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How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications - Career - Nairaland

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Man With Two Degrees And Phd Now Working As Labourer At Dangote Refinery / How To Write Your Resume For U.S. Graduate School (MS & PhD) Admissions / How To Plan Your Applications To Apply For MS & Phd Admissions In The U.S. (2) (3) (4)

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How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by thenaijaus: 1:31pm On Aug 10, 2020
First off, what is a statement of purpose, and why do you need to write it as a Nigerian graduate applying to US graduate schools?

Let’s define a statement of purpose, in the context of US graduate schools.

What is a Statement of Purpose?
A statement of purpose is an essay that you write to show your level of preparation and interest in doing research work at a school’s graduate program.

Different schools use different names for the statement of purpose. Some call it the “Personal statement”, “SOP”, “Application essay”, “Personal background”, “Application statement”, “Objectives for graduate study”, “Cover letter”, etc.

Whatever name your desired school calls it, one thing is for sure: you stand a much better chance of getting admitted and funded, if you put some thought into writing a top-notch statement of purpose as a Nigerian graduate.

And why is a statement of purpose important?

Here’s why.

From applicant to applicant, your materials start to look and feel the same. GPA… GRE scores… transcripts… letters of recommendation.

Most parts of your application start looking the same to graduate admission committee members, and reading a lot of those applications, especially at a top-tier program, gets really tiring really soon.

Enter the statement of purpose.

But with your statement of purpose, you can break that boredom, and use simple but well-thought out words to convince the reader why you’d make an excellent addition to their program.

Keep in mind also, that this guide teaches you how to write a statement of purpose for US graduate schools that award MS or PhD, and not necessarily for schools that award MBAs or other professional degrees.

Before we move on, it’s a very good idea to have your resume written at this point. Click this link for your guide on writing your resume. That’s because your resume would contain a lot of the items that we’d be mentioning here.

And we would simply be taking them a step further while writing the statement of purpose. So, if you haven’t written your resume yet, use this guide.

Then continue from here, once you’re done writing your resume.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Step #1: Write out your list
Step #2: Tell a story
Step #3: Rewrite and edit
Step #4: Customize for each school

Step #1. Write out your list
The beautiful thing about writing a statement of purpose for US schools is that there are simple steps to follow.

You’re not expected to get creative, or use several big words to convey your point. In fact, you want to avoid getting creative, as often, that means you’re contradicting the main goal of a statement of purpose.

Which is to: To show your level of preparation and interest in doing research work. So, it helps to start by writing a list of items that would be on your final statement of purpose.

The goal of writing this list is two fold: the first is to explain your preparation, and the second is to demonstrate your interest for the desired program. Since various schools or programs might differ on how they want their statement of purpose written, pick a school and use it for this guide.

Afterwards, it’s easier to tweak your original statement to work for the schools, once you’re done with the initial version. So choose a school, and let’s walk through your list for that school.

Let your list include the following:

a) “Statement of Purpose”
b) Your email or other contact information (one line, maximum)
c) The desired degree and school, e.g. Ph.D. in Mathematics at Ohio State University
d) Your career goal that you plan to accomplish once you get the desired degree at that school, e.g. become a professor
e) Your desired one to three research interests applicable to the specific school, e.g. geometry, number theory and algebraic topology
f) Relevant research experience #1, #2, #3
g) Relevant classes #1, #2, #3
h) Relevant industry experience #1, #2, #3
i) Names of two to three professors in the desired program that you’d love to work with for your research

Items f) to i) on this list might require more explanation, so let me explain.

f). Relevant Research Experience #1, #2, #3
The core of your statement of purpose revolves around a body of problems that you plan to solve as you get your graduate degree.

In other words, the main goal of getting a research-based MS or PhD is to solve a relevant research problem. The question then becomes: what qualifies you, over other candidates to be able to solve that research problem?

Why should your reader believe you have a higher chance of solving the problem, more than the next applicant? The answer lies in your level of research preparation: background, skills, and experience.

Therefore, write out all your research experiences, and select the top three research experiences that speak to the research interests you mentioned earlier. If you have your resume at this stage, things become easier to write here.

