I wrote it over 5 years ago, so I definitely cringe at a few things now, but hey, it got the job done and I am still rather proud of it.
|The author of the example SOP in this post, that is, me 5 years ago ;)|
At the end of this post, I have pasted my statement of purpose as I had submitted it.
A statement of purpose is about telling the school what you want to do there while backing it up with things you have already done.
Good news is the majority of the document is describing things you have already done.
This is important as it demonstrates why you are a good candidate.
As shown below, I talk about my goals and aspirations while describing my activities in college.
Splitting the document into sections and assigning appropriate headings to each section tells the reader quickly what to expect and what is in the document.
In the first section, I briefly mention who I am and what my goals are.
I mention my short-term as well as my long-term goal right in the beginning.
I go over my goals again at the end of the document.
I talk about my college experience making sure to mention part-time, on-campus positions I held as well as service and leadership roles I played.
These make me well-rounded outside of the classroom and lab.
I worked on three research projects in undergrad.
I wrote about each of these in its own section.
These research experiences and the associated letters of recommendation were the strongest part of my application.
Successfully completing a Ph.D. requires one to be a strong researcher.
Demonstrating that you already are a strong researcher goes a long way and helps to offset less strong parts of the application such as grades or the GRE.
Under each research section, I specify the length of time I worked on that project.
I also point out special responsibilities I undertook such as being the Lab Safety Officer.
While describing the research it is very important to be able to succinctly state the problem you were trying to solve and the approach you took.
My research sections demonstrated, both in their heading and body, that I was a well-rounded researcher.
This was consistent with me saying that I was flexible and open to different research opportunities in the department.
It is totally OK to be less flexible as well but in that case, it is better to first make sure that your research interest will be supported in the program.
This would involve contacting professors whose research you are interested in and making sure that they will support your application.
Let me know any questions or concerns in the comments below!