Where do I include a statement of purpose for UBC?

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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:35 pm

Where do I include a statement of purpose for UBC?

Post by sophia.olive » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:03 pm

I am just now finishing my application to the University of British Columbia, and I have come across a problem.

These are the questions that they ask:
What area of specialization would you like to study in Physics and
Astronomy. Give two preferences or state undecided.

Please state whether or not you will receive or have applied for
financial support for your studies in the form of an award,
scholarship, sponsorship or other. Please indicate the dollar amount
and duration of the support, and when it is to commence.

Please list below any academic awards, achievements, honours or
other distinctions you have received.

If relevant to your proposed field of study, please list any
publications and/or scholarly or professional organizations in which
you hold membership.

Please provide a brief statement of your research interests and goals.

Please describe any professional employment experience you have
that you feel is relevant to the field of studies you plan to pursue.

Please discuss any other information you feel would be important to
the Admission Committee in evaluating your application to the Faculty
of Graduate Studies. If you feel that your credentials and any other
information you have already provided on this form or will be
submitting to the Department in support of your application represents
you fairly, you should feel no obligation to write anything further

I am having trouble deciding what to enter for my answer to "please provide a brief statement of your research interests and goals" question. How long should this be? Should it act kind of as my statement of purpose?

I studied physics in undergrad, and took a couple of upper division astrophysics courses, but by no means to I know specific topics that I want to do my research in. I plan to state that I have not decided what I want to focus on, and will choose when I become more familiar with the field. Also, mention the research of a couple of professors that sound interesting. Because there is no statement of purpose if I do this, then my application will be way to general. This is the only section that includes information that would give them a feel for me in their program.

One more thing, I think that I will put my research experience in the professional employment section, but how specific should I be? This is what I plan to write:
I worked as an Undergraduate Researcher in Dr. XXX’s space physics laboratory for the duration of my undergraduate studies at XXX University. I conducted observational magnetospheric physics research focused on polar cap potential saturation, magnetosheath current, and viscous interaction topics. As a researcher, I worked on numerous topics during my time in the laboratory, but focus on polar cap potential saturation, magnetosheath current, and viscous interaction. We would use CISM-DX software to model the space weather environment, and used this simulation to determine interesting results as a product of varying solar wind conditions. Afterward, we would gather and analyze data from satellite repositories to determine the validity of the simulations. Sorting through years of satellite data with minute cadence is a daunting task, so I obtained skills in computer programming languages such as AWK, Fortran, and C++ as relief.

I would appreciate any insight.

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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Where do I include a statement of purpose for UBC?

Post by TakeruK » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:35 pm


I was a UBC student in the past and I had applied to UBC grad school in the past as well. This information is based on my conversations with my profs at UBC (while in undergrad) about what they (and other grad schools) expect in their applications. So hopefully, this will be helpful. UBC Physics does not ask for a traditional Statement of Purpose, but the final 3 questions make up the content of the Statement of Purpose.

For research interests and goals, you are no way committed to a project before even starting. I think most grad students applying to PhD programs at UBC do find a supervisor before accepting an offer, but not everyone does. This part may be outdated though, but PhD students were only accepted if a prof at UBC was willing to provide funding, thus you should do two things, if you haven't already:

1) Email profs whose interests look interesting to you (you mentioned you found some). Ask them if they are taking students in Fall 2012 and what kind of work could you do with them. Mention that you are applying, and your background, basically, what you wrote in this post.

2) Include these research interests while answering that question. You don't have to be extremely specific if you are not sure, but be as detailed as you can be. You can also talk about goals from a graduate degree in general as well, I think.

So, overall, don't answer with just simply, "I am interested in cosmology research", but it shouldn't be more than 1 paragraph, I think. But definitely include the part in most SOPs where you write about what you want to do with your degree.

I think your answer for the research experience question, that looks good. It's great that you included what you contributed and also exactly what you learned and got out of this experience. If I was reading that, I would ask what were the results of your work? Did it get published? Are other researchers in the group using your model/results on their work? etc. So I would add something about that.

Overall, as a guideline for length, aim for the answers of all 6 questions to equal roughly the length of a SOP (1-2 pages).

This is what I did a few years ago when I applied and it was successful (but I ended up attending school elsewhere). If you have further questions about this or UBC, just ask!

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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:35 pm

Re: Where do I include a statement of purpose for UBC?

Post by sophia.olive » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:20 pm

Thank you so much. That is exactly what I needed to get stop staring blankly at the screen. I have already emailed one of the professors, and am making headway with stating my research interests. You're a life saver.

Thanks again.

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Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:01 pm

Re: Where do I include a statement of purpose for UBC?

Post by PeterH1 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:58 am

Ha! Next time I should just search this forum before google. Thanks you guys, this is exactly the information I needed!

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