how we can help you with your personal statement! Look forward to hearing from you!

hey, thanks for the clear explanation, can you please help me write purpose statement for a journalism degree course

Hello Lucy! Please feel free to reach out to us to discuss how we can help you with your statement of purpose. Hope to hear from you!

This piece is extremely helpful

Hi Frimpong! Thanks! Glad you found this helpful!

Thank you for sharing this useful tips on SOPs.

Hello Anne! Thank you so much for your comment. Glad you found this helpful!

Elif Ülkü Türkoğlu

Thank you so much, this will be super helpful for my MA applications.

Hi Elif! Thanks for your comment! We are glad this is helpful!

Raphael Barrack Wangusu

Currently struggling with SOP preparations..i pursued Law for my bachelor degree and i wish to apply for masters scholarships in CANADA, UK, SWEEDN and USA. Thank you.

Hello Raphael! Thank you for your question. Please reach out to us for a free strategy call to discuss how we can help. 

Amazing content! I've never seen it explained the way you guys did it here!! Thank you!!!

Hello Joy! We are very glad you found this helpful!

It made me understand clearly what i have to do. thank you

Thanks Tumie! Glad you found this helpful!

i cant find any sop become related to food science. I really need a sample to help me. Could you help me please

Hello Shabnam, thanks for your message. We will keep your request in mind for when we update this blog.

I have enjoyed reading every bit of this document. I am so enlightened by it. Thank you.

Hello Michael! Glad you found this helpful! Thanks for your comment. 

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academic statement of purpose for phd

Chris Blattman

Phd applicants: writing your statement of purpose.

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  • January 11, 2022

I’ve read a lot of personal statements for PhD applications. I sat on admissions at UChicago, Columbia, and Yale, mostly in economics, political science, and public policy. Here’s the advice I’ve given my own students and research assistants to craft their statements. I give it because, sadly, I don’t find most statements helpful. This means they are not helping you, the applicant.

As with all my advice posts, it’s important that students outside elite colleges get this information, so here are some personal thoughts.

[Note: You can now subscribe by email to receive posts to your inbox.]

First, let’s clarify your number one job as an applicant: Send the best, clearest signal of your abilities as a future researcher, and minimize the noise around that signal. I explain why in a longer post on whether and how you should apply to PhD programs (including the other elements of an application packet):

the fundamental problems in graduate admissions are “information overload” and “noise”. For every slot in a PhD program, there are probably 30 to 50 applicants. A department that plans to have a class of 20 students may receive 1000 applications. Meanwhile, most departments delegate admissions to a small committee of two to six faculty. They don’t have time to read 1000 applications in detail. And the committee may change every year. Thus, their experience may be limited. And you never know who will be on the committee or what they care about. This adds further randomness. These faculty want to admit the most talented and creative young researchers who will push the field ahead. And they also want you to pass all the most technical classes, because they hate kicking students out. So the admissions committee are looking for strong signals of intelligence, creativity, determination, and other proclivities for research. But this is hard . There are too many applications. Applicants don’t have many good ways to signal quality. All applicants are trying to send the same signals. And there is a ton of uncertainty around each signal. Hence: Information overload and noise.

Yet most schools as for a written statement of some kind. Sometimes they ask for both a biographical statement and a research statement. What do they want and what should you write?

