How to write SOP (Statement of purpose) for US University applications

This article will give you steps which will help you to write a very good SOP for your US Universities’ applications. Statement of purpose is one of the most essential parts of your applications procedure. A good SOP can easily impress the review committee and a bad SOP can result in denial of admissions as well. Be very careful when you draft your SOP.

Length of SOP for US Universities
Normally, the Universities specify the length of an SOP. Typically the SOP length is from 500 to 1000 words. Make sure you do not exceed the maximum length specified. If the University has not mentioned the length of SOP, do not write a very long SOP. The maximum length of SOP is two A4 size pages, which include about 1000 words, with normal font.

Font and font size for SOP (Statement of Purpose)
Do not use fancy fonts for your SOP. Use the fonts Times New Roman or Arial, which are most commonly used in US. Keep the font size as 12 for Times New Roman and 11 if you are using Arial. Use only black colour for SOP. Keep the look of SOP as professional as you can.

Header and heading for SOP
Typically, most students mention the degree or specialization at the top of SOP. This is done so that the review team is aware of the specialization that you are applying to in that University. If you are writing this at the top, make sure you show your career interest in that field. The heading used can be ‘Statement of Purpose’.

Good SOP writing tips
For some very important do's and don'ts for SOP for US University applications, read the article Good SOP (Statement of Purpose) writing tips

First paragraph of SOP
The first paragraph of SOP has to be different, unique, attention catching and must urge the professors to read the complete SOP. Keep in mind that the admission review committee is comprised of professors in that department and they are supposed to review more than 200 applications for admissions. If your first paragraph doesn’t catch the attention of the reviewer, they might not even read the remaining SOP. This doesn’t mean you write anything as you wish. Your passion for this field has to come out in whatever you write. Check out the sample SOPs given to see what we mean by this. Don’t reproduce the first paragraph from any sample SOP. It has to be unique and you have to work on this portion on your own.

Body of SOP
SOP is a way to portray who you are. The professors judge your passion for your field of study; will be able to handle challenges, well prepared and intelligent. The way you frame your SOP and write it will tell volumes about you. Do not make the SOP boring and dull and repetitive. Make sure you communicate as much as you can and portray as many qualities as you can in your SOP.
  1. Experience in the field – Blend you experience in the field perfectly so that your passions will be reflected. Make sure you write everything that you have worked for in this field including your project, internships, industry work experience, workshops, seminars, classes and any other activities that you did on your own to increase your knowledge in that field.
  2. Extra-curricular activities in this field – This will be particularly helpful to display your other skills such as leadership qualities, communication skills, team work, and ability to work hard and long hours. If you have been part of the organizing team of the technical festival of your college, do mention this. But keep it short, precise and related to your field of study. It is advisable not to mention activities other than your field, unless you have won any major accolades for the same.
  3. Academic performance – If you have been within the top 5 students of your batch, mention it. Any academic accomplishments must be mentioned. If you had some backlog or year down, provide the reason for your poor performance like a major surgery to a family member or some other emotional setback. Since everyone scores excellent marks in final year, you can say how you overcame the difficult times and improved significantly in final year. This will portray your ability to overcome hardships and challenges. But again, do not elaborate too much. Keep it within 2-3 sentences.
  4. Project and work related challenges – Instead of specifying a lot of technicalities about the project, mention the hardships and challenges you faced and how you overcame them. The application review team is not interested about your project but your contribution to the project and how you went about your project and completed it. Similarly, any challenges or major responsibilities that you faced at your workplace will create good impression with the professors reviewing your SOP.

Last paragraph of SOP for US Universities  
The concluding paragraph must convey your purpose in pursuing MS or other degree from that particular University. You must be able to answer these questions in the final paragraph of SOP – Why MS in xyz University? How will that degree help you achieve your goals in life? You must portray your interest in some research going on in the University which suits your profile. Also mention names of one or two professors and research work they are doing and show your interest in working for research work in that field.. 

Sample SOP
To download free sample SOP, click on the following download link: