Expounding a Ph.D Statement of Purpose (SoP): Tips and Examples

Writing a Ph.D Statement of Purpose (SoP) may seem like a daunting task. It is typically time-consuming and requires a lot of mental activity, but a good way to get around this is to see it as an opportunity to tell people about yourself, your achievements and your future goals. What this means is that it requires originality and self-confidence.

In this article, we’ll briefly outline key areas to take note of in your Ph.D SoP, and we’ll also provide an example of what your Ph.D SoP should look like.

Key Areas to Write On in Your Statement of Purpose

Note that the following is a generic tip for writing a Statement of Purpose. The examples made here, however, are for a Ph.D application to study in the field of Economics.

So regardless of the discipline, ensure that your Ph.D SoP incorporates the following:

  • Write about yourself: What would you want the admissions committee to know about you? If your childhood challenges influenced the course choice, you might want to state it here.

For example: "As a child growing up in a remote village in Nigeria, there were times that the market prices of food and other basic necessities would be so high that my parents could not afford it. Hence, my siblings and I stayed hungry on some days. Eventually, as I grew much older, I realised that one of the causes for this skyrocketing inflation was unfavourable economic policies by the government”.

  • Write about your educational background : Tell them what your previous courses of study are and what inspired you to study them.

For example: "As a result of this realisation, after carrying out my primary and secondary education in a remote village in Rivers State, Nigeria, I moved on to study Economics at the prestigious Rivers State University.

I opted to study Economics because I had a great interest in discovering why and how unfavourable economic policies deplete a nation’s development. This interest also influenced my decision to carry out my undergraduate project research on the effect of economic policies on national well-being. The research was focused on how unfavourable economic policies affect both the private and public sectors and the nation, generally.

After completing my Bachelor’s Degree, I acquired a partially funded scholarship for my Master’s degree from an external examiner who supervised my project defence. The scholarship came as a result of the thoroughness of my research and the alignment of our research interests.

Also, because I had already started finding my feet in the branch of economics I had passion for, I went ahead to obtain a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from the University of Uyo. During this period, I carried out a thesis on “The Impact of Poor Economic Policies on the Welfare of Students of Uniuyo".

  • Write about your job/professional experience(s):

Your job experience(s) should be extensively outlined here: where you worked and the role(s) you played. It is important to write only about job experiences that have a bearing on the course you want to study.

For example: "My first job was an Economic Research Intern. I applied for the role of a research assistant to a senior lecturer in my school who happened to share the same research interests with me.

Over the months I interned with him, I became more curious about how properly-researched and data-driven economic policies can ameliorate Nigeria’s disturbing economic trends. It was an unpaid internship but the experiences acquired were priceless.

After graduation, I began my first paid job as a budget personnel with a rapidly growing manufacturing company. During my time there, the uninformed, less data-driven decisions by the company’s executives which, more often than not, led to budget surplus, served as an eye-opener on the impact of wrong decisions on the economy of an institution. Afterwards, I went on to become a member of the Economic Development Committee of my state. In my tenure in office, I was able to suggest rational and result-oriented policies that boosted the GDP of my state by 10%".

  • Your research interest(s): This is where you outline and exhaustively explain your research interest. If the course is on communication, what part of communication particularly interests you? Clearly state it here.

For example: "My interest in the field of Economics is deeply rooted in my ambition to contribute to economic change in developing countries such as my home country. I am particularly interested in Development Economics, as well as in understanding through research how favourable economic policies can be used to achieve economic growth, development and systematic structural change".

  • The reason for choosing your preferred university: There are over a hundred universities in the state you want to study. What in particular made you choose the one you’re applying to? It is important to state it because you need to make them understand that you know what you want.

For example: "The University of Sussex is my university of choice because it is research-oriented and additionally, has maintained high standards of education over the past years. Additionally, the course content is in tandem with my research interests. A module in the course is dedicated to Development Economics where topics such as Poverty, Economic Conflict, Migration and Agriculture are taught.

Also, the prospect of meeting key researchers in the field of economics and collaborating with them is another reason why this university is my top choice".

  • Your short- and long-term career goals: To obtain a Ph.D admission, you must be visionary and intentional. The admission committee will want to know if you have any clear goals set for the next three months or two years.

For example: "One of my short term goals is to network with key players in the field and leverage this network to advance and boost my expertise in Development Economics.

My long-term career goal is to transition into a key player in the economic decision-making process of my home country and that is why this course is of particular importance to me. I believe that this course will go a long way in advancing my career and positioning me for opportunities in top economic-related decision-making areas in my country".

  • Write a concise, yet compelling conclusion: This is where you bring your SoP to a close. It is important to clearly state your Call to Action and expectations i.e the action you want the admissions committee to carry out, what you are looking forward to and what you hope to bring to the table of the institution at the end of the day.

For Example: "I am deeply confident in my abilities and skills as well as my inclination to learn. Hence, I look forward to being selected to be a part of the vast community of researchers and scholars at the prestigious University of Sussex and working with them to achieve national and global breakthroughs through extensive research".

On a final note, writing a Ph.D Statement of Purpose is a strenuous, albeit, fulfilling process. While it provides an opportunity to write about yourself and your achievements, be careful not to focus on these aspects only; you also need to connect all of these to how you intend to create impact. This impact could come in the form of community service, research, representing the minority and credible leadership. You should also outline how the desired degree would enable you to achieve your desired goals.

Endeavour to personalise your write-up, make your sentences clear and error-free, and write convincingly to make your application stand out in the thousands of applications that will pour in alongside yours. Finally and most importantly, STEER CLEAR OF PLAGIARISM.

Below is a sample to guide you when you begin writing yours.

Example of a Ph.D Statement of Purpose

Note: This sample is for a Ph.D application to study Economics at the University of Sussex, UK.

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Multilang is a language/educational consultancy providing language teaching and educational consultancy services. We are about languages and language-related ed

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Multilang Edu

Multilang Edu

Multilang is a language/educational consultancy providing language teaching and educational consultancy services. We are about languages and language-related ed

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