Admissions SOP

Statement of Purpose | 3 min read

Summary
• SOP (Statement of Purpose) should be compelling to the reader that you are fit in the program.
• SOP should be customized to every program that you apply to. At least, a certain paragraph should be tailored to the particular programs.
• SOP is different from PHS (Personal History Statement) that most University of California campuses require.


After data-driven factors such as GPA or GRE scores, the admission committee puts more emphasis on reviewing your SOP. It should convince the readers (in this case, the selected committee members) that you have the qualification, motivation, and goals to pursue your studies in their graduate program.

What admission committees are really looking for is a research statement. They want to know what research you have done, what research you hope to do, and why you like to research. The statement will be a deciding factor in decision-making since the committees want to ensure who will be likely to succeed in programs. The fact that Ph.D. students will get funded by advisors makes it more important to discern who’s fit for the program.

To appeal to the admission committees, the SOP should incorporate your research asset that outranked the peer candidates. Common mistakes that many applicants make is just listing up their research experience. What the admissions committee will read are your self-motivation, competence, potential as a graduate student. It’s important to realize that the research statement is not a commitment to do research in that area. It is more of your motivation letter to apply for the program

You should customize your SOP to every program that you apply to. You don’t have to start from scratch for each statement, but you should connect your research interests to the program you’re applying to. You should name professors with parallel interests who you would like to work with and use specific examples of their work to explain why. Use the below tips to write an SOP that stands out.

1) Think of the composition
In the introduction, tell them what you’re interested in and what inspired your interests to pursue graduate studies. Summarize your undergraduate or previous career. In the body, elaborate on your academic interests engaged with the faculty whose interests parallel yours in the programs. In the end, show your study objectives.

2) Elaborate on your research interests
You should demonstrate everything by example to give details and make everything linked with continuity; talk about your academic achievements such as research conducted, published papers, conference participations, and etc. Include anything relevant directly to your research, to show the committees that you’re qualified for the program.

3) Connect your research interests to programs
You should connect your research interests to the school you’re applying to. Name professors with parallel interests who you wish to work with and explain what appealed to you, how this program will help you succeed in your study objectives. Keep in mind that advisors will seek the future co-researcher in applicant’s statements, who can contribute to their ongoing or developing research.

4) Be concise and proofread
You should write a concise essay to the point as most programs limit 500-1,000 words. Describe the motive that has driven you to pursue the research and show them a strong reason that you are fit in this program. Don’t hesitate to ask for professors, friends with experience to read your draft. You can polish up your SOP with feedback. Once you’ve finished up your SOP, read it over time and proofread if there are any typos or grammatical errors.

*Depending on the graduate programs, it is required to submit a PHS (Personal History Statement). PHS is a document that should describe more about yourself on a personal level. It will be discussed in the continued article.


The Steps of Applying to Graduate Schools will be more discussed in the continued articles.

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