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Let’s say that you have found the perfect graduate program for you. Now all that is left to do is to convince them you are a perfect match for the school as well. Graduate schools require serious commitment which is why besides the usual application materials like transcripts, CV, and recommendation letters, they also require you to write something far more personal such as a statement of purpose. But what is a grad school statement of purpose anyway? Why is it important? How long should a statement of purpose be? Read on to learn how to write a statement of purpose that best highlights your academic strengths, impresses the admissions committee, and increases your chances of getting into the grad school of your dreams.

What Is a Grad School Statement of Purpose?

A grad school statement of purpose, also known as a letter of intent or a research statement, is an essay or written statement that is intended to show the admissions committee who you are, why you are a good candidate for their school, what your goals and plans for the future are, and why you want to achieve them in this specific grad school.

How Long Should a Statement of Purpose Be?

Certain schools give specific details about how your statement of purpose should be in their application. For example, they set the minimum and maximum of the number of words, the spacing it should have, and so on. However, in case the school does not provide any of the aforementioned details, then there is a general statement of purpose format you can use. A statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1000 words, with about five paragraphs containing 150-200 words each.

What Are Universities Looking for in a Statement of Purpose?

The main thing universities look for in statements of purpose is to know what you want to study and why. They use the information you give about your background, the academic records you provide, the research you have done, and personal interests to determine whether you are actually interested in what their department offers and if you would be a good fit for their school.

Your background

Whether it be grad school, PhD, or a master’s statement of purpose, one of the first things universities look for is the applicant’s background. The committee is interested to know about the point in your life when you decided you want to study in the field of your choice, how you encountered the program you are applying to, and why you chose it. Providing background information as to why you are interested in attending a university’s program, is a great way to connect with the admission committee members and to convince them that you are passionate about the program they offer.

Your academic records

Universities also look closely at the applicant’s academic records because they reflect the student’s academic career and achievements. Each school has its own scale by which they judge a good academic record, however, have in mind that it is more than just about your grades. Admission committees will also be looking at the types of classes you have attended, and how they relate to the program you are applying to.

Your research and professional interests

Another thing universities consider closely are the research projects you have conducted, and any resulting publications you might have. Be precise with explaining your professional interests, such as the professional goals you have and skills you are hoping to gain if given the chance to join the school.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose?

You should always strive to be unique with your statement of purpose, to show the committee what you can offer that most students can not. However, the process of writing the statement is similar for most students. Below you have a step-by-step guide on how you should approach writing your statement of purpose.

Brainstorm your ideas

Begin by brainstorming ideas. At this stage quantity beats quality, therefore do not worry if the ideas you have do not sound great right away. Simply, write down anything that comes to your mind, and later on, you can pick and choose the best ones.

Be selective of the details you’ll include 

Think about the details you want to include, such as the sentence you will use as a hook and the background information you will share to pique the committee’s curiosity and interest in you. Try to avoid using clichés so as not to appear uncreative or lazy.

Write an outline

Creating an outline will help you to better organize your ideas. The outline will also help you manage your time better. Instead of having to go through reading everything again, one glance at the outline will let you know what is done and what you still need to work on.

Finish your first draft

Based on the outline, compose your first draft. Have in mind that at this stage, the writing is just a rough sketch of what the final piece will look like, so do not be harsh on yourself. It will all get better once you continue with the next step.

Edit and revise your draft

At this stage, you edit and revise your first draft. This is the part where you pay attention to every single detail, from potential grammatical errors to word and sentence choice. While editing you have to reread your writing many times to ensure that your ideas are clear and there are no mistakes.

Ask for feedback

While finalizing your statement of purpose, it is essential that you get feedback from other people. Through the feedback you receive, you can see whether there are any mistakes you might have overlooked. 


Once you have the feedback, you can edit and revise again until you are happy with the finished product.

Extra Tips on Writing a Statement of Purpose

Here are a few additional tips to help you write the perfect statement of purpose. 

Show do not tell

The admissions committee will read between the lines of your statement and interpret the sort of person you are and the potential you have. Do not express your good qualities simply by mentioning adjectives, but rather show them with examples of when you displayed those qualities, and let the committee come to the conclusion that you are a hardworking person, persistent, and so on. Be attentive to every word and sentence you write, and always consider how it can be interpreted by others.

Be positive

Have a positive perspective throughout the essay to indicate your excitement to join the school and your willingness to tackle any future challenges.

Use active voice

Always write in an active voice, to emphasize yourself rather than the events that have happened to you.

Mention the challenges you overcame

Explain anything important that happened to you and caused a change in your academic career or affected your grades. Whether it be sickness, poverty, or work overload, make sure that you mention it and show them how you overcame that challenge.


The statement of purpose can be the factor that makes the difference in whether you get accepted into the school of your choice. It is the piece that says the most about you as a person, your accomplishments, the hopes and dreams you have for your career. So those are our tips for how you should tackle writing your statement of purpose. By following them, you will be a step closer to the school of your dreams.



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