How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

If you want to enroll in a graduate program, it is important to understand all the application requirements. A statement of purpose is one of the important documents you must submit to a graduate school. It plays a vital role in explaining your educational and professional background in detail. The statement also reveals your career goals and research interests and major reasons why you are the ideal candidate. 

Thus, you need to understand what a statement of purpose entails before submitting your application. Reviewing examples of statement of purpose online can also help you draw out essential points you should include in this document. Hence, you should prepare well to produce an exceptional statement that will impress the admissions panel. 

This article offers a guide on how to start a statement of purpose, the required contents, and examples you can refer to when crafting your statement. 

What Is a Statement of Purpose?

It is important to understand what a statement of purpose is before drafting one. A statement of purpose, also known as a personal statement, is an important document used in the application process for a graduate school. The primary purpose of a personal statement is to persuade the admissions committee that you are a suitable candidate for the graduate program you want to join. This document reveals vital information about yourself to the committee members and why you are a perfect fit. 

Submitting a strong statement is important since it plays a great role in decision-making during admission. Keep in mind that it is an academic statement that needs to be written in a formal language with well-crafted sentences. It should capture your story, achievements, and how you will be a valuable asset once admitted to the graduate program. The admissions committee gets an opportunity to know you on a personal level before they accept you to the university’s community. 

The Length of a Statement of Purpose

Personal statements usually vary in length depending on the requirements of a particular graduate program. Moreover, each school might have a limit on the statement the applicants should submit. Thus, it is imperative to carefully read the details about the program so as to follow all the guidelines presented. Whether it is a master’s statement of purpose or a Ph.D. statement of purpose, make sure you understand the prompt before you begin the writing process. 

However, experts reveal that a standard statement can contain around 500 to 1,000 words, with a traditional font size of 12. Ensure you use double spacing, as per the university’s request, to make the statement readable. 

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

Now that you know what a personal statement entails, you can start writing your own. Understanding how to write statement of purpose is important to help you produce an exceptional document. While it might seem like a daunting task, you can break the writing process into manageable sections. 

Here is a step-by-step process on how to write the statement of purpose

Brainstorm Ideas 

The first step you should undertake is the brainstorming session. You should take time to understand the task ahead and prepare well. Think about your story in detail and why you want to join the graduate program. 

It is important to ask yourself pertinent questions before you start drafting your statement. Some of the questions should entail the reason why you want to pursue the degree, your expectations, future career goals, and how you will add value to the university’s community. 

Write the answers down since these are your initial ideas that will help you draft your statement. 

Create an Outline

After identifying relevant ideas, you can proceed to create an outline for your statement. A standard outline should contain an introduction, main body, and conclusion. 

  • Introduction
  • A hook sentence 
  • Introduction and background information about yourself 
  • Main Body 
  • Relevant experience and achievements related to the program (add examples)
  • Professional and academic goals related to the program
  • Why you want to join the school and how you will add value
  • Conclusion 
  • Summary of the main body 
  • Emphasize your reasons and qualifications related to the program

Using the right statement purpose format will give you an idea of what information to include in a specific section. It helps you compose a clear, concise, and organized statement. 

Write the First Draft 

Before writing the first draft, remember that a personal statement should communicate your story and your key interests in pursuing that specific graduate program. Also, it should be unique to set you apart from other candidates.

Since the admission committee has already received your credentials, the personal statement is an opportunity to reveal who you are using your words.

Here are a few pointers to consider when you start writing your statement:

  • You should state what fuels your ambition. It could be career growth, academic advancement, or other factors.
  • Ensure you address key aspects that reveal your interest in the graduate program. 
  • Be authentic when writing your statement so that it uniquely captures your personality. The admissions panel will get to know the real you and the value you are bringing to the program. 

Edit and Proofread your Work 

Finally, after completing the draft, you can refine the final work to ensure it meets the required standards. Edit your statement of graduate statement of purpose and ensure you have followed the instructions carefully, which may include the font size, line spacing, and margins. 

It is important to proofread your work to ensure the statement has proper grammar, correct spelling, and good sentence structures.

In addition, keep in mind the required length of the statement, which ranges from 500 to 1,000 words. If your document exceeds the word count, you can edit and eliminate unnecessary information for clarity. When it comes to writing a personal statement, less is more as long as you present clear and concise information. 

