How long should the Statement of Purpose be?

<p>Ahh once again I seek the wise counsel of CC. What else is new...</p>

<p>My statement of purpose is about 2 1/4 pages long double spaced (~900 words) and structured like so: </p>

<p>~1 1/4 page for my "hook," segue to college education, and research experience (3 paragraphs) ~1 page describing my reason for grad school/research plans/why I want to attend XX. (3 paragraphs)</p>

<p>Many programs applications' have no word limit on the essay but I'm wondering if mine is still too long. I know there's never a guarantee that an adcom member will read my whole essay, but I don't want to give them any reason not to. I've been working on this essay for a couple of months now, had it final drafted a few different times and I feel like there's not much more I can cut out. </p>

<p>For those of you who were successful with statements of purpose, what was yours like? What do you think of mine? </p>


<p>All of my applications had a limit of 750-1000 words. As long as it reads well and says what you need and want, I think you are fine.</p>

<p>Make sure you’re following the prompts for each school. I’m writing my SOP’s and each school has slight variation in their prompts. I think anywhere from 1-3 pages is fine. I took an SOP workshop last spring and that was the recommended limit. 2.25 pages sounds fine.</p>

<p>Mine were 1000-1200 words (except for 1 school that limited it to 500 words), approximately 2/3 about my past experiences and 1/3 about my future in grad school and beyond. It was pretty successful; yours sound fine.</p>

<p>However, mine was single spaced and took two pages. I would suggest keeping it to two pages even if it means reducing your margins.</p>

<p>Umm, probably a stupid question, but do you mean keeping it to 2 pages even if it’s double spaced?? (If I use single spacing it’d be 1 1/4 page.) Are you saying its a visual thing and they don’t like more than 2 pages regardless? I always thought I was doing readers a service by double spacing for easier reading…</p>

<p>One other question about the personal statement: Do you guys think it’s wise to list a few courses I took that related to my interests? Some websites seem to suggest doing that, others don’t. I’m confused.</p>


<p>Mine is 1050 words or so in its current state. 1/4 to 1/3 school specific interests/goals and the bulk of it research experience and so on. A few schools I’m applying to mention 1000 word limits. One has 500 I think. I’ll probably start from scratch for that. A couple have 2 to 3x 1000 word max essays, divided up into personal statement, research experience, and something else like diversity, etc.</p>

<p>I wouldn’t go into coursework if you think your research experience is satisfactory. You could briefly mention that a class in x subject resulted in your pursuit of research experience in that subject, etc. I don’t think you should give a list of the classes that you found most interesting. They’ll have your transcripts, and they’re more interested in your research interests.</p>

<p>Experiment with the formatting and see what’s aesthetically pleasing.</p>

<p>I personally find line spacing factors in the 1.1 to 1.2 range the most appealing. Single spacing is too crowded and double-spacing makes the page look empty. Wide margins can be attractive too!</p>

<p>Columbia required 500 words (which is about 1 page single-spaced), but my SoPs for other schools ran about 2 pages single-spaced (or about 1000 words). I would keep it under 2 pages. Perhaps do 1.5 spacing?</p>

<p>Not more than 2 pages single-spaced. I tried to keep mine to 1000 words.</p>

<p>My favorite application was Georgia Tech’s. It gave me 500 characters for a personal statement. That’s in addition to an optional resume and a drop-down menu that let me select up to three faculty members who I might be interested in working with.</p>

<p>I think a safe rule is 2-3 pages double-spaced (1000 words maximum). Some schools have a max page limit of 5 pages. You can also tinker with the font size (10-12 pt font). I agree that single space can be very hard to read. Use 1.15 or 1.5 spacing font if possible.</p>

<p>To go along with this question, what if one does not have research experience prior to their application to a master’s program? Will your SOP be shorter? Mine measures in at about 500 characters? Every college I’m applying to thus far has said to keep it succinct, but I’m looking at University of Washington and they’re saying the SOP should be approx. 2-3 pages. There just really isn’t that much to say unless I go into striking detail on my education and professional career thus far. Thoughts?</p>

<p>My daughter did a CV that was separate than the personal statement with a relevant coursework section, research, relevant work experience, conference/presentations, pubs. I have seen this elsewhere too, with the relevant coursework section.</p>

<p>Here is Stanford CS Q&A</p>

<p>Is a CV or resume required?</p>

<p>A: Yes, please upload your CV or resume in the online application. Please be sure to list all your publications (if any) here as we</p>

<p>If you are planning on writing a paper, would that be something you could include in a CV?</p>

<p>If your SOP is well-written, under the maximum limit imposed by the school, and shows why you are a good candidate for their program, then it’s fine. There’s no reason to add in filler just to make it longer, if you have nothing else that’s worthwhile to say.</p>

<p>No, you really shouldn’t. Sometimes, people will put that their paper has been submitted to a journal or is in review if they don’t have any (or very few) publications, but even that is sort of iffy on CVs, depending on who you talk to. Saying that you’re planning on writing a paper is even more meaningless and really doesn’t have a place on your CV (which should be about past and present accomplishment, not intended or planned ones in the future).</p>

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  •       Resources       Writing a Successful Statement of Purpose

Writing a Successful Grad School Statement of Purpose Tips, Tricks and Expert Guidance for Top-Tier Statements of Purpose

In addition to previous academic records, research interests, GPAs and work experience, statements of purpose serve as an important tool in helping graduate admissions panels get to know prospective students. While these documents may seem straightforward initially, students can help themselves stand out from the pack by writing incisive, thoughtful statements that stay true to themselves but also demonstrate an understanding of the university and its mission. Use this guide to learn what academic departments look for, how to structure a winning statement, and what our expert has to say on the matter.

