Crafting a Winning Statement of Purpose for Grad School

Person crafting a statement of purpose for graduate school

Are you considering graduate school? Remember to add writing a statement of purpose to your to-do list. Don’t be intimidated; with the right approach, you can craft an impressive statement that showcases your passion for your chosen field and your potential for success.

This blog is intended to offer valuable information and insights on creating an exceptional statement of purpose. You will learn what it is and why it is important and receive guidance from a graduate admission expert on its crucial components and common mistakes to avoid.

What is a graduate school statement of purpose? 

A statement of purpose—also referred to as a personal statement or goals statement—is a vital part of a graduate school application. It provides a platform for candidates to express their academic and career objectives and why they are an ideal match for the program in which they seek admission.

Crafting a solid statement of purpose when applying to graduate school is crucial for several reasons: 

  • It helps you clearly articulate your goals, aspirations, and experiences to the admission committee.
  • It can distinguish you from other candidates and present a compelling argument for your admission.
  • Effective communication showcases critical writing skills, which are essential for success in graduate programs.

How long should a statement of purpose be? 

The word count requirement significantly varies when writing a statement of purpose for a graduate school application. Some colleges have a word count range of 350 to 500, while others may ask for a more extended essay of 1,000 to 1,200 words. 

That is why it’s essential to carefully read and analyze the instructions provided by the school on their online application form or make an appointment to speak to a graduate admission counselor. This will help you determine the appropriate length for your essay.


Writing Your Statement: Dos and Don’ts from St. John’s University’s Office of Graduate Admission  

Headshot of St. John's University Graduate Admission Director


Creating a statement of purpose can be a daunting task for many students. Seeking advice from an admission counselor can simplify the process and increase the chances of success.

In this section, Amber J. Steiger, Director of Graduate Admission at St. John’s University, walks through some of the dos and don’ts to remember when crafting your graduate statements. 


DO highlight your academic background. 

When writing a statement of purpose, sharing your academic journey is essential. Highlight the significant milestones and experiences that have shaped your personal and intellectual growth. Don’t just talk about your achievements; also focus on any obstacles you faced along the way. This will show your resilience and commitment in the face of challenges. Be authentic, and don’t avoid discussing setbacks and how you overcame them. Admission committees value honesty, so this will help provide a more genuine and holistic picture of your academic history.

DO articulate your interest in the college or university.  

One effective way to make your application stand out is to showcase your interest in the university or program to which you are applying. You can achieve this by highlighting your connections to the school, such as knowing someone who attended the program, recalling an informative campus session you heard, or emphasizing how the university’s location is central to your study industry. Demonstrating your genuine interest in the program can help you show the admission committee that you are a committed and motivated candidate.

DO highlight program-specific goals. 

Ensuring that your application stands out is crucial. One way to do this is by demonstrating your passion for the program to which you are applying. Explain why you’re drawn to it and how it aligns with your academic and career goals. Don’t hesitate to get specific and highlight unique research opportunities or other exciting aspects of the program. This shows that you’ve done your research, are genuinely invested in the program, and are prepared to take your career to the next level. So, showcase your enthusiasm—it could make all the difference in getting accepted!

DO NOT include generic statements.

If you want to impress the admission committee and stand out from other applicants, you need to show that you have put in the time and effort to research each university thoroughly. Take the time to explain why their program is the perfect fit for you. Don’t hesitate to get specific! Discuss the professors, resources, and other unique aspects that caught your attention. Doing so will demonstrate your genuine interest in their institution and show you are committed to achieving your academic and career objectives.

DO NOT neglect to tailor your essay.  

Crafting a statement of purpose is an excellent opportunity to showcase your passion and commitment to the schools and programs to which you are applying. Admission officers can easily spot when you are genuinely excited about their institution, so it is crucial to ensure that you spell everything correctly. Misspelling a college or program name could send the wrong message and make it appear that you are not thorough or genuinely invested in the application process. 

DO NOT  ignore specific essay requirements.

Crafting an exceptional statement of purpose for grad school requires careful attention to the essay requirements. Every question they pose is critical, and failing to answer them correctly could lead to your application getting lost in the shuffle. These questions serve a purpose, as the admission team seeks specific insights into who you are as an applicant. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the time to understand each question and provide a compelling, truthful response. 

If you have any questions regarding the graduate admission process at St. John’s University, please get in touch with Ms. Steiger at [email protected].

Elevate Your Future: Dive into Graduate Programs at St. John’s University

St. John’s offers over 60 graduate degrees and professional certificates through six distinguished Schools and Colleges. Whether you aspire to advance in your current career or pursue a new path, the University’s advanced degree programs challenge you to become the best version of yourself.

Discover a graduate program for you!