Writing a graduate school statement of purpose is tough, but we’re here to help! Review these statement of purpose examples and our expert tips to help you create your own effective essay and learn . The samples come from our own past students who got into multiple top graduate schools. Note that the students worked with our admissions experts as part of our programs to create these statements. We hope they will serve as a starting roadmap for you.
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Sample #1 (998 words)
“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.” I was 16 when I first read this quote by Mies van der Rohe, and, back then, I thought I really understood what it meant. Thinking of this quote one summer evening, as I walked around my beloved New York City, I was inspired to commit to a future in architecture. At that early stage, I cherished romantic ideals of designing grandiose buildings that would change a city; of adding my name to the list of architectural geniuses who had immortalized their vision of the world in concrete, steel, glass, and stone. It was in college that I became passionately interested in the theoretical design and engineering concepts that form the basis of architecture, while also exploring in greater detail the sociological and economic impact of architecture.
The true breakthrough for me took place in my sophomore year of college, when I was volunteering at The Bowery Mission, a women’s shelter situated in Queens, New York. The shelter was in a poorly ventilated building, with an essentially non-functioning air conditioning system. The little bit of relief for the people who stayed there was a small park nearby, a patch of green between suffocating buildings. One day when I was working the afternoon shift there in the peak of summer, I looked out to see bulldozers in the park. It was being torn up to make room for yet another building. I saw that completed building a year later – a grey block of steel that did not utilize any of the original park space. Witnessing this injustice, while learning every day about how climatology, materials technology, and engineering mechanics intersect with urban planning and architectural design, ignited a passion for sustainable design in me. [BeMo2] How can we, as architects, minimize our harm to communities and eco-systems? How can we design buildings with a view to sustain long-term energy and resource efficiency without sacrificing immediate economic viability? What are the eco-conscious solutions that architects can put forward to address the environmental changes of the 21st century? These were the questions that plagued me then and I have pursued the answers to these questions throughout my academic career so far.
I found the answers to some of these questions in the robust curriculum I pursued at ABC College of Architecture, New York. I took up advanced coursework in Engineering Mechanics, Surveying, Soil Mechanics, Steel Structures, Model Making etc. which helped me hone my technical skills. As my interest in sustainable architecture developed, I became curious about the social and anthropological impact of architecture. I studied Art History, African American Literature, Anthropology, and Cultures of Ancient Greece, which helped me develop a deeper understanding of the socio-ecological impact of architecture and ethical responsibilities of architects. With this strong background of academic exploration, my architectural philosophy continued to evolve. I became interested in cutting-edge design techniques and their application to sustainable design. In my junior year at college, I participated in the New Dimensions of Architecture conference held in New York City, presenting my own paper on “Analyzing the Implications of the Weiszman Design Theory for the Sustainable Architecture of the Future”. In fact, it was at this conference that I met Professor Richard Wright, the esteemed architect and professor emeritus at the Architecture department of XYZ University. Talking with him was one of the most enlightening moments of my life. We discussed our shared passion for ecologically efficient and socially cohesive architectural solutions, and he introduced me to the works of Leonard Nieman, Mary Andrews, and other cutting-edge green architecture firms that are making a real contribution to ecologically sustainable urban planning.
In fact, the possibility of learning from and working directly with Professor Wright is one of my main reasons to seek admission into your M.Arch program. His innovative design theories have a tremendous potential for sustainable architecture solutions. I would love to learn from him and collaborate with him to continue to explore my interest in these topics. I am also deeply interested in the scope of studies afforded by your wide-ranging curriculum that focuses on the latest architectural innovations as well as socio-economic evolutions in architecture. Moreover, for a budding green architect, nothing is more attractive than your quarterly line-up of seminars and conferences that frequently feature the names of the architects at the forefront of design innovation. With my strong academic background in both the technical and socio-economic aspects of architecture, and my focused passion on sustainable architectural solutions for the future, I think I am a perfect candidate for your master’s program. This education is exactly what I need to launch me into the next phase of my career, where I hope to gain experience at one of New York’s top green architecture firms, working on problems of low-budget housing, eco-friendly factory designs, and organic city planning. Eventually, I hope to specialize in sustainable, low-budget urban planning for socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
It’s funny to think how far I’ve come from my early romanticized ideals of what it meant to be an architect. Those sunset walks around New York city from my teenage years, surrounded by the works of Mies van der Rohe and Rem Koolhas, inspired in me an awe for the cultural power an architect can wield. It was an early lesson that a building can both represent and transform spaces. Today when I walk around my beloved city, what I see are the innumerable missed architectural opportunities to organically inhabit and improve any given space with sustainable design. And now, when I consider Mies van der Rohe’s famous quote, I no longer think of my own petty will or the limited scope of individual genius; I think of the will of an entire generation committed to saving our planet with teamwork, collaboration, and true passion, and how grateful I am to be a part of this generation of architects.
Why show, don't tell is the #1 rule for essay writing:
A statement of purpose is an essential part of your application for a graduate program. While your academic transcripts and letters of reference reveal your academic credentials, and your extracurriculars and show your professional capabilities, your statement of purpose gives you the chance to present yourself as a candidate in a more well-rounded and compelling way. This is your opportunity to make yourself stand out as an applicant! Your preparation for writing and completing the statement of purpose is not unlike your preparations with — you need to leave yourself an ample amount of time to ace it.
Of course, each school is different, and you need to make sure you have checked the specific requirements of your chosen institutions before you begin writing your statement. But no matter which school you’re applying to one thing is certain: a strong statement of purpose is crucial to your success!
What’s included in a graduate school statement of purpose?
The statement of purpose provides the admissions committee with a way of understanding more about you as an applicant on a deeper level. The statement of purpose gives them the opportunity to assess your suitability for their particular program and institution. Finding the right fit between an applicant and a graduate program is crucial for both parties, and your statement of purpose is your opportunity to explain to the admissions committee why you believe this graduate program is right for you.
