How to Write a Great
Statement of Purpose
McNair Scholars Program
University of California, Santa Barbara
Outreach, Recruitment and Retention
University of California, Irvine
Statement of Purpose vs. Personal Statement
vs. Diversity Statement
•Statement of Purpose- discusses your purpose for applying to graduate school as it relates to your academic/professional
•Personal Statement- discusses your personal background (not necessarily academic and professional)
•Diversity Statement- discusses the broader impact you and/or your research might have for underserved/diverse communities 2
What are the formal requirements?
• Some applications call for one statement, while others
require responses to a series of multiple questions.
Responses range from 250 to 750 (around 2pages)
words each. Always read the instructions carefully!
When in doubt, call the department or program for
• In general, a statement of purpose is about 1-2 singlespaced pages (standard font, 12pt, 1” margins). • Include your NAME and contact information on the
What is essential?
A discussion of your preparation and background
A statement of your area of interest
A statement regarding your research ambitions
Your reasons for wanting to undertake graduate
• A brief discussion of your future career goals
What makes it great?
Sets you apart from other applicants (without
• Speaks to your audience (the admissions committee)
• Establishes your voice
What should it do?
• Articulate a clear, realistic research purpose.
• Set you apart from other applicants.
• Demonstrate evidence of relevant experience and
• Convince committee of your fit and suitability to
the specific program to which you are applying.
• Convey your collegiality.
What are the component parts?
Research Experience/ Relevant Experience
Current Interests and Aspirations
Statement About Your “Fit” With the Program
Summary and/or Conclusion
A statement of who you are and where you are going.
– This is where you should foreground qualities that make you stand out from other applicants (unusual experiences, member of an underrepresented population, first generation to attend college, etc.)
Name the degree program, department, and school to which
you are applying.
– “I want to enter the Ph.D. Program in Chemical Engineering at UC Irvine….”
Discuss the genesis and evolution of your research (scholarly) interests: – What do you intend to study in graduate school and why?
– How did you get interested in your field?
– What is the tie-in between your inspiration and your current research interest? – What is it about your field of study that motivates you to pursue a graduate degree?
– Why is the Ph.D. your next (and only) logical step?
2. Research Experience and/or
• The lengthiest portion of your statement.
• Showcases your research or other relevant
• Illuminates your research goals.
• Demonstrates your fluency with the discourse of
Tips for Writing the Research/
Relevant Experience Section
• Discuss influences or inspirations in your development as a researcher (scholar).
• Is there a turning point or “ah-ha” moment when you realized you wanted to pursue this path?
• Do you have a summer research experience? Be sure to discuss it! • Is there a particular researcher or professor who inspired you to become a scholar?
• Explain how all of these research/relevant experiences are related to your current interests.
• Convey your understanding of the subject matter that you are interested in pursuing your graduate...
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