What to include in an MS SOP

Every SOP (statement of purpose) is a unique draft that is aimed at detailing your life’s journey so far and also sharing the future goals and aspirations. Like no two individuals can be truly alike…no two SOP can be made in the same manner. Each applicant would have his/her own unique characteristics, life stories, and academic achievements. Even if the successes are similar – your graduation score for instance! – The failures would be different. However, the basics of how to write a SOP for a Master’s Program remain the same. Also, along with the technique, there are a few things that you must include in your SOP for a Masters’ (MS/ MA/ MSc.) Programs. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:

1. Your Academic Goals
What applicants often forget to understand is that your academic goals can be really different from your professional goals. And in a statement of the purpose intended for Masters (MS) programs, it is essential to also list down your academic goals. Maybe, your only intent is to complete your masters so that you would get better employment…yet, there must be something that you would want to learn during your master’s program. Mentioning them is extremely important and you must make a conscious effort to include the same.

2. Your Professional Goals – Short and Long Term
Learning is important, but you must be able to state what you wish to do at a professional level. A statement of purpose needs to be categorically about your purpose in life. The most important question you should aim to answer while writing your SOP is – What is it that I want to do in my life and how. Remember, to answer the how it is necessary to divide your goals into short and long term goals. Please remember – being successful is not a goal. You must be specific and able to clearly mark out the path chose/ intended.

3. Your Final Project, in detail

Strictly speaking, master’s programs, be it MSc. Or MS requires extensive practical work. As such, the universities are looking to understand your ability to take up the task. You should include the projects you have completed and attempt to explain what you did in the project. Remember, a SOP is not the ideal place to list down all the projects that you have done/ completed. What you need to do is choose the one that suggests in detail the extent of your learning. Also, keep it narrative. While including this, it is important to remember what not to include in your SOP as much as what all should be there.

Here are a few other things you may choose to include in your SOP for masters’ program

  • Social Initiatives you are a part of
  • Extra-curricular and co-scholastic activities
  • Seminars you may have attended/ presented
  • Papers published (if any)
  • Internship/ work experience
  • Financial Background, etc.

It has to be your own unique mix of things and how you present them. However, do remember that while you can include almost anything in your SOP, there are some things that you should not include in your SOP

4. Your Personal Motivations

Many are of the opinion that a person should not include too much about his or her family. We concur with them. However, students perceive that not talking about the family means not getting personal about it. And that is not right. In fact, your personal motivations must be mentioned in the statement of purpose as well. While you have mentioned what you want to do and how you intend to achieve it…it is extremely important to also suggest – why? For instance, say you wish to be an ace scientist in the field of biotechnology and are inspired to invent Nanobots that can cure cancer….what they want to know is why? What inspires you to walk that road? Is it some personal tragedy? Or your personal desire to bring harmony in the society or simply because the subject fascinates you beyond anything else! Whatever be your personal reasons/ motivations, you should mention them in your SOP. Also, read what you should include about your Personal Life in your SOP.

5. Your Specific Reasons for choosing the University you are applying to
Students applying abroad, often apply at more than 4 universities to increase their chances. As such, they try to summarize the last paragraph in a generic manner, explaining why they are intent on the course but leaving out the university specific information. It could be a certain faculty, or a research program or even the university’s proximity to your corporate of choice. It could also be the city that the university is located in. whatever be the reason, it is important to showcase what all reasons lead you to choose the university that you chose to apply to.

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