The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has over 7,000 students enrolled in its various graduate programs, and MIT graduate school statement of purpose examples were key to helping these students succeed. The MIT graduate school statement of purpose, along with any other Ivy League grad school statement of purpose should outline how you are a perfect match for the program, and vice-versa, how the program can help you achieve your goals during and beyond graduate school. While MIT is known primarily as a STEM school, there are various non-STEM, as well as interdisciplinary programs available at the Master’s or PhD level, which this article will highlight along with more traditional science and engineering programs. 

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10 min read

What to Include in your MIT Graduate School Statement of Purpose 1. Master of Science Real Estate Development (MSRED) 2. PhD Aeronautics and Astronautics 3. PhD in Political Science FAQs

What to Include in your MIT Graduate School Statement of Purpose

The school makes no secret of what you should write about in your MIT graduate school statement of purpose. It advises all applicants to be as direct as possible by answering questions such as:

  • What kind of researcher are you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What have you learned thus far?
  • How do your achievements and goals make you a good match for the program?

These are general guidelines for writing your graduate school statement of purpose, but they can also apply to writing a personal statement for a PhD scholarship or a PhD motivation letter. But, excellent statements of purpose must also mention specific aspects of the school and program that interest you. After you have talked about yourself and your goals and achievements, you should mention something about the program that draws you, so your audience can see that you are familiar with the school’s offerings.

MIT faculty members and current graduate students read your statement of purpose, but having a ready audience should motivate you to infuse your statement with style and verve. Why? Because writing in a unique style or voice is one way to be remembered. MIT graduate school admissions committees read hundreds of statements every year from qualified applicants like you, and while they may have similar backgrounds, test scores, and research experience, the one thing that they do not have is your voice.

Not every statement of purpose has to look the same. You can also divide the statement into specific sections and use various headings to separate paragraphs with specific information such as, your biography, research interests, work and research experience. Breaking up long paragraphs into smaller sections make the work an easier read, which admissions committee members will notice, and perhaps, thank you for.

1. Master of Science Real Estate Development (MSRED)

This program began in the early 80s as the real estate market in the US and Canada saw housing affordability plummet. Eager to prepare students to enter this volatile market, MIT combined several disciplines (economics, real estate, business administration) and created its larger Real Estate program (a PhD in Real Estate is also available). The program receives between 80 and 150 applicants per year.

Up to 30% of applicants are admitted into the program and they have a high success rate following graduation as MIT prides itself on professional development and industry partnerships to show students how to transition from academia to industry. Graduates of this program have entered diverse fields such as finance, wealth management, real estate development, and construction. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree is also typical of how MIT succeeds in bringing together various fields to tackle problems of a universal nature, in this case, solving the housing crisis.

MIT Graduate School Statement of Purpose Example #1

The Researcher I Am

I’m the kind of researcher that thinks more research is the best way to spend a weekend. I’m the kind of researcher that barters an extra two hours at the library with kayaking on the Charles River to make my partner happy. I’m the kind researcher that has had to learn there is more to life than uncovering the fineries of Massachusetts state tax and inheritance laws in the 1980s. Research is an all-consuming passion for me, and it is only thanks to my wonderful friends and family that I have learned to step away from it and live life.

I think what drives me is the purpose of research, which to me, feels like shining a light into dark corners that hold vast potential for change. And I wasn’t always like this. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, I never wanted to stay in academia. My Economics professors were distinguished and revered, but their expertise had become their whole life. One particular professor, an expert on political economy and Marxist economics, was famous in this world, but lived a solitary life, whether by design or not, I never found out, but it was not something I wanted for myself.

What Motivates Me

What motivates me is putting a roof over everyone and giving them a place to sleep at night, and those motivations became only more acute after I started a family. What motivates me is the complexity of real estate and the various fields and disciplines that must be mastered in some way to fully understand how to tackle the affordable housing crisis not only in Massachusetts, but worldwide. After I graduated, I decided to become a real estate agent as a way to secure my future.

Ironically, it was this time spent as a real estate agent in Boston that guided me toward MIT. The brokerage house I worked for had a lot of young professional couples, and I remember one couple, David and Jesse, who were both accomplished Harvard graduates and professionals. However, despite their qualifications and determination, they faced constant disappointment as they were consistently outbid by other buyers. Witnessing the frustration and emotional toll this process took on David and Jesse, especially knowing that Jesse was pregnant at the time, was heart-wrenching.

