Writing A Statement of Purpose

Your admissions essay is an essential part of your application. It should not be personal, but rather deal with your professional goals, academic interests and research experience. Schools will be interested in your potential as scholar. It is important to read the question or prompt carefully before answering, as some programs are very specific about the kinds of information they want in this statement.

Your statement of purpose should address three issues:

  • What you have done in the field and how it has prepared you for graduate study
  • What you want to study and why, including your career goals
  • Why a particular program is a good fit for you

It is important to indicate how your research interests address current problems in your discipline. Also, if the school or nearby organizations have resources that are particularly useful for the type of research in which you want to engage (an historical archive, a particular kind of laboratory, etc.), be sure to mention how you will make use of these facilities.

Do not go on about your love of the subject -- that should be a given and does not communicate your potential as a scholar. Also, be as specific as possible when you articulate why you are embarking on this challenging course of study.