What Do Grad Schools Want?

Sample Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose Explained

The statement of purpose can seem like a vague concept when students are first introduced to it, and many may question whether they are fulfilling the requirements fully and adequately. Because confusion continues to swirl around statements of purpose, we asked Melinda Maxwell, director of graduate admissions at the University of North Georgia, to share answers to some of the most common questions students pose about this process.

“The statement of purpose gives an applicant the opportunity to express non-quantifiable characteristics for consideration to an admissions committee,” Maxwell notes. “This may include the applicant's personal or professional strengths and goals or passion for career fields related the academic program.” She goes on to explain that, for the admission committee, the statement provides great benefit. “Graduate school is rigorous, and admission is often competitive,” she says. “They want to select students who are not only academically qualified, but also show commitment to achieving success in the program from start to finish.”

Before ever sitting down to write or outline a statement of purpose, students need to ensure they thoroughly read any and all instructions or guidance provided by the school. If, after making sure they haven’t missed any details, they still need clarification, they can contact an admissions officer to receive specific answers to their questions.

“Expound upon why you want to achieve this degree and how you intend to use it, and include any personal, educational or professional experiences you have that would relate to the course content and research,” encourages Maxwell. “Answer the question: ‘Why should we choose you for admission to this program?’”

While schools like to see unique the unique skills, passions, talents and interests of prospective students, these learners must also be judicial in deciding which details may be interesting but ultimately unsuitable for the statement of purpose. While the summer you spent teaching English to adults in Slovakia is fascinating, your recipe for fail-proof chili isn’t.

“A personal statement is, well, more personal,” Maxwell says. “It's your voice telling who you are and why you are passionate about achieving the degree.” Most programs will ask for one or the other, she adds. “I encourage students to reflect their desire and propensity for success in either format. That being said, personal statements should include characteristics about you as an individual — separate from what they ascertain about how you perform as a student from your transcripts and recommendations.”

It’s imperative that students write their statements of purpose to guard against any type of plagiarism or ethical issues, but that doesn’t mean they can’t ask for help along the way. Schedule time to sit down with former professors, mentors or supervisors to help get a clearer sense of your strongest attributes. Once written, allow time for trusted friends or family to provide feedback on content, style and syntax.

As will be discussed thoroughly in this guide, one of the most important things students can do to write a winning statement of purpose is to stay focused on their story, interests and unique qualities. While this remains true, applicants must also consider how to structure and present their SOP in a way that appeals to the needs and values of the school to which they apply. The following section highlights what schools do and don’t want to see in a statement of purpose.

What Grad Schools Do Want to See

What They Don’t Want to See

12 Tips for Writing a Stellar SOP

After filling out numerous applications, some students start paying less attention to specific instructions and instead move into autopilot mode. It’s important to remember that individual schools seek different information, so pay close attention to the prompt at hand.

Admission panels read thousands of applications each year, so students must find innovative ways to uniquely share their story to stand out from the pack. Instead of simply talking about the importance of sports or travel in your life, share your distinctive recollections or accomplishments.

Many students believe simply stating their accomplishments or activities will impress readers, but far too often they forget to qualify or quantify what they’ve done to provide context. Rather than saying you worked at a summer camp, be sure to include information such as how long, how many children, how you spent your days and any commendations you received.

In the same way that colleges and universities want students to share matchless information about themselves, they also want to see that students recognize the unique qualities of the school. Spend time with the institution’s vision plan and statement of values before writing your statement of purpose.

While it’s important that readers get a sense of your personality and motivations, it’s equally important that they understand the academic side of you. Don’t shy away from talking about what you learned during your undergraduate degree and how you hope to build on that knowledge in graduate school.

If you didn’t move directly from your baccalaureate program into a graduate degree, make sure you talk about how you used that time off — especially if you continued working on the skills you hope to further hone while in school. Discuss how any jobs, volunteer experiences or research contributed to your future.

It’s not enough to say you want to study your given topic, you must go into the specifics of the degree. As an example, students hoping to pursue a history degree should discuss specific eras, methodologies or frameworks that serve as inspirations.

Many students leave their statement of purpose until the last minute, as they feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. Even though it can feel intimidating to condense your life into 500 words, get started with plenty of time to spare so you aren’t scrambling the day before the application deadline.

