Writing the Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Writing the Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Writing the Statement of Purpose for Graduate School Michael J. Spivey Cognitive Science University of California, Merced Contributing authors: Evan Heit, Psychology and Cognitive Science, UC Merced Alex Whalley, Economics, UC Merced Factors for Admissions

GPA GRE Letters of Recommendation Interview/Visit STATEMENT of PURPOSE Complete Application Statement of Purpose Idea of your research/study interests Sample of your ability to write

Proxy for interview Can be the difference between getting in or not Opportunity to sell yourself! Central Theme Reasons for your interest in attending a specific program at a particular institution Statement is tailored for the program & institution

The Key Idea Look like you will be a success in graduate school. coming in, you are prepared, motivated, focused, have needed skills (writing, math, research) once there, you will successfully complete all requirements and you will progress as a researcher This is about potential: You dont have to

already have a PhD to get into graduate school! Important to keep in mind: Audience: admission committees are professors in your discipline - no need to define basic terminology. Establish your voice: confident, but not arrogant - straightforward tone: explain how you are prepared for graduate school

- acknowledge poor performances (GPA, GRE scores etc.) then focus on achievements not failures Important to keep in mind: Answer the question: most graduate schools dont give much instruction about SoP, but if application asks a specific question, make sure to address it Get feedback: At your current school, talk with professors and graduate students about

graduate school and the application process, and get suggested revisions from them on your draft SoP. Writing an Effective Statement How did you become interested in your field? - describe how research experiences, courses, professors, internships, work experiences, community service, things youve read, other

independent studies, or life experiences have stimulated your interest What are your interests and career objectives? - be specific about discipline and objectives - for example, if psychology, what area? teaching vs. research?

Writing an Effective Statement What are your research interests? - research is the essence of a PhDshould be reflected in statement - introduce a few topics of interest - dont need to make a specific thesis or dissertation proposal, but should be able to pose 1 or 2 questions or problems

What attracts you most to the institution/ program and why are you a good match? - interests should parallel those of the faculty in the program you are applying toread their articles, mention their names - the better the match, the better the chance of getting admitted Statement Should Be

Well organized Concise Free of grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors Convincing that you will be successful graduate student 2 or 3 pages in length Including a last paragraph that mentions the names and work of potential advisors

Proof-read!! Statement Should Not Be An undergraduate application not too focused on extracurriculars, life history, hobbies, general world view About your convenience Unclear Discipline-specific:

Economics Be prepared: math background Know what area you want to study Show economic reasoning Discipline-specific: Psychology and Cognitive Science Be prepared: research experience, statistics Know what area you want to study

Show awareness of how topics are researched In Conclusion, The reader should be able to: see what you are interested in, and why see that you know what graduate school is about (research) see that you will be a success


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