What is a statement of purpose?
The Statement of Purpose (often called “letter of intent” or “application essay” by various educational institutions) is one of the most important components of your
application process. This document provides the admissions committee with information that allows them to become more acquainted with who you are; what you want to study at graduate school and why; experiences you have in the field; and what you plan on doing with the degree once you have mastered it.
A statement of Purpose also serves as a writing sample and interview.
Tips on Writing a Statement of Purpose
1. Be Yourself. Be mindful that you are seeking a program that is a good match for you. Do not disguise who you are or second-guess what the committee is looking for.
2. Write a Strong Opening. You want to stand out from the multitude of other applicants. Write an opening that grabs the reader’s attention.
3. Frame the points you wish to make in a positive light. You do not want to reveal weaknesses in your personality.
4. Describe an important experience that is relevant to the program of interest. It is usually good to place this portion of the essay towards the opening. This experience may have contributed to the person that you are today. Make a point to note that in your writing.
5. Be Specific, Concise, Honest and Unique.
6. Describe why you are a good match for their program. Tell the committee about your skills and interest in that particular program. Be specific and thoughtful.
7. Talk about your goals. Explain how a graduate degree will help you accomplish those goals.
8. Explain any shortcomings in your background. (i.e. You had a poor GPA during your freshman year in college. Put a positive spin on this explanation and illuminate how your GPA has improved as you matured.)
When writing a Statement of Purpose, your thoughts and ideas can become quite overwhelming as you struggle to create an effective essay that captures who you are and why you are applying. The following advice is another friendly measure in helping you write that winning essay:
Follow the Institution’s instructions on how they want the Statement of Purpose to be written.
1. Word Count
2. Number of Pages
3. Format (spacing, margins, font size, etc.)
Examine samples written by other students who have submitted successful letters of intent. This will help you get a better understanding of the format. Of course, please do not copy their work. Write your own letter of intent.
Write a first draft. Read the questions again. Make sure that you have effectively answered the questions provided by the institution.
Ask a professor, counselor or someone that you trust to read your first draft and provide any feedback on its content.
Once you have received adequate feedback, make the necessary changes to your essay and prepare your final draft. The final draft should contain strong sentence variety and be free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Make sure that you have established your voice in your final draft. Your tone in the essay should reflect what is special, diverse, unique, or impressive about you.
Save! Save! Save! Be sure to keep a backup file of your document. A portion of this essay may be useful for writing another letter of intent to another college or university. You definitely do not want to submit the same essay when applying to multiple schools.
If you find that you are still having difficulties completing your Statement of Purpose, do not stress. Take a few days and put this task aside. You will find that other activities will jog your mind and creativity, providing you with ideas and content to incorporate into your paper. A Statement of Purpose requires time and thoughtfulness. You want to sell yourself to the committee and in order to do that you need to put your best foot forward. Be honest. Most importantly, be yourself.
Things to Avoid When Writing a Statement of Purpose
General Formatting for a Statement of Purpose
We encourage the following:
Maximum Page Length: 2 (do not exceed the limit)
Times New Roman 12 pt. Font (preferred)
Check with the department you are applying to for specific guidelines.
Additional Online Resources