Perfection rarely takes place on the first attempt, so don’t be afraid to write several drafts of your SOP. If you’re unsure of what you want to focus on in the statement, write a few versions and then see what themes or information keeps appearing. Focus on that topic and cut anything that feels irrelevant.

A quick Google search provides hundreds of sample SOPs for students who learn best by seeing examples. Read through a few to get an idea of writing style, structure and tone before you begin the process.

After getting the SOP to a point where you feel reasonably good about the content, consider asking a few people who you trust and respect to review the document. Examples include family, previous professors, mentors or supervisors. These readers can often provide perspective on whether the statement adequately conveys your abilities and passions.

More than a few students have labored endlessly over their SOPs only to find a careless typo or grammatical error — after the document has already been submitted. Read over your SOP several times and ask multiple people to review the document for any mistakes.

Having reviewed the many tips and tricks for writing a stellar statement of purpose, many students may feel antsy to start the process. It’s important for students to keep an eye on the overarching requirements while also ensuring they provide specific examples throughout the statement, says University of North Georgia’s Melinda Maxwell. “To begin with, students need to make sure they answer any specific questions and stay within set character or page limits,” advises Maxwell. She also reminds students of the importance of starting strong with the first paragraph. “The first paragraph should make an impact, allowing the reader to get to know you,” she explains. “Use the next section to discuss goals, relevance, commitment or drive before closing with a summary of information presented.”

If you feel overwhelmed by the task, remember to tap your resources for help. “Lots of higher education institutions offer free services to students and alumni, including graduate school application prep,” she says. “Have a professional read your statement and provide feedback prior to submission; if this service isn’t readily available, reach out to a former professor or mentor from your undergraduate experience and ask if they will agree to a review.”

SOP Template

Within this first section, students need to clearly and concisely let readers know what they hope to accomplish by completing this degree. For historians, their goal may be to earn a Ph.D. that allows them to move into a postsecondary teaching role upon graduation. For biologists, they may want to use the degree as a springboard for a meaningful research position. Whatever the reason, panels need to understand what you hope to do both generally and specifically. While the goal of the historian may be a teaching role, they need to provide specific examples such as time periods, methodologies or frameworks they hope to study to prepare them for specific teaching roles.

This is the space where students need to clearly define their experiences up until this point in their life and connect those experiences with their desire to pursue a graduate degree. Schools want to see that you have a strong, grounded reason for pursuing advanced education, as those who don’t often find that they aren’t prepared for the rigors of graduate school. Individuals working within business may find themselves hitting a ceiling and discover that the next logical step for them involves an MBA. Meanwhile, those working in political science may discover that a master’s in public policy helps them get to the next rung on the latter. Regardless of your field, use this paragraph to passionately express your intense focus on meeting goals.

Not all schools require this section in their statements of purpose, but those that do want to see that students possess a good command of the discipline before admitting them. Students can use this section to highlight any books or studies that motivated them to pursue higher education. They can also discuss specific frameworks and/or methodologies they hope to study while enrolled.

As discussed by Maxwell earlier in this guide, admissions panels want to see that students understand how their goals and interests align with the department’s vision and values. Some students decide to highlight a few professors in the department with whom they would like to study under, while others discuss the accomplishments of alumni they respect and want to emulate. Many paths exist to highlight individualized programmatic interest, and students can use this space to creatively demonstrate their knowledge of the school and department to impress the admissions officers — so long as they connect it back to their goals.

Having laid out your case from various angles and made sure to hit all the points required by the school, the final paragraph provides you the space to succinctly cover all the high points once more and wrap up the statement with a neat finish. While it’s important to restate the most important aspects of yourself and your goals, be sure to keep this section short since it contains no new information.

More on Grad School SOPs

7 Successful Statement of Purpose Examples: PrepScholar shares a sampling of winning statements of purpose from grad students who aced this portion of the application.

10 Tips on How to Write a Statement of Purpose: The University of Southern California provides an institutional perspective on what it looks for in the best SOPs.

13 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Personal Statement: Writing a sound statement of purpose becomes much easier when you know what not to do in the process. Check out Magoosh’s article for advice.

The Definitive Guide to Unbox Statement of Purpose Writing: This exhaustive article by Edusson offers a step-by-step plan for writing a top-tier statement of purpose.

Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process: This academic paper written by professors at Indiana University and Idaho State University highlights five categories of mistakes commonly seen on grad school applications.

Statement of Purpose Guidelines: MIT’s graduate school provides a comprehensive list of steps students can take when creating their statement of purpose.

Things to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement of Purpose: EssayEdge discusses some of the errors students usually make during this process and provides tips on avoiding them.

What to Cover in Your Graduate Statement of Purpose: Students feeling overwhelmed by their options when it comes to what can they include in the SOP can get help narrowing their options by reading this article.

Write a Graduate School Essay that Will Knock Their Socks Off: Peterson’s reviews some of the best approaches students can take if they want to provide a truly memorable statement of purpose.

Writing a Winning Statement of Purpose: The psychology department at San Jose State University shares its tips for creating a statement of purpose that results in an acceptance letter.


