Written By - Derick de Souza

Edited By Arlene Ward

Review & Contribution By Erik L. Cato

In plain and simple terms, a Statement of Purpose is an extended essay stating the purpose of applying for a particular program at a specific university. The gist of this essay specifically covers who you are, who you want to become, and your readiness to pursue the program in question.

Aside from seeking to understand the applicant’s aims and goals, a Statement of Purpose for grad school is meant to throw light on their life, motivations and events, and incidents that may have influenced their career path.

Universities receive hundreds and thousands of applications yearly, most from students who may be as good as the next. Therefore, writing a compelling Statement of Purpose is essential to stick out and be picked from other applicants of similar academic standing.

Statement of Purpose Grad School

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What is a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Most universities require applicants to write a Statement of Purpose to enquire about what they wish to pursue and why they wish to pursue it, especially at the particular university the applicant has applied to. This requirement touches upon the subjective side of the application, while the objective part is largely covered by GPAs, Academic Transcripts, and the like.

So, in essence, what is a Statement of Purpose for grad school? It is a document that provides an opportunity for the candidate to showcase their strengths, weaknesses, aims, objectives, and motivations, along with a brief background and an insight into the chosen career path. Therefore, it is one of THE primary requisites of a complete application to a graduate school program.

Statement of Purpose Grad School Template

Seeing as a Statement of Purpose is subjective by nature, there is no specific template or format an applicant must follow. However, there are certain basic dos and don’ts that one needs to keep in mind, starting with the size of the font that is used for the actual content that goes into the Statement of Purpose.

A graduate school Statement of Purpose template broadly consists of a few major sections and components that follow a simple yet logical layout. One could spruce things up a little by adding some color, styles, and graphical elements, but overdoing all of that could very well rob the thunder from the actual content. It is, therefore, essential to strike a fair balance between “decoration” and content.

Sections of a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

A Statement of Purpose should have certain key sections logically and sequentially. Additional sections or components may be added, provided they lend cause and character to the document and further complement or substantiate the points you wish to make.

A sample Statement of Purpose for graduate school would have outlined all the checkpoints effectively, which can be used to write a new and fresh one from the ground up.

Not all the following sections/components must make it to a Statement of Purpose for grad school. Depending on what the university’s requirements are, including them would be prudent:

  1. Introduction
    Provide a brief introduction of yourself and your background.
  2. Academic Background
    Outline your academic achievements and accomplishments.
  3. Professional Experience
    Summarize your professional experience, especially that which is relevant to the program.
  4. Career Goals and Objectives
    Spell out your career path, objectives, and goals that you think the program will support.
  5. Reason for choosing the program applied for
    Demonstrate your interest in the program and its compelling features.
  6. Reason for applying at the chosen university
    Provide a compelling reason for choosing the university and why you think it suits your needs.
  7. Referrals (if any)
    Some Universities ask for referrals. If so, mention only important ones and not more than two.
  8. Conclusion
    Wrap it all with a quick summary of the Statement of Purpose emphasizing qualifications and compatibility with the university.

Graduate School Statement of Purpose Template

A graduate school Statement of Purpose template contains certain sections, components, and formatting requisites, all put together for good presentability and easy reading. While there is no set or best graduate school Statement of Purpose template, one can create one that suits one’s needs while adhering to general norms and the university’s specific requirements, if any.

Since formatting is part of a good template, paying attention to presentability and the actual content is essential. To do so, one must maintain adequate margins on all four sides of the document, pick a generic, crisp, and legible font, choose a consistent font size for headings and paragraph text, and keep an acceptable line space of 1.2pt or 1.5pt. Most Universities accept the ‘US Letter’ as a standard size, but some accept this and the ‘A4’ size as well. It is always advisable to read the university’s instructions before writing a Statement of Purpose.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

There is a simple solution to how to write a State of Purpose for grad school. Contrary to popular belief, writing one is not rocket science. So long as one can furnish all the details expected to be written in the document, one can successfully and quite easily get down to writing an excellent SoP. Having said that, keeping to simple and basic guidelines without overdoing anything is important, failing which the SoP may be discarded for want of expected content or clarity. The process outlined below is simple, easy to follow, and standard practice:

