SOP Format

They say that if perfection is to be achieved, it is always better to follow a tried-and-tested method; after all, your grandma’s recipes will always be better than anything you find in cookbooks. Similarly, your grad-school Statement of Purpose too can be perfected through a formula that ensures both a smooth flow and proper readability. What is this formula, and how can you incorporate it on your own Statement of Purpose? That's just what you're about to find out!

An ideal SOP should be divided into 5 paragraphs, each comprising roughly 225-250 words. Each paragraph plays a significant role in making your Statement of Purpose a work of art! Here's a guideline of what each paragraph should convey!

Para 1: Introduction and Statement of Ambitions

A powerful introductory paragraph must contain two things: a good ‘hook’, and a general statement of your goals and ambitions. A good ‘hook’ is the key to catching your readers’ attention and keeping them engaged: a good way to do this, is to begin with a quote that is pertinent to your dreams, or with a story of how you discovered your zeal for your subject. Maybe you credit a great professor in your undergrad program with kindling your interest, or maybe there’s a fascinating story behind it. For instance, I know of someone who wrote her Statement of Purpose on how looking at the completely automated driverless metro in Dubai captivated her interest, opening up her mind to the possibilities unlocked by automation and how it could transform our lives in the next ten years. She further supported her statement by stating that it was this led her to discover her penchant for semiconductor devices and their electrical behavior. It’s no surprise that her Statement of Purpose won her a Ph.D. admit with a full scholarship to Cornell University! Additionally, it is important for your Statement of Purpose to make a brief comment on your dreams for the future, and what you want to accomplish after your Master's degree. Now, take a look at a great introductory paragraph that exemplifies all these qualities:
“I have never questioned the role played by advancing computer technology in the development of the modern world. But it wasn’t until I attended an international conference on Automation in 2016 and witnessed the various advanced topics being discussed there, did I realize the incredible pace at which technology has been evolving. I learnt how robotics and automation technologies are poised to create a more significant impact on our lives than ever before. Though I was intimidated by these advancements at first, I soon acquired a strong interest in working with automation systems. I am now keen to build a skill-set in these advanced areas through a Master's degree in robotics to effectively use Control Systems, Robotics, and Automation as tools to contribute to their further development and progress.”

Para 2 and 3: Academic and Career Details

In this paragraph, you can expand on your college life, including the subjects you enjoyed, and those that you excelled in. Any senior year thesis or capstone project can also be mentioned here. If you possess prior work experience, you can use the third paragraph to talk about that, including the kind of work you’ve done, and the projects you've excelled in. If you don’t have such experience, you can instead talk about your co-curricular activities, such as paper presentations, publications, research experiences, internships and workshops attended, and so on. Remember, schools in the US are not just looking for a good GPA: they want well-rounded individuals, who excel both within and outside the classroom, so a mention of such co-curricular achievements will give a great boost to your Statement of Purpose. For instance, take a look at these paragraphs, which do precisely that:
“The knowledge that I gained during my undergraduate studies stood me in good stead in all the projects and internships that I completed during college. I worked on my first project as a Research Intern at an engineering firm called, "Nesans Mining and Automation Pvt. Ltd". I had acquired this opportunity based on a design I proposed for an intelligent wearable device that could assist people suffering from dementia. This experience provided me with a strong rudimentary understanding of robotics. Whereas, for my undergraduate thesis, I worked on developing a ‘Vibration sensor using imaging technique’ which could be used to detect and alert the user about high levels of vibration in a machine or its unit. Working in a team, I contributed towards designing the algorithm, programming the camera and sensors, and also to the process of identifying and raising alarms. Having built a strong technical foundation through my undergraduate experiences, I now look to take the next big step towards realizing my career goals by pursuing higher studies in the field of Robotics. Armed with the MS degree, I plan to build a career as a designer and consultant in the field of robotics and automation, working on challenging projects that would allow me to continually broaden my horizons. After building a strong set of skills, I plan to utilize it to work on projects that can make a difference in the lives of people.”

Para 4: Why grad school?

Grad school is tough, intense and often grueling. Use this paragraph to prove your mettle in your discipline by demonstrating why exactly you want to do further studies in that area. Bolster your explanation by citing any prior research work done in the area, or any training programs, workshops or certificate programs you may have undergone to improve your skills in your discipline. This is a great way to prove your dedication to your discipline, and sets you apart as a serious, determined candidate. Conclude this paragraph by explaining how you want to take your research forward, and how the university has the tools necessary to make that possible. Here is a great example of how to demonstrate your preparedness for the challenges of graduate school:
“Along with my academic pursuits in college, I took extra efforts to increase my real-world industry knowledge by attending a number of internships. The one at National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) helped me gain knowledge about the working and implementation of microprocessors. The internship at U.N.I.Q Technologies taught me about the diverse applications of Android platforms. I also visited NextGen Datacentres, where I gathered valuable inputs about data centers and their processes. I am currently interning at Stigmata Technologies, where I am getting hands-on experience of the implementation of AI in real-world applications. These experiences of observing and working with seasoned industrial professionals have played a huge role in my technical development.”

Part 5: Conclusion and goals

Why do you want to pursue your MS at this particular university or country? Perhaps there are professors in that university doing pioneering research in your discipline, and you’d like to learn from and work alongside them. Or maybe the university is home to some cutting-edge technology that might aid you in your research work. Whatever be your motives, be sure to mention them clearly. This will prove you are a serious candidate, and have done your research properly. Once again make a brief statement of your goals—both short term and long term—and explain how the university will be a stepping stone for achieving these. Talk about those, and conclude the essay with your hopes of studying at that esteemed university. For instance, take a look at these impactful concluding paragraph:
“After my Masters, I envision myself as a researcher or scientist in a reputed firm. I would love to express my ideas and skills in the development of AI with features that mimic human emotions. I strongly believe that artificial intelligence should be developed and implemented only with a strong moral basis behind it. AI without morals and ethics has a chance of snowballing into an unmitigated disaster. I would like to contribute new ideas and theories with respect to this aspect of Artificial Intelligence. In the long term, after completing my Ph.D., I aim to establish educational centers throughout rural India with an AI-based system to impart free education. I believe that Artificial Intelligence must be used to alleviate the problems faced by the rural population, who cannot afford basic necessities like healthcare, electricity, and food. It is my earnest goal to perform research and contribute to the development and implementation of AI along these lines.

I am confident that the Master of Science program in Computer Science offered at the University of Melbourne - Parkville Campus will lay the perfect foundation for me to achieve my career goals. The advanced course-work and reputed faculty along with the state-of-of-the-art research facilities will help me in enhancing my understanding of the field to a great extent. Professors such as Justin Zobel and Rui Zhang are all very reputed in the domain and it will be a pleasure to be guided by them. It would also be an immense opportunity if allowed to become a part of the activities organized by the various student communities and clubs such at your institute.”

We hope you found this article informative. To know more about the top mistakes to avoid on your Statement of Purpose, be sure to click here!
Want to find out how you can write an SOP that gets you your dream MS admits? Download the exclusive GREedge guide to doing just that, now!

Start Download >

Call me Back

Scheduling