How to write an SOP for MS
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What is a Statement of Purpose?
A Statement of purpose is how you portray your personality in front of the Admissions Council. A resume might be good for listing your academic qualifications, but a Statement of Purpose is a great chance to impress the admission commission by presenting your profile strongly and describing things that are not mentioned in your academic documents or your resume.
As the name suggests, a Statement of Purpose is used to state your purpose for wanting to join a particular academic program at that University. The Statement of Purpose, or SOP as it is famously referred to, is structured like an essay and includes points that will increase the understanding of the candidate’s life, motivations, and career paths.
There are a lot of things that might be included in the SOP. Universities sometimes ask for question-based essays or might ask you to simply present your Statement of Purpose. Unless categorically stated otherwise, an SOP must include goals, the career path you have taken up so far as well as your academic progress. There must also be some reference to your motivation for wishing to pursue that specific course in that specific University. You may also state how you wish to use this course to further your goals and career.
Importance of a Statement of Purpose
A well-written Statement of Purpose is extremely critical to your admission procedure. Most Universities abroad and even many Indian Universities ask for a well-written SOP. There are many aspects of a candidate’s application that are inspected before finalizing a decision. While the academic record and other exam scorecards are essentially objective in nature, an SOP is the only truly subjective aspect of your application. This gives the Admission Commission a glimpse into who you are as a person. This is your chance to prove how you are unique and stand out from the crowd.
What to include?
Universities use this essay to filter your application for their admission process. They are looking for areas that highlight you and your achievements. So include struggles you have faced in life. If you have an underprivileged background, mention that in your essay. If you are from a rural area, mention that, and mention how you beat the odds. But don’t grovel about your humble background. Mention it in a matter of fact way, and state what you did to remedy the situation.
- Mention your Extracurricular activities. You don’t have to have big achievements in sports. Just mentioning it will show that you have sportsmanship and leadership qualities in you.
- Don’t attempt to hide your flaws and failures. Mention them, and also mention how you have or are trying to work on them. Many students try to hide behind their achievements and try to portray themselves as perfect. Flaws make the person behind the essay seem human, and it is important to let the admissions people know that you know your flaws and you are actively trying to remedy them.
- Mentioning your previous work experience is also very important. However short the gig might be, mention it. Also, mention what you learned from the job.
- Additionally, If you have any publications or any kind of published or submitted papers, don’t forget to include that in your essay. Publications can provide a huge boost to even a mediocre candidate.
What not to include?
Keep track that the first thing to avoid while writing an SOP is including too much detail. Don’t give your family history or your personal details in an essay. It does not matter if you are the descendant of a royal family or anything like that. They are interested in you as a person. Also, don’t go into too much detail about your accomplishments. Listing too much makes it seem like you are humblebragging, and while an SOP is meant to sell yourself, don’t include too many irrelevant details. Another detail to avoid is financial details. While you certainly must highlight it if you are from a poor background, don’t make it the theme of your essay and drone about it for pages. Also, keep track of your grammar. Don’t write grammatically incorrect statements. Use any grammar checking tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid if necessary.
Format of a Statement of Purpose
Most national and international universities have a standard SOP format that they accept. The format is essentially the same for all courses.
- Paragraph 1: Introduction and Statement of Goals
This is the place for introducing your goals and motivations. You can include analogies and quotes to make this part more interesting, but don’t waste too much space for this paragraph.
- Paragraph 2&3: Career Progression
This is the paragraph which you will use to talk about your achievements. You may want to start with a short history about yourself and your progress in a career starting from your school to your college. This paragraph is essentially dedicated to your academics and achievements, especially in a career. If you have any work experience, you can limit talking about your school life. Focus more on your college life in para 2, and your work experience should dominate para 3. If you don’t and you are applying directly after your graduation, then you can divide para 2 for academics and para 3 for co-curricular and extra-curricular.
- Paragraph 4: Reason
This paragraph is the place where the whole thing comes together. This is the most important part of your essay. This is the place where you provide the reason as to why you wish to do what you wish to do. You can use this space to narrate your story of some turning point in your life. Try to write this paragraph as passionately and as emphatically as possible.
- Paragraph 5: Your Future Plans
You are finally ending your essay. Now, you must talk about your goals after you complete the course. You should mention if you want to get into research or pursue a career in the industry. If you plan to work for a certain organization, write that too. This shows the admissions council that you have thought over your life, and have your life under control.
Sample Statement of Purpose for MS in MIS
This SOP was submitted to a reputed university in Singapore.
Statement of Purpose
Management Information Systems have evolved rapidly in recent years. Ages ago, people used to manually manage data with systems like Customer Databases and Catalogues. That has today evolved into modern concepts like Predictive Data Mining. This rapid development and change have left me fascinated with MIS. Having gained over two years of experience in SAP-ABAP, having gained extensive knowledge about its importance and business applications, I feel like I am ready to move into the advanced field of Graduate Studies in MIS. To keep up with the ever-increasing standards and skills required by this industry, I wish to pursue a graduate program from your esteemed University in the field of Manage Information Systems.
