How to write a strong statement of purpose for postgraduate study

Your statement of purpose is one of the most important supporting documents for the success of your application when applying for a postgraduate course – so it’s important to get it right. 

Here are some tips to guide you on how to write a strong statement of purpose (also often known as a personal statement). This can help ensure you put your best application forward and increase your chances of success when applying for a postgraduate course: 

Start with a strong opening 

Your statement of purpose is your opportunity to speak directly to the admissions team of your chosen course 

Start strongly on a confident note and use this opportunity to clearly communicate to the admissions team your passion for your chosen subject and field. You can do this by providing a short and succinct introduction on your academic and professional background and what you’re passionate about, and why that passion has motivated you to apply for your chosen course. 

Showcase your strengths 

Along with your enthusiasm for your chosen subject and field, it’s important to showcase to the admissions panel how your strengths, qualities and experience would make you an excellent candidate for the course you’re applying for. 

List any relevant projects you’ve worked on that sparked your passion, as well as any personal traits that would make you an ideal candidate for your chosen course, such as excellent self-discipline, time-management and organisational skills. 

Highlight what makes you stand out 

Your statement of purpose is your best opportunity to really ‘sell’ yourself to the admissions panel.  

While your other supporting documents – such as your CV and degree transcript – provide the panel with proof of your academic qualifications and professional experience, they don’t convey you as a person, or your passion for a particular subject area.  

Use this opportunity to tell the admissions panel about yourself. What makes you stand out as a course applicant? How do you believe studying the course will help you in your future career? Your career ambitions should make up a substantial part of your personal statement, so be sure to highlight these clearly. 

Keep it concise and to the point 

Your statement of purpose should typically be no more than 1 page of A4 paper, or around 500-600 words.  

Use your word count wisely – get to the point and clearly demonstrate to the admissions panel why you’d like to join the course.  

The key points you’ll want to include in your statement of purpose will typically be: 

  • Why you’re interested in the course and how it fits in with your career goals 

  • Your qualifications and work experience and how they’re relevant to the course  

  • Why you’d like to study with your chosen institution  

  • Anything else you’d like to let the admissions panel know about yourself that makes you stand out as a great candidate for the course you’re applying for 

Proofread, edit and get feedback 

It’s important to get started with preparing your statement of purpose well in advance of the course application deadline, so that you have enough time to proofread, edit and get feedback on it. 

Once you’ve completed your statement of purpose, run the document through a spell checker and re-read it in its entirety at least once more to see if there are any edits you need to make. 

It’s also a good idea to let a friend, colleague or manager review your statement of purpose and get their feedback before you send it through to your chosen institution. Your peers may be able to provide you with valuable feedback on how you can further improve your statement of purpose. They may also spot any spelling or grammatical errors you may have missed. 

Queen Mary Online offers flexible postgraduate courses that will enhance your expertise and empower you with the skills and confidence to take the next step in your career. Find out about the application process and discover helpful tips to put your best application forward:

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Topics: application process

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