With this in mind, it is important to use the statement of purpose as a way of showcasing what led you to the program in the first place, and what you hope to achieve if accepted. Here’s a quick list of what should be included in your grad school statement of purpose:
- Why you are pursuing a master’s or PhD
- Why you are interested in a field or a specific program
- How you have prepared yourself academically or professionally for a career in this field
- What you will contribute to the program
- Your future career goals and how the program will help you achieve them
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The key to great writing is great preparation. That is why you need to lay some groundwork before you even start drafting your statement of purpose. Here are the steps you need to take to prepare yourself.
#1 Set aside the time
Preparing and writing a statement of purpose is not a quick undertaking. Proper preparation is a commitment, and you need to make sure you are setting aside enough time to complete the steps below. Since the statement itself will also require several drafts before reaching its final form, always keep in mind that this is not something to leave to the last minute! Ideally, you should give yourself 6-8 weeks to write your statement. Do yourself a favor by getting started on your preparations as early as you can, leaving yourself plenty of time to write and re-write your statement afterwards.
#2 Research your school and program thoroughly
Whether you’re wondering or searching for the best for you, research is essential. Visit the school’s website and pay close attention to any mission statements or explicit values that are stated. Visit the pages dedicated to your department and program of choice to glean clues regarding their academic culture. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the research specialties of the faculty members. Make note of any faculty members whose research interests align with yours, as they could potentially serve as a supervisor or mentor. Be sure to learn how to write a , too!
#3 Brainstorm how and why you would fit into the school and program
It’s not enough to want to attend a particular school just because of their good reputation or nice location. While learning about the school, its faculty, and your program of choice, you should be constantly reflecting upon how and why you would fit in as a member of that community. Think about what you can contribute to the school, or master’s program, and how the program will help you achieve your career goals. These reflections will prove crucially important when you write your statement.
#4 Contact any potential mentors
If you have discovered a faculty member whose work sounds intriguing to you, reach out to them to introduce yourself and your own research interests. Forming a direct connection with a faculty member could significantly boost your candidacy, especially if the faculty member is willing to consider playing a supervisory role in your work or write you a . A faculty member will also be able to answer any questions you may have about your common research interests, and how you could explore those further within the program.
Here's a quick guide on what to include in your graduate school statement of purpose
#5 Make a list of any requirements for your statement of purpose
As noted above, every school is different, and each program is unique. Make sure you understand the specifics of what they are looking for in a statement of purpose, e.g. length, emphasis, any required formatting guidelines. The more closely you follow their guidelines, the less prone you will be to making errors in terms of structure or formatting. Many graduate schools will provide prompts to make your writing process easier. Make sure to read the prompt carefully. While these tend to be very open-ended, they can provide clues as to what the admissions committee expects to see in your statement.
The essay prompts may ask you to share something the admissions committee should know or provide you with an opportunity to explain any gaps in your application. If you want to know , this is where you can discuss the circumstances of your below average grade and what you’ve done to improve yourself.
If you are in doubt about what the school expects from your statement of purpose, ask for clarification from an appropriate authority at the school. Remember that each institution’s website and admissions office is there to help clear up any uncertainty you may have about deadlines and requirements. Seek clarification if you are not sure about something.
#6 Get your materials in order before you write
Before you begin writing, you need to make sure you have everything you need for your reference close at hand. Make sure you have copies of your academic transcripts and your within easy reach, to help jog your memory about specific courses or achievements you wish to include in your statement of purpose. You might also wish to keep nearby any useful information you have about the program and its faculty, for quick reference when you need it.
#7 Make some outline notes
Sitting and staring at a blank page can be a little intimidating. That’s why having some useful notes can make writing the actual statement much easier! Go over your reference materials and make a short list of which experiences and achievements you would especially like to highlight in your statement. Ideally, include 1 to 3 experiences that are relevant, impactful and important to you. Note down specific examples for achievements you want to highlight. Make sure you have a clear, specific answer for WHY you are pursuing a graduate degree. The better your prep notes are, the more straightforward writing your statement will be.
After researching the program, you have an idea of their mission and culture. Think of your accomplishments and strengths in relation to what you know about the school. Do they value research? Share some of your research experiences or accomplishments from your . Does the program tout the importance of community? Discuss any community service you have participated in and what you’ve learned from those experiences.
A strong statement of purpose should include the following elements in the main body of the text:
Statement of Purpose Content Examples
We will now take a look at each of these four elements in greater depth below, with some useful examples.
Focused Interest in the Field
Your statement of purpose also allows you to share your focused interest in the field of your choosing. In thinking about your intellectual and research interests, consider including some of the following elements:
- Problems of interest in the field that you find exciting or compelling. Introducing the contemporary problems of interest in your field of choice and why you find them intriguing is a great way of showing the admissions committee that you are familiar with the discussions in your field, and that you are fully ready to contribute to helping address those problems and issues in your own work and studies.
- Potential area of interest/research question you would like to pursue. A strong applicant knows what their purpose is, and that purpose is most clearly expressed in sharing the area of interest or research question that you wish to pursue in your studies. Let the admissions committee know what you would like to learn more about, and as ever, why. Share the paths you might wish to explore further shows the committee that are you in tune with your own intellectual curiosity and eager for opportunities to dig a little deeper. Your statement will be especially memorable if you can name a faculty member whose research interests reflect your own.
- Your perspectives and intellectual influences. If you have ever encountered a teacher or scholar that has shaped your perspectives and influenced your intellectual pursuits, feel free to mention them. If there is a particular faculty member whose work you admire at the school you are applying to, then that’s a bonus!
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Academic & Professional Preparation
Your academic and professional preparation can take many forms, and that is why it is important to think carefully about the ways in which your path has given you the tools needed to succeed in the program of your choice. But note that the statement of purpose is not meant to be a recitation of your CV. Instead, the statement of purpose should be a narrative about why you took the steps you did and how it brought you to graduate school. Some examples that might apply include:
- Previous jobs, internships, or volunteering. If you gained any valuable and relevant volunteer or work experience, mention it! For example, an applicant for a public health program might mention how volunteering at a soup kitchen inspired her interest in the relationship between food insecurity and poor health outcomes in marginalized communities. You can let the admissions committee know about any relevant technical skills you’ve gained through these experiences, too.