From childhood, I was extremely logic oriented. In high school, my interest in logic oriented subjects led me to take Mathematics and Physics as my main subjects. As part of a Physics Science Fair, I had built a working model of basic logic gates using basic circuitry. I was amazed by the potential of electronics and subsequently decided to study electrical and electronics. I went on to top my school in 12th grade, securing 90% marks.
I took up Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering as my major in Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi. I was excited by the diversity it offered. In my bachelor program, the courses like Network Analysis, Signals and Systems, Microprocessors and Microcontroller, VLSI Technology and Design and Process Control helped me learn the aspects of system implementation. Other interdepartmental courses like Data Structure, Operating System, C, C++, JAVA, Data Communication, and Computer Networks helped me understand the nitty-gritty of computers and their functioning and applications.
I also learned Embedded Systems Programming, an important part of electronics. This field attracted me so much, that I applied it to my major project “Voice Recognition Robotic Car Based on Voice Recognition Algorithm”. This project uses various electronics components, like Android Phone, Bluetooth, AVR, Battery, Motor Driver, and LCD. The AUBTM-20 Bluetooth module is configured using terminal software. The Bluetooth module receives a signal from an android phone, using a custom-designed app. The received signal goes to the microcontroller which controls the motion of the car. The RPM of the motors is displayed on the LCD screen via 1239D whose output is connected to the BO motors. To supplement my education, I underwent training on Rail Net, Networking Hub, Server, Switch, and Electronic Exchange Working at Western Railway Ratlam Division. I also had training in C, C++, JAVA, MATLAB, VLSI, PLC and Embedded Systems.
After graduating from the program, I joined Tata Consultancy Services. I placed among the top 10 trainees in my ILP (Initial Learning Process). I got to choose my preferred technology for learning about this. I chose to learn JAVA, SQL, and Testing Technology. Based on my JAVA programming skills, I was selected, and subsequently joined British Gas (Leading Oil and Gas Company) for training in SAP-ABAP. I have worked on various kinds of Interactive, Object-Oriented, and even Classical reports. I have worked on Dialog Interface including BDC, BAPI, and IDOC, Data Dictionary, Smart Forms, Module Pool, enhancements including User Exits, BADI, SAP Performance Tuning and Troubleshooting. I have 2+ years of experience in this. Apart from this, I have also worked on a few complex projects. An example of those is Contract Copy, a program for adding new line items and updating the net price of line items. I have also worked in the Material Management (MM) Module, apart from SAP-ABAP. Over the course of my career, I have received numerous appreciations from our clients, as well as from higher management.
Seeing that I have acquired the basic skills, knowledge and aptitude and work experience in Management Information Systems, I feel that this is a great time to start further pursuing my education by enrolling in graduate studies. I strongly believe that my aspirations, goals, and mindset are a great match for your program. After a lot of perusal of the information in your courses, I find myself certain that this program is an ideal step towards excellence in my professional and academic career. After careful research and deliberation to ensure a perfect match, I have decided to apply for the Master’s program in Management in Information Systems at XXX.
Given my background in computer science and electronics, and extensive training in Management Information Systems, I find my goals aligned to working in an IT-related industry, which will do justice to my unique background. After gathering enough experience, I hope to launch my own consulting firm. Attending a Master’s degree in this field will allow me to carve a niche for myself in the industry, alongside deepening and broadening my field of view on this industry and knowledge. Thus, I request the venerated Admissions Committee to consider my application favourably, and allow me to attend your university, providing me with a platform that will allow me to push myself further towards knowledge and expertise.
- 1. What are question-based SOPs?
Ans. A question-based SOP is written in response to the specific questions that the administration of the university you applied for is asking.
- 2. If my extra-curricular achievement is only school level, will it be valuable?
Ans. Yes, it is valuable. Every skill is important as it will lay an effect on the university while assessing your profile.
- 3. Should I mention if I have temper issues?
Ans. There is nothing wrong in admitting your weaknesses. It only makes you more humane. But along with it, you should also mention how you plan to improve it.
- 4. If I don’t have many achievements, what should I do?
Ans. In this case, you should focus more on your academics in the SOP and write about the skills that you have.
- 5. What type of quotes should I use in the Introduction?
Ans. The quote can be anything that drives you, motivates you, or explains you. But, don’t use any lengthy quote.
- 6. What if I am not sure of my future plans, should I mention them?
Ans. Writing this in your SOP can give the impression that you are confused. SO, you can always improvise it by using a better language. You can mention your current goals and then mention that you are open to other opportunities as well.
- 7. What kind of Work Experience should I add?
Ans. You can add any kind of work experience be it part-time or full time. The main concern will be what you infer from that job.
- 8. Can I take ideas and inspiration from other SOP?
Ans. You can take ideas from other SOPs. But, do not copy them as plagiarism is prohibited.
- 9. How should I start my SOP?
Ans. You can start it with a motivational quote or by describing yourself using catchy words.
- 10. Are there any applications I can use to improve my SOP?
Ans. Yes, you can use Grammarly to correct your grammatical mistakes. You can also take help of online proofreaders to check the SOP.
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