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Statement of Purpose - SOP - Complete Overview

Written by  Rachit Agrawal

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, September 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read

Statement of Purpose - SOP - Complete Overview

Written by  Rachit Agrawal

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava

Published: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  Updated: Mon, Sep 30, 2019 9:30 AM IST  9 mins read
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Statement of Purpose 

The Statement of Purpose also called a personal statement is an essay or written statement given by an applicant who wishes to apply in some college, university, or graduates school. 

SOP writing is a common and important part of a university or college admissions process. Some universities may require one or more essays to be completed, while others make essays optional or supplementary.

 The best SOP can lead your ways to a great University as it explains your idea of the course that you wish to pursue and your reasons to apply to the particular University.

What is SOP?

SOP full form is Statement of Purpose. It is an essay written by a student for the admission Committee of a College/ University. It is a long and detailed explanation of the reasons for you to select the given University and the course.It gives the gist of who you are as a person and what led you here. An SOP also defines your determination towards your field of interest and your plans for the future. 

Why is SOP important?

Universities in other countries ask you to submit a statement outlining your professional path and objectives with your application. This enables them to choose the best applicant for the courses they provide. Your application's SOP is the deciding factor. A well-written SOP also demonstrates how effectively you can communicate yourself via writing.

SOP Guidelines

The statement of purpose is an important part of the application process for graduate school. It has the power to decide whether or not a candidate is approved, regardless of their other qualities. The recommendations outlined below should be followed by a graduate school candidate in order to develop an outstanding and effective statement of purpose.

  • Examine the sites of the institutions, departments, and programs that interest you. Obtain pamphlets and books and thoroughly read them. Emphasize the qualities of the shows that you like.
  • Learn about the faculty's ongoing research and initiatives in the schools, departments, and programs. Examine the publications of a faculty that interests you.
  • Examine recent publications in your study subject of interest to get a basic overview of how the area has evolved and what its current difficulties and challenges are.

How to write Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose: Introduction

Statement of Purpose introduction should start with an event or a phrase that explains your interest in the field you pursue. Remember, it is the first impression that will be dwelled upon the admission committee and they will be able to judge your abilities as per the beginning itself. If  it is good enough, they might not even read a lot and select you or it can go adverse as well. 

Statement of Purpose: Academic Section

You can now explain your academic background in the statement of purpose. Write about your previous college, year of enrollment and completion, any position of responsibility or courses that you undertook which can complement your field of education. 

Statement of Purpose: Professional Experience

This section is important, especially for MBA aspirants as it is compulsory in many Universities abroad and appreciated in many in India. You can explain your work experience and your role in the company. Do mention any achievement of yours during the work. 

If you do not have any professional experience, need not worry, you can elaborate on your academic achievements.

Statement of Purpose: Why this Course?

The question of why you choose to do the particular course will be crucial to deal with, so make sure you give reasonable answers on why you wish to go ahead with this course. Make sure you do not sound confused or disoriented, the Admission Committee receives many SOPs and the last thing you would want is to seem not ready.

Statement of Purpose: Why this University?

Here, you must mention why to choose this University, for this, you must do extensive research on the University and the reason why you choose this particular University and not any other. This is a good chance for you to make your impression as a learned person. Although, make sure you fact check before adding anything in your SOP. 

Statement of Purpose: Career Goals

Write about your career goals in the field of your interest. They will include both your Long Term Goals i.e. 10-15 years after the course is completed and Short Term Goals i.e. 0-5 years after the course is completed. Short Term Goals will include any further education or job profile you look for and Long Term Goals will include how you use this course and your Short Term Goals to benefit you in a long run.

Statement of Purpose: Conclusion

Here you can conclude your Statement of Purpose with an endnote for the admission committee

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How to start a Statement of Purpose

A Statement of Purpose Introduction should not be considered an introduction to yourself but an introduction to your field of studies. Following are some ways on How to start an SOP

  1. A Statement of Purpose introduction should focus on your specialisation. 
  2. Make sure that you make it interesting and catchy instead of monotonous. 
  3. Take help of professionals, if needed.
  4. The introduction should reason your interest in the field and explain your decision crisply. 
  5. Avoid sentiments in your Statement of Purpose, rather choose facts. 
  6. Explain what you aspire in this field

How long should a statement of purpose be?