- Research. If you already have some exposure to undertaking research projects of your own or if you have helped as an assistant on someone else’s project, sharing what you have learned from such experiences could make an excellent addition to your statement. Research experiences assure an admissions committee that you are ready to perform the necessary intellectual labor a graduate program demands. Also be sure to mention the important skills you have developed through completing research tasks! Such skills may include multi-tasking, finding and synthesizing relevant information, strengthening your communication skills through writing reports, or developing greater attention to detail.
- Teaching Assistantships. Just like the research assistantships mentioned above, a teaching assistantship that helped you gain valuable exposure to your field of choice and/or helped you to develop your mentorship skills may be worth mentioning in your statement. A teaching assistantship is valuable work experience and shows that you know how to be a team player in an academic community. Skills you could highlight from such experiences include: effective communication with others, working collaboratively with others (such as faculty and other TAs), mentorship abilities, and the ability to adapt to different learning styles.
- Relevant degrees, courses, and conferences. Single out specific courses or degrees you have taken and any conferences you may have attended or presented at that relate to your current research interests. As ever, take some time to reflect on why certain courses or conferences have proved formative for you. For example, you could discuss the importance of the specialized knowledge you gained in a course, or the public speaking skills you developed through presenting at a conference.
Career Goals and Plans
A statement of purpose can showcase not only your past achievements and current plans, but also your goals for the future. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what you want to do after graduating, but including these goals can show the committee that you are capable of long-term planning, and that you are eager to put what you learn in the program to good use afterwards. You can use the part about career plans to address some of the following:
- Roles you might like to pursue. If you have a very specific job in mind as your dream job, you can discuss that and explain what makes it an ideal position for you. For example, is it the institution, the location, or the mission of the job/position that attracts you? Alternatively, you can discuss what kind of role you are hoping to have even if you don’t know exactly where you will end up yet. For example, you can explain how this .
- Transferable Skills. Discuss what skills you hope to gain through taking the program, and how those skills could help you in whatever academic or professional career path you pursue after graduation. For example, you could discuss how your research projects strengthened your writing and communication skills, or how balancing your coursework and lab work taught you to manage time effectively. Don’t overlook the importance of “soft” skills: conferences can develop your public speaking skills, while group projects can make you a team player.
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Addressing setbacks or gaps
Every applicant has strengths and weaknesses, and a statement of purpose is your chance to show the committee that you are self-aware enough to know what your own weaknesses and setbacks are. In discussing these, keep in mind the following:
- Be self-aware and clear. Try to sound honest and objective instead of boastful or defensive when discussing your strengths and weaknesses. Your statement will be even stronger if you include ideas or plans for improvement for any weaknesses you may have. Proving to the committee that you have the capacity for self-growth will strengthen your candidacy, and will also assure them of your intellectual and personal maturity.
- Explain how you have improved your weaknesses or tackled setbacks. Include specific examples, when discussing a weakness, focusing on how you have improved: “I noticed that I struggled with time management during one of my undergraduate courses, and so I developed the habit of planning out work schedules for all of my tasks in advance in order to meet all of my deadlines.”
- Mention any special circumstances that may have led to compromises or delays in your academic performance. If your academic performance has been affected by something that has occurred in your life, you can explain the impact that these challenges have had upon you. Emphasize your ability to adapt and grow by explaining how you overcame these setbacks and what you have learned from them. Your resilience and adaptability will boost your candidacy by showing that you are able to overcome challenges.
When you are ready to write, take a moment to review the length requirements. A statement of purpose is typically between 500 to 1,000 words long, which means that you must make a special effort to convey as much meaningful information about yourself as you can within this relatively small word limit.
The statement of purpose should usually have four main sections, but you can avoid explicitly separating the four sections and opt for the more natural flow of a letter instead. If, however, your program explicitly asks for a certain format, be sure to give them what they ask for!
Structuring your statement
A strong statement of purpose is one that has a clear structure. You need to ensure that the information is laid out in a way that makes it easy for the reader to follow. A well-organized statement keeps the reader engaged!
The structure of a statement of purpose should follow the general structure of an academic essay:
In order to avoid some of the most common pitfalls when writing your statement of purpose, review the following list of Do’s and Don’ts to make sure your statement is the best it can be:
When you think your statement is as good as it can possibly be, run it by a second set of eyes. This can be a trusted friend or teacher, or you can get professional feedback from a . Take a moment to check over the following checklist before submitting:
- Have you made sure your statement meets the requirements specified by the school/program? Is it the right length, in the proper format, and does it include any specific information they may have asked for? Does it answer the prompt?
- Has your statement gone through several drafts? If the answer is “no”, stop what you’re doing and commit yourself to rewriting your statement. Remember that a strong statement is one that has gone through several drafts, getting stronger and more effective each time! If the answer is “yes”, ask yourself, “Is this the best my statement can possibly be?” If in doubt, ask for more feedback.
- Do you provide examples for every claim you make? Check over your statement for instances where you claim to have an ability or experience. Have you provided clear and specific examples to back up your claims?
- Does your statement tell a compelling story? Carefully read over your statement to get a sense of the narrative you have crafted for your reader. Is it a compelling narrative, or have you lapsed into just listing random items from your CV? Make sure your statement is telling a story that gives context for who you are, not just a list of things you’ve done.
- Have you proofread your statement? Even when you’re absolutely sure your statement is in top form, you need to proofread your statement several times to make sure that all typos and grammatical errors have been eliminated. Take breaks after each time you proofread. This way, you will be looking at your statement with fresh eyes every time you read it. You should also take some time to make sure the statement is well-organized and has a proper “flow” in terms of both structure and style. If you’re looking at , you can get a to look over your essay!
