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statement of purpose formatIf you plan on applying to graduate school, or any other upper level schooling, you will be expected to write a statement of purpose as part of the application process. This difficult essay will discuss your past, present, and future, and how they relate not only to the school you are applying to, but the subject you wish to study. This essay requires a delicate balancing act, requiring you to tell your personal story, describe your ambitions, and pepper them with a bit of self-promotion, among other things.

Today, we will discuss what you need to mention in this important essay, but it may also be helpful to know that there is no one way to write this essay. Every school requires something different, and everyone’s life is different. If you’d like a refresher on the basics of essay writing, this course on paragraph and essay writing might refresh your memory.

What to Include

There are many ways to write this difficult essay, which may be inspiring, but can also derail you. This list of the things you should include in your statement of purpose will help keep you on track, and even might help focus your mind should you get distracted at some point.

  1. Your Past: This is where you bring up your relevant past academic experiences. Discuss your undergraduate studies, any internships, work experience, community service, life experiences, etc. Make sure to explain how these past experiences have inspired to to keep studying, and how they have prepared you for the future.
  2. What You Want to Study: Shine a light on what you want to study and why. Go back to the first time you became interested in this subject, and track your progress through life in pursuing it. Remember that this essay is about you, and don’t forget to describe your personal talents for this area of study. If business is your passion, this course on the MBA admissions process should be helpful.
  3. Your Future: After discussing your past, you’ll next want to focus on your future. Talk about your specific goals, including what kind of degree you want, as well as what disciplines of this subject you wish to focus on. Also, mention what professional goals you may have after completing this degree, such as professor, researcher, consultant, etc. This course on shaping your future will help you set goals and find your purpose.
  4. How Are You a Match: Explain why you belong at this specific institution. What professors at the school interest you, and how do your interests align with their’s?

Dos and Don’ts



Statement of Purpose Format

There is no one way to write a statement of purpose. Not only will the requirements vary, each applicant is also unique. What we can do is provide you with an outline of how the statement of purpose should flow. Beforehand, make sure you outline what you want to say, and how you want to say it.

Introduction and Thesis Statement 

The thesis of your essay will announce the paper’s central idea. It must be specific, and should prepare the reader for what to expect over the course of your statement of purpose.

Body of Paper 

After your intro and thesis, you will get into the meat and potatoes of your statement of purpose. This will be several paragraphs long, and will comprise the bulk of your paper. Each paragraph must have its own central idea, introduced in a topic sentence. After introducing a topic, the rest of the paragraph must support it, and make sure each paragraph flows smoothly into the next. This part of the essay may vary in length, depending on the directions.


Here you just want to reiterate what you’ve already mentioned. No new ideas or subjects should be brought up at this late of  a point in the essay.

So that’s the statement of purpose. Don’t get too hung up on format, but rather focus on your passion and ambition, and how you will fit in at the school you are applying to. Don’t forget to be specific, not only about yourself, but about your field of study, and the institution. If you can find a point where your passion and your writing skills can meet, the statement of purpose should just flow out of you. This course on writing essays and theses might be helpful if you’re feeling a little shaky about essay writing.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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