  1. Step 1: Brainstorm & Ideate
    The very first step to take before getting down to writing a Statement of Purpose is to brainstorm with some sheets of paper and a pen. Get the brain jogging and think of all that can be thrown into the SoP – random thoughts, events, anecdotes, incidents, and anything that simply springs to mind. Formulate ideas and try and capture a theme or focal point for the SoP, around which everything else can revolve or relate.
  2. Step 2: Summarize, Condense & Outline
    Once the brainstorming is done, pick and choose the best points that should go into the Statement of Purpose. This process is a good method to short-list thoughts, points, and ideas and do away with what may be irrelevant, over-the-top, arbitrary, or simply in excess. Before proceeding, prepare the shortlist and see whether the points can be linked.
  3. Step 3:  Prepare the First Draft
    Start preparing the first draft of the Statement of Purpose from the points in the shortlist. Do not worry just yet about the logic of the essay or flow. Concentrate instead on expounding the actual point and writing it skillfully and tactfully. While writing, should additional thoughts spring to mind, jot them down and continue without hesitation.
  4. Step 4: Format & Arrange
    Once the first draft is ready, commence formatting it. Check the document’s margins, select a beautiful, legible font, set a suitable font size, and pick a decent line spacing. If other styling options may be required to apply, now is a good time to do so. Following this, arrange or rearrange points and paragraphs to better connect them or help with a logical flow. Articulate all points well and see that the overall essay is free of fluff and clutter.
  5. Step 5: Reviewing, Editing, and Refining
    This step is perhaps the most crucial step, which, unfortunately, many candidates skip altogether. It is vital to review the first draft, edit the points made, refine the vocabulary and grammar, and correct any glaring errors, textual or otherwise. Writing a second draft after affecting all these changes and then reading this second draft several times over will ensure that the content is rich and error-free. Do note that getting a mentor, teacher, or relative to read the last draft and provide feedback or suggestions is a good idea. However, ensure that such person or persons have a fair understanding of a Statement of Purpose and preferably some experience in such matters.
  6. Step 6: Polishing & Fine-Tuning
    If the second or subsequent drafts are satisfactory, review the last draft again – from top to bottom – and polish the rough edges. If points need tinkering or fine-tuning, change them carefully without dislodging them completely (thereby making them irrelevant.) Check for errors and typos and see if the styling is pleasing to the eye and enticing enough. Finally, ensure that everything is concise and well-organized, ready to be published.
  7. Step 7: Publishing or Printing
    Some Universities require the applicant to attach the Statement of Purpose to the application and supporting documents/transcripts. If such is the case, print the Statement of Purpose on crisp, thick, wrinkle-free, and crease-free paper. Do not fold the printed sheets; ensure they do not have “dog ears” either. Staple two or more sheets only once.

    Alternatively, some Universities may require the applicant to upload the Statement of Purpose on a designated webpage. When doing so, one must stick to a standard Portable Document Format (PDF), unless specified otherwise, and keep the file size to around or less than 2MB. It is also a good idea to encrypt the document with a password to prevent editing.

 What To Avoid in a Statement of Purpose For Grad School

In the interest of being admitted to a particular program at a specific university, it is common enough for applicants to be overenthusiastic about a Statement of Purpose and its intent. There are a few things to bear in mind and avoid if the document is to be read and not set aside, such as:

  1. Elaborating your childhood
    A Statement of Purpose is not a historical document and does not warrant a detailed account of the candidate’s childhood, complete with events, dates, and protagonists, thrown in.
  2. Beating around the bush
    It is easy to get carried away and keep writing page after page about a particular section or point without actually making sense or ever arriving at the point! One must be succinct and to the point, avoiding boring details and an overload of information with no actual bottom line in sight. Keeping sentences short while conveying what they are meant to convey will keep the Statement of Purpose concise, as it should be.
  3. Sounding profound and intellectual
    A Statement of Purpose is meant to highlight the applicant’s reason for applying to a specific program at a particular university, along with a brief academic background and listing of professional experience, in addition to other relevant information. It is not there as an editorial or column article that seeks to expound a philosophical point by any stretch of the imagination. Therefore, one must never make nor explicate moral, religious, political, or opinionated statements and go astray from the actual requisites of a Statement of Purpose.
  4. Getting technical and using excessive jargon
    Getting technical or, for that matter, using jargon that has precious little to do with the actual point will put off the reader of the Statement of Purpose. An applicant must never try to sound knowledgeable using complex terms, technical details, or vocabulary and jargon that does not serve the purpose. Keeping things simple and conveying all that is expected to be conveyed in a Statement of Purpose will suffice.

Statement of Purpose Grad School Examples

A good Statement of Purpose should always leave a mark on the reader and make it evident why the applicant is the ideal candidate for the program being applied to. There are thousands of Statement of Purpose grad school Examples available online, but in tune with all that has been outlined so far, here is an example that may serve as an indicator of how one should be written:

Statement of Purpose: Master of Science (Computer Technology), Colorado State University

I was seven when my father brought home our first computer. To me, it was a true wonder, a magical machine that could mysteriously do so much. My fascination for it grew by the day, and it would not be long before I decided to make Computer Science my elective throughout my academic life. Fortunately, being blessed with a creative and logical mind, I could see endless possibilities to deal with complex problems and find simple solutions with the aid of Computers. I always found and continue to find the running of my code to be exceedingly exhilarating and exciting each time it fulfilled its purpose, and it is this feeling and love for programming has propelled me to apply for an MS in Computer Science.