Why I Want to Enter the MSRED Program

I want to join the MSRED program at MIT because of the “City Making” curriculum created by the program director, Professor Kairos Shen. I admire the vision and ambition behind the name. The more I researched the course curriculum, the more I realized that my desire to create lasting solutions to solve the housing affordability crisis could only be shaped and refined by the expertise of faculty members like Professor Shen.

Through my pursuit of a Master of Science in Real Estate and Development at MIT, I aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex factors influencing housing affordability. I am driven to explore how urban planning, policy interventions, and sustainable development practices can foster more equitable and affordable housing opportunities for all.

My Goals and Research Interests

My long-term vision is to actively participate in the decision-making processes that shape urban development and housing policies in Boston. I am driven by a deep desire to contribute to my community and make a positive impact on the lives of its residents. I see myself eventually serving on a city planning board, a redevelopment agency, or even running for political office. These positions would grant me the opportunity to influence policies and drive meaningful change in the realm of real estate development and affordable housing.

2. PhD Aeronautics and Astronautics

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) is a highly technical program that requires all doctoral students to perform original research dedicated to the advancement of how people fly. AeroAstro is nearly as old as MIT and was one of the first aerospace engineering programs to be offered in the United States. The department has 16 different specialities and offers both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in fields ranging from Aerospace Engineering and Air-Breathing Propulsion to Humans in Aerospace and Space Systems.

MIT Graduate School Statement of Purpose Example #2

When my instructor hit Ignition, I felt the roar of the turbofan engine resonate throughout my body. I was sitting in a real F-16 next to one of the most powerful aircraft engines in the world but it felt as gentle as a full-body massage. That comforting feeling did not last long. As soon as we were airborne, my instructor pulled the throttle back and took us to over 500MPH in less than a second. Feeling that overwhelming force on my body made me wonder how fragile the human body is in flight and whether it is possible to reduce or mitigate these effects.

Flying has always been a passion of mine. I decided to enroll in the US Naval Academy because of this passion, as I would be given the opportunity to fly the best fighter jets in the world, but also become educated on how these jets work. I completed my degree in Electrical Engineering and then started flight school at Edwards Air Force base. I loved my time in the Air Force but after my service commitment ended, I wasn’t sure whether to become a commissioned officer or not.

The questions inspired by my first flight in an F-16 still interested me. During my pilot training, I was introduced to the Auto-GCAS (Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System), which intrigued me with its advanced technology and algorithms, and most importantly, its autonomy to detect and respond to various ground collision situations. This software has saved lives and it inspired me to contribute to the advancement of space exploration by developing intelligent systems and technologies that enhance the safety and efficiency of long-duration space flights.

I was honorably discharged from the Air Force and pursued my goals for developing advanced safety systems for space flight at the University of Colorado, where I enrolled in the Master of Science in Space Engineering program. During this time, I embarked on a research project to design a similar system tailored for spacecraft. One of the courses that greatly contributed to my research and understanding of space engineering was "Spacecraft Dynamics and Control". This course provided a comprehensive exploration of the principles and techniques involved in the dynamics and control of spacecraft, including orbital mechanics, attitude determination, and control systems.

I conducted research to develop a system that could autonomously detect and respond to potential collision risks during space missions, and completed my theses on the topic of human-system integration based on the NASA Task Load Index (TLX) assessment tool. My experience in the Master of Science in Space Engineering program at the University of Colorado enhanced my technical skills but was only the first step in developing novel systems that minimize the reliance on mechanical processes and instead leverage the remarkable capabilities of the human mind.

I am particularly drawn to the AeroAstro department at MIT due to its outstanding reputation in aerospace research, here I would like to refer specifically to Professor Katya Arquilla, who has already made several advances in this field. It is her guidance and experience that I feel would best help me understand the intricacies of human cognition and its potential for efficient decision-making and adaptation to revolutionize the design and operation of future aerospace systems. 

3. PhD in Political Science

This degree program at MIT is not among the easiest PhD programs to get into but it offers a doctoral degree in six distinct fields, which all require the submission of both an MIT graduate school statement of purpose and an MIT supplemental essay no longer than 500 words. The six fields include:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Models and Methods
  • Political Economy
  • Security Studies

The program is one of the few that still require the GRE and all applicants are expected to submit their latest scores. Applicants must also submit three graduate school letters of recommendation, their official transcripts and TOEFL or other English-equivalency test scores as proof of English language proficiency.