Free Resources

PrepScholar GRE Prep

Gre prep online guides and tips, 9 steps to write a great statement of purpose for grad school.

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Need to write a graduate school statement of purpose, but not sure where to start? Let us guide you through how to write a statement of purpose for grad school!

We’ll go over what a statement of purpose, or letter of intent, for grad school is and how it’s different from other admissions essays like personal statements. Then we’ll discuss what schools are looking for in a statement of purpose for graduate school. Finally, we’ll give advice on how to write one!

What Is a Grad School Statement of Purpose?

If you’re on this page, you probably know that a statement of purpose (AKA a letter of intent) is an essay requested by lots of graduate programs as part of their application process. But there’s more to it than that.

A statement of purpose is where you tell the admissions committee why you’re interested in a particular graduate program, the kind of work you plan on doing when you’re there, and why you in particular should be doing that work.  At more research-focused programs, like PhDs, the graduate school statement of purpose will be focused on your research skills and interests. At more professionally-focused programs, like MPPs and MBAs, the statement will more closely address your professional skills and goals.

It’s important to note that a statement of purpose is not the same thing as a personal statement. What’s the difference? Well, a grad school statement of purpose is more closely focused on your academic/professional qualities, accomplishments, and goals, while a personal statement is more concerned with you as an overall person. Personal statements allow for you to be more personal. There’s definitely some overlap in that both will expect you to address your goals and interests in the field, but a statement of purpose generally has a slightly tighter focus.

Of course, the demarcation between a statement of a purpose and a personal statement won’t always be hard-and-fast. Some programs will call the essay that they want a personal statement, but most of the questions they offer to guide you are academic/professional. Others will ask for a statement of purpose but provide sample essays laden with personal anecdotes and experiences. Still others will ask for a “personal statement/statement of purpose.” Graduate school admissions processes are, alas, not totally consistent across programs even within the same field.

You can allow the information available on the admissions website to guide the direction of your graduate school statement of purpose. However, if they don’t provide further specifications, the general scheme holds: A statement of purpose = tight focus on academic work/research and a personal statement = broader picture of you as a person (including academic goals).

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Some programs ask for a graduate school letter of intent instead of an essay. A letter of intent for graduate school is very similar to a statement of purpose in content and focus. You’ll just structure it a little more like an actual letter by addressing your writing to the admissions committee and signing your name.


What Are Schools Looking for in a Statement of Purpose?

Now that we’ve provided a brief overview of what a statement of purpose is, let’s consider what programs are looking for in a statement of purpose or grad school letter of intent more specifically. There may be some small variation in what different programs are looking for; you should consult any available guidelines for each program. However, here are the specific elements that most graduate programs will be looking for in a statement of purpose:

Your Research and Professional Interests

One of the main things programs will be looking for in your graduate school statement of purpose is a description of the research and/or professional interests you want to develop in their program. For a research-focused program (like pretty much all PhDs and some master’s programs), you’ll target this more specifically to the research projects you would like to do while you there.

For more professionally-focused graduate programs, there may not be much a built-in research component. In this case, focus more on your specific interests within the degree field and what related skills you’re trying to build through the program.

It’s best to be as specific as possible in discussing what interests you. Don’t be vague or say that everything in the field appeals to you. This will make you seem both unfocused and boring. Instead, use particular examples of situations or phenomena that you find exciting. You want everything about your grad school statement of purpose to be intriguing and memorable!

Don’t worry that your statement of purpose will box you into a particular research area. Admissions committees understand that interests change, especially as you become more immersed in a field. However, having a focused plan helps reassure admissions committees that you are motivated and will actually be able to complete the program.

How Your Background Qualifies You

The next essential component admissions offices will be looking for is evidence of how your background qualifies you to pursue this particular field and area of interest (and research area if applicable). What brought you to these particular interests? You can describe your undergraduate studies, relevant professional experience, any major projects you’ve worked on, papers you’ve written, talks you’ve given, mentors you’ve worked with, and so on. Don’t just tell the admissions committees what makes you particularly suited to what you’re pursuing—show it with specific, vivid examples.


A Track Record of Success

Admissions committees will also be looking for a proven record of academic and personal success. Your accomplishments will almost certainly overlap with your background and qualifications. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to emphasize major accomplishments that highlight your ability to succeed in the rigorous graduate school environment!

What Interests You in the Program

At every program you’re applying to, you should be able to speak to particular things about that program that appeal to you. Are there specific professors you want to work with? Does the department have a specific focus that gels well with yours? Is there something special or particular about the curriculum you’re excited to take advantage of?

You should also demonstrate how you (and your research/work) fit in with the program. Why is it a match? What do you bring? Again, admissions committees will want you to show, not tell.


Your Passion for the Field

Admissions officers will also be looking for you to show genuine passion for your field and research/professional area of interest. Why are you planning on devoting your life to this thing? Remain professional, but communicate your excitement!

It’s become a common refrain, but be specific. You won’t stand out—at least not in a good way—if you write things that are vague, cliche, and/or grandiose. Stay away from things like “I love engineering,” or “Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.”

