Abishek Babu M

Updated on 05-05-2023


Statement of Purpose (SOP): Format, Samples and Tips

Statement of Purpose (SOP): Format, Samples and Tips

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A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a personal statement or a letter of intent written by an applicant to the admission committee that talks about their career path, academic interests, professional contributions, goals, and the motivation behind pursuing a particular graduate program. A strongly written statement of purpose outlines the applicant's achievements, experiences, courses completed, their career path and also explains why they are the right fit for the program and its faculty. A prospective student can secure admission at a top graduate school, college, or university by writing a compelling application essay.

In this article:

What is a Statement of Purpose?

A statement of purpose (SOP) is an important part of a university's application process which gives the admissions committee (AdCom) an impression of the candidate's personality, goals, and fit for the graduate program. The statement of purpose essay should tell your story about who you are and why you deserve to be part of the university. A letter of purpose is required from candidates by the graduate school’s admissions committee during the application process to get to know you and understand how you’ll add value to the classroom.

Why is the Statement of Purpose important?

The Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a deciding factor in your application and allows you to showcase your personality, goals, and unique, informative, and interesting things about yourself to the admission committee. A well-written SOP can convince the committee to choose you over other applicants, even if you have a weaker academic profile. A college statement of purpose is a subjective aspect of your application which allows you to prove that you are unique. 

The SOP highlights your extracurricular achievements, enthusiasm for new challenges, and ability to express your thoughts and ideas effectively through your writing skills. You must take care while writing your statement of purpose for university, as it can greatly influence the final decision on your admission to a top institution for your desired course of study. If your statement of purpose can convince the faculty that you are the right fit for their course, it can increase the chances of your admission.

SOP Format

To write a good SOP, follow a structured approach. As SOP should contain 5-7 paragraphs, with each paragraph consisting of 150-250 words. Use bullet points if required. The essay should not exceed 2 pages and should be in 12-point font size and double-spaced. Avoid using colourful text or images. Only use black ink if you use pen and paper. Keep it simple and concise to make it impactful for the admissions committee. Read the following points to learn how to structure your Statement of Purpose:

  • Introduction
  • 2nd Paragraph: Academic Background
  • 3rd Paragraph: Professional Experience
  • 4th Paragraph: Why choose this Course?
  • 5th Paragraph: Your Career Goals
  • 6th Paragraph: Why Choose this University?
  • Closing Paragraph

How to Write a Statement of Purpose?

Your SOP should include features describing yourself and your goals for pursuing a particular course of study at a particular university. Follow a standard SOP format or template while writing an SOP. Think and research before you formulate the SOP. After you draft the essay, review the SOP. If needed revise and modify the SOP. An impressive statement of purpose looks like this:

1st Paragraph: Introduction

You should begin the first paragraph of a statement of purpose with the chosen academic field and the candidate's long-term goals and expectations for the course. In 2-3 lines you can briefly mention the candidate's background and how it connects to their future goals or an instance that made the candidate interested in that field. Avoid introducing yourself or discussing your childhood in this paragraph and focus on expressing your interest and knowledge of the chosen course and field. You can mention what you wish to do once you complete your studies.

2nd Paragraph: Academic Background

In the second paragraph of your statement of purpose, talk about your academic background, including your past and current studies, strengths, and any relevant projects you have done. Include details of your school and college, published reports, achievements, etc. This section aims to outline your academic progress and highlight your strengths and accomplishments.

3rd Paragraph: Professional Experience

In the 3rd paragraph of the SOP, you can include any relevant information about your work experience. You can include part-time and full-time jobs, training projects, internships, and freelancing work. When you write about your work experience in the statement of purpose, make sure to highlight the skills and knowledge you have acquired through these jobs and how they are relevant to your academic and professional goals.

4th Paragraph: Why choose this Course?

In the 4th paragraph of a statement of purpose, you should specify why you are interested in pursuing a particular course and how it aligns with your academic and professional goals. You should mention the particular skills you hope to learn from the course and how they will help you reach your goals. You should show your knowledge of the syllabus and modules of that course, and how they will help you develop your career.