  • Don’t tell your life story. This statement is not an undergrad entry essay where you describe your life’s trials and tribulations, or your journey to wanting to do a PhD. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s just that it’s probably not relevant to judging your ability as a researcher. If it is, then weave that into the narrative around your research interests and plans. We have hundreds of these things to read and so you only want to focus on the most important information.
  • Don’t be cliché. Do not start your with your epiphany—the day the scales fell from your eyes and you realized you wanted to be a professor, or were inspired tackle big questions and social issues. Especially if it involves a child in a poor country. This approach is overused and unoriginal, and the information does not help us judge whether you will be a great researcher (see point 1).
  • Platitudes about wanting to be a professor or researcher
  • Generic or flattering statements about being excited to join a program, your admiration for the faculty, etc.
  • Unspecific interests in a research subject or field
  • Routine information such as “I am graduating in May…”
  • Filler sentences like “Please find enclosed…”
  • Start with your broad fields of interest (e.g. “I am principally interested in labor and development economics” or “I want to work at the intersection of comparative politics and international relations”)
  • Then give 2-3 examples of broad topics and questions that interest you. (“I’m interested in studying inefficiencies in labor markets, especially market power and monopsony. I’m also interested in…”)
  • Are tenure or tenure-track faculty
  • Have their primary appointment in the department you are applying to
  • Are actually there and take students (i.e. they didn’t retire last year, etc.)
  • You could discuss two ideas in moderate depth, or one idea in greater depth. Either way, I recommend this research discussion be 40-60% of your entire statement.
  • Ideally this is a question or topic of current interest in the field. One thing I often see is that students are focussed on the research frontier 10 years ago (because those are the papers they read in their classes) and are not clued in to some of the current puzzled and priorities. This is hard to avoid, but some reading and your advisors should be able to help you avoid this.
  • The best discussions will (if empirical) identify interesting data and discuss plausible empirical strategies. This is difficult, which is why it is a good signal if you do it well.
  • It’s important to locate your question in the literature without overdoing that discussion. Try to motivate the question with reference to recent and recognizable research papers and agendas. If you are mainly citing articles with few citations, in lower-ranked journals, this is a sign that you need to link your idea to bigger debates in the field, or perhaps rethink the question you are proposing.
  • This is (in my experience) the most crucial section for most social science departments. Except possibly economics. It’s not clear how seriously many departments take your statement in economics, and some of my colleagues profess to never look at the statement. That may be true, but some will look, and you have to have a statement, so I suggest following this advice to make it a research proposal.
  • Why you studied physics but now are doing political science
  • What happened in that single bad semester on your transcript
  • How to interpret your foreign GPA, and where you ranked in your class
  • Clarify your classes if they have off names (e.g. “My class called XX was a Real Analysis class using textbook X, and so I have all the mathematical requirements for entry.”
  • Get help. Your letter writers, professors you work for, or PhD student you know can read and give feedback on your statements. Ask them for their advice. Do this early–a couple months before the application, ideally. they can help you frame your question in a more interesting way, decide what papers to mention, or what is or is not frontier.
  • Don’t be repetitive. This is not the place to restate your CV (“First I worked for Professor… and then I worked for…”). They have your CV. Use this document to do something no other in your application can do. Only mention work or other experience if you can add essential, high-density information the reader cannot get elsewhere in the application packet. Maybe you picked up specific technical skills working on a project that relate to the research proposal you just described? If not, you don’t have to say anything at all about your past. Just let the research proposal speak for itself.
  • I recommend using the Hemingway Editor as a tool to write more clearly. Some long and complex sentences are ok, but sparingly. And they can often be improved. Aim for a grade 10 reading level.
  • Use active voice
  • Omit needless material and words (see points 3 and 9)
  • Limit jargon
  • Each paragraph should be a distinct idea
  • Paragraphs should have a hierarchical structure, with the big idea or general point as the first topic sentence, and the rest of the paragraph elaborates. Someone should be able to get an “executive summary” but simply reading the first line in every paragraph. they should make sense as a story/summary.
  • Use subheadings if possible, to delineate sections such as your broad fields of interest (point 4), your research proposal (point 5), and other key information (point 6)

This is just my view. Other professors will have different preferences and advice here. So ask them. Get more opinions. Or put your advice in the comments below.

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Statement of academic purpose

While all programmes require you to submit a statement of academic purpose, a few programmes require you to follow a specific format when writing your statement. these specific requirements are detailed below., statement of academic purpose – all programmes, excluding those listed below.

You must upload a statement that explains your academic interest in, understanding of and academic preparedness for the programme(s) you are applying for. You should also explain the academic rationale for applying to the programme(s) you have chosen. If applying for two programmes, you are strongly encouraged to write a separate statement for each programme. The statement of academic purpose is an important part of your application, and selectors are looking for evidence of your academic suitability and motivation, and of what you can contribute academically to the programme. We expect statement(s) to be between 1,000 - 1,500 words. 

Please address the following questions/prompts in your statement(s) 

Academic Motivations  

  • What prompted your interest in this particular field of study? Perhaps you have unanswered questions from your undergraduate studies or professional work, or you would like to further explore issues and ideas raised in your curricular or extra-curricular reading? 
  • Why would you like to study your chosen programme? Perhaps it offers a particular approach, or there are specific modules that will help you develop necessary skills or knowledge. Perhaps the research interests of the academics teaching on your programme, and/or the wider research culture of the department align with your own interests and academic/professional aspirations? 

