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Engineering SOP: specific or general?

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I am applying for computer science PhDs as a current Master's student.

I have narrowed down the broad research area I'd like to work in, and I have some ideas for specific projects that interest me, but I'm more interested in securing a spot as a PhD in the broader area than working on these exact specific project interests.

In my statement of purpose, should I mostly talk about why I'm interested in and qualified to work in a broader research area? I feel like if I talk too much about specific projects, I will be rejected from any program where the professor might not be interested in that particular project project. On the other hand, I feel like if I can't really tangibly explain the potential of what I might be able to accomplish as a PhD if I don't talk about these project ideas. But then again, if they see me as a good candidate for a project of their choosing, they will already understand the potential of what can be accomplished, so I don't know if this is that important.

Please give me advice on this, especially if you know first hand what most CS professors will be looking for.

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It's good to be focused, but you do run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot if you're too specific. I don't think it's wrong to talk about ideas, but I'd state them as possibilities, emphasizing that you are open to other possibilities, rather than what you definitely plan to do.

You can demonstrate your potential by talking about your track record - what other research you have done, what useful skills you have learned, etc - as well as what you want to do and how this fits with the department.

Also, make sure that you don't come off as only wanting to work with one prof in the department. What if that prof is about to leave the program, or go on sabbatical, or just isn't taking any new students for a while?

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