When it comes to Masters (MS) applications, your Statement of Purpose (SoP) is a make-or-break component, unless you have got extraordinary academic & co-curricular achievements. In this post, we will discuss the key points to keep in mind while writing SoP for MS including strategies and winning samples.
Tips for Writing Impactful SoP for MS in USA and Europe
Self-Reflection and Introspection
Try to tell who you are… your personal values…
Start with a Hook Statement to Establish a personal/emotional connection!
Snippet from an SOP for MS Biomedical Engineering:
During the lockdown, I have been spending all my time at home after seven years. Many old memories have surfaced and not all of them are cherishable. I come from a middle-class orthodox Indian family. Even though both my parents are educated, I have been treated like an untouchable during every menstrual cycle. “Sleep on the floor…Wake up, take a cold shower…Don’t touch anything..”. With meagre sex education in school, it was only in college that I interacted with women from diverse backgrounds and learned that the taboo around menstruation is only the surface of the suffering that Indian women endure.Secured Admits at Cornell, Duke, UC Berkeley, and three other top US schools [Fall 2021]
Tell the readers how your immediate surroundings, environment, or family has motivated you to become the person you are today!
Snippet from an SOP for MS Electrical Engineering:
I grew up in a small town called Cabimas in Venezuela. My state is well known for oil related activities and how the biggest oil companies in the world operated there. Both of my parents are engineers, and I remember how they always ingrained in me, a sense of logic and critical thinking.
Since I was a kid, I was curious to understand how mechanical and electronic devices work. I used to disarm toys just to understand what was inside, and how they work. While growing up, I realized I wanted to study electricity. I was impressed how something we cannot see is critical in our daily lives.
In my middle and high school, I excelled in every subject. However, my interest was always in science, especially, mathematics and physics. My curiosity kept growing until I wanted to know how every electrical system worked, so studying Electrical Engineering during my undergrad was an easy decision for me.– Admits from Michigan, Purdue and two other top schools [Fall 2021]
Focus on the Origin – The Inception Point
Snippet from SOP for MS Renewable Energy:
About 70% of India’s energy needs are fulfilled by fossil fuels and about 40% of fresh produce is going is wasted annually before reaching consumers due to a lack of cold chain infrastructure. This is a problem faced by many third-world countries.
As a child, I would accompany my father to his manufacturing facility of copper tubes and capillaries for HVAC industry. We had visited various OEM’s and conferences related to HVAC. I remember him telling me the future of the world is in green technology.
To work ahead on green technologies, I studied Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. In College, I was very curious about studying new developments and researches related to HVAC. I always enjoyed studying the subjects Heat transfer, Thermodynamics, and Fluid Mechanics.
Academics apart, I did two internships as a summer engineer trainee in NEI and Sigma Electric in Jaipur. Those training enabled me to create a pragmatic and rational approach to problems along with new insights to my theoretical understanding of Poka Yoke, Kaizen, Material science, and advanced manufacturing.– Admits at TU Delft, Technical University of Denmark, KTH Sweden [Fall 2019]
Demonstrate Curiosity and Genuine Passion
Don’t just summarize your courses and projects. Tell the readers how those experiences motivated you.
Talk about your inspirations… Talk about challenges you faced!
Why this subject and why a Masters degree in this area?
Snippet from an SOP for MS Bioinformatics:
I was in the 2nd year of the B.Eng. Biotechnology program when I got introduced to the application of bioinformatics in predictive analysis and precision medicine.
The following summer I interned at the Institute of Bioinformatics lab at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore.
In addition to coursework theory and practical experiences, the book “Rigor Mortis” by Richard Harris further stirred my interest in the field of bioinformatics. The author questions the reliability of current model organisms used in research by stating that drugs like statins and aspirin would fail almost all animal tests even today; also, what works in a mouse gets replicated in rats only 60% of the time.
To me, this underlined the need to look for alternatives to current drug testing practices in drug discovery. Since, the same drugs work differently on different individuals; I believe that bioinformatics algorithms for developing engineered small molecules and testing them on virtual disease models could be a solution for effective therapeutics.– Admits at Boston, Manchester, Cranfield, San Diego State [Fall 2020]
Justify Why this Particular Course/Program
If you are from Non-CS background and want to do MS in Data Science (ML/AI)… tell the readers –
- What is it about data science that excites you?
- Why not MIS, CS, Information Systems
- How have you pushed yourself to learn the basics of data science?
- Have you done any relevant internships?
- How did that experience motivate you to pursue MS Data Science?
- Talk about the challenges that you faced… What are the limitations that have made you consider a Masters degree in Data Science?
- What is the purpose – What is your post-MS goal? What are your career aspirations?
- Why this program or university?
Snippet for MS Data Science:
My interest in artificial intelligence (AI) research started with my first online course in machine learning (ML) led by Prof. Andrew Ng. This interest changed into my passion when I built a virtual assistant at my start-up where I extensively explored natural language processing (NLP) and item response theory.