And don’t just say that you’re interested in disease pathology because you want to help people or save the world. It’s fine to mention an altruistic motive, but you should be specific and particular when articulating what you’re passionate about within your field. So instead, say something like “Volunteering with HIV-positive individuals in a community program impressed upon me the critical importance of improving our understanding of HIV. I feel driven to work towards improved treatments with fewer side effects.”

Your Writing Skills

Graduate school invariably involves writing, and usually lots of it. Admissions committees will be looking to your statement of purpose (and any other writing you submit with your application) to make sure you have the writing skills necessarily to succeed in a graduate program. So you want your statement to be well-organized and clearly communicate your ideas. Admissions committees will also be looking for your statement of purpose to be descriptive but concise; a statement of purpose for graduate school shouldn’t be longer than two pages even if there’s no hard word limit. You also want your writing style to stand out. While you shouldn’t use an overly familiar tone, you also don’t want to be too staid and buttoned-up. You definitely don’t want to bore anyone reading your essay!


How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

When you sit down to write your statement of purpose, there are two major components to consider: content (what you’re going to say) and style (how you’re going to say it). Content is what makes up the underlying bones of your statement of purpose/letter of intent. Graduate schools care about both content and style, but during the writing process, it makes sense to focus first on content and then consider style more closely when you know what you want to say.

This nine-step guide will walk you through how to write a statement of purpose for grad school.

Step 1: Brainstorming

The first step is to generate ideas for what to include in your grad school statement of purpose. This should include many of the elements we addressed in the previous section. As you brainstorm, it’s fine to start with more general statements and ideas and then hone in on more specific examples to include in your statement. But thinking of specific examples in advance will make writing the actual statement of purpose much easier!

There are many brainstorming methods you could consider. Some people like making lists while others prefer to just free-write paragraphs. Some would rather draw a mind map or even make voice memos. Just so long as it helps you record the information and get your brain going, any method is fine.

Here are some things to consider in your brainstorming session, with brainstorming questions for each:

Your research/professional interests in the field

Your research/professional background and qualifications

Your major accomplishments

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What’s appealing about the specific programs you’re applying to

Why you’re passionate about the field

Weaknesses to address

Are there any weaknesses in your application you need to address? If you have a semester with very low grades or another “hole” in your application, you can address it directly in your statement of purpose. Graduate schools won’t want excuses, but it’s fine to provide some kind of explanation: were you dealing with a family emergency or chronic illness? Did you need to work full-time and go to school full-time? Whatever you write, try to frame it in positive terms, to emphasize your ultimate success in the face of setbacks.

If you find yourself struggling to generate ideas for any of the above areas, there are a few things you could do. You could look at old papers and projects you’ve turned in. You could also speak to mentors and friends. They’ll remember amazing things you’ve done and should talk about in your application.

It’s also a good idea to discuss your graduate school statement of purpose with a professor in your field of interest. They are likely to have a good idea what graduate programs and looking for and can help you generate and hone ideas.


Step 2: Outline

Next, you’ll want to select your most impactful ideas and examples from your brainstorming session and arrange them into an outline. Highlight the overall points you want to make and the examples that go with each of those points. Try to arrange your points in an order that flows logically.

However, don’t get too hung up on the details for your initial outline. It’s better to keep moving with a rough plan than to be paralyzed early in the process!

Step 3: First Draft

Next, with the help of your outline, you’ll write your first draft. Don’t feel like your first draft has to be application-ready. In fact, your very first draft doesn’t have to be ready for anyone’s eyes but your own. The purpose of this draft is to get your initial thoughts on paper. It’s fine to focus more on content than style. Hammer out your main points, and don’t worry too much about word limit yet (although you will have to cut down to 1-2 pages at most for your final statement of purpose).

Step 4: Initial Edit

Once you have a first draft, you’ll want to make a first editing pass through yourself to tighten things up. Try to make sure that your writing flows logically and start to cut points that seem less relevant. You don’t need to make your statement of purpose perfect right now on your first editing pass, but try to refine it into something you’re comfortable sharing with others.

Make sure that the following critical points are coming through clearly:

If you’re feeling lost or stuck, it’s fine to move on to step 5 and solicit some feedback from others.


Step 5: Get Feedback

Now that you have a workable draft, it’s time to get feedback from other people—preferably people familiar with the graduate school admissions process. They can read your statement of purpose and give you advice on the clarity and organization of your ideas. They can help you figure out if you’ve framed your examples correctly and advise where you need to further develop ideas.

It’s a good idea to have several people look at your draft. You don’t necessarily need to accept every piece of writing advice from every person who looks at your essay. However, if multiple people give a similar piece of feedback, you should probably take that advice.

Step 6: Edit Again

Next, you’ll revise your graduate school statement of purpose again based on the feedback you received from others. Now you should try to really tighten things up and think about how the final product will be received by the admissions committee. Make sure all of your examples and points are well-organized, concise, and impactful. Bring your statement under the word limit.