From your resume, pick each research experience that’s relevant to the research interests you’ve mentioned earlier in No. 5. Then for each one, write the practical research goal, advisor, lab group, research period, research problem, what you did to tackle the research problem and the outcomes of my work, and the ways you’ve applied your research.

Say, for example, you have the following as a research experience from your resume:

Omoege, P.K., Adepoju, J.T., & Tamiloni, U.G. (2018). Effect of language dynamics on developers’ productivity: a theoretical analysis. Programming Tools, 65 (1), 1149-1162.

You’d write:



Research experience #1:
Practical research goal:

Improve developer productivity and enhance software robustness and security (Side note: Make sure your goal here is practical, real-life oriented, and not so technical).

Advisor: Prof. U.G. Tamiloni

Lab group: Lagos State University (LASU) Program Modelling Group (That is, the research focus of the lab you did this work in)

Research period: 6 months

Research problem:

The challenge of building dynamic language tools that function well with legacy Objective-C and Perl programs, due to the lack of simple sequential constructs and the presence of buffer overflows and dangling pointers.

(Side note: Be sure to state the research problem in a clear, yet technical way. Ask yourself: Can someone outside of my field understand this research problem, without much effort? If yes, you need to re-write your research problem.

Your statement of purpose would likely be read by experts and world-class professors in your field, so ensure that you’re using all the inside technical jargon particular to your field to describe your research problem.

As an example, unless the reader’s working in my field of research, they’re less likely to make sense of the statement of my research problem. And that’s great, so long as it makes perfect sense to my target readers – graduate professors and admission committee members – in other words, seasoned experts in your field).

What you did to tackle the research problem and the outcomes of your work:

I built an API called Go Flow that helps in the construction of adaptable and robust dynamic analyses for Objective C and Perl programs.

It uses unmodified ARM binaries of programs up to 3 million lines of code, and it outputs extensive language- and machine-level information upon execution.

Note: Go as deep and technical as you can here. The deeper you go, the better.

The ways you’ve applied your research:

One: I have used Go Flow to build two dynamic analysis testing tools. The first, Onelyn, sends real-time detailed packets of data upon run time. The second, Avana, uses software composition analysis to find the origins of sets of related components and libraries by comparing its data with known vulnerabilities for future open-source applications.

Two: My undergraduate (BSc) thesis was written based on Go Flow and the tools built for it.

Three: Our lab used Onelyn to extend two static invariant detectors, Mylen and Ugoe, to analyze large Objective C and Perl programs, and also used Avana to improve Mylen’s performance and the quality of invariant outputs.

Note: If you’ve published your research work in a national or international journal, this is the section to mention it.




Of all the work that goes into writing your statement of purpose, writing about your relevant research experiences is by far the hardest.

Which is why you should take the time needed to go deep into the technicalities of what you did, in a way that highlights all the important information your reader wants to see.

Once you’re done with your first research experience, move on to the next one. If you can write more than three research experiences, that’d be great.

But the goal here is to document your key research successes up to this point.

g). Relevant Classes #1, #2, #3
Here, you’ll write about the classes that align with the research experiences you’ve listed above.

Write the related classes you took, the purpose of the classes, research projects and outcomes from those classes.

For instance:



Class: Programming Infrastructure course (CSC 3819)

Purpose: Using program analysis to build scalable and secure critical infrastructure for public systems

Research projects and outcomes:

I worked on 2 research projects:

Developed adventure games for Android devices (GAME 4701)
Created a business plan for a clean energy startup with proprietary technology (CSC 4150)


h) Relevant Industry Experience #1, #2, #3
If you’ve done industry work related to the research experiences and classes that you’ve listed above, then mention it here.

If not, feel free to skip this section.

i). Names of two to three professors in the desired program that you’d love to work with for your research
Remember back in stage #5 above, you wrote “your desired one to three research interests applicable to the specific school, e.g. geometry, number theory and algebraic topology”:

You’ll build upon step #5 in this step by going further, and finding professors in the desired US school that work in those research interests you mentioned earlier.

Most research programs have several professors working in a specific area, but as you do your due diligence, you’ll likely be more predisposed to some professors’ work more than others.

So, this is where you write those professors’ names alongside their research foci that interest you.