MIT Graduate School Statement of Purpose Example #3

My pursuit of a PhD in Political Science at MIT is driven by my desire to explore the intricate dynamics of the modern Greek economy and its significance as a test case for the collapse of the neo-liberal globalization movement. The distinguished faculty at MIT, including Devin Caughey, Volha Charnysh, and Mariya Grinberg, offer invaluable expertise and research that aligns with my research interests.

The works of Devin Caughey on political parties, Volha Charnysh's research on nationalism and xenophobia, and Mariya Grinberg's analysis of political violence provide a solid foundation for my exploration of the Greek context. Their research offers theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches that can guide me in comprehending the multifaceted aspects of the Greek economy and its political repercussions.

Of particular interest to me is the interplay between the economic collapse and the rise of xenophobia and right-wing hate groups in Greece. Mariya Grinberg's work on political violence resonates deeply with my research focus. I aim to examine how economic distress and political instability have created fertile ground for the emergence of right-wing extremist ideologies, as exemplified by the notorious Golden Dawn party in Greece. Understanding the sociopolitical dynamics of these movements is crucial in addressing the complex challenges that arise from their ascendance.

By studying the Greek case, I wish to shed light on the broader implications for the global political landscape. The collapse of the neo-liberal globalization movement and the subsequent rise of right-wing extremism have far-reaching consequences beyond Greece. It is essential to discern the underlying factors and mechanisms at play, and to propose effective strategies to counteract the spread of hate and xenophobia.

The expertise of the faculty at MIT, including their in-depth knowledge of political institutions, comparative politics, and quantitative analysis, will provide me with the necessary guidance and mentorship to pursue a comprehensive understanding of the Greek economy and its political ramifications. Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of the MIT community, with its strong ties to other departments and research centers, offers a conducive environment for collaborative engagement.

I am eager to embark on this scholarly journey at MIT's PhD program in Political Science. With the guidance of distinguished faculty like Devin Caughey, Volha Charnysh, and Mariya Grinberg, I am confident that I will acquire the necessary tools and knowledge to analyze the collapse of the neo-liberal globalization movement through the lens of the modern Greek economy. This research endeavor will contribute to our understanding of the challenges posed by right-wing extremism and pave the way for meaningful policy interventions on a global scale.


1. What is an MIT graduate school statement of purpose?

An MIT graduate school statement of purpose is a necessary document for how to get into grad school at MIT, which outlines your research interests for the Master or doctoral program you are applying to. The MIT graduate school statement of purpose needs to clearly tie your research fields with the faculty and research being done at MIT. 

2. What is the difference between an MIT graduate school statement of purpose and a personal statement?

An MIT graduate school statement of purpose is different from a personal statement, because the latter asks for personal details and important events on your journey to entering grad school, whereas a statement of purpose showcases what you know about your subject, what you plan to research at MIT and how this research will contribute to the larger scholarship about your field. 

3. Do all the programs at MIT require an MIT graduate school statement of purpose?

A majority of programs do, yes. A statement of purpose aka grad school statement of intent is a typical feature of all graduate school applications, regardless of the country or university. 

4. What is the difference between a statement of purpose and a grad school career goals statement?

The difference between these two documents is that the statement of purpose deals with the time you plan to invest at the school, while a career goals statement looks at your perceived future post-graduation. There is a slight overlap between the two, but a statement of purpose is more focused on your research goals, rather than your career goals. 

5. How long should my MIT graduate school statement of purpose be?

There are no specific formatting rules for the MIT graduate school statement of purpose, but typically, statements of purpose should correspond to their program’s stated word count, which often run between 500 to 750 words or more. 

6. Who can help me with my statement of purpose?

You can ask for help from several different sources, but you should ultimately write the statement yourself, as it should be a genuine reflection of your research goals and desires. You can ask for help from your thesis advisor or former faculty member. You can also try hiring PhD admissions consultant who may guide you on what to write by reading and revising the various drafts of your statement. 

7. Why does MIT ask for an MIT graduate school statement of purpose?

MIT asks for a statement of purpose from all grad school applicants because it wants to determine whether the applicant’s academic record, and research history have anything to do with the program’s offerings and research agenda, and whether the candidate will be a good fit for the program. 

8. Do I have to write a MIT graduate school statement of purpose?

For a majority of the Master and PhD programs offered by the MIT graduate school, yes, you must write and submit a statement of purpose that is similar to answering the question of “why do you want to do a PhD?” 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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