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How to write a Statement of Purpose - MS in US

A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a motivational letter that deliberates on your intent for higher studies by highlighting your academic and professional journey, accomplishments, interest areas, and your short-term and long-term goals. Regardless of the course that you will be applying to, you will be asked to submit a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for any master’s program in the US.

Statement of Purpose for MS in US

A perfectly written SOP is a comprehensive document that highlights your academic, professional and personal profile, something which the CV and LOR cannot do. This is your chance to pen down your story in your words. It is the only non-official document in the application that can carry up to 30% weightage in deciding your success for admission. You need to bring out the best points on what makes you an eligible candidate for their program.

Highlights

  • Every Statement of Purpose or Graduate Essay has to be unique.
  • This is the document which portrays you as a person, showcases your ambition and aspirations to the admission committee.
  • Your SOP must reflect you. This document is also a demonstration of your linguistic skills and mastery in written communication.
  • A well-penned Statement of Purpose gives you an edge over all the other candidates with similar profiles. Make sure that your SOP is free from grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
  • Your SOP has to follow the standard structure/flow, starting with Motivation, followed by academic, professional accomplishments, interests, hobbies, post-completion goals and conclusion.

Before You Start

  • Check the university course requirements to see if there is a topic for your SOP, which needs to be answered.
  • Note down the word limit for SOP. A standard Statement of Purpose is a 2-page document with a word limit of 900-1000 words.
  • Avoid referring to other SOPs as they can influence your style of writing. Just go through the standard structure and prepare a rough draft. This prevents you from repeating the words and structure from other sources.

Requirements

  • Your CV (optional)
  • Microsoft Word (or any text editor)
  • Text to PDF converter (optional)
  • Grammarly and Hemingway editor (Optional)

Step by step Guide on how to write a Statement of Purpose for MS in US

Your SOP is your story, and no one can tell your story better than you. This guide should give you a proper framework with which you can build your story.

  • Go through your Curriculum Vitae (CV) for an idea of what you want to include in your SOP. If you have not prepared the document, complete your CV first. This will set you on the right track and show what key points can be highlighted in your SOP. This will also help you in contrasting the content of SOP from that of your CV.
  • Remember - all your academic information and qualifications have already been mentioned in your CV, you do not need to repeat them in your SOP.
  • Think about your aha-moment, the one that has motivated you to set foot on your current path and the incident that inspired you to pursue this degree.
  • Once you have enough information to get started, sit down and begin with your story. You must now breathe life and add emotions in your writing.
  • Get your marks cards and achievements to speak for you and tell the story behind them. Bring life to your writing. Engage in a deep thought process. Just let it flow, you can do the editing later.
  • Mention what has motivated you in opting for the particular course, and why that university specifically.
  • Have someone review your document, to get different perspectives and their feedback. Check for the below: (i) Is the essay coherent and easy to follow? (ii) Does it reflect your work and personality? (iii) Does it give the right spirit and motivation? Make changes to the document accordingly.
  • Go back to your SOP after a day or two and read through with fresh eyes. Add your insights and remove unnecessary details until you are satisfied with the tone and content of the document.
  • You can now look for SOP samples online. This is just to ensure that your document is on par with the standards. You may also choose to mention/omit something based on this. Be careful not to change content to the extent that your SOP loses its uniqueness.
  • If your university expects you to address specific questions, make sure that you have addressed every single part of the question. For example: What motivates you to study this particular subject? Why our university?
  • For the final editing, you can use free tools like Grammarly and Hemingway editor. Make sure that you don't exceed the word limit. This is essential and shows that you are professional about your work.
  • Lastly, use these tools on MS Word, if you haven't done this already (i) Justify (ii) Insert the header and footer.
  • Save this document as a PDF. This will instantly make your Statement of Purpose look far more professional.

Trivia

  • Writing an impressive Statement of Purpose takes time and some deep thinking. Make sure you have enough time to prepare, edit and proofread your SOP.
  • Admission committee will not spend more than a couple of minutes in reviewing your SOP, thanks to a barrage of applications that universities receive. Make it a unique and gripping document and a true reflection of yourself, to stand apart from other SOPs and grab their attention.
  • If you are planning to apply to multiple universities, you must give an impression that the SOP is written exclusively for each university. Modify the motivation and post-completion goal section of your SOP in congruence with each course and university. Do your homework and use your discretion to include/exclude pertinent details based on the university profile.
  • Different universities have different achievements, ranked for various subjects, accredited by multiple organizations. Including this in your SOP will give the impression that you have thorough knowledge on the background of the university.

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