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SOP Format

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I have finished writing my Statement of Purpose and have been working on the revisions. However, none of the programs I am applying to have very specific guidelines. I am wondering how I am supposed to format this essay. What do I need to include in a header, is it supposed to be double spaced, etc.? Any information about this would be very helpful!

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There are no specific guidelines for the SOP mostly because schools want this to be an extension of you and they want to see what you come up with. You have the freedom to sell yourself in any manner that you want. However, there are specific questions you definitely need to address in the SOP, which is how I structured mine. 

1. What motivates/motivated you to apply to graduate school? (Try not to turn this into a sob story. Avoid adverse life or childhood events.)

2. What field are you interested in and why? (This is important. Think about it thoughtfully not just for your SOP but for yourself) 

3. What experience or training do you have to support your admission? (Focus on your most meaningful (your role, length) experiences. Also focus on experiences most applicable to the work you want to do in grad school. You can talk about each experience in a manner like this: 

  • What? Where? When? With Whom? and Significance of the work?
  • What were your specific contributions?
  • What did you learn? (That will help you in grad school)
  • Any collaborations? Was it multidisciplinary?
  • Have you disseminated the results of your work? (talks, posters, meetings)
  • Any professional achievements? (fellowships, grants, papers, invited to meetings) 

4. What are your long term career goals and how will PhD/graduate training help you do that? (Academia is the gold standard answer)

5. Why this program? Why are you a good fit? (Be specific as possible because this lets the reader know you are serious and invested in this school. Also a place to mention faculty you're interested in working with.) 

Closing statement/argument (quickly restate your strengths) 


Additional things:

1. You are being judged on your passion for a particular field, your ability to write and communicate effectively, motivation and proactive behavior (i applied for this, I seeked out this), signs of leadership capabilities, personal character, and uniqueness. 

2. You may need to include a grade statement if your GPA is not stellar or if there is something that needs an explanation. (In this case, push it towards the beginning of the essay and make it brief. Don't try to validate something or fail to take ownership, just reassure the adcom that it's not an issue and why?

3. Single spaced is appropriate. Your header can just be your name and the program you're applying to. 

4. Take my advice with a grain of salt. This is what I think worked for me but everything is different for each person. If you think something here is a good idea (try implementing it). It's all about selling yourself and there's isn't one way to do this. 

Edited by jeanetics17
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