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Sample #2 (984 words)
When I was 12 years old, my sister suffered a traumatic car accident that left her with PTSD, depression, and severe anxiety. Our parents did not really understand the impact of what she was going through and as a family, we never talked about it much, though we all could witness her pain. So, through my teen years, I watched as a beloved family member struggled with her mental health. Though I did my best to support her through the worst times and assist her in getting professional help, there were still many moments when I felt powerless and clueless in the face of her suffering. This challenging experience set me on the path to pursuing clinical psychology as a career. I wanted to question, dissect, analyze, and hopefully, understand, this mysterious phenomenon that had dominated my life for so long. Through my academic study of psychology and personal experience of my sister’s PTSD, I found that I was particularly interested in clinical psychology with relation to adolescent populations.
From the age of 16 to 21, I worked as a volunteer at an after-school care program for children and teens from disadvantaged backgrounds. While there, I met numerous young people, who had faced starvation, neglect, abuse, and violence, from a very young age, and who needed help to cope with the long-term effects of those early experiences. Working with these kids, helping them through events that might be unimaginable for most adults, further sharpened my interest in how trauma influences the development of generalized anxiety disorders and panic disorders, and in particular, the pre-existing conditions and underlying risk factors for suicide in adolescents with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. This is the topic I hope to continue to explore as a Master’s student in the Clinical Psychology program of your university. Thanks to my personal and first-hand experiences with the effects of trauma, I think I can bring a unique perspective to the study of long-term PTSD in adolescents.
Though my core interest in clinical psychology and the effects of trauma started as deeply personal, my scholarly curiosity and intellectual proficiency led me to academic explorations of this subject from a young age. While in high school, I took up Intro to Psychology classes from my local community college and completed a Peer Youth Counselling certificate course from the Ryerson Center for Mental Health. This academic exploration confirmed my desire to study psychology in college, and my coursework through my undergrad years focused on building a broad portfolio of the key areas of psychology, including Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology and Behavioral Science, Industrial Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and more. I also took up courses in Biology, Physiology, and Neuroscience to better understand the physical pathologies of adolescent trauma. I believe this thorough grounding in the biological aspects of developmental psychopathology will help me to address the sorely needed requirement for cross-disciplinary research into effective treatment programs for trauma survivors.
Throughout my undergraduate education, I gained research experience that helped me develop the skills and knowledge I need for my clinical psychology graduate studies. For my last two years of undergrad, I worked with Drs. Rebecca Brown, Tyler Baker, and Gary Wolf at the Guntherson Memorial Lab at ABC University, on their studies into the development of substance abuse in adolescents suffering from PTSD. As a research assistant my responsibilities included conducting literature searches, data collection, data entry, supervision of study participants, preparation of research documents, and drafting of participant assessment packets. Thanks to this experience, I was able to develop my valuable observational and data analysis skills and learn more about critical aspects of clinical research such as programming computer tests, investigating study measures, forming hypotheses, supervising participants, and more. I also enrolled in Dr. Brown’s senior level research class and through my final two years of undergrad, I published four research papers on a variety of clinical psychology topics, including a paper on “Depression, Anxiety, and Traumatic Amnesia in Adolescent Survivors of CSA” that was published in the New England Psychology Journal’s June 20XX year issue.
What attracted me to the clinical psychology master’s program at XYZ University was the strong emphasis on diversity in the classroom and cultural context in the curriculum which aligns with my ambition to gain a holistic, socially conscious understanding of trauma manifestations in vulnerable populations. Moreover, your program offers the chance for students to complete two research projects in the world-class research facilities associated with the XYZ University, allowing me to develop and perfect my research skills in the most appropriate environment. I hope to complete these projects under the supervision of your faculty members, Dr. Sally Hendrix and Dr. Mirian Forster, widely considered two of the most brilliant, forward-thinking minds in trauma research today. Their work on the endocrinological risks of anxiety development in adolescents and development of abnormal psychology in CSA survivors is particularly pertinent to my own research interests. With my background in clinical research, my first-hand experience of the effects of trauma, and my deep devotion to and understanding of the pathological effects of adolescent PTSD, I think I can bring a lot to your next master’s cohort.
Through all the clinical experiences and academic knowledge I gained in the last few years, my interest in the questions of trauma, anxiety, and depression continue to be deeply personal. Though my sister survived her teenage years, she continues to live with anxiety and symptoms of PTSD that she doesn’t fully understand. There is still so much about human psychology that we simply don’t know, and I hope to address that gap a little by using the training and education I gain at your university to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology in the future. By seeking the answers to the questions of how trauma can warp an adolescent brain and what we can do to try and manage it, I hope to shed light on an under-represented area of psychology that sorely needs our attention.
Sample #3 (893 words)
During the first year of my undergraduate degree, I took a small course entitled “Third World Development” taught by three rather radical and lively professors from Trinidad, Chile, and Lebanon, respectively. This course, despite its passé title, existed to deconstruct our notions of ‘otherness’ by illustrating the deep connectedness of issues, people, and nations. This theme of ‘connectedness’ is threaded through my research and work history under various labels and theories. My undergraduate research was dedicated to understanding the ways and means of political participation for women in remote Northeast India. I became curious about the role of women as informal politicians within their small collectives where survival literally hinges on connectivity. My time in observation of these women opened me to the idea that health and wellness can emerge from places facing serious food insecurity, poor shelter, corruption, and long distances from the center of national power. The extent to which women could draw upon their collective power and roles as givers of care in order to lobby local governments and participate legitimately in the polity was the very definition of their empowerment.
During my graduate work at [x] University, public health approaches to vulnerable populations were of particular interest to me. It became clear, during my fieldwork with care providers for women who sell sex and do high-risk drugs in downtown East side, that vulnerable populations around the world often have more in common with each other than with the ‘dominant’ or non-excluded populations. My research led to my questions about the role of social capital, defined in this case as a public good comprised of relationships and networks, in leading to better health outcomes amongst highly marginalized urban women. The mechanisms through which both groups of women, in Northeast India and downtown Vancouver, became able to rely on or reject peers, givers of aid or care, and the social and political systems in which they were enmeshed, are very similar. I have witnessed how health outcomes can be a partial function of connectedness for women on the periphery.