For example:



Geometry: Prof. Mark Mathews; Prof. John Buscham

Number theory: Prof. Sarah Miller; Prof. Tim Hahn

Algebraic topology: Prof. Joe Stephen; Prof. Paula Simmons




And that sums it up for Step #1 – writing out your list.

The next step is to combine the key aspects of our list together as sentences and paragraphs, by telling a story.

Step #2: Tell a story
Here, all you’d do is combining the different portions of your list from Step #1, starting from your “desired degree and school” to “the names of professors that I would love to work with for my research.”

So yes, all you’re doing here is going from a list of items to strings of sentences.



Statement of Purpose

John Adepoju [jadepoju@gmail.com]

My desired degree and school is a Ph.D. degree in Mathematics at The Ohio State University. My career goal is to become a professor of mathematics.

My desired research interests at The Ohio State University’s department of Mathematics are: geometry, number theory and algebraic topology.

For my relevant research experience, my practical research goal was to improve developer productivity and enhance software robustness and security. I worked with Prof. U.G. Tamiloni in the Lagos State University (LASU) Program Modelling Group for 6 months.

The research problem was the challenge of building dynamic language tools that function well with legacy Objective-C and Perl programs, due to the lack of simple sequential constructs and the presence of buffer overflows and dangling pointers.

I did the following to tackle the research problem and to achieve the ensuing outcomes of my work. I built an API called Go Flow that helps in the construction of adaptable and robust dynamic analyses for Objective C and Perl programs. It uses unmodified ARM binaries of programs up to 3 million lines of code, and it outputs extensive language- and machine-level information upon execution.

I’ve applied my research in the following ways. One: I have used Go Flow to build two dynamic analysis testing tools. The first, Onelyn, sends real-time detailed packets of data upon run time. The second, Avana, uses software composition analysis to find the origins of sets of related components and libraries by comparing its data with known vulnerabilities for future open-source applications.

Two: My undergraduate (BSc) thesis was written based on Go Flow and the tools built for it. And three: Our lab used Onelyn to extend two static invariant detectors, Mylen and Ugoe, to analyze large Objective C and Perl programs, and also used Avana to improve Mylen’s performance and the quality of invariant outputs.

A relevant class that I took was the Programming Infrastructure course (CSC 3819). The purpose of the course was to use program analysis to build scalable and secure critical infrastructure for public systems. I worked on 2 research projects. One, I developed adventure games for Android devices (GAME 4701) and two, I created a business plan for a clean energy startup with proprietary technology (CS 4150).

The names of two to three professors at Ohio State University (Department of Mathematics) that I would love to work with for my research are: Prof. Mark Mathews and Prof. John Buscham (geometry), Prof. Sarah Miller and Prof. Tim Hahn (number theory), and Prof. Joe Stephen; Prof. Paula Simmons (algebraic topology).



Step #3: Rewrite and edit
Once you’ve combined each separate section into a body of paragraphs to tell a story, the next step is to revise and edit your work.

Acclaimed author, Patricia Fuller once said:

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.

In other words, you’ve prepared the essential bones of the dinner.

It’s now time to add the flesh and cut off the fat to make a healthy and delicious meal.

How do you do that?

Start by reading through the ‘Story’ document that you now have.

Read it out loud… yes, read it so you can hear it.

Take note of sentences that make no literary sense and add words as you see fit.

That way, you can catch poorly worded sentences and make them smooth.

The goal here is to make complete, meaningful sentences out of your story.

-If you have access to a proofreading tool like Grammarly, use that to review your work and consider making the suggested corrections
-Share your work with a writer friend or a friend who enjoys reading or writing literature. Ask for feedback and suggestions on how to make the ‘story’ better
-Take a break and come back with a fresher pair of eyes to review and edit
-Fix any typos, grammar mistakes and poor word choices
-As you go through iterations of editing and revising your work, your statement of purpose starts getting better and looking more refined.

Now, it has all the technical content that a professor in your field would want to read as part of an application. Even more, it’s well written and composed.

To round up this section, you can add a sentence (right at the start) that gives a holistic view of how you see the impact of your research work in the world as an opening paragraph.

