A Statement of Purpose (SoP) is arguably the single most important element in your application package to graduate school.
There are a myriad of eligible applicants with competitive exam scores and diverse resumes/CVs that schools can now choose from for their prospective students. That is why the statement of purpose is your chance to show admissions committees why you deserve to be accepted onto the Master’s programme of your choice and how you stand out in the pool of applicants.
What to include?
Different schools will give you different cues as to what they want you to communicate through your Statement of Purpose. However, there are four main pillars of information that admissions committees want to see in your statement of purpose:
- What subject/course/major do you want to pursue at graduate school?
- Why have you chosen it?
- Do you have any former experience in the field and how would it contribute to your prospective studies?
- What are your post-graduation plans?
What should your Statement of Purpose look like?
When it comes to technical requirements, different schools set different standards. Some schools advise a 1000-word essay, others encourage 1500-2000 words. Regardless of the length, you should make sure to write a separate Statement of Purpose for each programme you apply to. Schools will know if you did your homework and looked into some specifics about their particular programme, so never submit the same essay twice.
Another crucial element that many candidates overlook is how their statement of purpose is formatted. Don’t pack 2000 words into two pages with no space to breathe or indentation. A good rule of thumb is to write your essay in a 12-point font with 1.5 paragraph spacing. Structuring your text in paragraphs with visible subheads will make it easier to read and will give a general idea of what your main points of focus are.
What is the bottom line?
There is no fixed set of rules to lead you to the ultimately successful statement of purpose. But the bottom line rule is to take your time. The Statement of Purpose is the only part of your application that you can fully control so make sure you dedicate enough time and effort to produce a high-quality, informative piece which presents a full picture of who you are as a professional and as a prospective student.
Some online sources advise against including information about your hobbies and extracurricular activities, but the essence of some particular Master’s programmes definitely calls for such details. In this sense, you can see that no single statement of purpose would work for two different schools, so once again – do thorough research and only then sit down in front of the blank page.
What else is important?
Don’t forget that the main goal of the statement of purpose is to enable the admissions committee to put a face to your application. Even though all other elements of the application package are crucial to your admittance, the Statement of Purpose is the only one that will showcase your personality. Admissions committees want to see determination and diligence; they want to admit candidates who have clear career goals and ambitions. Recruiters can always read between the lines and spot insincerity or lack of genuine desire in the candidate to be admitted.
So even though it is important to keep your essay formal, concise and to the point, let your passion about the programme show through – it will be an excellent indicator of how much getting into this programme means to you as a professional, and this is a good first sign of how dedicated and focused you will be.