Public health has proven the best venue through which I can search for explicit, concrete evidence that individual and population welfare can be socially determined, by access to and power to make choices regarding housing, education, employment, income, political participation, nutrition, and transportation. I see the centrality of connectedness, to institutions and peers, to the processes that enable an individual to access, choose, and influence. My current work as a policy analyst with the Public Health Agency within the Strategic Initiatives and Innovations Directorate is focused largely on reducing health inequalities by mobilizing action on particular social determinants of health. While this work is important and generally on point, I suspect that the United States and Canada may benefit from exploring the micro-level ‘enablers’ of change with respect to the social determinants of health. These enablers, including social networks as a form of social capital, are sometimes lumped, and incorrectly so, with the more tangible determinants, such as housing and nutrition. I see these enablers as characteristics of favorable environments in which health can be positively affected: in families, neighborhoods, schools, communities, etc.
My proposed dissertation research would fall into the broader goals of studying the social mechanisms by which parental social connections impact the eating behavior of their children as well as the way in which these mechanisms may vary across local neighborhoods. My particular interest is the potentially causal nexus between maternal social networks, neighborhood environments, and the transmission of eating behaviors to children. In effect, my role would be to help operationalize maternal adversity and identify potential moderators on the effects of maternal adversity on obesity and eating behaviors of children.
I am drawn to [X] University School of Kinesiology and Health Studies specifically due to Dr. Spencer Moore’s background in medical anthropology and current work with social network analytic techniques. The application of network theory analytical techniques will be a new endeavor for me, but I am attracted to the study of populations that are not necessarily bound by their geography but by common circumstances, such as maternal adversity, and, potentially, common health effects related to obesity and food behaviors. I want to understand the links between the nature and degree of ties between low-income women and how these ties affect norms related to obesity and food.
The School of Kinesiology and Health Studies is an excellent institution that is well-equipped to support new graduate students interested in innovative ways to explore social challenges. It is here that Dr. Moore is developing an important critical mass surrounding this way of examining social networks as enablers of obesity and food behavior outcomes among marginalized women and their young children.
My prior individual research experiences were qualitative in nature, relying on grounded theory and warranted assertion analysis techniques common to sociological research. I have experience as a research assistant on a larger project studying large, linked quantitative databases of provincial health and corrections data in my home state. Also, I have a sufficient course work history in statistics and epidemiology to be able to make the leap to more advanced quantitative techniques, given access to graduate courses on the subject. Social network analysis is a fascinating way of quantifying social capital and social networks and I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to study these methods and methodologies under Dr. Moore.
Sample #4 (993 words)
As a child of Bangladeshi refugees who fled from war, famine, death, and other horrors I myself have never had to face, I was always attracted to the hidden facts behind the grand narratives of history; the little stories of small people who didn’t leave an impact on major world events but lived, breathed, and worshipped just the same. My parents left everything behind in Bangladesh – their papers, property, lands, family, and friends. It was an erasure of not only their personal history but the history of generations who came before them. As I grew up, I became passionately interested in the history of my ancestors, perhaps as a way of making sense of my own experiences as a second-generation immigrant. I remember how once in grade school, we had to prepare a “family tree” project with the names and photos of our parents, grandparents, and so on. My mother started crying when I asked her for these details and photos; it was a traumatic reminder of all she had lost. I consider this genealogical tree my first history project, as I combed through the internet using the meagre information my mother gave me to supplement my bare project board with a few details. The internet wasn’t very helpful and, needless to say, I proved unsuccessful in finding any information. But it fueled a passion in me for finding out all about where I had come from, and from there, I developed my interest in the social, cultural, military, and economic history of south-east Asia.
I pursued this interest all the way to college, majoring in history with a minor in anthropology, and it was in my undergrad years that my general interest in the history of south-east Asia crystallized into an interest in the politics of historical interpretation, especially in regard to women in pre-modern south-east Asia. The history of women’s spaces, especially under patriarchal regimes, fascinates me; how oral traditions develop to combat lack of literacy, how their social roles shift and change in response to military and economic developments, and finally, how these historical changes constitute the present. Specifically, I am deeply interested in how women’s spaces evolved as a result of colonial influences in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I credit a wide range of authors, thinkers, and historians with molding my interests and refining my analysis. The latest papers by BW Anandya, Wazir Jahan Karim, and N Choi about the pathways to religious and political power for women in southeast Asia, profoundly opened up my mind to the possibilities for what we can learn from primary resources about these “lost” populations of history. On the other hand, the philosophical and sociological theories of Edward Said, Gayatri Chakrovorti Spivak, and Homi Bhabha provide the philosophical framework for how I approach my writing.
I have always followed my intellectual curiosity to take on challenging coursework and build a solid academic foundation for my intended pursuit of historical research. Apart from completing the most intensive coursework pertaining to Asian history studies in my department, I also took courses in British History, Postcolonialism, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies, so as to round out my understanding of the key topics related to my area of interest. My professor also allowed me to complete independent studies and research projects in selected areas of my interest such as African American history in Canada and History of Hebrew Scriptures. The study of such diverse historical topics helped to provide greater context to my primary area of interest; I found many interesting parallels between the experiences of oppressed populations in different parts of the world. Three of my papers were published in our university’s academic magazine, and I presented my paper on “Development of Oral Traditions in Women’s Spaces” at the Annual National History Symposium in X year.
In my junior year, I got the chance to write an independent research paper about the historical figure of Savitri Bai Phule, analyzing her community ties from 1920 to 1935, within the framework of Spivak’s concept of “strategic essentialism” and cross-cultural solidarity. This was a major milestone for me as I got the chance to work on my main area of interest while using primary resources on loan from University of Mumbai, including Savitri Bai Phule’s journals, historical Times of India newspapers, and more.
