Guide to Writing a Statement of Purpose

Some helpful hints about writing a Statement of Purpose to accompany your graduate school application (provided by Professor James Nairne, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University).

  1. The persons reading your application for graduate school will want to know how you can contribute to their graduate program. The focus, therefore, should be on how you’ve spent your time as an undergraduate preparing for your graduate student experiences.
  2. Do not include too much personal information; again, you need to prepare a professional document, something that will convince the admissions committee that you are serious about doing graduate level work. Anecdotes about how you got interested in the field, or on "how I've always wanted to help people" or "make a difference" are not a good idea.
  3. The document should be well-written, concise, and free of typos. A sloppy document will send exactly the wrong kind of message, e.g., it might send a signal to the admissions committee that you’ll be just as sloppy about your graduate work.
  4. If you can, be specific about how you fit into the program in other words, tailor it to the school. Talk about the work of specific professors at the university to which you are applying. This provides yet another way to demonstrate your professional maturity.

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