Few Tips On Writing Statement of Purpose(SOP)

Students applying for an MS/PhD in the US have to write a statement of purpose.

Statement of Purpose

SOP is mandatory, along with your academic and GRE score and letters of recommendation.

Prof. Vijay Chidambaram has generously answered some all-important questions that students have with respect to their graduate essays/SoPs. These are answers to 10 most frequently asked questions by students.

You can find the article here – Application insights by Prof. Vijay Chidambaram from UT Austin – University Application Process | Yocket

This article is a must read for anyone currently working on their essays/SoP. It gives the direct perspective of the professor in CS from the renowned University of Texas, Austin.

Here are the few tips to consider while preparing SOP
  1. Avoid things like “the MS/PhD will make me a better version of myself” or “I will contribute to society through research” and all that BS. Its painful to read and we don’t care one bit about that. Just focus on the research. 2/n
  2. Do not start with a quote or tell us about how you have liked computer science since you were 6 years old. We don’t care. Again, focus on the research. What technical stuff have you done? What technical stuff do you want to do?
  3. The MS or PhD doesn’t need to be your “passion” or “mission in life” or whatever. We understand its a stepping stone to something else. You don’t need to spend effort convincing us of this. 4/n
  4. Whats a good SOP/SoR outline? “I worked on X during project Y with Prof. Z. I then worked in industry doing A. I would like to investigate B during grad school. I think Prof. C’s work, especially her recent project which relates to A in this way.”
  5. What is impressive in an SOP/SoR? When the application knows the related work. Talking knowledgeably about recent work is very impressive. If you say “paper X at conf Y did Z, but it has flaw A, so I want to do B instead”, I would be super impressed.
  6. So in summary, avoid stuff like “this is my passion/goal in life”, “I love CS since 6” etc, focus on the research, talk about what you have done, what you would like to do, talk about related work, tie to a prof at the univ.

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