I would love to continue my research into these and other unexplored histories of women in south-east Asia as part of the master’s program at your university. With my personal background, academic proficiency, and focused historical interests, I think I represent an ideal candidate for ABC University. I look forward to working in an environment that encourages diversity, forward-thinking research, and cutting-edge investigative techniques. Your rigorous curriculum will help me refine my understanding of historical investigation methods and expand my consciousness of the cross-cultural socio-economic influences in pre-modern women’s spaces. As an aspiring PhD candidate, I would love to get the chance to tap into ABC University’s extensive network of primary resources, subject matter experts, and trailbreakers. I am very excited to work with Dr. Nina Gupta from the History of Southeast Asia department. I am in communication with her about her findings on historical distortion and its intersection with political agendas in colonial Southeast Asia, as it directly impacts the research I’d like to do. In fact, her encouragement and support motivated me to apply to your master’s program!
My next big goal is to pursue a PhD, also from your university, under Nina Gupta’s supervision. Through my master’s education, I plan to work towards developing my expertise in Southeast Asian women’s studies and making myself an asset for your PhD program. One day, I hope I can become a professor at a top university such as yours, so that I can continue my research into the rich and untapped veins of history just waiting to be investigated and pass on my love for the subject to interested young minds.
Sample #5 (899 words)
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave to me, very early on, was a keen sense of just how unique my childhood was. Though by no means a position of high stature, my mother’s clerking post at the American consulate in Cairo provided us with an immense array of benefits, and those that impacted me most were, unsurprisingly, the plethora of cultural institutions a short walk away from our home. Whether the Coptic, Luxor, or the Grand Egyptian, the first thing I wanted to do each afternoon after getting out of school was to zoom into the cool air of a museum. Even at a young age, I was aware of the complexity of being a light-skinned American kid wandering through these halls, gazing at artifacts of a civilization that far preceded the origins of what I understood to be “western” civilizations. How did I end up here? What was the nature of my relationship to this rich and vast culture that both fascinated me and exacerbated my feelings of being somewhat alien in its midst?
This intersection of cultural and political analysis expanded as I got older and began to unpack the complicated colonial forces that played a part in both early and contemporary Egyptology. As I matured as a student, I became able to articulate questions that had hitherto lived as abstract uneasiness in my head. Curators and guides of many Egyptian museums were reluctant at first to really open up about the pervasive presence of English and North American archaeologists in the 19th century's antiquarian boom, but I was fortunate to have longstanding relationships with many such officials, both through my own wanderings and my parents' work.
As I began to ask more pointed questions and gained the ability to explore museum records on my own, I became overwhelmed by how drastically the Egyptian archaeological "industry" had been shaped by British colonialism, and how this resulted in a still-developing tension between international exhibition and the local or indigenous preservation of civilizational artifacts. My undergraduate work in anthropology has sought to develop a number of theses in this regard, most importantly the need for efforts of artifact repatriation and return from the British Museum as a step toward more complete reconciliation after centuries of extraction.
Throughout my undergraduate research with Professor X at [undergraduate university], I sought to utilize careful historiographical analysis to better support repatriation efforts popularized by former Egyptian antiquities minister Dr. Y. These efforts helped mobilize the X museum in Boston to return a priceless bust of Prince Ankhhaf under Dr. Y’s insistence, which was not only one of the most satisfying moments in my academic career so far but of my life overall.
In addition to the historiographic focus of my work, I’m keen to shift into the present politics around artifact repatriation and reclamation of physical heritage, specifically relating to how contemporary North African political struggles utilize cultural and anthropological discourses. Professor Z’s work in this realm has been hugely influential and inspiring to me, and were I to be admitted to your PhD program it would be an incredible honor to assist her ongoing research in contemporary cultural discourse in Egyptian and Islamic political movements.
I was fortunate to be selected for the American University in Cairo’s Presidential Internship program in 2019, just after graduating. Returning to Cairo for the first time since I was 13 years old was incredible but bittersweet in some ways. The lens through which I observed many of the institutions I’d mythologized as a child was far more critical, and I realized that my graduate work would necessarily be inflected by this added layer of complexity and disillusionment. If admitted to this PhD program in anthropology, I would seek to capitalize on this personal experience. I think it’s incumbent upon people who have lived in anthropological intersections like this—in my case specifically as an unwitting addition to longstanding “Western” colonial presence in North Africa—to produce academic work that illuminates the political and cultural tensions that they’ve hitherto experienced as largely subjective phenomena.
To this end, I propose utilizing modeling techniques common to digital-archaeological projects in Egyptological studies to support a more culturally-focused analysis of the flow of expropriation during the heyday of colonial extraction in the early 20th century. I believe that object-oriented models of provenance can be utilized to support analysis of ongoing repatriation discourse. This would build on Professor X’s work mentioned above, providing more graphic and tangible insights into emancipatory nationalist and post-nationalist movements in contemporary Egypt and North Africa in general.
If admitted to ______'s graduate program, I would not only seek to contribute to the program's ongoing scholarship as a student, but would hope to continue working collaboratively with the department once I move into independent scholarship and teaching following graduation. I feel especially passionate about forming long-term relationships with faculty given the scarcity of nuanced scholarship that addresses the intersections of anthropology, political science, and archaeology in Egyptological studies. Teaching and research have guided every step of my journey so far, and I know without a doubt that this is my path forward as well. As such, I would seek to serve as a paragon not only of ________’s interdisciplinarity and intellectual inventiveness to my future students, but to continue to be a productive and prominent member of _____’s research cohort no matter where I end up teaching.
Sample #6 (859 words)
My road to mechanical engineering began with my dad unceremoniously kicking me out of the kitchen. By the time I was in kindergarten, I couldn’t resist rummaging through my family’s cupboards, trying to find something to take apart and rebuild it. This became a running joke in my family that, rather than knives or other sharp objects, I had to be kept away from screwdrivers, lest I end up taking the whole house apart. This all changed when I discovered desktop computers, and specifically GPUs, which I found endlessly fascinating in their ability to be easily disassembled and modified.
Although my free time during high school was indeed spend huddled over computer hardware much the way my childhood was, I became interested in the capabilities of redirecting the work capacity of hardware, and in particular the ability to reorganize the way hardware acceleration can be optimized to assist in Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) tasks in manufacturing. During my undergraduate work at X University, I developed an interest in machine learning while working on Dr. Cheboygan’s ongoing research in augmenting GPU software to better optimize their performance in general-purpose computations. In both my senior thesis and independent study blocks, Dr. and I studied a number of potential workarounds for latency bottlenecks relating to DDR5 infrastructure.