Suitability 

  • What makes you suitable for this LSE programme? Perhaps you have taken relevant undergraduate modules, or have relevant professional, voluntary, or other experience that has prepared for postgraduate study in this area? 

Purpose and Objectives  

  • What do you hope to get out of this particular LSE programme? How would this particular programme help you to achieve your personal, academic, and professional goals? Take the time to explain your academic or professional  aspirations and goals, and how your chosen programme will impart the necessary skills and knowledge. Please avoid general statements about LSE’s performance in global rankings, and  generic statements about London being a global/cosmopolitan centre of excellence. 

If there are circumstances that have disrupted your education/significantly interfered with your learning (for example, health problems, displacement, long-term caring responsibilities), please feel free to let us know about them in a separate document added to your application (you can upload this document via the ‘Additional Item’ upload option). If appropriate, please also consult the advice we give to applicants from a forced migration background here , and from a care-experienced background here . 

Please ensure that your statement(s): 

Are all your own work. If we discover this is not the case, your application may be cancelled

Are well-written, well-structured and specific to the programme(s) applied for

Are proofread before being uploaded, and the final correct versions are uploaded

Only include that which is relevant to your programme choice(s). Additional information regarding unrelated extra-curricular activities, personal achievements or work experience should be included in your CV

Have your name and the title of your chosen programme in the header or footer of every page 

MSc Health Data Science

In addition to following the general guidance, please be sure to clearly outline your background in mathematics, statistics or other quantitative subjects. If your background is outside of mathematics or statistics then you should provide further explanation of how your experience is relevant to the programme applied for, as well as further details of your current studies. 

MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society)

If you are applying for this programme, please note the following specific requirements for your statement of academic purpose.

Write a short statement (up to 600 words) about why you want to do the programme. This might cover, for example, what suits you to the programme: your experiences and skills in relation to the analysis of data and society; what attracts you to this particular programme and where you see yourself in ten years after the programme.

In addition, please write a response (up to 400 words*) to  one  of the following questions. You might do so by relying on relevant authors and concepts from previous courses or independent study, as well as on professional experiences.

  • What is the most pressing social, political or ethical issue related to data and society? Why should we study it?
  • How useful is the concept of "big data"? What are its limitations?
  • What consequences do data-based systems have for individuals? How should we address these?
  • If you could invent a data-based product or service that would change the world, what would it look like? What would be its best feature and what would be its biggest risk?

*The total length of your statement of academic purpose, including the answers to the above questions, should therefore be between 800-1,000 words.

MSc Media, Communication and Development

Write a short statement (up to 800 words) about why you want to do the programme. This might cover, for example, what suits you to the programme: your experiences and skills in relation to social justice, development or communication; what attracts you to this particular programme and where you see yourself in ten years after the programme.

Also answer the following questions (your answers should be approximately 250 words each)*:  

  • What should a developed society be like according to you?
  • How will studying theory help you to understand development and communication practice?
  • Why do you think we need to be critical of aspects of contemporary communication and development?

  *The total length of your statement of academic purpose, including the answers to the above questions, should therefore be between 1,000-1,500 words.

MSc Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Write a short statement (up to 600 words) about why you want to do the programme. This might cover, for example, what you will bring to the cohort, and what your particular strengths are.

Also, you should answer the following questions (your answers should be approximately 500 words each):

  • Tell us about an experience you had with social innovation /entrepreneurship/ a project with high social impact. What role did you play and what did you learn about yourself?  
  • How will your past experience, combined with this LSE masters, help you to achieve your goals?

The  total length   of your statement  – including the answers to the above questions - should therefore be  between 1,100 & 1,600 words .

Department of Statistics - MSc Programmes

MSc in Data Science - G3U1

MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics) - G3U2

MSc in Statistics (Social Statistics) (Research) - G3U3

MSc in Statistics (Research) - G4U1

MSc in Quantitative Methods for Risk Management - G4U2

MSc in Statistics - G4U5

MSc in Statistics (Financial Statistics) - G4U6

MSc in Statistics (Financial Statistics) (Research) - G4U7

Your statement should explain why you are pursuing your selected programme and why you have chosen LSE's Department of Statistics. Brief details of your academic background and aspirations are also useful. If your background is outside of mathematics or statistics then you should provide further explanation of how your experience is relevant to the programme applied for, as well as further details of your current studies. 