5th Paragraph: Your Career Goals

The fifth paragraph of the statement of purpose is significant as it will talk about your short-term and long-term career goals and plans. You can write about the companies and job positions you hope to work in after completing the course and your ambitions for leadership roles or plans to start a business on your own. Discuss any desires you have for further studies like Ph.D., or if you want to become a professor or researcher. Explain how this course you applied will contribute to achieving these goals and make a positive impact in the chosen field. You can write about your aims, principles, values, and how your work can add value to the industry.

6th Paragraph: Why Choose this University?

In the 6th paragraph, explain why you are a good fit for the university to the admissions committee. Mention what you know about the courses and research opportunities at the university and the names of faculty members who you wish to work with. You can also mention any activities in that university that you feel would enhance your profile and make you a perfect candidate for admission.

Closing Paragraph

In the last paragraph of your admissions essay, convey your strong aspiration to join the course at that university. Show confidence in your ability to progress in your field of study and make a meaningful impact in the industry on a global level. Show that you are ready to face challenges while you pursue your studies.

Statement of Purpose Sample

Sample 1

image of statement of purpose sample

I am writing to express my strong interest in pursuing a Master's in Business Administration at XYZ University. I have a background in finance and am passionate about administration and leadership and believe that I can learn the necessary skills and get the knowledge to achieve my long-term career goals while pursuing this program.

The field of business has always attracted me since childhood. As I grew up my ambitions got bigger and wanted to start my own business. I pursued my Bachelor's degree in Finance which helped me gain practical experience through internships and projects. During my studies, I developed a financial analysis for a local business in my neighbourhood.

I'm interested in XYZ University's MBA program because it focuses on real-world case studies and strongly emphasises leadership development. I believe that the opportunity to work with the best faculty and the engagement in practical learning would add value to my professional career.

Apart from my academic and professional experience, I have also been involved in many extracurricular activities that show my leadership and teamwork skills. As the secretary of my college finance club, I have worked closely with a diverse group of students and guided them to succeed in various competitions. I have also volunteered for a local firm, where I have gained work experience in finance through the mentorship of senior finance experts.

In the long term, I want to start a consulting firm that helps organizations to identify and address financial challenges. I believe that this MBA program at XYZ University will give me  the skills and knowledge that are crucial to achieving this goal. I am confident that my strong academic background in finance, work experience, and practical knowledge have prepared me for success in this program.

I also wish to study at XYZ University because of its location and diversity and I believe that I can get access to internships and networking opportunities where I could easily find industry leaders. I would also like to use the opportunity to contribute to XYZ University’s business community with my knowledge and skills.

To conclude, I'm really confident that the MBA program at XYZ University is the perfect fit for my academic and business ambitions. I am also excited to use the opportunity to be a part of the university’s dynamic community and contribute to the success of the MBA program. Thank you for considering my application.

Download statement of purpose sample pdf

Sample 2

sample statement of purpose for graduate school

Also check out these SOP samples:

Statement of Purpose for MBA Statement of Purpose for PhD Statement of Purpose for Undergraduates

Do's & Dont's while writing SOP

Here are some points you should include and some points that you should avoid while writing a statement of purpose:

Do's while writing SOP

Your graduate statement of purpose should contain information about your goals, academic progress, personal motivations, and the work experience you have. To write a strong SOP application, make sure it is unique and engaging. Explain your academic background, talk about your professional experience, extracurricular activities, and why you want to study that course at that particular institution. Write about your teamwork, leadership, and other relevant skills. Provide correct information and be authentic.

Don't Include these in the Statement of purpose

Don't write a vague introduction and conclusion without proper planning. Be specific while providing information in your SOP for college. Avoid accomplishments and experiences that are irrelevant to the program or university you are applying for. When you talk about your achievements never exaggerate and do not talk more about your marks or grades. Use formal language and avoid slang or shortened words. Focus more on your academic goals and interests and don't copy them from others' samples.

12 Tips and Recommendations to write a successful Statement of Purpose

Here are some useful Statement of Purpose writing tips to create an outstanding SOP:

  1. Do not use humour in your SOP as it might backfire.
  2. Don't tell them that their college/university was not your first choice to get into.
  3. Use active voice over passive voice.
  4. Never lie in your SOP and don't include any false information in it.
  5. Don't use too many technical words to write the statement of purpose.
  6. Deliver what you have to say in a crisp manner.
  7. Your statement of purpose should keep the word limit. The average length of an SOP is between 500 and 1,000 words.
  8. It is good to include your learning experiences.
  9. Do not include any financial details in the statement of purpose.
  10. You need not elaborate on yourself. Stick to the basic details that should be included in the SOP.
  11. Your SOP must be qualitative as well as quantitative. You can include numbers wherever necessary.
  12. Customise your statement of purpose for each university admission differently instead of using the same template for every university.

