Like any piece of writing, a statement of purpose can be quite difficult at first. Thinking of what to add, how to construct and how to go from where you are. Having a format can help quickly give structure to not only what you should write but what the finished piece should look like to impress readers.
Before writing a successful statement of purpose for grad school, you should wonder what you want to include in your statement of purpose, how you want to start and how long you want your statement of purpose to be.
In this article, you would not only learn how to write a successful statement of purpose for grad school, you would also learn what a statement of purpose is. Keep reading.
What is a statement of purpose for grad school?
A statement of purpose is a form of essay which introduces your interests and experiences to the admission committee. It primarily shows the reader things you are passionate about, your experience and plans. In simple terms, it is a medium for you to sell to the admissions committee on why you belong in their program specifically. Whilst doing this, you must include why you fit in there and how what they offer fits into your interests.
A statement of purpose is one of the most important aspects of your application because it tells the admission committee who you are, why you’re applying, why you’re a good candidate, and what you want to do in the future, and your professional goals. Do not neglect the importance of this essay.
It’s sometimes called an SOP letter, application essay, personal background, objectives for graduate study, cover letter, or something similar to one of these.
You may also like to know How to Write a Good Recommendation Letter for a Student in 2022
How to write a successful statement of purpose for grad school in 2022?
In writing a successful statement of purpose for grad school, the following should be at the forefront of your mind.
#1. Keep to the word limit
Before starting on your statement of purpose, make sure that you look out for the word limit and keep to it. If they say they don’t want to read three pages, take it seriously.
If a limit is given, it is good to set yourself a personal maximum limit of 10-15% less than that. And don’t feel you have to fill a word limit.
If you have said all you want to in 700 words and the limit is 1000, great! Stop. Don’t go looking for verbiage to pack in the spaces.
#2. Set yourself section word limits
If you have 800 words, have in mind how many you want to spend on each section of your statement. If you use 750 words describing your studies to date, you will have nothing left for the other sections.
By setting yourself rough word limits for each part, you ensure that the statement is balanced.
#3. Be selective
With any piece of writing where there is a word limit, you will not have enough space to say everything about everything.
This means you have to be selective. You have to gather all the necessary information, look at it and throw away the less necessary things.
The ability to evaluate and select what to include and what to leave out is valuable academic skill in its own right, and demonstrating that you have that skill can count powerfully in your favor.
#4. Use appropriate language
Writing a statement of purpose for grad school that’s filled with inappropriate languages is just wrong. In your statement of purpose, you need to show you have a good command of the English language.
By all means, avoid slangs, use vocabulary appropriate to your field and show that you can write a sentence of more than 5 words. At the same time, don’t start looking for big words to impress with. If an ordinary word will do, don’t use a bigger one.
#5. Include a 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. 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 that passionate.
#6. Evidence of 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.
While writing, brilliantly provide evidence, showing how your background qualifies you for the school. Put in any skills you have, adding your past experiences and success. This gives admissions committees concrete evidence that you are qualified to be a student of the school.
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#7. Interest and fit with the program
Another essential element you must have when you want to write a successful statement of purpose for grad school is to lay out why you have an interest and why you are fit to be accepted into the school.
You should be able to identify both specific reasons why you fit the school and why the school suits you. Schools mostly want students who are genuinely enthused about their programs and positioned to get the most out of what they have to offer.
#8. 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 would 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.
Let your writing be beautiful, strong, and graceful, like this swan.
#9. Edit thoroughly
When you have written a first draft, go over it and check whether any of your phrases are wordy or clumsy. Try to re-express them clearly and succinctly. While it is good to use longer sentences sometimes, don’t ramble.
If your sentence has more than 30 words, read it over and see if it would be better to split it into two. Reading aloud may help you to feel if your ideas are clearly expressed. Also, look out for typographical errors.
Tips to write a successful statement of purpose for grad school in 2022
To write a great statement of purpose for grad school, it must-
- #Have a strong, clear, and concise writing
- Be devoid of clichés and repetitive language
- Stay away from overly informal language
- Keep a positive and confident tone
In writing your statement of purpose for grad school, you should use-
- 12 point Times New Roman font
- 1-inch margins on all sides
- 1.5-line spacing
Also, for finishing touches, ensure that these are in your statement of purpose for grad school
- Ensure your statement of purpose has organization
- A “hook” that demonstrates your passion for the field
- A description of your academic background in the field
- The specific classes you have taken, given by name
- You may also include specific professors you have had, especially if well-known in that field
- Add extracurricular activities in the field
- Advice from several of your professors- philosophical advice as well as specific writing advice
- Proofread and copyedit; ask friends to proofread and copyedit as well
- Format the essay
- Avoid informal language
- Check grammar and spelling
- Use readable font
- Space the text
Samples of statement of purpose for grad school
“My interest in International Relations and my decision to continue my education in this field is the outcome of my profound interest in Asian studies.
Majoring in History of India, during my final year I became especially interested in the sphere of International Relations and Foreign Policy of India, writing my thesis on Indian Foreign Policy during Nehru’s Government and Indian-Chinese relations.
Two trips to India 1997 and 1998 allowed me to become better acquainted with this country, refine my knowledge of Hindi and collect unique data for my research.