Your statement should be concise and should not exceed 500 words .

Executive MSc in Health Economics, Outcomes and Management in Clinical Sciences

Your statement should be typed and no longer than three sides of A4 paper and should address the following questions:

  • What are your career goals over the near (2-3 years) and medium term (5-7 years)?
  • In concrete terms, how will your career benefit from completing this programme?

In addition, you may wish to discuss the following:

  • Motivation for undertaking the programme
  • Academic interests, strengths and background relevant to the programme
  • Areas of specific interest within the programme
  • Academic ambitions and/or research interests related to the programme
  • Any professional aspirations, and how academic work within the programme might help you realise such aspirations
  • Other relevant information, such as additional reading or research, work or other relevant experience that has informed your decision to apply for the particular programme

Please ensure that your statement:

  • Is all your own work. If we discover this is not the case, your application may be cancelled
  • Is well-written, well-structured and specific to the programme applied for
  • Is proofread before being uploaded, and the final correct version is uploaded
  • Has your name and the title of your chosen programme in the header or footer of every page

Executive Global MSc in Management

Your personal statement should be a maximum of 2 pages long, and highlight why you want to do the programme.  Make sure you address the following points:

  • details on your suitability for the programme
  • your motivations for choosing this programme in particular and what you hope to get out of it
  • any career highlights to date, in particular any leadership or international experience
  • future career objectives and how you think the programme will help you achieve them
  • what you think you can bring to the classroom learning environment that makes you stand out from other applicants

Executive MSc in Social Business and Entrepreneurship

The Academic Statement of Purpose consists of two parts.  The total combined word count for both parts should not exceed 1,200 words.

  • A personal statement: Your personal statement should persuasively explain why you want to do this programme. This may include your personal suitability such as career achievements and ambitions, what you hope to get out of the programme, your particular strengths, and what you will bring to the cohort.  600-700 words.
  • For the second part, please submit your thoughts on the following statement.  400-500 words. “The business of business is social improvement. Describe briefly the role of markets in social progress.”

Atlantic Fellows Residential programme with MSc Inequalities and Social Science

Your statement(s) should be typed and no longer than two sides of A4 paper. There is no fixed word limit, but we expect statement(s) to be no longer than 1,000 - 1,500 words. 

In your statement(s), you should address the following:  

  • Why are you interested in joining the AFSEE programme and what do you hope to gain by being part of it? In your answer, please:  

 o   Describe what area of socioeconomic inequality you engage in and the type of work you have done.  

o   Please give examples of how you have meaningfully contributed to collective endeavours to address inequalities.  

o   Explain why you would like to learn more about social and economic equity and how this will contribute to your social change work.  

o   Explain, in one to two paragraphs, the MSc dissertation you plan to undertake as part of the requirements of the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science. 

  • Within 5 years of completing the AFSEE programme, what do you hope to achieve in your work/field? How do you see participation in the AFSEE programme contributing to you achieving those goals? 
  • What academic knowledge would you like to gain via the MSc in Inequalities & Social Science and how do you plan to apply this knowledge to your future work on social change?
  • Please indicate any research interests.

Atlantic Fellows Non-Residential Programme

In your statement(s), you should address the following: 

Why are you interested in joining the AFSEE programme and what do you hope to gain by being a part of it?  In your answer, please: 

Describe the area of socioeconomic inequality you engage in and the type of work you have done. 

Please give examples of how you have meaningfully contributed to collective endeavours to address inequalities.   

Explain why you would like to learn more about social and economic equity and how this will contribute to your social change work. 

What is the project you are planning to undertake as a part of the AFSEE programme?  Explain it in two paragraphs. 

Within 5 years of completing the AFSEE programme, what do you hope to achieve in your work / field?  How do you see the AFSEE programme contributing to you achieving these goals?

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PRIDE MONTH

Fall Term 2021 Updates

Michigan Robotics

Work together, create smart machines, serve society.

