Questions and Answers for Writing a Statement of Purpose
What is the
function of the statement of
You must demonstrate to the committee how your goals coincide
with what the program has to offer as well as how you will fit in
and how your qualifications will benefit the program. It is the
personal statement that communicates to the admissions committee
what it is about you which makes you stand out from the other
applicants. The more competitive the school, the larger the pool of
applicants with strong GPAs and GRE scores, the more important the
personal statement becomes in the selection process. Therefore it
is important to devote ample time to writing your statement.
important is the statement
of purpose in the application process?
In short, it is a very important piece of application materials.
Start working on it at least three weeks before the deadline for you
to sent your documents. Even if all the rest of your application is
perfect the carelessly written statement can spoil all your efforts.
Members of the admission committee will use it to determine what
kind of person you are and whether you are capable to be successful
in their PhD program, how well you are suited for that, how goal
oriented you are and many other things. Well-written statement can
greatly help you to get admitted even if you have average test
information should I include in
the statement of purpose?
Discuss your career goals, and how an advanced degree and this
program would help you get there. Include relevant experiences such
as research you have done and skills you have demonstrated.
Relevance is key, and doing your homework about graduate school
programs will help you determine relevancy. Ask some of these
questions... what degree programs does this school offer? What areas
of emphasis does it offer within that major? What license and
certificate preparation does the program provide? What original
research is being done by which faculty at this school? The answers
to these questions should help you decide to which schools and
programs you'll apply. This information should also be incorporated
into your statement of purpose. Only include your life story if it's
How exact should I be about the research field I would like to
People in the admission committee are looking for applicants
with determination, for those who know what they want to do in their
life and know why this university and this program will enable them
to reach their goals. If you have broad interests and experiences
you can state that you are still choosing the exact field for your
research, usually though it is better to state the area you are
especially interested in (it can be quite a broad area such as
experimental condensed matter physics or modeling of cellular
processes). Don't narrow you field to much though. Make sure that at
least 2-3 faculty members (4-6 is even better) are working in the
field you have emphasized. And remember (!!) you can always change
your mind after you have been admitted into the program, nobody will
force you to stick to the area of research you emphasized in your
Should I mention the faculty members who I want to work with?
It is highly advisable to mention faculty members who you might
be interested to work with. It is especially important if you have
already done some work similar to the research some of these
professors are now doing. If the professor you have mentioned is in
the admission committee this can also help. Also, do not hesitate to
contact these (and other) professors personally (via email). Ask
questions about their current and prospective research projects,
about the possibility to become members of they group if you get
admitted, about the department, you might want to attach your
statement of purpose and resume to the first letter you send them.
should the statement of purpose be?
Your statement of purpose should be about 1 to 1 1/2 pages
(500-600 words). Use normal margins and font 11 or 12, refrain from
using small fonts since they are hard to read. Generally, a shorter
statement of purpose that is clearly written is better than a longer
Can I use
the same statement of purpose for all universities which I apply to?
Mostly you will see advices that you need to write a separate
statement for each program. Ideally this might be the best, but
realistically you will not have time to do all the work it requires
well. So it is better to spend time writing one really good
statement and then for each university changing particular part of
the statement which emphasizes some aspects of particular programs
and mentions faculty members (usually it is one or two last
paragraphs of the statement). Do not sent completely identical
statements to all universities, mention the name of the university
in the text, it is fine to use "Your University", but you also need
to use the name of the university. Finally, make sure you send right
statement to the right university ;-).
read my statement of purpose?
Your audience is made up of faculty members who are experts in
their field. They want to know that you can think as much as what