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5.4 Statement of Purpose

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The Statement of Purpose is one of two major pieces of writing that you submit to each school (the other being your sample paper). But what should you write about?

Read the Instructions

One way to get an idea of what to put in your statement is by reading the guidelines for the statement of purpose on the various school applications. Most of them want to know why you’re interested in linguistics, what sort of research you want to do, what your career goals are, etc. Some schools also want you to include specific information about why their department is a good fit for you, and what professors you might want to work with — be sure to include that information, don’t just submit an identical essay to each school! Most schools recognize that much of your information will be the same for all schools, but you should customize 2-3 paragraphs for each school. Also, make sure if you’re applying to Indiana University, your statement of purpose doesn’t still read, the University of Illinois.

Get a Second and Third Opinion

This is not your average term paper. This is much harder in many ways. Be sure to have at least one other linguistics person check your statement. You don’t want any flagrant errors in there. Obsess over the details and how they may be interpreted. We suggest writing your statement in purpose in multiple drafts. Write your first draft in October and look at your statement of purpose every couple of days until it’s time to submit.

KISS – Keep it Short Smiley

Brevity is great and all, but you don’t want to make the mistake of being too general in your statement; it might seem as though you’re less brilliant and academically-minded than you actually are. You’re not writing a press release, you’re trying to convince someone that you belong in grad school. Obviously, this isn’t a research paper-length thing — we’d say make it at least two pages and not more than three. Then again, we could incredibly mistaken. When in doubt, always look at the instructions.

Quick! What’s the difference between 1,000 words and 2,000 characters? Still don’t know? Okay, 1,000 words equals about two pages. 2,000 characters equals about 600 words, or about one page.


Written by applelinguist

January 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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