For example, if I was working on a research on renewable energy, I might add this as the first paragraph of my statement of purpose:

As a Nigerian national, I have observed that electricity distribution from the power grid has been the bane of stable electricity supply in Nigeria. Only one in four Nigerians is connected to the weak energy

grid, and of those that are, only a small minority get up to four hours of power supply a day. To achieve steady electricity, there is a dire need to replace the frail power infrastructure with modular biofuel energy plants powered by the over 32 million tons of waste generated annually in Nigeria.


Your entire document stays the same. You’re only adding this to give the reader a look inside your perspective of how you see your research shaping the world. Right before you get into the technical aspects of your statement of purpose.

Step #4: Customize for each school
At this point, you’ve handled the most important portions of writing your statement of purpose for US graduate schools as a Nigerian graduate.

All that’s left is to use your list of schools to re-edit and fine tune your statement of purpose to fit the requirements of each school that you’d be applying to. Everything you edit here would be based on the requirements of the department and the names and research interests available in that program.

Some examples of portions you’re likely to change here are:

-Desired degree and school
-Research interests (for each school, write the research interests exactly the way they’ve described them on their website or information materials)
-Names of professors and their corresponding research interests
-Specific research centers in the department that you’re interested in
-Top or pioneering research areas they’re known for that you’re excited about
-Any other information as required by the school

Once you’re done at this stage, refine your new statement of purpose so that it speaks perfectly to the requirements of each school. This is important.

Again: for each school, review your statement of purpose all over again and ensure that it has been flawlessly written for that specific school. Writing your statement of purpose works wonders for your journey up to this point.

It’s an exercise that helps you capture the essence of your undergraduate experience, as you look to the future of your career steps beyond your BSc degree. Your statement of purpose should tell a complete story, more than your target reader can sniff out from your resume.

So every effort you put into writing a stellar statement of purpose will bring you closer to those much desired admission and funding offers at your desired US graduate schools.

Download your Statement of Purpose template: https://beyondbsc.com/write-statement-of-purpose/

Post: https://beyondbsc.com/write-statement-of-purpose/

Check out more useful articles on MS & PhD graduate school admissions in the U.S.: https://thenaija.us/ms-phd-us/

Cc: Lalasticlala & Mynd44.

4 Likes 1 Share

Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by cavendishbaba(m): 2:29pm On Aug 10, 2020
Beautiful!!! Thanks a lot for this..

1 Like

Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by thenaijaus: 2:32pm On Aug 10, 2020
cavendishbaba:
Beautiful!!! Thanks a lot for this..

Thanks for your very kind words. Appreciate it!!
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by EmploymentHubCV: 3:56am On Aug 16, 2020
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Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by thenaijaus: 12:43pm On Aug 16, 2020
Athos99:
Thank you very much!

You too!
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Nobody: 7:50pm On Feb 11, 2021
Your articles are detailed. They are applicable to Canadian and Australian schools. I have read your other threads. Excellent work bro!
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Brunicekid(m): 7:59am On Feb 12, 2021
Great!
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Kwealthhoney(f): 6:04pm On Mar 06, 2021
Please do you write for people ?
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Nobody: 6:58pm On Mar 06, 2021
@thenaijaus

It seems this research stuff is easier for engineering and science based programs. I am just wondering, how can someone who is going for business management with masters in business also ( or MBA) who is business focused dive into phd? Also, look at someone who studied English, how can such write about any research paper? You are so right, if one gets this right, the chance of getting admitted is high. After all, one is going to be paid for the assistantship positions and the research one will carry there. It is so tough to get into a research based phd program. So, what can someone with business background (without research experience) do?
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Kingceo12: 8:52pm On Oct 27, 2021
Please i would appreciate if i can get a template to enable me with mine or if you can be of help in any form please do reach out.Thanks
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by Kingceo12: 8:53pm On Oct 27, 2021
did you get any help yet?
Kwealthhoney:
Please do you write for people ?
Re: How To Write Your Statement Of Purpose For U.S. MS & PhD Applications by lenaG4life: 4:42am On Oct 16, 2022
This
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVaNqVBw8VE does a very good job as well. it is detailed and you will find practical hands-on sessions there, but there is a free guidance as I discovered on edyter.com

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