  • Robotics Graduate Program

Academic Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement

The academic statement of purpose and personal statement should cover details about your academic background and career aspirations. You will want to talk about your engineering experiences, your motivation for pursuing a higher degree in Robotics, your long-term goals, as well as your specific interests.

The pair of statements should work together to inform us about your experiences and goals. However, don’t be redundant. Utilize the personal statement to expand upon your academic statement of purpose. If you want to write about the same topic, split it into two distinct pieces that cover different thoughts.

This format is meant to be flexible and allow for creativity: there is no single answer, however below is more guidance on each statement.

Academic statement of purpose

Talk technical, go deep, and talk about your engineering background.

Include your academic and research background, career goals, and how this graduate program will help meet career and educational objectives.

Applicants often don’t go deep or concrete enough into describing their engineering experience, whether an internship, project, or research. Showcase your technical writing, and your enthusiasm for your work. After describing one or more experiences in detail, including your contributions to the projects or tasks, discuss why graduate school is the next step for you. Make an argument for your unique qualifications and professional preparation, and what you hope to contribute to the field.

Personal statement

Talk about your inspiration, background, and academic or project pursuits.

Indicate how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, have motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree in Robotics.

Include your motivations to take your robotics career further. What concrete examples can you share of your academic and non-academic activities that might have prepared you for graduate study? Don’t be afraid to name collaborators in the field–our faculty often know many of them! But also talk about the work you did with those collaborators. Think of this as a story about your personal and professional development, and a proposal for your graduate school career.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The academic statement of purpose should be approximately one to two pages, single spaced.

The personal statement should be approximately one to two pages, single spaced. Rackham’s 500 word limit does not apply.

No. We ask that all applicants submit two separate documents for the statement of purpose and personal statement. If an applicant submits one document we will contact them to request two separate documents. The Graduate Admission Committee requires two separate documents.

No, there are no formatting guidelines in regards to font type, font size, or margins.

No. Please review all application materials before submitting your application. 

Please note that once an applicant submits their online application, no changes to the statement of purpose, personal statement, curriculum vitae, and application can be modified online.

Many, many applicants talk about LEGOs. If you choose to take that risk, be sure to make it your own, unique, compelling, and personal storyline.

IMAGES

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  2. 50 Statement Of Purpose Examples (Graduate School, MBA, PhD) ᐅ

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  4. 12 Excellent Statement of Purpose Examples to Inspire You

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  6. Statement of Purpose for Scholarship Sample PDF: Anjit VS

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VIDEO

  1. 5 Things to Do in a Statement of Purpose for PhD/Grad School

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  3. HOW TO WRITE YOUR GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATION STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

  4. READING A SUCCESSFUL CORNELL UNIVERSITY STATEMENT OF PURPOSE FOR A PHD PROGRAM

  5. HOW TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTION FOR A PhD STATEMENT OF PURPOSE?

  6. Tips for Writing PhD or Masters Statement of Purpose

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

    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.

  2. How to Write a Statement of Purpose

    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 ...

  3. Writing Your Academic Statement of Purpose : Graduate School

    The ASOP is one of the most important pieces of your graduate school application because it: Gives the reviewers an understanding of your academic background and interests. Allows you to illustrate in your own words what sets you apart from other applicants. Helps them determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying.

  4. How to Write a Statement of Purpose for PhD Admission

    A PhD statement of purpose gives admissions committees an introduction to your research interests and why their specific program is of interest to you. Like a cover letter for a job application, a great statement of purpose allows you to highlight your strengths, interests and experience. If you need statement of purpose advice, keep reading ...

  5. Statement of Purpose for Grad School I Stanford Online

    A statement of purpose (SOP) is a critical component of most graduate school applications, and are often required for various types of graduate level programs, including Graduate Certificates and Master's Degrees. An SOP offers you the opportunity to showcase your motivations, qualifications, and aspirations to a school's Office of Admissions.

  6. Statement of Academic Purpose

    The statement should include: Plans: Highlight current academic and future career plans as they relate to the Princeton degree program to which you are applying. Experience: Include relevant academic, professional, and personal experiences that influenced the decision to apply for graduate admission and obtain a graduate degree. Goals: Outline ...

  7. Academic Statement of Purpose

    The Academic Statement of Purpose is an opportunity for you to share information that will help reviewers understand your academic interests and objectives, assess your academic background, preparation, and training, and determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying. The Purdue University Graduate School ...