This phase of my research cemented my desire to continue on with both machine learning and CAE, and it’s precisely around these points that I’d like to develop my MSc thesis. Specifically, I want to build on the considerable research on GPU acceleration I undertook during my BS in order to further expand upon shifts in both manufacturing and product design. As abstract as this work has been in many ways, its end result would be to streamline workflows for product engineers that will greatly speed up the process of dealing with intractable problems relating to bottlenecking by physics computations.
I’m motivated to address sophisticated problems like this for a fairly non-academic reason. Throughout the last two years, I’ve participated in organization drives with X organization, my region’s largest manufacturing union. Admittedly, I came to this work with quite personal motivations, having seen my mother’s engineering positions often under attack by naïve or even ignorant efforts to automate various aspects of product design. My work with this union sought to argue, from a scientific perspective, the need to improve both software and hardware using human-supervised machine learning and not wholesale robotic automation. Rather than downsizing and eliminating human positions in the manufacturing process, I offered data to union leadership that showed how a minimal investment in technological upgrades at the level of product implementation could preserve job security for product engineers and implementation supervisors while vastly speeding up the manufacturing process to deliver an increased output of nearly 80% in some cases.
This was immeasurably satisfying, and although not every negotiation was a success, I was able to contribute something unique to a class of workers who I felt had suffered under an outmoded and overly aggressive model of automation for nearly 20 years. In short, I would like to pursue graduate work in mechanical engineering at Z University because I think my work can have an overwhelmingly positive impact in aspects of labor tensions relating to instrumentation and automation. I think that through careful work in machine learning and deep learning, we can target specific aspects of the manufacturing process that have proven to be flashpoints of conflict between engineers and administrators.
The department's emphasis on teaching throughout the graduate program is also a huge draw for me. I tutored privately throughout my undergraduate years, and volunteered at my school's learning center to help students not only with introductory engineering courses but also calculus and linear algebra. Reconnecting to this passion for high-level mathematics, I would seek to work with Dr. Muskegon and Dr. Flint to both participate in and utilize their research in computational methods to clarify the mathematical dimension of my proposed thesis. Dr. Muskegon’s recent publications in the International Journal of Computer Theory and Engineering are especially relevant to this work, as I believe my course of study would benefit greatly by implementing her utilization of novel approaches to principal component analysis.
Lastly, on a simpler note, I’ve always been drawn to the West Coast, and would love to explore the wilder, mountainous areas North of Vancouver during my free time. Growing up in the flatlands of the Midwest seeded a very strong desire for the “big landscape” areas of Western Canada, and I can think of no better compliment to the abstract and small-scale work I’d be undertaking in the mechanical engineering program than to spend my free weekends hiking and camping in places like Coquitlam mountain Which is to say, simply, that I believe UBC is an ideal location for my next phase of scholarship not only because of its academic innovation and integrity, but because its surrounding environment is both beautiful and inspirational. I would arrive and continue to be an enthusiastic and incredibly engaged student in UBC’s MSc program, and I would be honored to assist in the incredible work being undertaken by both faculty and fellow graduate students alike.
Sample #7 (808 words)
Not many students seek to spend their gap year surrounded by the choking aroma of sulfur, but I will readily admit to being just such a student. After 4 years spent in a blur of library lighting and research, I found myself in desperate need of immersion into both Soto zen Buddhism and Japanese culture more generally. So, after some careful planning, I spent 4 months last year working in an onsen in Fukui, spending my 1 day off each week wandering around the shrines interspersed between Echizen and Kyoto and generally trying to soak up every bit of soto history I could.
My real wish was granted near the end of my time in Fukui, when I was accepted for a 1-week sesshin at Eiheiji castle. This was the fulfillment of a desire I’d stoked throughout my BA work in Asian studies at X University. Throughout my research, I’d devoted considerable time to analyzing concepts of time in extended religious ritual, and at Eiheiji, I was able to not only observe this in action but to experience it directly as well. My personal relationship to zen was not especially developed prior to this point, but after just the first step through Eihiji’s main gate, I felt something shift in me, and knew that I wanted to dedicate my academic career to exploring not just zen but soto ontology specifically.
To this end, my dissertation with the religious studies department would seek to utilize ongoing scholarship by professor Farmington in discussions of temporal dilation and dissolution in religious ritual. At Eihiji, and in sesshin settings specifically, there are numerous conceptualizations of time that are at odds with typical monastic linearity, and I believe incorporating a more careful analysis of temporal augmentation is key to unpacking the metaphysics of both sesshin and “intensive” events in other traditions as well. I may feel a personal connection to much of what I’ve studied and written about so far, but I feel an even stronger dedication to exegesis of religious ritual experience for the sake of furthering philosophical and theological discussion across traditions.
My abiding love for Soto zen is a key motivator in this project, but I come to this study earnestly and with academic rigor. Interfaith dialogue has been a constant part of my life outside of academia. Throughout high school I volunteered a great deal of time with both Saint Sophia Orthodox church and Bharatiya Hindu temple in [hometown]. This provided not only opportunities to engage in beneficial community projects, but also myriad opportunities to discuss theological and doctrinal matters with people outside my own religious practice. These activities, much like my enthralling experiences in Fukui, clarified and concentrated my desire to pursue high-level scholarship in religious studies.
Your program will allow me to pursue interdisciplinary studies that will touch upon more than just community interfaith dialogue. My early undergraduate years heavily focused on Western philosophy, and specifically German idealism. Dr. Huron’s work in examining influxes of hermeticism and esotericism in general in this tradition is incredibly fascinating to me, and while my thesis doesn’t directly touch on it, I am quite curious about potential intersections of Western esoteric ritual and Soto Zen ritual, specifically their descriptions of atemporal experience. Indiana university’s overarching emphasis on collaborative work, and especially the religious studies department’s similar commitment to intersectional and comparative analysis, is a massive draw for me. Although Northwestern’s Asian studies department boasted a number of interdisciplinary and cross-specialty working groups, the offerings at IU are significantly more numerous and broader in scope, and I would be honored to participate in the East Asian epistemology working group especially. The paper I presented at last year’s International Conference on Buddhist Philosophical Studies centered on epistemological contradiction in Yunmen’s koans, and I think there’s a great deal of room in my proposed project to explore theories of knowledge in relation to the discussions of ritual temporality and chronology.