Dabbling with computers and pursuing my strong interest in Computer Science has helped me develop and hone my analytical and reasoning skills. Throughout my four-year Bachelor of Science (Computer Technology) program at the University of Denver, Colorado, I acquired adequate knowledge to top the class while developing a deeper insight and overall perspective of this scientific discipline. Further strengthening my interest in the subject was Object Oriented Programming and Database Management, two areas that captured my attention and resulted in my involvement with several projects. Soon and sure enough, I found myself helping with programming and prototyping at our university’s Incubation Center.

My keen interest in Computer Science and my ever-increasing quest for knowledge took me beyond the university Campus and into the research and development labs of Apple Inc., where I participated in summer projects and eventually interned. I was explicitly trained in Event Handlers and blockchain, two areas I went on to love and understand more than I ever imagined. I teamed up with two classmates for my final dissertation at the University of Denver to develop an iOS App for dyslexic learners. Supported by Boulder Labs, we crafted complex algorithms and scripts that would elicit the desired response from a dyslexic user to a specific requirement from them. In recognition of our efforts and innovation, we were judged ‘The Most Promising Technology’ for the year 2020 by Boulder Labs and also graciously accepted the ‘Seeking Change for the Greater Good’ award from Helping Hand Charitable Foundation, Denver, Colorado.

While Computer Science was my driving force throughout my academic life, it did not prevent me from undertaking other pleasures and pursuits at all. I participated in a wide range of extracurricular activities that improved my overall personality development. When presented with an opportunity, I participated in debates, group dancing, elocution, and chess challenges, fulfilling my curiosity with photography and pottery. Being wiry in form helped me in athletics and the team sport of basketball, showing me how I could work alone or work as a team. Apart from this, I was the Student Representative of the Department of Computer Science for four years, which had me liaising between the students and the administration – scheduling additional lectures for a class, assisting the faculty advisor in the running of the department, and resolving any issues students may have encountered. This experience bolstered my administrative abilities while bringing my leadership and social skills to the fore.

Having acquired a solid foundation in Computer Science through a robust undergraduate program, my various projects, assignments, and internships in the IT industry, participation in extracurricular activities, and considerable exposure to administrative and social responsibilities, I am convinced beyond doubt that this is the right time to pursue my graduate studies. I desire to understand the nuances of Computer Science further, amass new knowledge, understand the latest technologies and take advantage of the vast industry of Information and Technology. My ability to constructively work with both the creative and logical worlds, am sure will present ample opportunities to address some of today’s and tomorrow’s problems and find simple, effective, and practical solutions to them. My deepest desire is to one day build technology that will enable challenged and slow learners to be on par with their abled peers and consequently make them upright and outstanding individuals.

The MS in Computer Science offered by Colorado State University will undoubtedly provide me with an astute education, complete with the right skills, knowledge, and exposure to pursue my dreams to the fullest. The invaluable combination of coursework, research programs, and lab work will allow me to enhance my understanding of the subject while honing the skills necessary for executing it. All things considered, an MS in Computer Science at Colorado State University will strengthen and further build my knowledge base while adding (tremendous) potential to realize my professional goals.

By the time I finish my Bachelor of Science, I shall be ready to take on my MS in Computer Technology with focus, intent, and fervor.

This graduate school Statement of Purpose example broadly covers the major sections and components that are required to go in. It is concise and relays all the information relevant to the applicant, their accomplishments, the program, and the university.

FAQs about Statement of Purpose Grad School

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to start a statement of purpose for grad school?

The best way to begin preparing a Statement of Purpose for grad school is to brainstorm, collect ideas and points, and then pen them down, not necessarily in a logical or chronological order. Composing thoughts and deciding what must go in is perhaps the most crucial part of writing a Statement of Purpose.

Q: How important is the statement of purpose for grad school?

Q: How to end a grad school statement of purpose?

Q: How to format a statement of purpose in grad school?

Q: How long should a grad school statement of purpose be?

How can I write a Perfect Statement of Purpose for Grad School?

Can a Statement of Purpose help with a Scholarship for Grad School?

How is a Statement of Purpose different from a Personal Statement?

Additional Resources For Writing A Statement of Purpose For Grad School

Several journals can be found in libraries and many websites to help write an excellent Statement of Purpose for grad school. However, reading too many tips and sample SoPs may cause a great deal of confusion and make the whole experience of writing an SoP rather frustrating. Therefore, we advise caution when seeking help from external resources, some of which are listed below:

  • Wordvice
    Wordvice is a wealth of information and resources for those applying for grad school. The site offers writing and editing services for a fee as an option for those seeking help from professional writers.
  • Essaysmith
    Essaysmith has a sample Statement of Purpose for graduate school programs. The portal also offers SoP writing services, but of course, at a fee.
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