Statement of Purpose Tips!
Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a very important requirement in your graduate application process. We have tried to make this page very comprehensive about SOPS
and irrespective of your majors,you could use these guidlines for all types of graduate schools and universities such as engineering,arts,life sciences etc.
You will find everything you need to know about an SOP(statement of purpose).
Sample SOP's of students from various majors!
Browse through sample SOPs written by Students who have made it to the graduate schools and colleges:
What is a graduate School interested about in an applicant :
Usually graduate and professional schools are interested in the following:
SOP Words to avoid using without an explanation- Prof.SJSU
|Significant||Invaluable||appealing to me|
|interesting||exciting, excited||appealing aspect||challenging||enjoyable, enjoy||I like it|
|satisfying, satisfaction||I can contribute||it’s important|
|meant a lot to me||feel good||I like to help|
Keep to the Page Limit Number!!! Reviewers have to read hundreds of
these applications, don’t overburden them with extra pages.
Do not leave in typographical errors. You don’t want to be taken less seriously due to a typo, rite?
How to ask a professor to do research with him:
i. Make a list of professors with whom you might want to work. Most professors have a web
page with lots of papers and descriptions of their research. Take your time and read these.
ii. Make a summary sheet about yourself. This is a one-page piece of paper which you will be
giving out. It should have the following information about you:
(a) Your photo. Professors can’t remember names, but they do remember faces.
(b) Your name and contact info.
(c) Brief description of your research interests.
(d) Your availability – are you looking for a full-time summer position, a part-time fall
position, both? How many hours can you devote to this project? Are you looking for
(e) List of every class you took and your grade and the professor you took it with (professors
like to talk to each other about you).
(f) Relevant previous experience and skills.
iv. Pick a professor from your list. Go to his/her office hours or send email to schedule an appointment
(most professors prefer office hours). Explain your situation and give your summary
sheet. Be prepared for the following questions which he may ask you:
(a) Do you have any ideas about what you might want to do research on?
(b) Which of my projects are you most interested in working on?
(c) Describe your math background.
(d) Describe your programming background.
With very high probability the professor will thank you for your interest, but tell you that he
isn’t taking on any undergraduates this term. This does not mean that he hates you! Be brave!
Try the next person on your list. You may have to try this 10 times. Hang in there. If the
professor does say yes, you need to be prepared with your own list of questions:
Sample SOP Template:- Graduate School Wisconsin-Madison
Opening Paragraph. Here, you want to introduce yourself and give
your general reasons for pursuing graduate study. Because the selection
committee members will read many applications, make your statement
relevant by stating your particular talents and individuality.
Qualifications. In this section, the aim is to build a foundation
for your forthcoming work. You should discuss your experiences in the
Explain why you chose this field. What motivated you.
Your expertise and accomplishments in your major field, including any
research you've performed. You should mention the project and the name
of the professor who you worked for or under the direction of.
Your undergraduate studies in general and how they relate to what you
intend to do in graduate school.
Your specific experiences that demonstrate your motivation and inspiration for continued study.
Other relevant experiences (i.e., jobs, community activities,
leadership in school organizations, awards, honors, etc.). Be sure to include
names of person/s, names of organizations, and other important details.
Explain (briefly) any discrepancies on your transcript which would
include having a lower GPA in a particular semester or year. No details are
Mention specific faculty you are interested in working with.
Background. Here, you want to tell the school about yourself. Also,
describe your family and your community (or a community in which you once
You could include whether your family, a family member in particular, or someone in your community influenced your chosen field of interest.
Also, you want to give examples of personal attributes or qualities that you know will help you successfully complete graduate study. For instance, describe your determination to achieve your goals, your initiative and ability to develop ideas, and your capacity to work through problems independently.
Closing Paragraph. Finally, leave the reader with a strong sense that you are qualified and will be successful in graduate or professional school.
The statement should only be 1 to 2 pages long so you need to be concise.
Sample SOP Template:- Prof: CMU
i. First paragraph – Describe the general areas of research that
interest you and why. (This is
helpful for a committee to determine which professors should read your
ii. Second paragraph and Third paragraph – Descibe some research
projects that you worked on.
Tell us what you found, what you learned, what approaches you tried.
It’s fine to say that you
were unable to prove what you wanted or to solve your problem.
iii. Fourth paragraph – Tell us why you feel you need a MS/Ph.D.. Look
back to section 2 and explain
what in there appealed to you.
iv. Fifth paragraph – Tell us why you want to come to CMU.Whom might
you like to work with?