While I certainly found aspects of my time working in an onsen exhausting, the difficulty of the work and communication therein was a challenge I greatly enjoyed. I would bring this newly enhanced sense of dedication and discipline to graduate studies at[BeMo3] Indiana university, and, gratefully, be able to formalize an ongoing academic project that’s deeply connected to the religious and cultural experiences I had during this time as well. I feel profoundly ready, in other words—ready for both advanced scholarship and the semi-monastic lifestyle that best supports this work. My week at Eiheiji was transformative in a few ways, but perhaps the most unexpected of which was the way it showed me what I already knew about myself from a clarified or even purified perspective, and I know without a doubt that the zeal I felt bloom within me is inextricable from continuing along the path toward doctoral research and eventually teaching.
Note how the following personal statement is truly personal and after reading this statement you feel like you know this applicant already. They also leave you feeling a lot of emotions. Both warm and sad. And that's good. You want to create some sort of emotion in the admissions committee members that read your personal statement.
A statement of purpose is a chance to tell the story of your life. Your statement is not only a celebration of your triumphs, but also a true reflection on the challenges and struggles you have faced. Remember, you cannot victimize yourself in the essay. Rather than simply talking about your difficulties, make sure to emphasize how you overcame them. Create a captivating narrative of how events in your life led to this moment - your decision to apply to grad school.
1. What is the goal of a graduate school statement of purpose?
A graduate school statement of purpose tells the admissions committee more about you as an applicant. A strong statement of purpose offers a compelling narrative about your interests, abilities, and experiences, to show the committee that you are a strong applicant and the right fit for their institution and graduate program.
2. How long is a typical grad school statement of purpose?
A graduate school statement of purpose usually ranges between 500 and 1,000 words in length. Be sure to check the specific requirements stated by the program as you prepare to apply.
3. What steps should I take before writing a grad school statement of purpose?
Set aside plenty of time for preparation so that you are not doing anything at the last minute. Research your institution and program of choice carefully to get a better sense of its values and academic culture. Brainstorm how and why you would make a good fit for the school and program of your choice. Contact any potential mentors amongst the academic faculty to discuss your research interests with them. Make a list of any requirements your program specifies for your statement of purpose. If you have any questions, be sure to ask the appropriate authority at the school for clarification. Before you start writing, make sure you have all of the materials you may need for reference close at hand, such as your academic transcripts. Make some notes outlining what you would like to include in your statement to help guide you as you write.
4. How should my graduate school statement be structured?
A graduate school statement of purpose should contain an introduction, a main body based on 2 or 3 experiences, and a conclusion. Your statement should be clearly written and well-organized to help the reader follow the flow of your narrative.
5. What should my graduate school statement of purpose include?
A statement of purpose should include four main elements: your research interests in your chosen field, your academic and professional preparation, your strengths and weaknesses, and your career plans. You need to give specific examples for each of these main elements, and to explain what you have learned from every experience you mention.
6. What are the Do’s and Don’ts of a grad school statement of purpose?
In writing your statement of purpose, you need to commit to writing several drafts to make sure your statement is as strong as it can be. You should ask for feedback from trusted academic mentors or professional consultants to ensure that your statement is effective and compelling. You also need to carefully proofread your work multiple times before submission.
You must never plagiarize your statement of purpose. Avoid using clichés and tired phrasing to keep your writing original and fresh. It is also important to favor clarity over artfulness, so be sure to avoid using overly-fancy language so that the focus is always on the substance of what you’re saying. Also avoid technical or overly specialized language unless absolutely necessary, and be sure to define any technical or specialized terms that you must use.
7. What do I need to do before submitting my statement of purpose for graduate school?
Before you submit your statement of purpose, take some time to review your statement in its final form to make sure it is the best version it can possibly be. Make sure you have followed all of the requirements in terms of length and formatting as specified by the school. Ask yourself if you have rewritten the statement several times, and if you truly believe it does not require another draft.
Check to make sure you are providing compelling examples for every claim you make regarding your experiences or abilities. Read your statement over again and make sure it is a narrative that gives the reader interesting details and context, not just a list of your achievements to date. Finally, make sure you have proofread your statement and eliminated any typos or grammatical errors that would distract your reader.
8. How can I make sure my graduate school statement of purpose is as impactful as possible?
Your own research and ability to write concisely and clearly will be important in making your statement strong. Firstly, give yourself enough time for multiple drafts. Trust us when we say that your statement will need to be written and rewritten multiple times - it's inevitable. Secondly, be selective with the experiences you choose to include in your statement. It is more important to show rather than tell how you would be a great addition to the program. Being selective about your experiences will allow you room to go into detail and demonstrate to the admissions committee how your experiences make you the perfect fit.
Remember, if you are feeling overwhelmed, you can always research or consultants that can help you polish your statement and avoid wasting another year on applications. If you are considering whether , make sure to read up on the of our past students.
9. How do you write a statement of purpose for graduate school?
A good statement of purpose for graduate school will include why you want to study at the graduate level, why you are interested in a particular field and what you have done to prepare yourself for graduate study and your future career. It may also share your future career goals and how a program will help you achieve those goals. An effective statement will be clear, well-written and have a narrative flow that captures the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting to learn more about you.
10. How do you write a good hook for a graduate school statement of purpose?
An effective graduate school statement of purpose needs to hook the reader in the first sentence. Try to think of a specific experience or anecdote you can introduce to the reader in a creative and compelling way to open your essay. Continue building your narrative based on 1-3 experiences which shaped your desire to go to grad school or enter a specific career field.