Step 7: Make It Sparkle

As you work on finishing up your statement of purpose for graduate school, you want to really go the extra mile on making your statement stand out. So make the following stylistic tweaks:

Make sure your opening sentences are attention-grabbing (in a good way)! Starting with a cliche, a generalization or another boring statement will disengage your readers right from the start, which is the last thing you want. Here are some cliches to avoid:

Of course, you should avoid platitudes and cliches throughout your writing, not just in the introduction. Try to replace cliche phrases like “Achilles heel,” “wake-up call,” “right up my alley,” and so on with more vivid and memorable language.

Make sure you’re using active voice instead of passive voice in your writing. So instead of “I was told by my professor…” try “My professor told me…”

Avoid overly informal language, contractions, and slang.

The first time you use an acronym, spell out what it is.

Step 8: Get Feedback Again

Now that you have a fairly polished second draft, hand it around for another round of feedback. You can ask more specifically for writing-style based feedback at this point if you would like.

Step 9: Final Tweaks

After you get your last round of comments from your readers, it’s time for the final tweaks. Incorporate any comments you want to address. Fix any punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes. Reading your entire essay out loud is a good technique as it will allow you to catch mistakes more easily and point to places where the text may sound awkward.

Once you’ve put on the final finishing touches, you’re ready to submit your graduate school statement of purpose!

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The Keys to a Great Graduate School Statement of Purpose

A graduate school statement of purpose serves to introduce your research/professional skills and interests to the programs you’re applying for. It’s more tightly focused on your academic and professional life than you as an overall person.

Here are the key ingredients committees will be looking for in your graduate school statement of purpose:

And here’s a nine-step process to writing one:


What’s Next?

Need more information about graduate school ? If you’re wondering what GPA you need for grad school , if you have to take the GRE , or how long a master’s program is , we can help!

Prepping for the GRE? We can help you figure out when to take the GRE , answer all your GRE questions , and give you 34 critical tips and strategies for GRE success !

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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

how long should a grad school statement of purpose be

Excerpts from an article on how long should a grad school statement of purpose be of purpose writing by Dr. It may be helpful first to purpose a little about graduate education Graduate Education Overview " Faculty at institutions of higher education in the United States take their work with graduate students very seriously. Faculty take strong personal interest in their graduate students after all, they will work with those students for many purposeand expect their students to complete their programs once admitted.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Faculty expect their students to go on after graduation to important positions in academia, industry, or government. Therefore, the work of graduate students affects the reputation of the Faculty.

As a result, the selection of the right graduate students is very important to both the faculty and the long term reputation of the department and university.

Why the Statement of Purpose?

Writing the Statement of Purpose: General Advice

This is especially true today because most graduate programs have only a limited number of admission slots available. Test scores, grades and degrees, institutions of previous study and how long should recommendations are all important indicators of an applicant's future success. The Statement of Purpose exists to allow applicants to convey something personal about themselves and to convince the Faculty making the admissions selection that the applicant is an especially attractive candidate.

It provides applicants the opportunity to purpose information that is not how long should a grad school statement of purpose be grad objective data, in a clear, direct, and concise way, to explain their interests, motivations, goals and special talents. It must be honest.

Writing the Statement of Purpose: General Advice | Department of English | University of Washington

Writing the Statement of Purpose " So with this broad understanding of the Statement of Purpose and its function, how should it school statement written? How long should means that the questions asked in the application MUST be the questions answered, and answered directly. An effusive, evasive, or non-responsive answer will inevitably result in rejection. Be absolutely clear what the application instructions ask of you and tailor your statement accordingly.

9 Steps to Write a Great Statement of Purpose for Grad School

That may mean that each application requires that you write a somewhat, if not entirely, different Statement of Purpose, since /top-10-colleges-in-texas.html Statement must answer a particular question. This allows applicants the opportunity to provide Faculty substantive information about themselves.

This is where applicants can demonstrate that they did their homework about the program and that they thought seriously about the strengths and weaknesses they bring to graduate study. Why are you interested in graduate study?

GRE Prep Online Guides and Tips

Tell them how long should a grad school statement of purpose be why. This may be something that you have always wanted to do, or for which your parents or others were role models, or perhaps you have recently been excited by new possibilities of learning.

All the Faculty had their own reasons for going grad school to get their graduate degrees and they will want to know that you are truly interested for a statement reason.

Do not try to write what you think Faculty want to hear "to advance the field" ; they have heard it all already. Why are you applying to this particular graduate program?

Is it in the same city where your sister lives, and you could get free housing that would allow you to go to graduate school?

Are there particular professors with whom you want to study because of their area of thesis research acknowledgement phd earn Whatever the reason, explain it. This is where the Faculty evaluating your application will be able to tell if you have thought seriously about their particular program.

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Let us guide you through how to write a statement of purpose for grad school! At more research-focused programs, like PhDs, the graduate school statement of purpose will be focused on your research skills and interests.

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When writing your statement of purpose for graduate school, focus on your specific plans and how the graduate program and its faculty will help you meet these goals. Graduate study is not for slackers. It takes focus and determination to pursue an advanced degree.