  8. Writing the Statement of Purpose

    Essential Tips. 1. What the admissions committee will read between the lines: self-motivation, competence, potential as a graduate student. 2. Emphasize everything from a positive perspective and write in an active, not a passive voice. 3. Demonstrate everything by example; don't say directly that you're a persistent person, show it. 4.

  9. Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and Writing Sample

    Details about submitting a statement of purpose, personal statement, ... You should describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field ...

  10. How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

    3. Make your statement of purpose unique. While it's important to be focused, there's no need to be boring. To distinguish your essay, add unique (yet relevant) information. One of the best ways to do this is to discuss—briefly—an idea in your field that turns you on intellectually. It's an effective essay-opener, and it lets you write ...

  11. PDF What's a Good Statement of Purpose

    A statement of purpose is not a narrative of your accomplishments. The reader of your file will make a judgment about whether you merit admission on the basis of many considerations, and your file will include much material including your transcripts, what your referees say about you, etc., that reveal your academic and other accomplishments.

  12. Graduate School Statement of Purpose: The Ultimate Guide

    A statement of purpose places a narrative to your achievements to demonstrate that you have prepared for success in your graduate studies. On the other hand, a personal statement draws from your personal and professional experiences to explain how you have come to the decision to pursue a graduate education in your field of interest.

  13. PDF How to Write Statements of Academic Purpose

    How to Write Statements of Academic Purpose . The statement of academic purpose is an essential component of the graduate school application. It is your chance to share your passion and commitment to graduate study with the admission committee. To help you get started, we've compiled a few tips to help you write a strong statement of purpose.

  14. Statements of Purpose: Drafting Your Statement

    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 ...

  15. 8 Tips for Writing a Statement of Purpose

    The statement of purpose, sometimes called a personal statement, is an essential part of PhD applications. It functions similarly to a cover letter; it should convince the reader (in this case the selection committee) that you have the right qualifications, motivation and professional goals to pursue graduate studies in their program.

  16. 7 Successful Statement of Purpose Examples • PrepScholar GRE

    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.

  17. 15 Winning Graduate School Statement of Purpose Examples

    Graduate School Statement of Purpose Example #1. This graduate school statement of purpose got 5 acceptances! "Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.". I was 16 when I first read this quote by Mies van der Rohe, and, back then, I thought I really understood what it meant. Thinking of this quote one summer evening, as I ...

  18. 7 Great Statement of Purpose Examples for Grad School + Analysis 2024

    This guide explains how to write a statement of purpose for graduate school, then offers 7 examples of successful statements of purpose, with in-depth analysis from experts. ... a statement of purpose is an academic statement designed to develop a thesis as to why the academic interest of the student is a "good fit" for the academic program ...

  19. PhD applicants: Writing your statement of purpose

    Routine information such as "I am graduating in May…". Filler sentences like "Please find enclosed…". The reader should immediately understand what kind of scholar you want to be. I recommend that he first 1-2 paragraphs of your statement do the following: Start with your broad fields of interest (e.g.

  20. Statement of academic purpose

    The statement of academic purpose is an important part of your application, and selectors are looking for evidence of your academic suitability and motivation, and of what you can contribute academically to the programme. We expect statement (s) to be between 1,000 - 1,500 words.

  21. Statements and Curriculum Vitae or Resume » Rackham Graduate School

    Formatting. Include at the top of each document: The type of document (Academic Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, or Curriculum Vitae orResume) Your name. The name of the graduate program (i.e. Chemical Engineering, Mas) Your 8 digit U-M ID (if known) Make sure margins are at least one inch so nothing is cropped/cut off when you upload ...

  22. PDF Writing Statement of Purpose for Graduate School Application: Political

    Statement of Purpose, Political Science As statist institutions and state-created group identities unravel, the hukou system has been un-dergoing reforms with considerable local discretion from the late 1990s to present. This allows me to adopt a subnational research design and use mixed methods for empirical analysis. To ex-

  23. Academic Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement

    The academic statement of purpose and personal statement should cover details about your academic background and career aspirations. You will want to talk about your engineering experiences, your motivation for pursuing a higher degree in Robotics, your long-term goals, as well as your specific interests. The pair of statements should work together to inform us