What papers have you looked at from that particular university that you enjoyed reading? What
will the university teach
Sample SOP's of students from various majors
Browse through 20 or more SOPs written by Students who have made it to the graduate schools:
To know more about:
1. Guide lines for writing Recommendations letters
2. The Art of writing recommendation Letters
Asking for a letter of recommendation won’t be a problem if you have been doing research with this
person, but that won’t be possible in every case. Here’s a guideline which willmaximize the contents
of your letter. This works on the theory that professors have very little time and little memory (both
of which are good assumptions):
i. Prepare a packet for each recommender. This packet should contain all the relevant information
about you that could help the recommender. Be careful not to make the packet too large.
Here’s what should be in it:
(a) Your statement of purpose.
(b) A summary of every research project you worked on and with whom, regardless of
whether this was at a school or research lab. If you have published a paper, or have
a technical report, please include that too.
(c) A sheet of paper listing all math/cs/engineering/science classes you have taken with the
names of professors and grades.
(d) A list of extracurricular activities and awards/competitions.
At the top of the packet should be:
(a) A recent photo of you – professors receive many such packets and don’t remember you
the second after you leave the office.
(b) Directions. E.g., please seal and sign and send to this address by Jan. 5. Put an earlier
date than the real deadline – professors are notoriously late.
(c) Confirmation information: Please send me email at blank address after you send this off.
If I don’t hear from you by Jan. 5th, I will send you an email reminder. (You need this
confirmation information because otherwise you’ll never know if the recommendation
was sent and you’ll be sitting around biting your nails wondering.)
Go to your potential recommender with your packet and ask him/her the following question:
“Do you feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation for me to graduate
You need to phrase the question this way so that the potential recommender has a
way out. Do not be upset if the potential recommender says no. It is good that he/she let you
know. This is much better than getting a weak letter
Check with the school to confirm that they have received a letter from each of your recommenders.
Remember to at least send your recommender a thank you card! It’s a lot of work to write a decent recommendation letter, and you may need more letters in the future.
Whom to ask for a letter
Ideally you would like to make all your letters of recommendation count. Consider the following
i. Letter 1: “I highly recommend student X for your graduate program. Student X received an
A+ in my undergraduate algorithms class. He was ranked Number 2 out of 100 students. He
got the highest score on the final. He worked very hard all semester, never missed a class,
and was always able to answer the questions that I asked in class. This conscientious attitude
makes him an excellent candidate for any graduate program. ”
ii. Letter 2: “I highly recommend student Y for your graduate program. Student Y received a B in
my undergraduate algorithms class. He was ranked Number 29 out of 100 students. Halfway
through the semester we started working on network flows. Student Y seemed extremely
excited by this topic. He disappeared for 4 weeks and even missed an exam. However when he
came back, he showed me some work he had been doing on a new network flow algorithm for
high-degree graphs. He had done some simulations and had some proofs. I’ve been working
with student Y for the past couple months since then and he is full of ideas for new algorithms.
I think student Y’s initiative makes him an excellent candidate for any graduate program.”
Which letter do you think is stronger?
It turns out that Letter 2 is very strong. Letter 1 actually
counts as 0. At top schools they mark all letters like letter 1 with the acronym D.W.I.C.. This stands for
“Did Well In Class” which counts for 0, since we already know from the student’s transcript that
he did well in class.
By contrast, student Y’s letter gives us a lot of information. It explains that
the reason student Y didn’t do better in class was that he was busy doing research. It also tells
us that student Y started doing research on his own initiative, and that he is quite good at doing
research. The professor was impressed enough with student Y’s ideas that he took him on as a
student researcher despite student Y not having high grades.
You want your letters to all be of type 2 (this doesn’t mean that you should skip class!). Remember
that letters of type 1 will not count. You want words like self-motivated, strong research
potential , own initiative, independent, and driven to appear in your letters.
These are the words that
we circle when reading recommendation letters. You therefore want to ask letters from people who
have seen you do research. These may be professors or employers.
One caveat: It makes some difference whom you ask for a letter. As a general rule (there are
always exceptions due to people’s fame), letters from professors count the most. Next highest are
letters from research scientists.
After that come letters from lecturers, systems scientists, employers,
or postdocs. Please do not get a letter from a graduate student.
If you found yourself doing research
where you were supervised by a graduate student or postdoc, you should ask the professor for whom
they work if she can co-write the letter. The reason is simple: professors are the ones reading the
letter, and they are most likely to know other professors.
There is an issue for students who have been working for a while. You will certainly want a letter from your employer, but you will also want two letters from professors.