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Statement of Purpose Examples for Graduate School in 2023

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how long should a grad school statement of purpose be

Fresh mix of lifehacks and guidlines

How long should a grad school statement of purpose be?

between 500 and 1,000 words Remember that a statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words. If you’ve written far more than this, read through your statement again and edit for clarity and conciseness. Less is often more; articulate your main points strongly and get rid of any “clutter.”

How long is too long for a statement of purpose?

Your statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1000 words, and should not exceed one page of a page and a half.

How long is a Berkeley statement of purpose?

Limit its length to two pages or less. In some instances it may be longer depending on the school’s instructions.

Can a statement of purpose be 2 pages?

A statement of purpose shouldn’t ever be longer than two pages, even without a hard word limit.

Is two pages too long for a statement of purpose?

If you stick to stating your purpose, you should not need more than two pages. The word limit for statement for Graduate school application is completely subjective to the university.

How many pages long should be the statement of purpose?

two pages Unless otherwise specified, a standard statement of purpose is ideally two pages long, uses a maximum of 12 point font and is double spaced in normal margins. Hence, depending on the font type, a standard SOP would be about 800 to 1000 words.

How long should a personal statement be for Masters?

around 500 words A Masters personal statement should be around 500 words. This equates to one side of A4. However, some universities require more, often two sides. Some institutions also set a character limit instead of a specific word count, so check the application guidelines before starting to write your statement.

How long should a personal statement for masters be?

What is a statement of purpose for Graduate School?

What is the average length of a statement of purpose?

What do committees look for in a graduate school statement of purpose?

What is a statement of purpose for admissions.

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

Two students looking at a tablet

The Statement of Purpose (often referred to as the SOP) is one of the most important and yet often misunderstood components of your application. It is not just another essay about your key achievements or your resume in a running form. It is the backbone of your entire application and ties together the story conveyed by your test scores, academics, work experience, and your career goals. This is often the best opportunity an admissions committee has to get to know you and for you to make the case for how you’re a perfect fit!

What is a Statement of Purpose?

The Statement of Purpose is an essay of roughly 1000-2000 words, unless otherwise specified by the university, summarizing your intent behind applying to a particular university graduate program. It provides you an opportunity to showcase why you want to study at the university. Use your SOP not only to showcase your professional achievements and academic background but also to highlight why you are interested in the specific program and how you will add value to it. The admissions committee also uses the Statement of Purpose to understand whether their graduate program is a good fit for you at that stage of your professional career. Note that the Statement of Purpose is different from a Personal Statement .

Why is a Statement of Purpose So Important?

Top universities across the world require a detailed statement to assess who you are as a person and what distinguishes you from the rest of the applicants. It is critical to write a Statement of Purpose that is unique to you and ties well with the other aspects of your application.

Because the competition for admission to prestigious international universities is fierce, your SOP should be well-researched and compelling enough to make an impression on admissions authorities.

What Should a Statement of Purpose Include?

While there is no fixed checklist to follow and create an exceptional Statement of Purpose, it is necessary to cover some important aspects of your past journey as well as future goals. You need to package all the information in a way that clearly explains your academic and professional background and gives a brief overview of your desire and purpose to study in the specific program.

While each individual should write their Statement of Purpose in their own unique and authentic style, a few broad sections that can help you structure your SOP are listed below.

The first paragraph of your Statement of Purpose can include a brief overview of you and answer a few basic questions about yourself, including academic qualification and reasons why you choose to apply to the program.

Further, you must include information about your previous education(s). You can choose to mention other highlights like major projects or extracurricular activities that showcase the skills you are trying to highlight through your SOP.

One of the most critical parts of your SOP is your professional experience and key learnings from it. Use this section to showcase your overall professional maturity rather than simply boasting of your achievements and accomplishments. Soft skills like leadership and work ethics or global exposure and versatility can also help you stand out from the crowd.

Your academic and professional experience should ideally be followed by your future goals and aspirations. Try to briefly discuss your long-term and short-term career goals and make sure that they logically fit the story laid out by your academic and professional background.

Finally, it is important to summarize your SOP by clearly highlighting how the particular university and the particular program will help you with your career goal and why you would be a great fit for the program.

Tips for Writing a Great Statement of Purpose

Start early.

Writing a great Statement of Purpose is a time-consuming process. It involves a great degree of self-introspection and contemplation to settle upon the story you want your SOP to showcase. It also involves writing multiple drafts and getting ample feedback from friends, colleagues or experts. Different opinions and perspectives on the style and substance of the essay will help you ensure you’re putting your best foot forward in your applications! Hence, start early and make sure you spend time brainstorming the core ideas and life events that project you in the correct light.

The Statement of Purpose also requires thorough research of the program and the university that you are applying to so that you can answer the ‘Why this university’ and ‘Why this program’ questions authentically. This is why we strongly recommend dedicating at least 6-8 weeks to write your statement and get feedback from half a dozen different people. When I was applying to grad school, I spent 2 – 3 weeks brainstorming and putting my first draft together and then 3 – 4 weeks getting feedback and reworking my essay!

