In this article, we look at three statement of purpose examples and how to write the best one for you.
Keep reading to find out about the 7 essential things that should go into a statement of purpose and your 4-step guide to writing a winning statement.
Also, let’s see how a job cleaning out fish tanks led to a lifelong passion for marine biology for one grad school candidate!
Table of Contents
- What is a statement of purpose?
- The best statements of purpose for graduate school
- Statement of Purpose Example #1: Master’s in Biomedical Engineering
- Statement of Purpose Example #2: Master’s in Psychology
- Statement of Purpose Example #3: Master’s in Biology
- How to write your own statement of purpose?
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Related Articles
What is a statement of purpose?
A statement of purpose is an essay that summarizes an applicant’s qualifications, experience and past work in preparation for graduate studies.
It is used to explain the experiences and accomplishments that are most important for the applicant’s success as a student at their chosen institution. It gives the admissions team insight into your academic career, why you may be successful as a student at their institution, and why you want to go to graduate school.
The goal of this essay is to organize and present your academic journey to convince top institutions’ admissions committees that you are perfect for their program.
A statement of purpose typically answers questions such as: Why do you want to go to graduate school? How have you prepared for graduate studies? What field are you interested in studying and why?
The best statements of purpose for graduate school
The best statements of purpose for graduate school should contain the following elements:
1. Clear Goals
A clear goal explaining the specific reason why someone is applying to graduate school.
A strong goal for graduate school should be clearly stated, compelling, and unique. It should capture the reader’s attention and explain why the applicant is pursuing this particular degree or program.
A good statement of purpose will also outline what the applicant hopes to gain from their education or experience in graduate school, in other words, their long-term goals.
2. Well-Investigated Topic – what you want to study, and why
One example of a well-investigated topic for graduate school is my desire to study the relationship between cognitive development and media consumption.
The candidate’s essay begins by providing an example from their own life, such as, I have observed children’s cognitive development change over my lifetime due to increasing access to media.
The example then provides some general context on the topic by explaining that researchers have long been interested in this issue but there is still much more to learn about it.
Finally, this example details research questions that the author hopes to explore further if accepted into their chosen program, such as, at what point could media consumption negatively impact cognitive development in young children?
3. Relevance to Program
The statement of purpose is an essential component of any graduate school application, as it helps demonstrate why the applicant is a good fit for the program.
By writing about previous studies (undergraduate degree and other qualifications) candidates are showing that they are well-qualified and likely to be successful.
By including information about which professors they would be interested in working with, applicants can demonstrate that they have done their homework on that particular program’s research areas and are serious about committing themselves fully if accepted.
4. Skills and Qualifications
As we mentioned above, to be successful in graduate school, you will need to have a solid background in the field you are studying.
This includes previous coursework and any additional related work you have done. In addition, you need good communication skills and the ability to work independently in a graduate program.
It is also important to have strong analytical skills and an ability to think creatively when solving problems or developing new ideas as part of your research.
5. Demonstrated Passion
Passion is a strong enthusiasm or desire for something. In graduate school statements of purpose, it means you are passionate about your intended field of study.
An example statement of purpose demonstrating passion would be one that discusses how you became interested in your chosen field and how you plan on continuing your studies during graduate school.
It could also include examples of projects or internships you have done. They demonstrate why you might be a good fit for the program.
Finally, passion is important but you also need persistence and determination. It can take years of hard work before seeing results from your efforts so the board need to know you won’t give up.
An example experience statement for graduate school could be:
As a senior, I received a 4.0 in a graduate-level CFD course. My advanced coursework demonstrates my ability to thrive in a challenging academic environment. A graduate-level computational fluid dynamics course challenged me to improve my problem-solving abilities in attacking open-ended research problems.
My research experiences have developed my creativity, self-sufficiency and perseverance as I worked independently on digital data acquisition software for gamma spectroscopy projects.
For example, when the commercial software was insufficient for the project, I developed my own digital data acquisition software that enabled me to collect more accurate data than before.
Additionally, I have gained training in dealing with time constraints and large groups of people through volunteering for Campus Preview Weekend over the last three years.
This experience has prepared me well for success in a doctoral program where I will be required to oversee large groups of researchers while managing numerous projects simultaneously.
7. Supporting documents
Examples of references for graduate school applications include:
- Academic transcripts: These provide a record of your academic achievements and can include grades, class standings, honours or awards received.
- Coursework: Courses taken that are relevant to the program you are applying to should be included in your application. This includes any relevant coursework taken as an undergraduate or during master’s studies.
- Research experience: Extensive research experience will show the admissions committee that you have the ability to conduct high-quality research and potentially lead a future project or lab at their university.
- Internship/job experience: Any work experience related to your field of study can be beneficial when applying for graduate programs as it shows initiative and responsibility in previous positions.
Statement of Purpose Example #1: Master’s in Biomedical Engineering
The example statement of purpose for graduate school in biomedical engineering below is a compelling and effective statement of purpose.
It is written in the third person narrative style and focuses on the applicant’s background, interests, and goals.
It also highlights relevant academic achievements and research experience that will help them succeed in a Master’s program, explaining how pursuing an advanced degree will further their career goals and why the applicant is interested in this particular program:
I am applying for admission into the Master’s Program in Biomedical Engineering at Hertford University. Throughout my academic career, I have developed extensive knowledge about biomedical technologies through hands-on research projects across multiple disciplines, working with specialist teams in fields including chemistry, physics and computer science.
My goal is to become a successful entrepreneur by creating cutting-edge medical devices that improve patient care worldwide. To achieve this goal I need an advanced degree from a top-ranked university which offers world-class training in biomedical engineering.
