How to write a statement of purpose
A statement of purpose (SOP) or (application essay, personal background, or cover letter) is an academic essay in which you simply tell about yourself to the reader.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the writing process with interactive examples.
What is a statement of purpose (SOP)?
While applying for a scholarship or to a graduate program, there is a number of documents that are asked from the applicants, and statement of purpose (SOP) is one of them.
A statement of purpose is literally you. You need to introduce and reflect on yourself. Overall, your SOP should indirectly respond to these questions below.
To visualize what to include in statement of purpose papers, simply have a look at the outline below.
Statement of purpose outline example
- Introduce yourself and state your purpose for applying to the program.
- Paragraph 1: Academic and Professional Background
- Summarize your academic background and relevant professional experience.
- Paragraph 2: Reasons for Applying
- Explain why you have chosen to apply to this particular program and what you hope to gain from it.
- Paragraph 3: Fit with Program
- Demonstrate how your academic and professional background aligns with the program and why you are a strong candidate.
- Conclusion: Future Goals and Contributions
- Describe your future goals and how your participation in the program will help you achieve them. Also, explain how you plan to contribute to the program and university community.
In the next steps, you’ll see how this outline becomes a whole ready-to-go statement of purpose.
Some pro tips before you start writing
Writing the introduction
First of all, think of your statement of purpose as an explanation of your resume. In the introduction, simply introduce yourself and state the purpose of your application.
Let’s have a look at the example below.
Statement of purpose introduction example
Writing the body paragraphs
This is the part that you concentrate on your skills and advertise them to the admission committee.
Statement of purpose body paragraphs example
One-to-three paragraphs long body part would be okay. Don’t forget this is the part that you detail your qualifications and professional abilities.
State your interest in body paragraphs
Pro tip on SOP' body paragraphsIn this part, avoid over-polishing the institution and the program. Don’t forget that the people at the institution and the admission committee know who they are, and they don’t ask for a statement of compliment.
Once again, this is the part of your SOP that you focus on the institution and your motivation.
Writing the conclusion paragraph
As you’ve introduced yourself and explained the reasons why you are interested in the institution and the program, it’s time to paint the picture of a possible future.
In this last paragraph of your statement, you are expected to summarize your main points until now.
Statement of purpose conclusion example
Proofreading your paper
The last, and maybe the most underestimated part of a successful statement of purpose is to check and proofread your paper.
As long as you aren’t applying to a Ph.D. program in literature or linguistics, your main focus is to create smooth and understandable statements (see common academic words).