What belongs in a SOP?

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Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:47 pm

What belongs in a SOP?

Post by rjones21 » Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:07 am

Just started writing my SOP. Many of the places I am applying to do not have a word limit for the required SOP.

I want to keep my SOP as brief and to the point as possible so that it doesn't just get glossed over. What should absolutely be in my SOP?

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Re: What belongs in a SOP?

Post by ztruwk » Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:40 pm

Here's a paraphrased version of what UCLA asks for in their Statement of Purpose, which I think is a pretty solid outline.

- Aptitude and preparation for the program
- Purpose for applying to the program
- Experiences that have prepared you for this program, what you have learned from those experiences
- Outcomes of these experiences (presentations, posters, papers, talks, etc) that would support my potential to contribute to the field (this seems like more of a CV thing, but, they ask for it here)
- Academic interests, subfields, interdisciplinary interests, potential faculty members
- Why this program is the best place to achieve your academic goals, why you are a good fit for the program
- Post-PhD plans
- If relevant, additional past experience (employment, teaching, artistic, or international experiences that have developed skills in leadership, communication, project management, or teamwork)

That being said, they also ask for a "personal history statement" where you talk more about your personal background and barriers you have overcome, which I think is also an important angle to include in the SoP if you only have one essay. Including info about yourself outside of research will help a reader see more of an identity in you as an applicant and will, I think, help your application stand out even if it does make it longer.

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