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When you’re gearing up to collect materials for your application to US universities, you may realise that most things, at that point, are beyond your control. Your UG scores are already on your transcript, your standardised test scores are in, your LORs are done and dusted. But there’s one thing that truly has the potential to make or break your application: your Statement of Purpose, or Personal Statement. This document is for admissions officers to evaluate you as an individual, your background and interests, your academic achievements, professional experience, and career goals. Here’s where numbers aren’t everything, and you have a chance to tell your story.

In This Blog:

Why Do Universities Ask for a Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose for MS in USA?

Universities, especially those in the US, do a holistic evaluation of applications. Apart from standardised test scores and transcripts from previous institutions, a Statement of Purpose, or in some cases, a Personal Statement, is a great way for admissions committees to gauge your individual and subjective interests and motivations. In other words, it’s a way for them to get to know you, and not just your statistics. In the same vein, an SoP or Personal Statement is an excellent way for you to express yourself and tell your story.

SoP vs Personal Statement: What’s the Difference?

In simple terms, a Statement of Purpose (SoP) is a statement of professional motivation, while a Personal Statement is a statement of personal motivation. Your SoP should detail your career objectives, why you have chosen the program and university you are applying to, your academic and professional experience, and why you would be a good fit for the program and for the university in general. A Personal Statement is not quite the same: it talks about why you, as an individual, are interested in a particular program in a particular university. Overall, a Personal Statement discusses who you are and where you’re coming from (not in the geographical sense). A Personal Statement uses more of a conversational tone as opposed to the strictly formal tone used in a Statement of Purpose.

SoP Format for MS in US

The SoP format for MS in US is as follows:

  • Length: A Statement of Purpose is typically 500-1000 words long, unless otherwise specified by the university you are applying to.
  • Spacing: Normally, an SoP is single-spaced, and comes out to be a maximum of 2 pages long. Some universities may ask that you double-space your SoP.
  • Font: Be sure to use a standard typeface that’s easy to read. Good examples are – Times New Roman, Helvetica, and Arial. Your font size should be between 10 and 12 points.
  • Introduction: Start strong! It is crucial that you pick a good intro, and it should be something that grabs the attention of your reader. That said, make sure it’s nothing tacky or pretentious. Be yourself, and be straightforward.
  • Body: Divide the content of your SoP into paragraphs. This makes the text digestible and easy to read, and draws attention to the different sections in your document. You can use subheadings if you wish, but they’re not required (they’re generally avoided, in fact), because an SoP is a relatively short document.
  • Conclusion: Your conclusion should be strong and direct, and should reiterate your main points in a concise manner. A loosely written conclusion makes your SoP seem incomplete, and should be avoided.

Read: Things to add in your Statement of Purpose for Masters Application – Jamboree

Things to Keep in Mind While Writing Your Personal Statement or SoP for MS in US Universities

Here are some important things you must keep in mind while writing your Personal Statement or SoP for MS in US Universities:

  • Originality: Perhaps the most important aspect of writing a Personal Statement or SoP for US Universities is originality. There should be strictly no plagiarism whatsoever! Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and your application will be immediately flagged, or sometimes even discarded, if you are found guilty of plagiarism. Be original in your writing, and practice honesty.
  • Avoid cliches: Generic statements and cliches must be avoided. They add little value to your SoP or Personal Statement, and often do more harm than good. Authenticity is always appreciated!
  • No errors: There should be absolutely no errors in your Personal Statement or SoP for US universities. This includes factual errors and, especially, grammatical errors. Take the time to make sure everything is totally error-free!
  • Proofread: A crucial part of writing a great Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose is proofreading. Go over your document several times and make sure everything is airtight and good to go. Check for grammatical errors, discontinuities in narrative flow, and ensure that your writing engages your reader Sometimes, we overlook obvious errors when going over our own writing, so it may be a good idea to get someone else to proofread for you as well in order to get a fresh outside perspective.

What Should Your Personal Statement Look Like?

As the name suggests, a Personal Statement is a bit more personal than a Statement of Purpose. Your Personal Statement should talk about your passion for your chosen field, what has inspired you to apply to a particular program in a particular university, and why you belong in the program, university, and field of study at large. You should also talk about your interest and any demonstrated success in specific subjects in your field of study. Feel free to supplement this information with examples of relevant academic or professional experience. Further, you may discuss what this subject/field of study means to you on a personal level, how it has shaped your life thus far, and how you expect it to impact your future.

Read: How to Write an Exceptional Personal Statement for University Admissions – Jamboree

Can You Submit One in Place of the Other?

The short answer – no. There is a reason why a university will ask for one document over the other: it’s because they’re looking for a specific answer from you, and you should give them what you’re asked to give them. A Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement both serve different purposes, as we have highlighted above. You may be asked to provide one or the other depending on the program or university you are applying to. You should always be careful to review the requirements of each university and program that you are applying to, and make sure that you adhere to their guidelines as closely as possible.

As always, make sure to go over your application documents carefully and double-check that all information you have provided is accurate. Your SoP or Personal Statement should tell a story – your story – but be careful not to get too carried away! Keep things engaging and interesting, albeit professional. Admissions officers have years and years of experience reviewing applications, and they will immediately be able to tell when something is off. Be honest, authentic, and sincere, but don’t downplay your talents and achievements. Finally, always make sure you check university websites regularly and familiarise yourself with their specific rules and requirements. Happy writing!

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