After editing, take a short break and come back with a fresh mind. You will be able to polish your statement and identify trivial mistakes you might have missed during proofreading. Moreover, you can request a trusted friend or family member to go through your statement before final submission. 

How to Structure a Statement of Purpose

It is important to use the right format for statement of purpose if you want to produce a well-structured document. Usually, most statements contain five paragraphs, while others may have four to seven paragraphs. It is not a one-size-fits-all structure as long as you follow the university’s requirements and you cover relevant information in your statement. 

Let us take a look at the essential aspects you need to address in the structure:


What has made you reach the moment of applying for a graduate program? You should talk about your scholarly journey – accomplishments, majors, research projects, publications, internships, studies, etc. Include your research questions and the issues or problems you will tackle. You should also capture your professional, academic, and personal goals. Finally, what is the driving factor that influences your work, and who are the beneficiaries? 


Why do you want to enroll in the graduate program? Capture your motivations and clearly reveal why you are passionate about that particular program and the professors. 


You need to demonstrate the plan on how you will find the right answers to your research question. Also, showing how you will spend time at the university and how you will take advantage of the program is imperative. 

Below is an effective statement of purpose format:

  • 1st Paragraph – Introduction 
  • 2nd Paragraph – Background information 
  • 3rd Paragraph – Study areas and program professors
  • 4th Paragraph – Relevant academic and professional experience 
  • 5th Paragraph – Conclusion 

The above structure follows the standard format comprising an introduction, main body, and conclusion, as stated above. When you format a statement of purpose, ensure you include the right information in the correct paragraph. 

What to Include in a Statement of Purpose

Let us recap the important aspects you need to include in your personal statement:

  • Introduce yourself, outline your academic interests, and why you are interested in that particular area. 
  • Why do you want to enroll in the graduate program?
  • Describe your educational background and training. Talk about your skillset, research experiences, and opportunities. If possible, state particular examples that illustrate important points. 
  • Describe the focus and project title of the research you conducted in your undergraduate course. Include your mentor, the lessons, challenges, and outcomes. 
  • Talk about your scholarly publications; it could be a thesis or research project beyond your undergraduate degree.
  • Lay out your professional work experience, including internships relevant to the program you want to join. 
  • State why you want to study in that particular university in detail to persuade the committee that you are aware of the research scope.
  • Demonstrate that you have carried out extensive research about the program, the faculty members, and the research areas of focus. You can also name a professor you are interested in working with.
  • Indicate why you are the ideal applicant for the graduate program and vice versa. 
  • Mention program features that may be of interest to your research objectives. 
  • Include your professional goals and plans after the graduate program.
  • State past opportunities that reveal leadership skills and other strong points that demonstrate your personality. 

Example of a Statement of Purpose 

Below is a brief example of an effective personal statement: 

From a tender age, I was captivated by how journalists reported the news bulletin to people. When pursuing my undergraduate course in broadcast journalism, I completed a comprehensive case study project that addressed the role of media ethics on an organization’s performance. I also gained immense experience in ethical reporting while working as a media researcher at my university. In this capacity, I managed to publish a comprehensive study that comprised data regarding media consumption patterns from 250 respondents from the faculty and student fraternity. 

The master of journalism program at Missouri University can help me advance my knowledge in media and prepare me for a stellar career as a journalist – both at an academic and professional level. This graduate program’s broadcast specialization requires exceptional reporting skills, as well as a keen attention to detail. My prior experiences as a media researcher and intern have assisted me acquire relevant skills in this scope of study. I also possess critical and analytical skills that allow me to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I am ready for the task and challenges ahead. Besides, I am confident that my relentless commitment to professionalism makes me an ideal candidate for this graduate program. 


If you want to impress the admission committee, crafting an impressive personal statement is imperative. Strive to write an impeccable statement that leaves a lasting impression. To submit a successful application, ensure you capture your unique personality, background, and skill set that will surprise the admission experts. Convince them why you are the perfect candidate to enroll in that particular graduate program you want to join. 

Above all, focus on your authentic contribution to the program, the university’s community, and the field of research. Take time to plan and craft your statement, and you will become a successful applicant.

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Caroline Hudson
Journalism & Mass Media
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