Show Your Journey Beyond University

Graduate program candidates are expected to be mature and clear about their career objectives and how the graduate program fits in their career journey. It is critical that your past experiences and accomplishments, as well as future expectations and aspirations, align with the graduate program. In a nutshell, you need to convince the university that you have already set off on the professional career journey, and their graduate program will help you accelerate and reach the destination faster!

Be Authentic Yet Unique

An important aspect of your Statement of Purpose has to be its uniqueness. It has to stand out from among the thousands of SOPs that the admission committee will go through, and the best way to do that is by being personal and authentic. Statements like “I am honored to apply to this program to expand my skills and boost my career.” don’t tell the admissions committee anything about you! Instead, paint a picture for the reader and use concrete examples and stories to showcase the skills and qualities you’ll bring to the program. The Statement of Purpose is supposed to provide a sneak-peek into your personality and professional life. A generic SOP leads to a generic image that quickly gets lost among the thousands of other applications.

While you’re drafting, I recommend writing ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ on a post-it note and keeping it near your computer as a reminder. And, instead of telling the admissions team that you are passionate about technology, talk about a recent work project and how technology played a critical role in its success – or why a certain technology makes you really excited for the future!

Research the Program

The core objective of your Statement of Purpose is to convince the admissions committee of a particular university that you are the perfect candidate for them. That can’t happen unless you thoroughly understand what kind of candidate they are looking for. Make sure to customize your SOP to the requirements of the university as well as the program you are applying to. Spend ample time on the university’s website. Reach out to alumni and try to learn more about their experience at the university. What is the culture like? What sort of relationships have they had with their professors? What are their classmates like? Learn about research facilities on campus and interest areas of faculty members that align with your career goals.

The more you know about the university and the graduate program you are aiming for, the better equipped you will be to write a good Statement of Purpose, showcasing the skills and qualities the school is looking for.

Be respectful to the process and write the Statement of Purpose in a cordial, yet formal language. While it is good to show a command of the English language, avoid unnecessary jargon or acronyms. In your desire to come across as knowledgeable, don’t write sentences that are unclear or hard to follow. Use vocabulary appropriate to your field, and don’t unnecessarily go thesaurus hunting to impress the admissions team with your words. A good rule of thumb is to only use words you’ve said out loud before!

Proofread and Edit, Over and Over Again!

Once you have written the first draft of your Statement of Purpose, forget about it for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh mind. Check for clarity and trim down excessively long sentences. Share it with at least half a dozen people, including a few friends and colleagues or professors if possible, to get different perspectives and feedback. It’s particularly helpful to get feedback from people who are in or have completed a similar type of graduate program!

Make sure to format the document professionally. Your content should stand out, not its font style or color!

Finally, before pressing the send button, read out your Statement of Purpose aloud and ensure that you are on board with the overall picture it portrays. Ultimately if your words feel genuine and authentic, and you are proud of what you’ve written, you’re ready to submit!

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a Test Prep Expert and Application Coach actively involved in the Test Prep and Application Consulting space for several years now. He is a GMAT 99 Percentiler and has extensive experience in delivering private tutoring sessions for GMAT, GRE, and SAT exams. Ayush has a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and an MBA in Strategy from the Indian School of Business. He is an ardent ManUnited fan and when he is not helping students understand that tricky GMAT question or write that dreaded Why MBA answer, he would be likely cheering for his team at Old Trafford (GGMU). To connect with him, feel free to reach out to him via LinkedIn or his website Test Prep Buddy .

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  1. How long is a statement of purpose for graduate school?

    The statement of purpose for graduate school is often 500–1000 words. It should be written in a single-spaced format

  2. How long should the Statement of Purpose be?

    I think anywhere from 1-3 pages is fine. I took an SOP workshop last spring and that was the recommended limit

  3. How to Write a Successful Grad School Statement of Purpose

    “The statement of purpose gives an applicant the opportunity to express non-quantifiable characteristics for consideration to an admissions committee,” Maxwell notes. Before ever sitting down to write or outline a statement of purpose

  4. 9 Steps to Write a Great Statement of Purpose for Grad School

    First draft: Write a rough first draft. Focus on getting ideas onto paper. First edit: Make a pass through to clean up your thoughts and ideas

  5. How Long Should A Grad School Statement Of Purpose Be >> Service learning reflection essay

    Excerpts from an article on how long should a grad school statement of purpose be of purpose writing by Dr. It may be helpful first to purpose a little about graduate education Graduate Education Overview

  6. How long should a grad school statement of purpose be? Archives

    Whether you're trying to get into medical school or any other kind of graduate

  7. How long should a grad school statement of purpose be?

    Remember that a statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Your statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1000 words, and should not exceed one page of a page and a half

  8. How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

    The Statement of Purpose (often referred to as the SOP) is one of the most important and yet often misunderstood components of your application. The Statement of Purpose is an essay of roughly 1000-2000 words