SOP for MBA vs SOP for MS

Ideally, a Statement of Purpose is a 1000 word long essay that describes to the University you have applied to your goals, the reasons behind the same and lists in detail some specific qualities that make you eligible and a sound candidate for the place applied for. As a general practice, most of the top ranked Management Schools have a set of long and short essay questions. Another courses, traditionally, have a requirement of a Statement of Purpose or SOP. But what happens when a University asks for a Statement of Purpose for admission to its MBA program? Should you write it in any manner different from that of an MS Program or an MA/ MSc. Program? The answer is yes.

Essentially, the structure or sample format of an SOP remains the same, in terms of word length and purpose of writing the essay – to explain to the Admission Committee why you are the right candidate for the university. This is done by sharing your motivations, goals and more importantly your skill set and abilities that distinguish you from the rest. Then what is so different for in a SOP for an MBA course? Here are the basic differences and how they must be approached.

Understanding the Theme

A student writing for an MBA vis a vis a student writing for an MS or an MA/MSc program are distinguished by the profile. Largely speaking, a candidate applying for an MBA degree from a university abroad would have a work experience of at least 2 years or more. This, on the other hand, may or may not be the case for another program. Often, students can and do apply for a post graduate degree with a minimal or no experience as it is not an eligibility criteria. But an MBA aspirant is a candidate who has work experience. This would effectively change the general theme of your essay.

Also, what a student must remember is that the intent vary. An MBA program seeks to understand your leadership potential, your decision making ability and your communication skill set at large. Remember, as a manager…these are the key differentiators and are important for your success. For an MS course, for instance, the intent may be commercial or may be purely academic and research oriented. In those aspects, the skills being searched for are extremely different. Accordingly, what you must include in a MS SOP would alter from things you must include in your MBA SOP.

With such differences in the person writing the statement of purpose…the structure would be accordingly different. An MBA aspirant ought to focus on showcasing the above mentioned abilities by sharing relevant events. Also, while an MBA aspirant would have and should highlight the work experience, an MS student need not worry about it. What is required in the latter case is to highlight the knowledge of the subject and how you have enhanced the same!

Using Technical Jargon

I often come across students applying for MS programs and writing generic Statement of Purpose and I often guide them to be comfortable with using technical language. For instance, a student applying for an MS in Biotechnology or Microbiology can use words like ELISA, SDS PAGE, and Immunoblotting. These words, need not be explained as such but if it were used for an MBA application…they must have a bit of a background as to what they are!

A student needs to understand that a MS program admission committee would comprise of experts of your subjects…which may or may not be true for an MBA program. Moreover, the admission committee needs to see the intent of your choices and how they make you a good candidate for a management program and not how you excelled in your physics lab. The key to writing a good SOP for an MBA program is to keep it self-explanatory and use technical language in moderation and never without a brief explanation. For an MS program…technical language is all okay. They know what you are talking about…no need to waste precious words on explaining what they are!

Avoiding Duplication

Often, an MBA SOP would be a long essay question, and would detail what all specific information the university seeks from you. For instance, a university might ask you to provide two long essays…one about your career aspirations and the other that talks about how you would add value to the program. While the first might be asked as a Statement of Purpose, the second need not be an SOP. However, what a candidate needs to remember is that both the essays would be read by the same admission committee…don’t duplicate information.

The intent of asking the second question is to give a student enough space and leverage to extrapolate on his/ her goals and ambitions. They have given you another 1000 words to talk about how good you are in extra-curricular and as a value add. Use the words judiciously! Do not repeat the information unless and until the university suggests that you can! While there are many differences, remmeber there are a few things that you should not include in your SOP…irrespective of which course you are writing your SOP for.

Keep the above pointers in mind while writing your Statement of Purpose…keep it uniquely you and you are sure to find success. So take your time and understand what the university wants to know about you and more importantly…what you would want the university to know about you. Keep the word limit in mind, the language crisp and message clear.

Note: This does not apply if you are applying for MS in Management or other related subjects that do not require work experience.

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