Sample Format for Statement of Purpose

Understanding what to include, what not to include and how to write a statement of purpose is all very well. What is of most importance is getting the format right. Like all professional documents, SOP also has a standard format that is followed by general universities. It is important to note that irrespective of whether you are writing the statement of purpose for an MBA program, or an MS program or even for any of the UG Courses, the format essentially would remain the same. This article takes note of the same.


To begin with, there are two simple pointers to remember.

  1. Statement of Purpose is a running paragraph format and follows the general rules that are associated with essay writing. While using bullets are accepted, they are to be avoided and kept only to the bare minimum.
  2. Unless otherwise specified, a standard statement of purpose is ideally 2 page long, uses a maximum of 12 point font and is double spaced and normal margins. Hence, depending on the font type, a standard SOP would be about 800 to 1000 words.

Apart from the obvious, there are simple templates as to how you can present your statement of purpose. Ideally, a Statement of Purpose should have about 5 paragraphs of about 200 to 250 words each.

Following is a sample format. It is not mandatory to present the information in the manner as suggested in the format. This is only one of many possible ways in which you can present your statement of purpose. No matter how you wish to narrate the story, just remember, it should come together and be cohesive.

Para 1: INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF GOALS

Use this space to talk about your goal in life. You can be creative here and use analogy’s or quotes to make it more interesting. But, don’t waste a lot of space in introducing your goal. The sooner you lay it out, the better it is. Remember, it is an essay about your goals in life…so starting with it is always a good idea. It is not very unlike a goals essay asked from MBA aspirants.

Para 2 & 3: CAREER PROGRESSION

This is the para which you usually use to talk about yourself. You can start with a brief history about yourself and career progression starting from your school to your college. This is the paragraph which is usually dedicated to your academic pursuits. If you have work experience, you can limit your school life and talk more about your college in para 2 and move to work experience in para 3. If not and you are applying directly after your graduation or school, then you can divide para 2 for academic and para 3 for co-curricular. You can take a hint on how to write about your career progression here.

Para 4: WHY?

This is the most important part of your Statement of Purpose for this is the place where you provide the reason as to why you wish to do what you wish to do. You can make it more interesting by narrating an incident that leads you to the decision or a turning point in your life. The more emphatic and passionate you are in this paragraph, the better your essay.

Para 5: HOW YOU PLAN TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL
You are finally ending your essay. So far you have talked about what you want to do, what lead you to that decision and why you are moving towards this course. Now, lay down how you plan to achieve your goals. If you wish to get into research, write it. If you plan to work for a certain organization, write it. This goes on to show how well you have thought your life over. Also, give it time periods…for instance, I intend to work in the industry for 2 years before I start my research program.

Parting advice – there are a few things which you must not include in a SOP, and it would be wise to check them out before you attempt it.

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