How to Write a Statement of Purpose Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate School

What to Cover in Your Graduate Statement of Purpose

Your graduate school application requires a graduate statement of purpose. But what is a statement of purpose, and what should it cover? This is your chance to tell the admissions committee about yourself, in narrative form, beyond the resume, test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

A graduate school statement of purpose should include new and different information about you and your candidacy for grad school. It should not repeat the same material which appears in other places on your application. You will have the full attention of the admissions committee for a brief time while they review your application and the best way to take advantage of that opportunity is to write a stellar graduate statement of purpose that personalizes your application and makes you memorable.

Cover this, not that, in your graduate school statement of purpose

Cover this:

  • Your inspiration or motivation to pursue this degree program.
  • Your life experiences which will contribute to a career in this field.
  • Volunteer work or research or internship experience in this field.
  • Specific information about the professors and courses in the program to which you are applying and which will enable you to pursue your future career.
  • Detailed information about your goals, both short term and long term.
  • Positive details about your interest in this special degree program at this university.

Not that:

  • Repetitive information from other application materials, such as your resume. New details, such as recent internship positions or honors, awards or publications can be discussed in the statement of purpose.
  • Information which may reflect negatively on your candidacy. Obviously, honesty is required in an application, but it is not necessary to focus on a bad grade in a freshman year course, particularly if it already appears on your transcript and you have improved significantly since then.
  • Do not use vocabulary that you do not understand.
  • Do not invent facts to make yourself appear more suited for the graduate program.

The graduate statement of purpose is required by most graduate school programs to give the admissions committee the opportunity to evaluate the candidate’s maturity level, writing ability, potential for success in the program based on preparation and education, and provide another tool to use in the difficult process of university admissions.

A graduate school statement of purpose is useful in the way that an in-person interview helps the committee makes it admissions decision. The format of a graduate statement of purpose will allow you to cover things which qualify you for the program but which were not easy to include in the application. Review the listing of “cover this, not that” topics before beginning your own graduate statement of purpose. Start writing!

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