Statement of Purpose, or Personal Statement, for graduate school.

academia graduate-students statement-of-purpose

I’ve been helping people edit their Statement of Purpose, or SOP, for graduate school applications in the USA this past year. I like writing, I like editing. It has been fun and interesting!

Out of the statements I have seen, the most common feature was that people had trouble getting a smooth introductory paragraph.

My top advice then would be:

  • Read some of the links below (I recommend 1-4 especially; if you are looking for more, 6-7 probably have it),
  • Write about you/ your research,
  • Get something on paper and worry about that pesky introductory paragraph later. I have a general post on writing.

An important disclaimer: I don’t sit on admissions committees.

The links:

  1. Andy Palvo has a short, efficient post with examples of statements.
  2. Stefanie Tellex, Humans to Robots Lab has a short post about writing a research statement for graduate school and fellowships.
  3. Mor Harchol-Balter talks about personal statements in depth on page 11 (section 3.3) of the .pdf, complete with a template.
  4. Krishna Murthy has an in-depth post about what your statement should be about, and not about.
  5. U.C. Berkeley’s grad school also has a template for personal statements.
  6. Swapneel Mehta has a lot of resources at his post, including examples of some statements.
  7. Kalpesh Krishna has a list of guides. This is a big resource!

Ok, now you have a statement. Do you want someone to read it over? You can fill out my contact form.

I’ve taken down the link for my SOP contact form at the moment, in mid-October 2021. I am currently at my maximum with handling SOPs.

Jia-Bin Huang has an extensive Twitter thread with pre-application programs, here.

A few notes:

  • Again, I have no power on admissions committees.
  • If your deadline is tomorrow, I will be unable to help you. I plan to do this in ‘spare-ish’ time, and will only take on as many SOPs as I can edit well.
  • My research areas are: computer vision, robotics, computer science, engineering, and it is likely that it will be easier for me to critique your statement if those are also your research interests. However, I did work with someone applying to Biomedical programs and his statement was really interesting.
  • This is free, and consequently you will have to do most of the work. If your statement needs a lot of editing, I will point you in a certain direction, but it will be up to you to decide if you want to implement these suggestions and whether your statement is finished or not.
  • If your English is not good, that is fine, because I can help you improve it. I can also help with cultural items, such as different interpretations between dialects of English, how to write for a North American audience, correcting grammar in one sentence and showing the pattern of where it may need to be corrected elsewhere. My best non-English language is Spanish.

Many thanks to early readers of this post, Krishna Murthy Jatavallabhula and Dmytro Mishkin.

© Amy Tabb 2018 - 2023. All rights reserved. The contents of this site reflect my personal perspectives and not those of any other entity.