How to write statement of purpose for grad school

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Advice from experts on how to write top-tier statements of purpose, including tips, tricks, and examples

As an additional tool to help graduate admissions panels get to know prospective students, statements of purpose, in addition to past academic records, research interests, GPAs, and job experience, are critical in helping them get to know potential students. In spite of the fact that these documents appear to be basic at first glance, students can distinguish themselves from the crowd by crafting insightful, thoughtful comments that are genuine to themselves while also demonstrating an awareness of the university and its mission statement. Utilize this guide to find out what academic departments are looking for, how to structure a winning statement, and what our subject matter expert has to say about the subject area.


When students are initially exposed to the statement of purpose, it might appear to be a hazy notion, and many may wonder whether they are meeting all of the requirements completely and adequately. In order to clear up any uncertainty around statements of purpose, we requested Melinda Maxwell, director of graduate admissions at the University of North Georgia, to provide answers to some of the most often asked questions students have regarding this process. She graciously agreed to do so.

What is the aim of the statement of intent in the graduate admissions process and how does it work?

As Maxwell points out, “the statement of purpose provides an applicant with the chance to articulate non-quantifiable attributes that will be taken into consideration by an admissions committee.” Applicants’ personal or professional skills and aspirations, as well as a passion for career fields connected to the academic program, might be included in this section. She goes on to explain that the statement is really beneficial to the admissions committee and that they should consider it. Her words: “Graduate school is demanding, and entrance is typically tough.” It is important for them to pick students who are not only academically capable, but also demonstrate a strong dedication to attaining success in the program from the beginning to the end.


As will be explored in detail later in this book, one of the most crucial things students can do to write a winning statement of purpose is to remain focused on their personal story, passions, and other distinguishing characteristics that make them stand out from the crowd. Assuming that this is still the case, applicants must also think about how they will format and present their SOP in a way that will appeal to the needs and values of the school to which they are applying. The next section provides an overview of what schools look for and don’t look for in a statement of purpose.


  • Keep your attention on the prompt.
  • Concentrate on one-of-a-kind events and attributes.
  • Please provide specifics.
  • Consider the characteristics of the institution.
  • Don’t forget about the academics.
  • Discuss the period of time between school.
  • Discuss your areas of interest in terms of research.
  • Begin as soon as possible.
  • Make several drafts of your work.
  • Because perfection is rarely achieved on the first try, don’t be afraid to write numerous drafts of your SOP before settling on the final version. If you’re not sure what you want to emphasize in your statement, compose a few drafts and then look for themes or information that continues resurfacing over and over again. Concentrate on that subject and eliminate anything that appears to be extraneous.
  • Take a look at the other statements.
  • Inquire for assistance.
  • Edit and proofread your work.

Template for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

1stFirst paragraph: Overarching statement of goals

Students must clearly and succinctly explain to readers what they intend to achieve by completing this degree in the opening portion of their application. For historians, obtaining a Ph.D. may be their ultimate objective, which will allow them to transition into a postsecondary teaching position upon graduation. For biologists, the degree may serve as a stepping stone to a post in a productive research environment. Whatever the cause, panels must be aware of your overall goals as well as your specific objectives in order to be effective. While the historian’s ultimate goal may be to assume a teaching position, he or she must present specific examples, such as historical periods, techniques, or frameworks, that will prepare them for certain teaching positions.

Second paragraph a brief explanation of why you’re pursuing this aim in the

The section where students must clearly explain their life experiences up to this point in their lives and make the connection between those experiences and their intention to seek a graduate degree is the one where they must be creative. Schools want to see that you have a compelling, well-founded purpose for pursuing additional education, since those who do not often find themselves unprepared for the rigors of graduate school and fail to meet the requirements. Business professionals may find themselves at a stalemate and realize that the next natural step for them is to pursue an MBA at some point. Meanwhile, people in the field of political science may find that a master’s degree in public policy might help them advance to the next rung of the career ladder. Regardless of your field, this paragraph should be used to passionately show your intense commitment to achieving your objectives.

A third-paragraph assessment of the field based on academic or personal research

Even though not all institutions include this component in their declarations of purpose, those that do want to make sure that students have a strong command of the discipline before admitting them will look for evidence of this. Students can use this part to draw attention to any publications or studies that have inspired them to pursue a higher degree or to continue their study. They can also talk about specific frameworks and/or approaches that they aim to learn about while enrolled in the program.

Fourth paragraph Explanation of why this is the ideal program in the

The admissions committees, as stated by Maxwell previously in this guide, are looking for evidence that students understand how their aims and interests match with the department’s vision and core principles. While some students choose to highlight the accomplishments of a select professors in the department with whom they would like to study, others choose to mention the accomplishments of alumni who they like and wish to emulate. There are numerous ways to draw attention to particular programmatic interest, and students can utilize this section to exhibit their knowledge of the school and department in order to wow the admissions officers — as long as they link it back to their goals.

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5thFifth paragraph: Synopsis of Standard Operating Procedure

After you’ve presented your case from a variety of perspectives and ensured that you’ve covered all of the points required by the school, the final paragraph gives you the opportunity to succinctly cover all of the high points one more time and bring the statement to a close with a professional flourish. While it is necessary to reiterate the most important characteristics of your personality and your objectives, it is also important to keep this section concise because it delivers no new information to the reader.

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