• VM Reddy

How to write SOP for PhD program in USA?


Many experts agree that the most important document in securing admission in top notch universities in USA and Canada is not the GRE score or the TOEFL; its actually the Statement of Purpose (SOP). PhD is the top most degree in any field therefore the admission committee expect the student to have much greater understanding and broader knowledge about the subject in addition to his/her interest in the field. A PhD SOP is very different in form UG SOP, MS SOP or MBA SOP. The importance of PhD SOP goes even higher if you are asking any financial aid from the university. In other words, I would say a nicely written SOP is the deciding factor between a candidate who would secure the financial aid form the university vs the candidate who would not. There are following few points that an admission seeker must include in his/her #SOP.


Show Passion and knowledge towards you research field


Where in an UG SOP, the candidate should concentrate on his/her childhood, interest and hobbies, etc., in an MS SOP candidate should fundamentally talk about his growing interest the chosen field and career orientation, in an MBA SOP/Essay a candidate should show leadership and management abilities but in PhD SOP, a candidate must show passion in the field, the knowledge of the subject, the ability to contribute in research, the innovative idea which you would like to explore or purpose in addition to knowledge and previous research work candidate has done in that field.


In particular, start your SOP by introducing our self by describing/ relating how your interest or passion towards this particular field initiated. Write very clear statement about the current research in the field. This is where you propose your research topic to the university. Even if you are not clear about your research topic, you can talk about the field instead and what possible options it might provide you with. If you are considering 2-3 topics, you can mention that as well. Make sure you have referred to these questions in the first para itself:

  • What is your research topic/ field and why?

  • What has been your learning in this field so far that made you take up this topic?

  • How passionate are you to pursue this further?

Show your knowledge about the subject/topic


Start by mentioning your academic background from your Bachelors'. Mention your Masters’ thesis/ projects and relate it to the research topic you have selected. Here you talk about your research work if you already have one or two. Mention the topic or dissertation title clearly and explain what exactly have you tried to solve in the thesis. Explain the techniques/methods you have used. Be precise in this section. You don’t have to write you whole thesis here. Remember this is just the background of your research topic. If your paper has been published or is in the process of approval, highlight this fact as well. Focus on the knowledge, skills, and expertise you have gained so far and how it will help you further while pursuing a PhD. If you have any practical experience, discuss your learning and the skills you received through this practice.


Reasons to join PhD in particular subject in particular University


Perhaps the most important part of your SOP is answering the main query, i.e why this course/ program and why this particular university? This is what makes or breaks your whole profile. Initiate with choosing a particular professor and his/her research group/topic. Refer to the department, faculty, professor, amenities such as labs and research centers, and so on. Also, mention how it will help you achieve your goal (short-term and long-term). Make sure you cover the following points while answering the ‘whys?’:

  • Why this program?

  • Why this university/ department?

  • Why this specialization?

  • Why study/ research under the tutelage of a certain professor?

Goals: Short and long-term


Another very crucial aspect of your application is your career goals. Whether it a UG student or an MS/MBA aspirants, if you are not clear in your mind about your future career goals, then the reader will instantly lose interest in your profile. It also showcases that the student is not serious about pursuing this course to get something tangible in return and is just applying for an admission for the sake of it. Therefore, your career goals must align with your chosen course/program and the research you have talked about previously. You can also write about future research topics you would like to pursue and the amount of impact or the kind of contribution it would be towards the field or the society at large. Divide the goals para into two parts where, in the first section you talk about your short-term goal, i.e what you want to do just after this course? It can be further research, apply the research practically, pursue other topics/ field, or join an R&D division of any firm in the said industry, and so on. The next part, the long-term goal, is where you see yourself in the next 8-10 years. This would be your ultimate goal in life, whether it is starting your own firm, be a GM of a reputed firm, start your own R&D division, be a scientist or return back to your own country and work for the society etc, it can be anything. However, whatever you are mentioning should be plausible and directly linked to the kind of profile you have.


Take Second Opinion from Expert


Although you think you have written an perfect SOP, just remember there is always a room of improvement. There is lot information and samples are available on the internet, it is advisable to write your own documents or take help from experts to help you with the format or the type of content required. Plagiarized documents are rejected outright by the Admission Committee as they are strictly against it, and in cases of PhD applications, it becomes more of a criminal offense. Hence, it is best to write the documents yourself and be honest about it and take professional help. Now there are few things you must consider before choosing expert:

Make sure that expert you hire should have a PhD. The reason is, only a person who has a PhD degree can truly understand the gravity of the document and guide you the right direction.
Make sure, your advisor has studied in USA/Canada. Because if you advisor has done his PhD in India, he would have no idea what SOP is.

We hope with this guideline you would be able to write a decent SOP for your PhD application. However if you still are not very clear and want to take further help and support in this regard, you can contact Edflight’s Experts by clicking here.



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