What to Cover in Your Graduate Statement of Purpose

Graduate Statement of Purpose

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

What Is Graduate Statement of Purpose?

SOP is your chance to tell the admissions committee about yourself in narrative form, going beyond the resume, test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. The Statement of Purpose should include new and different information about you and your candidacy for grad school. It should not repeat the same material that appears in other application documents. 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.

How Long Is a Good SOP?

Although colleges may have different requirements, the standard size is 1-2 pages (around 500 words). Try to use a traditional font at a readable size (12pt or 14pt) and leave reasonable margins. Remember that your writing sounds more confident when it is clear and simple. Still, it is totally fine to use discipline-specific terminology and style in your SOP. Take your program’s word count guidelines very seriously. This rule works for most application documents. 

Steps to Write Grad School Statement of Purpose

It’s often hard to get started, so try to move step by step when writing your application essay. 

Step 1: Brainstorming

SOP is your chance to speak directly to the admissions committee, so use it wisely. You should create a unique story about your jobs, studies or volunteer experience. Try to ask yourself such key questions as “What are my expectations for this degree?” or “How will my experiences and achievements add value to the program?” You can also talk to one of our editors, whose experience is relevant to yours. They will tell you more about the application process to a particular college or university. 

Step 2: Writing an outline and first draft

The outline is the starting point that will help you create the first draft of your SOP. Make sure to answer all the questions from the prompt and create a list of things that drive you. Think about the events and experiences that could demonstrate your interest in the school. 

Step 3: Editing and proofreading

Before submitting your application essay, you need to make sure that all directions and requirements are followed thoroughly. Check the list of commonly misused words and phrases to make your writing clear and concise. Our editors can check your Statement of Purpose for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as lengths and relevance to the program. If written well, your Statement of Purpose can leave a long-lasting impression. 

What to Cover

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

Cover this:

  • Your inspiration or motivation to pursue this program.
  • Your life experiences that will contribute to a career in this field.
  • Volunteer work, research or internship experience in this field.
  • Specific information about the professors and courses in the program you are applying to, 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 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.
  • The 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.
  • Don’t use vocabulary that you don’t understand.
  • Don’t fabricate facts to make yourself appear more suited for the graduate program.

The Reason We Write Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Statement of purpose or graduate school works in the same way as an in-person interview. It helps the admissions committee make decisions. The format of a graduate Statement of Purpose allows you to cover things that qualify you for the program but are not easy to include in the application. Learn the difference between the statement of purpose and personal statement before writing your own essay. 

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