by Carla Trujillo, Ph.D.
A) Things to Keep in Mind:
1. What the admissions committee reads between the lines: motivation, competence, intellectual passion, potential as a graduate student/scholar.
2. Emphasize everything from a positive perspective and write in an active, not a passive, voice. Highlight upswing in grades if applicable.
3. Demonstrate everything by example; don't say directly that you're a persistent person, demonstrate it.
4. You don't want to make excuses, but you can talk about the mistakes you've made as a learning experience.
5. If there is something important that happened (poverty, illness, excessive work, etc.) affecting your grades state it, but write it affirmatively, that is, in a way that shows your perseverance.
6. Make sure everything is well written, edited, and linked with continuity and focus.
7. Unless there are special instructions about the length or format of the essay, it should be 500-600 words (1 to 1 ½ pages) single-space, typed, 12pt. font size.
B) Writing the Statement of Purpose:
Part 1: Introduction
Give a brief introduction to yourself. State what sparked your interest in pursuing graduate school, and what you wish to study.
Part 2: Summarize what you did as an undergraduate
a) Important class you took or research project your participated in which stimulated your desire for graduate study.
b) Research you conducted: indicate with whom, type of project, your responsibilities, and the outcome. Did you present the findings at a conference or submit for publication? (Each research project description should be a short paragraph.)
c) Work experience, especially if you had any kind of responsibility for testing, designing, or researching a product or apparatus, or having direct experience pertinent to your future area of study.
Part 3: If you graduated and worked or interned prior to returning to grad school, indicate what you’ve been doing: company, work/design team, responsibilities, what you learned. You can also indicate how this helped you focus your graduate studies. If you took classes to strengthen your knowledge of a particular area, or conducted post-graduation research or an independent study, write about it here.
Part 4: This is the most important part of the Statement of Purpose. Here you indicate what you want to study in graduate school in greater detail. It should be a well developed paragraph. Note: the department you're applying to should ideally have courses and faculty conducting research in the area you wish to study.
a) Indicate your area of interest, state questions associated with the topic, and what you might be interested in studying.
b) Examine the department website for information about the professors and their research. Are there faculty whose interests parallel yours? If so, indicate this, as it shows you have done your homework and are highly motivated.
c) End your statement in a positive and confident manner indicating a readiness and excitement for the challenges ahead of you.
Last Updated: December 1, 2011 11:59 AM