A statement of purpose ought to be around 500 and 1,000 words long, and it should not be more than one page long. Students should choose a classic font in a reasonable size (11- or 12-point) with enough whitespace in the sides to make the statement simple to read. If the institution has asked it, be certain to double-space the statement.

Statement of Purpose Format

An SOP does not have a fixed format. However, the content must be cohesive and connected. These are some of the tips on how to write SOP

  • The SOP must have a beginning, middle and ending.
  • The first paragraph can have a self-introduction and goals.
  • The next two paragraphs must consist of career progression from school to present.
  • The SOP should state your motivation.
  • Then mention about why you wish to study that particular course and college.
  • The SOP should state your reasons for studying in a country.
  • The SOP should state why you intend to study abroad.
  • Lastly, the last paragraph must tell you about how you plan to achieve your goals.
  • It should mention what you intend to do after the course.
  • The SOP should neither be too short nor too long.
  • The SOP should define everything clearly.

Statement of Purpose Sample

A statement of purpose is one of the most important sections of your study abroad applications, so it is important to check the SOPs of other students who have been to a similar situation for you to get ideas. But it is important not to copy their  SOPs and only take inspiration. SOP Samples can help you get a better idea on how to write your own SOP

Statement of Purpose for MBA

A Statement of Purpose is compulsory for admission in any Business School and its value is as much as that of your GMAT score. A well-written MBA SOP can cover for your performance in GMAT. 

Sample Format for MBA

  • Introduce yourself well and your inspiration to choose the field of MBA
  • Explain your future plans in your choice of field
  • As an MBA course accepts students from different backgrounds, you must explain why you chose MBA after your Bachelor's degree
  • Elaborate on your work experience, the majority of colleges have work experience as mandatory criteria. But, do not limit your SOP to that
  • If you do not have work experience, you must mention the jobs of responsibility that you have undertaken
  • Research about the University and mention the reasons why you choose them 
  • Conclude your SOP with your future plans, short-term or long-term.


My name is XXX, and I am from India. I am 25 years old. I completed my grade 10th in 2010 with a CGPA of 5.6 and completed my 12th in 2012 with 72%.

I gathered five years of experience in international brands of multinational conglomerate company that are involved in commercial and consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems, XXXXX and XXXXX, XXXXX and XXXXX and I did my Bachelors in English Hons and I hold a Diploma in Hospitality, travel and Customer Service from XXXXX. I now feel that I need more formal managerial education to grow further in my career. And to realize my dreams to reach a strong position, I do need a formal management educational foundation and hence is the decision to go in for Masters of Business Administration... Read More

Statement of Purpose  with Engineering Background

Being a Mechanical Engineering Graduate, I have covered the basic principles of mechanical engineering and its applications in the industry. At this stage of my life, it has naturally made me come to the realization that I need to widen my scope and knowledge. This has led me to the option of pursuing a master’s course which will not only advance my expertise on the subject which I have acquired throughout the years of study and experience but also supplement me with various other real-life skills and enhance my exposure to the real world. This course would help me set a platform from which I could further my career and life goals.

I knew in my heart I wanted to do something meaningful and was always interested in applied sciences, something that can be a worthwhile contribution to the world. So, I chose to be an Engineer, precisely a mechanical engineer... Read More

Statement of Purpose Graduate School Sample

As a child, I was fascinated with automobiles and fantasized of developing vehicles for some of the world's most prestigious brands. I opted to go to India's finest college, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), and started putting in additional hours in preparation as early as Grade IX, with greatness driving my motives. After tenth grade, I enrolled in a non-medical track and began taking tutorials in order to prepare for the IITs. Until fate led me to the United States, I was secure in my decision and thought it was the best path ahead. I became acquaintances with my cousin's neighbors while on vacation at my aunt's home in XYZ City, USA. Talking about automobiles and the thrill of making them helped me establish a consistent connection with their next-door neighbor's son, with whom I spent many hours talking about cars and exchanging knowledge. His degree of exposure, the ease with which he was able to apply what he had learned, and his well developed thinking abilities astounded me.