My previous work experience as well as my volunteer activities have given me the foundation to develop my leadership skills which will be beneficial when running my own company.
Statement of Purpose Example #2: Master’s in Psychology
This is an example of a statement of purpose for graduate school in the field of psychology.
It provides relevant background information about the applicant’s education, experience, and accomplishments, as well as an outline of their future plans if they were to attend this program.
The writer also includes personal details relating to family challenges that explain their motivation for studying psychology and add context to their application.
My passion for the study of psychology began when I was just a child, watching my mother deal with severe anxiety and depression. Her struggles inspired me to learn more about mental health and develop ways to help others battling similar issues. Now, as an aspiring student in the field, I am eager to further my education so that I can one day become a therapist who specializes in treating trauma survivors.
My goal is to provide these individuals with compassionate care while helping them find comfort in their recovery process. My commitment to this cause has been demonstrated through my volunteer work at local shelters where, as a medical student and supervised by an experienced counsellor, I have provided emotional support and guidance for those seeking refuge from traumatic experiences.
I believe that earning my master’s degree from Connecticut University would give me the necessary skill set to embark on this career path while also providing me with access to cutting-edge research on trauma recovery.
Statement of Purpose Example #3: Master’s in Biology
This is an example of a statement of purpose for graduate school in the field of biology.
I am applying to Carnegie’s Master’s program in Biology with a focus on marine biology. My passion for marine life and desire to make a difference in the world inspired me to pursue this degree. As a young teenager, I had a Saturday job at our local aquarium and spent many hours scrubbing out fish tanks, before deciding on a future in marine biology. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I developed strong research skills that I plan on utilizing during my graduate studies.
My experience working as an intern at the Boston aquarium and research centre has given me valuable insight into the field and allowed me to develop relationships with key faculty members at Harvard. I learned many of the practicalities while supporting the team researching the giant pacific octopus, from designing separated tanks to collating feeding data. These connections will be essential in helping me succeed as a student and later on as a researcher.
Additionally, I have taken several courses related to marine biology which have helped prepare me for graduate-level work. Lastly, I am excited about this opportunity because it will allow me to further explore my interests while also providing an excellent foundation for future career opportunities in academia or marine biology industry-related fields such as marine conservation.
How to write your own statement of purpose?
Step 1: Do your homework
- Research the graduate program you are applying to and familiarize yourself with its mission, values and goals.
- Contact any potential mentors whose work interests you and try to form a direct connection with them so they can answer questions regarding your research interests.
- Look at example statements of purpose in similar fields to better understand the style and tone required.
Step 2: Consider your audience
- Understand your audience: When writing your statement of purpose, it is important to consider who will be reading your statement and what they are looking for in a candidate.
- Capture their attention: Start off by creating a hook that will capture the reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading.
- Explain your intentions: Clearly state why you are applying for this program or position, what you hope to gain from it, and how it fits into your long-term goals and career plans.
- Showcase relevant skills & experience from previous jobs, volunteer work, internships and extracurricular activities.
Step 3: Write a draft of your statement of purpose
- Set aside the time to prepare and write your statement of purpose. Give yourself at least a week to complete this task and start by writing the first draft.
- Make sure all materials needed for reference are readily available before writing including your academic transcripts and details of work experience.
- Make sure to print out and read any prompts provided by schools carefully so that you can follow formatting guidelines correctly when writing your draft statement of purpose.
Step 4: Proofread and edit – several times!
- Read your statement of purpose out loud to yourself and make corrections.
- Ask friends, colleagues, and professors to read your edited draft and ask for feedback before rewriting it.
- Proofread for grammar errors using a grammar checker.
- 4. Read through the statement one last time before submitting it.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some of these questions were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version
How can I format my statement of purpose for graduate school?
- Use Times New Roman font with 12-point size.
- Ensure that your document has 1-inch margins on all sides of it.
- Have 1.5 line spacing throughout the document for ease of reading and comprehension purposes.
- Make sure that there are no grammar or spelling errors in your statement of purpose.
- Use clear, succinct, and strong language without any repetitive language or clichés.
- Maintain a confident and positive tone..
What should I include in my statement of purpose for graduate school?
You should include:
- An introduction that clearly states your purpose and goal in applying to the program.
- A description of your academic background and accomplishments.
- Your current interests and research topics, as well as how they relate to the program.
- Why you are interested in pursuing this particular degree at this particular institution.
- How this degree will help further your career goals and aspirations.
- Any relevant work or volunteer experience related to academia or related fields.
How do I showcase my accomplishments in graduate school applications?
- Identify the strengths and priorities of your academic experience. Think about the courses you took, projects you worked on, research papers you wrote, extracurricular activities in which you have been involved, and any other experiences that highlight your strengths and interests.
- Highlight some of the most important accomplishments from this list and explain how they have helped you develop or strengthened your skills.
- Be sure to include details about each accomplishment such as when it occurred, who was involved and what specifically you achieved as a result of your efforts.
- Use examples from your past work to illustrate how well you can analyze data and present conclusions or insights from it in an effective way that is easy for others to understand and use for their own purposes (e.g., presentations).
How do I explain any weaknesses in my grad school application?
- Be self-aware and clear: Try to sound honest and objective when discussing your strengths and weaknesses.
- Mention special circumstances that may have led to compromises or delays in academic performance. Explain how these challenges have impacted you but keep it positive in order to show the committee that you are able to adapt when faced with difficult circumstances and the situation made you stronger and more resilient.
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