Writing a statement of purpose for grad school


Normally the purpose of this document is to convince the admissions committee that you are the applicant who should be chosen. You should show that you have all the abilities and motivation to succeed in the field of your study. In order to succeed you should make your statement of purpose (SOP) unforgettable. To make it unforgettable you will have to make it as individual as possible, so that the reader immediately recollects what you have written once your name is mentioned.


Before writing SOP


  • Define your goals and aspirations;
  • Make them clear and logical;
  • Articulate your research interest;
  • Research! Research! Research to choose the right program and school;
  • Find out about the school and program as much as possible.


Determine the right content of your statement.


In most schools they give detailed instructions and ask you questions to be answered in the SOP. Make sure to analyze each question and fully answer all of them. As in any academic essay, usually your SOP should consist of - Introduction or opening part, main part, and closing part or conclusion.


In the opening part you should introduce yourself and define your general interest in graduate studies. Moreover, you also should prove that graduate school (GS) is important for you. Remember that it is crucial to make impressive beginning to make people who will read your statement to proceed and get interested in your candidacy!


Main part should cover most of the following points:


  • Interests in the chosen field of study;
  • Your motivations and inspirations;
  • Relevance of your undergraduate major to the research topic in graduate school;
  • Your specific professional experience that inspired you to go for grad school;
  • Any other relevant information that depicts your personal traits, which will help you to succeed in GS;
  • Few sentences about your background which probably formed your decision to go for grad school;


In the closing part you should leave the reader with the strong impression that you are the one to be chosen. You should prove that you possess enough knowledge, skills, and qualities to be successful in graduate studies. Show the reader that you are mature and prepared for advanced academic schoolwork. Make sure to make a link to the introduction of the letter and keep the unifying theme of the entire SOP. You should also show that you match both to the school and the program.


Do make your SOP personalized by means of demonstrating your personal approach and your attitude towards graduate studies. Mention what you can offer the program in return. Use positive writing style and appropriate vocabulary. Do not try to invent something; be honest. Detail, specificity, and concrete examples will make your essay distinctive and interesting.


Make sure your SOP is:

  • Objective, but self-revelatory;
  • Honest;
  • Coherent;
  • Clear, concise, and complete;
  • Well-organized and easy to read.


Remember that in most cases your SOP should be no longer than 2 pages, (unless program or school has its own restrictions.) Do not try to use those document formatting tricks like narrowing the margins or using too small font size. 10, 11 or 12 font size is fine; 1 inch margins, single or 1,5 spacing. If you cannot put your SOP in 2 pages document, consider revising without formatting tricks, failure to be concise while forming your ideas indicates lack of critical thinking skills.


After you finished your SOP:


  • Read it out loud several times and make sure you like the way it sounds;
  • Spell check and proof read;
  • Ask faculty member, career counselor, someone from the family, friend or colleague - someone you really trust and respect to check it for you.


Do not forget that SOP is the most important part of the application process. This document is the only one that you have a total control over!


Make sure to attend workshop on "SOP for Grad School" organized by the CC.


Useful links:




American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028