By working on various applications of ML in my current role, following the work done by organisations like OpenAI, and discussing with friends doing ML research at Google and DeepMind, I am completely convinced about further building my career in AI.– Admit at King’s College London [Non-CS Reapplicant]
Coherent Flow of Logic & Reasoning to Demonstrate Motivation
Snippet from SOP for MSc Environmental Engineering:
Envision a kid drenched in sludge. Unaware of his exposure to lethal toxins he dawns an unfading smile. I crossed paths with this indelible moment years ago while surveying a slum in Mumbai. The study of this region brought forth its tremendous spike in kids’ mortality rates. The primary culprit for this was the contamination of their drinking supply by people like us.
Overwhelmed with guilt, I experienced an epiphany that solving the water crisis, an issue I strongly identify with, exceeds ensuring the availability of water. It nudged me to explore research in wastewater treatment. Eventually, I realised that in order to contribute towards attenuation of water pollution, having a command on behaviour of contaminants, their correlation and influence on the biosphere is imperative. Compelled to acquire this multifaceted approach I’ve decided to explore the field of Environmental Chemistry.– Admits in Sweden, Finland, Netherlands [Fall 2020]
Snippet from SOP for MS Bioengineering:
I discovered that twenty-three million girls drop out of school and forty thousand women die of cervical cancer every year in India due to low awareness and little access to affordable sanitary products. This sordid state of women’s health tortured the engineer inside me and I wanted to contribute towards this field.
This summer I secured an opportunity to intern at ABC-XYZ. My work on the AI women’s health assistant, which now provides accurate sexual and mental health information to a thousand website visitors per month, involved brainstorming on user needs with the in-house gynecologist. I deeply enjoyed these interdisciplinary interactions and that’s what reinstated my motivation to pursue bioengineering.– Admits at Top Universities in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and USA [Fall 2020]
Support Your Motivation with a Personal Story
Snippet from an Essay for MS Business Analytics:
Towards the end of my internship at 3M R&D, I stumbled upon a business seminar while looking for free food. It is then when the speaker’s words changed my life – “A 1% price change can affect margins by 11%, only if you make the data ‘talk’“. His seemingly unbelievable but statistically possible way of leveraging data to drive profitability blew me away. Fascinated, I soon left the beakers and test tubes behind, taking several online courses on creatively using data. Discovering my passion for analytics, I went on to design data-driven pricing solutions at my first job.– Admit at UT Austin [Fall 2020]
Demonstrate Your Cultural Intelligence
Snippet from SOP for MS EE/Robotics:
To further widen the horizon on my technical knowledge, I went to do an internship at the National Chin Ye University in Taiwan in the fields of Arduino and IoT. I learned the application of theoretical concepts. I made devices that were suitable in practical scenarios like home automation. I worked on creating apps that can switch on or off the electricity, predict gas leakage, etc.
– Admits at ASU, NCSU [Fall 2020]
The entire experience was an interesting one because I had a language barrier. But, that didn’t stop me from working effectively. Apart from the invaluable technical knowledge gained, I also learned a great deal about patience and cross-cultural communication by communicating with peers, who neither speak our language nor did I speak theirs. …….
Emphasize the Problem Statement in the SOP for MS
It’s a Statement of PURPOSE. So, be very specific with the purpose/objective/goal!
While I firmly believe that my diverse experiences have given me breadth in Bioengineering, I lack the in-depth clinical understanding and industry-specific exposure characteristic of every innovator in the healthcare industry. Therefore, I plan to gain knowledge of the nuances of technology development in the healthcare industry. Affordable healthcare is one of the ten focus areas of the Stanford School of Engineering, pursuing MS in Bioengineering program at your university seems like the right choice to me.
I have faced many challenges due to a lack of formal education in this area. At my start-up, I was unable to build a product that was technologically capable of solving the customers’ problems. This eventually led to the company shutting down. Moreover, the lack of a formal degree in ML has restricted my professional career growth. It is imperative to have a graduate degree in ML in order to work at a senior position in the industry, lead a team of ML engineers, and be trusted with important projects…..
The Dissertation is the part that I look forward to most. I have communicated with Dr. ABC and Dr. Tim XYZ for a potential research topic involving deep reinforcement learning in multi-agent systems. Working with them would be the highlight of my career.
Be Specific and To The Point on “Why This University”
At TU Delft the D:DREAM teams of Vattenfall Solar Team and Solar Boat Team shows the student culture which can be a great learning experience for students. YES!DELFT is one of kind organization that can help convert raw dreams into reality. The Electrical Sustainable Power Lab is something that I believe provide very good for validating results and provide a perfect amalgamation of theoretical and practical research. The research work done on the novel approach to calculate urban solar power potential by the researchers intrigued me.