For the first time in my life, I realized the significance of knowledge and exposure. I was drawn to it after learning about their educational system and the significance they place on practical parts of schooling. The fact that India, despite its rapid technological advancements, is still lagging behind the West in the automotive engineering field caused me to reconsider my choice to apply to the IITs. I realized that in order to work as a Design Engineer for a major automobile manufacturer, I needed not just advanced technical abilities, but also the relevant network and worldwide exposure. This persuaded me to pursue my Bachelor's degree at an overseas university.

To achieve this goal, I switched schools to follow the CIE curriculum and sought to adapt to international teaching methodology. Though I had to retake nearly 18 months of study as a consequence of my choice, I knew that my efforts would pay off well in the future. I retained my concentration by working hard and going above and beyond the curriculum by participating in Science Fairs and exhibits. I was given the task of planning and arranging many events as a natural leader, and I achieved outstanding outcomes while learning from diverse scenarios. My grades, of course, reflect my academic accomplishments.

Over time, I realized that academic achievement was insufficient. As a result, I rekindled my interest in sports and gaming. I had captained my house team at my former school as a superb basketball player, only to give it up in quest of my IIT goal. With a rage, I returned to practice.

My great attitude, leadership qualities, and previous team management experience quickly earned me the position of School Sports Captain (in 2011-12). Continuing my excursion into athletics, I placed fourth in a district chess tournament. I have competed in several state and national competitions as a member of the school's football team (2007-09) and basketball team (2010-12). In reality, I competed in dance contests and placed second in an inter-school festival called 'Quest - 2011' held at ABC School in the City.

Moving on, I feel I have covered all of my bases, and this program at your institution would offer me with the in-depth knowledge I need to accomplish my professional goals.

Statement of Purpose for MBA Finance

“Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands, and there is no knowledge that is not power”. This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson best describes my beliefs. After more than 12 years in the Banking and Finance sector of IT, the power of knowledge seems to call me out persuading me to seek more. I have nurtured a dream of becoming a part of the top-level management team of a firm. This dream has grown with me and I hope the day of realization is not far off. 

I am XXXXX, an Indian citizen. I graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of XXXXX, and then I set out to realize my dream by joining Accenture India Pvt. Ltd. I had taken a break from 1 year, May-2004 to May-2005, to prepare for CAT exam but I decided not to pursue that direction and instead opted for Accenture to gain quality experience... Read More

Statement of Purpose for Internship

Internships have become competitive with time. So many of the corporates ask for a Statement of Purpose for Internships, an SOP for Internship relays your reasons to join the enterprise and your capabilities that should be taken in consideration for the internship.

How to write a Statement of Purpose for Internship

  1. Introduce yourself and the field you are planning to work on. 
  2. Mention the exact domain that you plan on working in.
  3. You must give genuine reasons to why you plan on doing the internship
  4. Mention your educational qualifications related to the position 
  5. Do write about anything extracurricular that can help your internship 
  6. Write about why you chose to select that particular Company to do your Internship
  7. Your soft skills are as important as your hard skills
  8. Conclude your SOP with your short term plans and long term plans in the company and otherwise

Sample SOP for Internship


Statement of Purpose for Research Internship

A Research Internship SOP is very similar to a normal SOP for Internship, only make sure to give reasons for your research and your vision in it. 

You should be crystal clear with the idea of your research and the topic you plan to research on.


PhD Statement of Purpose Sample

​​As an undergraduate, I concentrated in literary studies (global literature), but I now want to focus on English and American literary works. I'm particularly fond of nineteenth-century literature, women's writings, Anglo-Saxon poems, and folklore and folk literature. Some mixture of these topics has appeared in my own writing work. I focused on nineteenth-century books by and about women for the oral portion of my comprehensive examinations. Toni Morrison's use of classical, scriptural, African, and Afro-American folklore in her work became the topic of my honors essay, which looked at the relationship between "high" and "low" literature. I intend to continue working on this article, maybe studying Morrison's other works and creating a paper for publication.