Also check out these Statement of Purpose Examples for Canada, UK, and Australia:

SOP for Canada SOP for UK SOP for Australia SOP for Germany


Before you submit your Statement of Purpose, here is a quick checklist for your reference to see if you have written a good SOP.

  • Make sure your SOP satisfies all the requirements of the program you are applying for. It should be of the suggested word count, and format, and have the correct information.
  • If you have not read your SOP multiple times, you must do it before submitting it. You can take others' feedback and create more drafts to improve it.
  • If you have specified that you have specific skills you should provide examples to back your claims.
  • Tell them a story. Your SOP should be a narrative and not a boring list about yourself.
  • Proofread your Statement of Purpose. Proofread it like you are reading it for the first time with a fresh mind. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes and correct them.

When you write the SOP, keep in mind the format and guidelines to be followed. Refer to as many SOP samples and examples from this article based on countries and courses and learn how to make an excellent statement of purpose for masters courses. In the end, your statement of purpose should convince them that you are the right fit for their university.


1. Should you put your name on your Statement of Purpose?

You don't have to write your name anywhere in the Statement of Purpose. As the SOP is part of your application they can see your name along with it.

2. Can a Statement of Purpose help with Scholarships?

Yes, an SOP can help you to apply for scholarships. You can write an SOP intended for applying for the scholarship instead of applying for admissions. You should outline the need to receive the scholarship and why you are in great need of it.

3. What do you write in a statement of purpose?

You should include your personal and financial background, academic details, professional experience, short and long-term goals, reasons why you want to study in that institution, reasons for being interested in the chosen field, extra-curricular activities, published works and papers submitted, interests, and hobbies.

4. How do I begin my statement of purpose? 

You should learn how to start a statement of purpose as your introduction will give the readers a first impression of your SOP. In the first paragraph, you can outline your goals and ambitions and how the course will help you in achieving them. Give a brief about what you know about that field. You can also write about how you developed your interest in this field.

5. Should LOR and Statement of Purpose be attested?

Only the Letter of Recommendation has to be attested by the college or the company that you worked in. The Statement of Purpose does not need to be attested unless the university has asked you to. The LOR can be attested by the Principal, Dean or HoD, or the company head on a letterhead.

6. Should I explain the low grades in my statement of purpose?

You do not need to mention your low grades in the SOP if you have mentioned it somewhere else. It is not compulsory to explain your marks in your statement of purpose. But in some special cases, you can mention it briefly in just 2-3 lines.

7. How is a statement of purpose format?

The standard format of an SOP is as follows: usually 2 pages long, maximum font size 12, double-spaced in normal margins with around 800 to 1000 words. No colors or images should be used in the statement of purpose.

8. Can a statement of purpose be copied?

Your SOP should be unique as you have to talk about yourself in the SOP. You cannot copy someone else’s SOP. As the statement of purpose will include many of your personal goals, achievements, and plans, it is better to create the SOP on your own.

9. What is the difference between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement

A personal statement is a more personal essay that reflects your career aspirations and future goals. Unlike the Statement of Purpose, this will be a one-page essay. The Statement of Purpose is a much more elaborate form of the personal statement.

10. What is the difference between a Statement of Purpose and a Letter of Motivation

A Letter of Motivation or motivation letter is a short letter written to a specific person in a committee or a department stating why you are the right candidate by telling them your interests, goals, and achievements. The Statement of Purpose isn't written to a specific person, whereas the motivation letter is written to a particular person for example the HoD or a faculty in a department. The Letter of Motivation is written in a letter format and the Statement of Purpose is written in an essay format.


About Author Abishek Babu M

Abishek is a seasoned expert in the study abroad processes and IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT subjects. With over 2.5 years of experience in helping students achieve their foreign education goals, he has become a trusted individual in the industry. His extensive knowledge and authority in the IELTS test have earned him a reputation as a go-to resource for students seeking to excel in their exams. Abishek's exceptional track record has earned him the trust of countless students who rely on his resources to achieve their study abroad dreams.

More Articles Post by Abishek Babu M

Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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