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How to structure a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for a Graduate School Application

How to structure a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for a Graduate School Application

The SOP is one of the most important part of your application. You want to leave the impression to the reader that you are ready. The goal is not to repeat what is on your CV.

Be specific and honest and positive.
Show initiative and curiosity.

  • Section 1: What motivates you to pursue a PhD?

Talk about what drew you to research (embrace details here.) Talk about what you think a PhD will offer you.

  • Section 2: What types of research do you want to do?

Talk about your specific research interests.
Add any relevant experience that drew you to this specific topic.

Mention the faculty you would like to work with.
Mention more than one faculty to cover your grounds.

  • Section 3: Why is this university a good place to carry that research?

Mention anything that makes that university stand out in terms of the research you want to do but also in terms of what makes you happy.

  • Section 4: Why do you think you’ll do well?

Mention your personal qualities that you think will make you succeed in the program and justify them whenever possible.

Mention any particular skills that will be an asset for you in the program (e.g. coding skills, time management.)

Note: I used “Section” to mean one or more paragraphs. You shouldn’t add “section”, I just used this notation to indicate the things that should be reflected in your SOP.

No need to add “Dear Committee”. Simply add your name and the phrase “Statement of Purpose” in the header then dive right in.

Hope you find this helpful. Good luck with your grad school applications!

Author: Adji Bousso Dieng