In pursuit of a doctorate, I want to investigate the link between high and folk writing in more depth. My junior year and private Anglo-Saxon language and literature studies have led me to wonder where the lines between folklore, folk art, and high literature should be drawn. If I am accepted into your institution, I would want to continue my study of Anglo-Saxon literature, with a focus on its folk components.

Poem writing is also a big part of school and professional aspirations. I've just recently started submitting to smaller publications with some success, and I'm slowly putting together a working draft for a collection. The collection's main focus is to honor the act of sending and taking life, whether literally or metaphorically, via poems that rely on classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as ordinary experience. My poetry is influenced by and depends on my academic pursuits. Much of what I study and research becomes a topic in my creative work. Simultaneously, I learn the art of literature by participating in the creative process and experimenting with methods employed by previous writers.

I see myself educating literature, writing critique, and editing or publishing poetry as a vocation. Doctoral studies would be beneficial to me in a variety of ways. First and foremost, your teaching assistant curriculum would equip me with the necessary practical teaching experience. Furthermore, obtaining a Ph.D. in English and American literature will help me achieve my other two professional objectives by enhancing my critical and creative language abilities. Finally, I regard the Ph.D. as both a means to a goal and a professional stepping stone; I like examining the literature for its own purpose and would want to continue my education at the level required by the Ph.D. program.

Sample format for PhD

Mentioned below is the sample format for PhD: 

  • Introduce yourself and your research plan
  • You can talk about your research topic, approach towards it and any backup research ideas that you have
  • Your past academic experience can work as proof of your passion towards your field
  • Since it is the epitome of all courses, the SOP for it needs to be reasonable and professional
  • Mention any research papers that you have written with a brief summary of it
  • You must mention why you chose that particular university for research.  Refer to their department and faculty, which makes it look more personal
  • Write about your career goals, be it short-term or long-term
  • End your SOP with a humble note 

SOP for PhD

The beauty of mathematics has kept me enthralled ever since and to satisfy the curious mind I chose to pursue mathematics for higher education. Apart from being good at academics, I have tried my hand at various other activities to keep myself engaged and motivated. To cater to my instinct of being a learner, I have learned playing the harmonium and am presently learning piano. At my school and college level, I had been an excellent orator and managed many events. Regular practice of meditation and yoga keeps me active, rejuvenated, energetic and helps me concentrate better. I enjoy taking challenges, setting new targets for myself.

I joined XXXX College, the University of XXXX as an undergraduate student in July 2013. It was here that I first encountered the rigorous way of studying and doing mathematics. I completed my undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Science in July 2016 with distinction...Read More

Statement of Purpose for Masters

A Statement of Purpose of MS is required in every college/ University specially when studying abroad. The concept of an SOP is to know your subjective interest in the course and University. So, your value to these two aspects cannot be stressed enough. You need to prove by your SOP to the Admission Committee that you are capable to do MS in their University.

SOP for MS-  Sample

I am XXXXX from India. I have completed my higher secondary schooling from CBSE board in 2011 with 7.8 CGPA. I have then completed my senior secondary education in 2013 from CBSE board with 72%. I pursued my graduation in Bachelors of Technology in Computer Engineering stream which I completed with 2.8CGPA marks in 2017.

I am currently working as a Business Analyst at XXXXX Mumbai, India. I also serve as an SAP MM Functional consultant and the Project Manager for the automation of Plant configuration activity. During my undergraduate course, I interned with XXXXX where I designed Android Application and Linked it with the online database system. Prior to that, I interned with XXXXX where I worked for Implementation of code in C++ for software. I also interned with XXXXX that was a startup Company for applications and Website building of Businesses...Read More

SOP for MS in Computer Science with Work Experience

Seated in the felicitation for meritorious students in my school, and watching my peers receive academic rewards, I vowed to attain excellence in academics. I have always been one of the brightest children in the class and since then, have never looked back. I moved strength to strength, winning laurels in school like scholar certificates, disciplinary badges and finally medals in standard XII. My outstanding academic performance in school and consequently in high school laid the foundation on which I define my career goals. 