One of my key areas of interest is photovoltaic. The PVLAB equipped with Solar Simulator at TU Delft is something I believe can help turn ideas into reality.
During the program, I am keen to further develop my research understanding of the fields of biomechanics, medical device design and deep learning in medicine. While exploring the ongoing research across these fields, I came across the P******* Lab and their research on Frugal Science and Global Health resonated with my goal of building cost effective solutions.
I also found Professor ABC’s work on localization of catheters in lungs using deep learning very intriguing. I am currently taking the AI in Medicine Specialization on Coursera and reading about his research helped me deepen my understanding of the applications of CNNs. Moreover, I was excited to find out that Professor XYZ’s research on computational methods for patient-specific modelling overlaps with my past research experience in modelling patient-specific heat transfer in tumors.
Show that you are taking a well-informed decision!
Personal Statement vs SOP for MS Applications
Top Schools like Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Michigan, etc. ask for both SoP and Personal Statement
Statement of Purpose (SoP) should cover:
- Academic Interests
- What do you intend to do in the future (career aspirations)
- Research interests at the particular school/program
- Why this program is best suited for you
- How the program connect to your previous education/training and future goals
Personal Statement should cover:
- How do your personality, motivation, and experiences (academic & non-academic) make you a great candidate for this program?
- E.g. – how a summer internship sparked your interest in Bioinformatics / how overcoming academic obstacles motivated you to pursue a Masters degree
- What do you plan to do with your degree / How do you plan to help others using your degree/alma mater?
Sample SOP for MS
Sample SOP for MS in Computer Science (CS)
It is apparent to me that pursuing a graduate degree would not only allow me to deepen my understanding of the various tenets of Computer Science but also provide me with a broader spectrum of job opportunities in the field of my choice. I have developed an interest in computer applications since the ninth standard, which has consistently increased since then resulting in my participation in various intra-collegiate coding competitions, the ACM ICPC, and most recently, an internship as a Software Developer at BlackRock Inc., Gurgaon.
The specialization in Computing Systems would prepare me for the role of a Software Engineer as part of the industry. However, I deeply empathize with farmers, a community that comprises roughly twenty-one percent of India’s population and one-fifth of which lives below the poverty line. Plagued with farmer suicides and abysmal crop yields, Indian agriculture – the backbone of our economy – is in a sorry state of affairs now more than ever and in the long run, I would like to utilize my skills to give back to this community.
Georgia Tech’s (GT) research interests in the field of precision agriculture, which aims to promote agricultural advancement by the use of satellite technology, is aligned with my own. Of particular interest to me is Professor xyz’s work on abc. The fact that prof. xyz undertakes his research while also being able to work with technological leaders such as <google> is indication of their contribution to academia as well as industry and of GT’s strong connect with the industry. I have been a part of the SAHIL (Students Against Her Ignominy And Libel) initiative against gender inequality, at college, which has helped me appreciate the equal representation of all genders – something that student organizations such as GT’s WECE stand for.
It is a matter of great prestige for my family to have three members graduate from this university. Having detailed conversations with them has convinced me that Georgia Tech not only has a sound computer science program but also great placement opportunities. According to Chintan Vora, “An MS in CS at Georgia Tech gave me the ideal academic environment to hone my analytical, creative and research skills. The coursework was expansive and covered variety of CS topics from basics like algorithms and operating systems to recent trends like big data and cloud computing. The opportunity to work alongside brightest minds, distinguished professors and researchers prepared me for a highly productive career in technology and research.”
Sample SOP for MS in Data Science
After finishing undergraduate studies, instead of just drifting into a post-graduation career, I decided to work and understand what I wanted out of life so I joined JPMC as a contractor, and later due to my impeccable performance and client handling, I was converted to a permanent employee. I have been promoted 4 times in 9 years of my professional life and have donned multiple hats during this tenure.
I tried to acquire everything that could be considered as a professional success but I usually got bored with routine and mundane software development tasks and battled a moral dilemma that I wanted to do something meaningful which had a larger social impact. I wanted to get into research roles and explore areas like NLP and Computer Vision, which have the potential to address some of the world’s most challenging social problems.
But, considering I just had an undergrad degree not many were ready to take me seriously and offer similar roles. In retrospect I was not a prodigy or a genius and had to carve my own path myself, I reckoned I would have to leave my comfort zone and to everyone’s dismay and disbelief would have to go back to graduate school so that I can dedicate my time to get some good publications and get a plethora of research experience in core areas of Artificial Intelligence so that prospective employers or academia can take me seriously.
During my study, I would like to focus on NLP. I am certain with the growing facilities and direction provided by the industrious faculty at the university, attaining a cutting-edge in the industry will become easier for me. Apart from core subjects, I am also interested in the subjects like Deep Learning, Computer Vision. In particular, I would like to work under Prof John Haws as his work in NLP, aligns with my area of interest.
SOP for MS Data Science vs MS Business Analytics
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