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SOP review for security studies

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Hello everyone! I am actually finding it quite difficult to find any other person that is attempting to apply to a security studies program. With that said, I was wondering if anyone could please review my SOP and give me some advice on how to make it stronger?


Thank you for your time.


Edited by Knivez
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I am actually having trouble downloading the file, but if you are still interested this is my SOP.


I cannot think of many fields of work and study that are more important in the world today than Security Studies. The maintenance of peace and security in a world beset by more and more hazardous situations is vital, and the study of this field is vital to every one of us. I have always wanted to “make a difference” rather than just make a living, and I feel that my career to date, my academic choices, and my personal characteristics make me especially capable of acquiring the further skills and knowledge to make such a difference. I don’t expect to “save the world” but certainly seek to make the world a safer place by playing my own part in the whole. My ambition is to become a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I served for four years in the Marine Corps. Most of this service was spent in Japan and Korea, and I left with the rank of corporal. I was a recognised weapons expert and was involved in the training of both US and Korean service personnel in weapon systems and marksmanship. In the Marine Corps, excellence is the basic standard, but I always sought to excel even in that environment, and my attained rank and the awards and commendations received are an indication of my success in doing so. I enjoyed my training role which gave me the opportunity to acquire and extend skills in planning, effective communication, demonstrating and instilling discipline, exercising judgement of individuals and situations and the great satisfaction of helping others to reach their goals and see their potential become reality.

I also worked in legal administration, which involved investigation and information gathering for the use of senior officers and courts martial. My work called for high level analytical, planning skills as well as an ability to communicate and cooperate with personnel of all ranks and of many cultural and social backgrounds.

With a career in security in mind, I pursued undergraduate studies in psychology and applied all my discipline, diligence and academic ability to my studies. My GPA of 3.97/4 and the MC Scholarship and several academic awards received will serve to confirm my potential to excel within the program and in a career beyond it. My senior thesis related to the observation and measurement of micro-expressions in detecting truthfulness and lying in subjects. I would be interested in pursuing research in this area and its application within interrogations.

I have carefully considered the programs available to enable me to fulfil my ambitions and consider your own to be a perfect match because of the prestigious faculty, the breadth of topics available for study, and its worldwide reputation for excellence. I am also attracted by the fact that I can expect to meet students from a wide variety of backgrounds; I look forward to sharing the fruits of my own experience and background and profiting from those of my fellow students.

Thank you for considering my application.


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@Knivez, it its current form, your SOP suggests that you don't have a detailed vision/understanding of how a degree in security studies from a specific institution will help you realize your career goal as an agent for the FBI.

IMO, your discussion of your armed service in the Marines would benefit from a significant re-write. I recommend that, without resorting to jargon, you explain how your training allowed you to advance the mission of your unit and how you learned from your experiences to see a bigger picture, what ever that may be. I suggest that you do additional research on those faculty members who might read your comments about your time in the Marines with hostility (America is still fighting a very unpopular war) or with indifference (not everyone cares one way or another about citizen soldiers) or with an especially critical eye 

Your discussion of your thesis needs to include a very concise summary of your findings, how those findings fit into ongoing scholarly discussions of the topic, and, if you plan to continue studying the same topic, additional questions you hope to address.

Your comments about your considerations of your options needs refinement--they presently read like a cut and paste job. Define your areas of interest, your proposed course of study, give an indication that you're familiar with how your interests "fit" with those faculty members with whom you hope to work. Demonstrate that you're aware of the resources available at a given institution and how you intend to use them.

(PM inbound).

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I agree with Sigaba. As it stands right now, your SOP has a very generic feel to it. If I was the one reading it as part of an admissions committee, there is nothing about it that really stands out and would make me want you as a student over someone else.

A couple things...
I would really specific exactly what you are hoping to research and why. How is that research going to benefit your future career? Second, I would talk about the school in specific. What about THAT school made you want to apply there? Is there a specific professor whose research works well with yours? You have very general statements that could apply to any school. Give detailed reasons why School X is the one you want to attend. It shows you're paying attention to what they are doing rather than just handing out generic letters to everyone. Remember, they are not just looking to see if the school is a good fit for you, but also if you are a good fit for the school.

My program is merchandising, so obviously different than yours. But in my SOP, I explained why I loved merchandising and how I saw it benefiting both retailers and consumers alike. I have worked as a visual merchandiser for the last couple of years and I explained how I was able to apply my studies in very practical ways and see how consumers responded, while getting a good idea of what worked and didn't work (and gave a couple specific examples). I explained my research interests and why I felt it was essential not just to my continuing career as a merchandiser, but also so retailers in general have a better understanding of how merchandising works. I also talked about a particular professor who has done research that aligns well with my research interests. This was in the letter I sent to Florida State, which was my top choice. I was accepted.

Obviously an SOP shouldn't be novel length (mine was about 1.5 - 2 pages), but detail is important as well as showing a genuine interest in a specific school you're applying to. If you're applying to more than one school, change your SOP to fit that school. It definitely should not be one generic one you send to all schools.

Hope that helps!

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  • 3 years later...

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