Having witnessed the tremendous adoption of technology while growing up, I was always inquisitive to know more. I was always excited to understand the internal working related to computers. Reading about the latest in technology and assessing them has become a part of me. Due to my interest in technology and based upon my strong aptitude and insatiable spirit of inquiry, I took up engineering studies at the undergraduate level with a major in Computer Science and Engineering...Read More

Statement of Purpose for Undergraduate

Statement of Purpose for Undergraduate Admissions is different from the other types of SOPs as many students after their Class 12th do not have work experience in general. Here, the value of Extra-Curricular activities increase. For undergraduate courses, you must mention any kind of accomplishment that can be relevant to the Course. 

Sample SOP for Bachelors

I am glad to introduce myself as XXXXX, a citizen of India. I completed my 10th grade from CBSE board in 2017 and scored 10.0 CGPA marks. I recently completed my 12th grade from the CBSE board. I passed with flying colors and scored 82.3% marks.

My passion for law stemmed from my introduction to international law through Model United Nations and grew with the several hundred hours spent in research on various international laws, treaties, and numerous conventions. Model UNs were my gateway to the vast world of diplomacy, intellect, and in-depth understanding that goes behind in making these complex yet once made obvious laws. Law has always been an area of interest, but the transition from interest to passion happened with the advent of one incident that is to date vividly stored in my memory...Read More

Statement of Purpose for Job

A Statement of Purpose for Job Application is very similar to the Internship SOP only that you need to mention your previous jobs and everything you learned there.

Employees looking to change their jobs are especially required to write the SOP.


SOP Writing Tips

An SOP is a self introductory essay which focuses on your life’s achievements, the reason for chosen career path, interests and hobbies and goals in life. It is a very crucial document for your admission process and hence it must be drafted with precise information.  A great SOP must include:

  • Introduction
  • Why do you wish to study this program, from this university and this country?
  • Specific courses or projects you have done relating to your field of interest?
  • Any community service or leadership experience while in college?
  • Why should you get admitted to this program?
  • What values will you bring to the institute and to your peers?
  • What are your career goals and?
  • How will this program help you to achieve your career goals?
  • Your extracurricular activities, hobbies, and interests
  • What is that one unique aspect/characteristic about you that the admission officers should know? Why does it matter to the admission officers and/or to the fellow students of your class?

Now that the importance of SOP is very much clear, let’s take a look at the important aspects which form a good SOP. Consider the following points while writing down your SOP.

  • Make a list of all the information you wish to include in your SOP
  • Make sure you are clear and confident about your career goal and the course and college you are applying for.
  • Think over the theme and the presentation of the SOP
  • Sort out the list as to narrow down the content to specific word limit by omitting unnecessary information
  • Write it down as per the format provided by the university or else search for the best format and writ according to it
  • Editing is very important to curb the word limit and rectify errors if any.
  • Refer to Sample SOP to get an idea about what to include and what not.


✅ What is the purpose of an SOP?

Ans. An SOP is a statement that describes your reasons to join an Institution that can include a College or a Company. A Statement of Purpose will define your plans for the future and how you plan on achieving it.

✅ Can Sop be copied?

Ans. An SOP reflects your personal journey towards a goal that you have, so it is pretty tough to copy it. But if you do, it disrupts the idea of a Statement of Purpose. Copying an SOP can lead to a negative result fro you from the face of the organization you apply in.

✅ How do you write a good statement of purpose?

Ans. A good SOP can only be written when you write your true thoughts in it in a formulated manner. A good statement of Purpose must have your reason to go down the path of career that you have chosen for yourself. The SOP should mention why you plan on doing a particular course or job and why with that particular organization. The SOP will also include why should the organization choose you to be a part of their endeavor.

✅ How do you end a statement of purpose?

Ans. A Statement of Purpose should end by concluding and paraphrasing every highlighting part of your SOP. You must end it in a humble note. The Conclusion should be well formulated and grammatically good. If the committee does not read the entire SOP, the Conclusion should give a short description of it all.

✅ Should I title my statement of purpose?

Ans. You must title your SOP as "Statement of Purpose". You must include the heading in the first line itself so that the committee can clearly understand that it is your SOP. Also, write your personal details in the first paragraph itself. You should not write a title of your own, it can be confusing.

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About the Author & Expert


Rachit Agrawal

author • MBA • 2 years

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.