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How to Write a Statement of Purpose
Sample Statement of Purpose
This is my statement of purpose that I wrote to get me into my current graduate program. It's broken down and explained by sections.
A professional career in city planning is my opportunity to not only fight real world concerns such as environmental degradation, unsustainable growth and sprawl, and economic depravity but also create places full of life and vibrancy—planning is a comprehensive field that requires integration of policy, economics, and design. A successful planner has knowledge of all three, and can use that knowledge to create places that are good for people, good for business, and good for the environment. It’s for that reason that I am so attracted to planning to begin with—I’m an idealist; I want to fix the world.
In the first sentence I stated exactly what it was I wanted to get out of my graduate education. Following that I presented a basic knowledge of what an urban planner was and the skills they needed. To close my introduction I made a blanket statement about why my personality fit with the field.
Paragraph 2- Why that university?:
But first, I need to complete my education. A Master of City Planning from the University of Texas at Austin is the next step in my pursuit of a planning career. I’m drawn to your program, specifically, for a few reasons. I am very interested in both land use planning and environmental planning. The work of Professor [...] and the research done by the Center for Sustainable Development are especially appealing to me. Protecting the environment is an extremely important facet of urban planning. Planners have the capabilities to integrate the built environment with the natural environment safely and sustainably, and I would greatly enjoy the opportunity to study and research this area further.
Here I explained precisely why UT was the right school for me. I explained the research I wanted to do. I listed a professor I wished to work with directly by name, and I also made it clear I had done my research by including one of the university's research facilities and my intent to utilize it.
Paragraph 3- What next? What do I want to do with my degree? Why is this important to me? What experience do I have to back it up? (This might be separated out into a few paragraphs and should be the bulk of your statement. I had a strict 500 word limit on this one, which is why all of this information is combined into one paragraph):
Following completion of a Masters program, I intend to enter the work force as a land use or environmental planner. My internship in the town planning studio at [...] last spring completely solidified these decisions. This internship was instrumental in developing my professional interests, passions, and goals. I remember when I attended my first meeting with a city council—I tagged along on a business trip to Long Beach, MS, which had been almost entirely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. After witnessing how desperately the city needed rebuilding, it became clear to me how important planning as a profession is. The trip was also extraordinarily educational—I gained invaluable insight on both interacting with clients and on developing and executing solutions concerning zoning, land use, and building regulations. During my internship I also attended the Congress for New Urbanism’s 16th annual conference in Austin, TX. I greatly enjoyed my stay in Austin, and it was for that reason that I became interested in the University of Texas at Austin to begin with. The seminars I attended on SmartCode and walkable cities are what piqued my interest in land use planning specifically. When I wasn’t traveling for work I spent a lot of time studying and mapping historical communities, planned cities, and college towns. This gave me an opportunity to compare cities all over the world and see examples of different urban schemes and plans.
Here I listed a specific instance from an internship that totally affirmed my decision to pursue this field. I explained what I knew about the field, what relevant work experience I had, and linked it to what I wanted to do in my studies.
Final paragraph- Conclusion:
In my case, a graduate degree is not simply a means to an end. I plan to invest a great deal in the remainder of my education and my career. To fully exploit my time in graduate school, I require a program that can provide me with the best faculty, resources, and educational tools available. I hope that I am offered an opportunity to not only study at Austin, but to become fully immersed in your planning community.
This is where you sum it up. State your case again, briefly and succinctly. End it with a sincere and mild compliment.