This unforgettable experience convinced me that I had made the right choice of study, leading me to apply for a PhD Degree to extend my research in this field.
I have so far completed two years of the PhD program at St. Petersburg State University. My dissertation aims at disclosing those problems which still hinder the process of normalization between the two Asian countries, India and China, reflecting on how Indian scholars perceive these issues.
Thus my research covers both Regional Studies and field of International Relations as a global world system where these two countries play an important role.
My presentation of a paper on Indo-Chinese Relations in 1980s at the international conference “East Asia – St. Petersburg – Europe: inter-civilization contacts and perspectives on economic cooperation” held in St. Petersburg a year ago allowed me to meet many outstanding researchers, including my referee, Marcia Ristaino, who encouraged me to continue my studies focusing specifically on International Relations and Regional Studies.
For that reason, I applied and was accepted to the MA Program in International Relations and European Studies at Central European University in Budapest with a scholarship from Soros foundation. The courses I am taking here will provide me with a sound background in theoretical issues in International Relations.
Sample 1 cont’d
The reason of why I am applying for another Master’s Degree is that the CEU program, despite its theoretical strength, has very few courses directly related to my major interest, Regional Studies and conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
For this reason, I would like to deepen my practical understanding of International Relations and relate it to a more focused concentration on conflict analysis and resolution through the program of the Carleton University.
I am aware of the high reputation of your school and the excellent Master’s program that you offer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.
I believe it will certainly help me with my research and career objectives either through work in diplomatic service or at an international organization where I will be able to apply my knowledge and skills obtained through studies at your University.
Courses such as Conflict Analysis, International Mediation and Conflict Resolution and International Organizations in International Affairs will be very helpful for my analyzing of the problems in the South Asian subcontinent and beyond it and will allow me to deeper understand the reasons for numerous interstate and intrastate conflicts that persist in the region.
Moreover, these courses will be of particular relevance to my career plans which are to find employment with UN or a similar institution in the field of conflict resolution and peacekeeping.
The possibility to combine theoretical studies with practical skills in conflict analysis and resolution at the Carleton University will enable me to become a good specialist who will be able to contribute to the common cause of peace in the world.
I am eager to become a professional orientalist, as I believe this field of study will always be important in the changing world where Asian countries such as India and China play significant roles in the international arena.
MA at the Carleton University would be a precious experience both in terms of my academic and professional career. I hope you will allow me to realize my ambition.”
“Having majored in literary studies (world literature) as an undergraduate, I would now like to concentrate on English and American literature. I am especially interested in nineteenth-century literature, women’s literature, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and folklore and folk literature.
My literary projects have involved some combination of these subjects. For the oral section of my comprehensive exams, I specialized in nineteenth century novels by and about women.
The relationship between “high” and folk literature became the subject for my honors essay, which examined Toni Morrison’s use of classical, biblical, African, and Afro-American folk tradition in her novel. I plan to work further on this essay, treating Morrison’s other novels and perhaps preparing a paper suitable for publication.
In my studies toward a doctoral degree, I hope to examine more closely the relationship between high and folk literature. My junior year and private studies of Anglo-Saxon language and literature have caused me to consider the question of where the divisions between folklore, folk literature, and high literature lie.
Should I attend your school, I would like to resume my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, with special attention to its folk elements?
Sample 2 cont’d
Writing poetry also figures prominently in my academic and professional goals. I have just begun submitting to the smaller journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a collection.
The dominant theme of this collection relies on poems that draw from classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as everyday experience, to celebrate the process of giving and taking life, whether literal or figurative.
My poetry draws from and influences my academic studies. Much of what I read and study finds a place in my creative work as subject. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past.
In terms of a career, I see myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and going into editing or publishing poetry. Doctoral studies would be valuable to me in several ways. First, your teaching assistantship program would provide me with the practical teaching experience I am eager to acquire.
Further, earning a Ph.D. in English and American literature would advance my other two career goals by adding to my skills, both critical and creative, in working with language. Ultimately, however, I see the Ph.D. as an end in itself, as well as a professional stepping-stone; I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the Ph.D. program.”
Frequently asked questions
Many students are doubtful regarding statement of purpose length and its importance. A statement of purpose should be one page and only one page. You could write up to one and a half pages if needed, but nothing longer than this.
There is no need to write your name on the statement of purpose as it is already indicated in your application. However, look attentively through the requirements provided by the educational institution. If it is stipulated that you are obliged to put it, you should write your name.
There is no need to title your SOP until it is not considered in the requirements provided by the educational institution.
The maximum word count is 1000 words.
The minimum word count is 500 words.
As a rule, people usually have to deal with about 3 to 5 thousand characters.
Do not submit half-backed paper, pretend as you write a message to your buddy, use overcomplicated language and sentence constructions, apply colorful and vivid background nor use a beautiful or awkward font.
The statement of purpose reflects not only who you are as a candidate but your writing abilities and qualifications as well. In graduate school, you’re going to be doing a ton of writing. Seriously a ton. It is really important to show that you are a truly competent writer.
This guide on how to write a successful statement of purpose for grad school in 2022 should be a beam of light, guiding your way.