How to Write a Winning SOP?


Of all the documents that you submit along with your university application, a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is the only one that is written by you. While your Letters of Recommendation are written by your referees and talk about your referees’ opinions of you and the transcripts are just a partial representation of your true academic abilities, the SOP is one where you can write all about yourself, your strengths, your aspirations, and your motivations.


What is SOP?

A Statement of Purpose (SOP), also known as a research statement or a letter of intent, is written to the admission panel and talks about your career path, interests, professional contributions, goals, and the driving force behind pursuing a particular program.


The Formula for Writing a Winning SOP

Anecdote (Introduction)

  • Begin with a detailed account of what inspired you to aspire to higher education in your field of interest. An anecdotal approach is considered the most effective approach for the introductory paragraph.
  • Talk about your specific experiences and exposures that made you decide on a higher degree. (usually MS) It could be an event, project, training or workshop, etc. from college – narrate those events. Keep it real – don’t worry about making it extravagant, even sober, mundane experiences will work provided they are genuine.


Academic Background

  • Mention all about your college experiences; courses in your UG curriculum that you were particularly interested in; the major and mini projects that you have done and the associated learning
  • Any internship, training, workshops, seminars, industrial visits that you have been to and the learning
  • Make sure they are all relevant to the program that you are applying to. The aim here is to establish that you are both interested as well as qualified to take up this graduate course


Professional Experience (If any)

  • Talk about your roles and responsibilities at your job, in your current and previous organizations. Highlight any achievements and initiatives taken by you. If you have led teams or events, mention them as well


Why MS or any higher degree now?

  • Mention why you want to do your Master’s at this stage of your career
  • The idea is to link your past experiences, presentation skills to future career goals


Career Goals

  • The most important part of an SOP – the ‘Purpose’ in the Statement of Purpose
  • Think well and research extensively before you start writing this part because you have to be very specific. Avoid writing generic sentences like “I hope to build a strong career by sharpening my skills”, instead specify what is your idea of a successful career and what skills are you actually referring to
  • Divide your goals into short term and long term – remember, short term goals start from after you graduate with the Master’s degree and your 2-year Master’s is not part of the short term goals. You may include a Ph.D. if that’s what you want to do after the Masters
  • So, in short-term goals, you need to talk about what you want to do after completing your MS. Would you want to work in an industry job or get into research? Mention the names of the companies that you have in mind to work for and the job role. Specifically, mention the skills that you need to develop in order to work in the desired capacity. If research is in your mind, talk about your desired field and preferred areas of research.
  • Also, point out how an MS will help you achieve these goals?
  • Coming to long-term goals, chalk out how you wish your career to progress in about 10-15 years and be very specific.


Why this university?

Finally, mention specific reasons why you prefer a particular university.

  • Name the courses in the curriculum that will help you learn the skills to accomplish your goals.
  • Talk about any ongoing/previous research in the university which interests you.
  • Name at least one faculty member whose areas of expertise match your areas of interest.
  • Mention any other feature of the university or program that will be beneficial to your case specifically.


Tips to Write an SOP –

  1. Stick to the basic information and the overview. Don’t write irrelevant information, like family history and stuff.
  2. Avoid mentioning sensitive financial details, in case you are applying for scholarships, a separate document will be required for the same.
  3. Do not exceed the given word limit.
  4. Be crisp, do not beat around the bush.
  5. Avoid too many technical terms, keep it simple.
  6. Do not lie in your Statement of Purpose, dishonesty may lead to rejection and problems in the further admission process.
  7. Avoid using creative fonts or colored papers, keep it professional.
  8. Beware of using too much humor, it can backfire!



A couple of lines mention how prepared you are for the MS program. So, the main idea here is to keep it personal and keep it specific – don’t generalize.

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What is the format of an SOP?

An SOP can be two pages long, written in 12-point fonts, and double-spaced. You can write 800-1000 words, depending upon the size and type of font used in your SOP.

How do I make my SOP stand out?


  • Your motivation/vision should be mentioned.
  • Your accomplishments should be in adherence to your vision.
  • Display an open-to-learning attitude, don’t display a know it all attitude.
  • Make sure that you understand the importance of research.

What are the three types of SOP formats?

There are three different types of SOPs: step-by-step, hierarchical steps, and flowcharts.

Can I use the same SOP for different universities?

Of course, You can use the same Statement Of Purpose for all the universities to which you wish to apply. The motive of the SOP for an individual remains the same as it describes you on a personal level.

How long does it take to write an SOP?

Writing an SOP takes hardly a few hours. It is advised that you should not use other people’s templates, just answer the points they want for each and move on.

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