How to Write a Great Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

A statement of purpose is an opportunity for you to showcase your drive and desire to learn more.

Graduate school is a logical next step once you have an undergraduate degree. Part of the application process of most graduate-level programs is your statement of purpose. This is a written essay explaining your intentions and interests in the graduate program and career field. According to the University of Texas at Austin, this document provides the school with a snapshot of your aspirations and helps the admissions department determine if you're a good fit for their program.

Research the specific requirements for your graduate program's application. View the program's website or talk to the graduate admissions office for details on the essay's required length and specific details you may need to include. The statement of purpose is usually two to three pages, but this varies depending on the program.

Brainstorm three reasons you wish to attend graduate school. Type these as a list on your computer.

Come up with at least one reason you want go gain admission to that specific program. You might specifically mention wanting to conduct research with a noteworthy professor at that university, for instance.

Write your introduction. Present yourself in a professional and creative way. Avoid personal stories in the statement of purpose, but give a basic idea of why you want in the school's graduate program. The introduction is a short paragraph since the focus of the statement should come in your main points.

Use the next three to five paragraphs to discuss your reasons for applying to graduate school. Use the three ideas you brainstormed prior to writing.

Finish your statement of purpose with your motive for attend that specific graduate school and a strong sentence stating why you feel you fit perfectly in the program. Appear confident and assertive without coming across as cocky.

Proofread your statement of purpose. Check for grammar and spelling errors.

Ask a professor, colleague or boss to read your statement of purpose and offer any suggestions for improvement.

  • Be concise in your wording. Use your allotted space wisely, and avoid wordy and lengthy stories.
  • Answer any specific questions your program asks you to address in the statement of purpose.

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.