A Guide on Statement of Purpose for Studying Abroad

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Everything You Need to Know about Statement of Purpose

In recent years, the trend of studying abroad has been boosting rapidly among Indian students. But do you know about all the essential documents needed for overseas schooling? When you apply to study abroad, one of the most crucial aspects of your application is a Statement of Purpose (SOP). Now, you will have various queries arising in your mind due to the newly learned term. Don’t worry—this blog will help you with all your doubts related to SOP. 

What Is a Statement of Purpose?

It is also called a research statement or a letter of intent. The statement of purpose is written to the admission panel of the university you want to study at or for the scholarship you are applying for. It talks about your career path, interests, and other details that they must know to analyze your eligibility for the institute.

Difference between General SOP and Scholarship SOP

As you learn about what is statement of purpose is, do you know that there are two types of SOP for study abroad applications? The two types of SOP are - General SOP and Scholarship SOP.

A general SOP always focuses on your uniqueness, qualities and strengths that make you eligible for the admission university you opted for. Whereas, a scholarship SOP focuses on the attributes that convey your urgency and need for the grant and how qualified you are for it.

The following table shows you the major difference between the General SOP for university and Scholarship SOP:

While SOP mainly focuses on the financial assistance that the students require while pursuing their higher studies in a foreign land.
General SOP Scholarship SOP
These SOPs are all related to your academic qualifications, aims, and your passion for studying in a particular course that you chose. An SOP for scholarships or grants talks about how passionate you are, your academic interests, and your reasons for applying for the grant. It also conveys why you deserve the same.
It is usually needed during the application for undergraduate and postgraduate programs abroad. They are only required while applying for scholarships or grants to study in the program you opted for.
General SOP writing does not have any type. They may vary based on the needs of the institute, country, or course of your interest. Scholarship SOPs consist of several categories. There are five main types of these SOPs.
These SOPs do not give any attention to the financial issues of the applicants. While SOP mainly focuses on the financial assistance that the students require while pursuing their higher studies in a foreign land.

In the upcoming section, you will learn about the main five categories of statement of purpose for scholarships and grants in detail.

Types of Scholarship SOP

As you know, the number of Indian students willing to study overseas is exponentially growing. Thus, the number of applications for international scholarships for Indian students is increasing along with them. Due to this, the competition for scholarships is at its peak. Therefore, you must know the types of scholarship SOP for better presentation.

1. Academic Scholarship

It is a type of scholarship offered by many sources, including educational institutes, governmental firms, and other companies. These grants are based on your academic performance and merit. Your scores and CGPA influence the outcome of these scholarships. In this type, the SOP must focus on your academic credits, your future goals, and what motivates you the most.

2. Athletic Scholarship

An athletic scholarship is given to excellent sportspersons. This will help scholars study at renowned institutes. The students applying for these grants should be a member of a sports team. Thus, the SOP for this scholarship must focus on your sports background, achievements and why you chose this specific sport.

3. Minority and Social Scholarship

These scholarships for studying abroad by Indian government are offered to minority groups or social communities. These are provided to minority group students to obtain overseas schooling opportunities. In this type of scholarship, the SOP will talk about your personal life. In this, you need to write about how you have been affected as a member of a minority community.

4. Women’s Scholarship

This type of scholarship is particularly for female students with a strong gist for their career goals but weak financial backgrounds. This grant aims to inspire female students to fulfil their passion for overseas higher studies. The SOP needed in this scholarship must focus on your passion and gist for studying overseas and accomplishing your career goals, with the reason for the need for this financial aid.

5. Community-Based Scholarship

These scholarships for studying abroad by Indian government are given to the students who show involvement in their local community. The main objective of this grant is to offer scholars with more genuine experience of the host nation while promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

Why SOP Is Important for Scholarships for Indian Students?

As you learn about the types of scholarship SOP, you must also know about their importance. In this section, you will learn about the importance of overseas scholarships for Indian students and how they help to get grants for higher studies.

1. Unique in the Crowd

Universities and fund-providing firms receive countless scholarship applications from qualified students. Thus, a strong and unique SOP allows you to present the unique points about your financial background, experiences and passion for study to stand out from the crowd of scholarship applicants.

2. Showcase Your Value

Your SOP for international scholarships for Indian students will allow you to focus on your non-academic achievements, leadership qualities, and commitment to your chosen field. This will help you appear more eligible for the scholarships you opted for.

3. Connecting with the Scholarship Motto

Constructing your SOP for any Indian scholarships to study abroad demonstrates a clear understanding of their aims and values. You can also showcase how your aspirations suit the scholarship’s mission and make yourself a capable applicant for their funding.

4. Drafting Your Narration

The SOP allows you to create a narrative story about the journey you went through till now. In this, you share your experiences, challenges, and inspirations that fuel your academic goals. This will help the committee to connect with you at a human level.

5. Effective Communication Skills

A well-written SOP demonstrated your communication ability. This is a valuable skill that is a must for your bright future in academics and the profession you choose. It will also help you in applying for Indian scholarships to study abroad.


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How to Write SOP? What are the Elements of SOP?

Since you got the idea of what is statement of purpose is and why it is needed for scholarship applications. A simple yet catching SOP will help you properly present various information. Thus, you should learn about how to write SOP. In this section, you will learn more about the main elements for writing a SOP for both the scholarship and the university.

How to Write an Excellent SOP?

SOP Writing for Scholarships

The SOP writing is the key to securing your application for scholarships. The format for SOP is divided into various paragraphs for better understanding. In the upcoming components, you will learn about the main elements of the format of SOP for scholarships.

  • Introduction

In this paragraph, you need to start with captivating writing that grabs the reader’s attention. The purpose of the SOP should be clear in this paragraph, along with a brief introduction about yourself.

  • Career and Academic Objectives

In this section of the SOP format, you must talk about your academic and career objectives. While writing about it, you should also mention how the scholarship will help you fulfil the same.

  • Why You Are Eligible for It

This section of the format for SOP writing discusses your achievements in academics and co-curriculum activities that show your candidature. Also, this paragraph will talk about your unique skills, abilities and experiences that set you apart from other applicants.

  • Financial Requirements

If required, discuss your financial situation honestly and clarify how the scholarship will help relieve the financial burden of pursuing your higher studies.

  • Your Contribution to the Community

While writing the SOP for scholarships for studying abroad by Indian government, always make sure to mention your contribution to the society. You must showcase your volunteering services or other leadership roles you played.

Also, mention how you had a positive impact on your society.

  • Reasons Why You Opt for the Scholarship

In this paragraph, talk about your knowledge of the scholarship provider and the motto of the grant. Along with this, you must explain why you have a keen interest in this grant.

  • Personal Commitment

While writing the SOP for a scholarship, do not forget to show your commitment towards your personal growth and academic excellence. Also, add the details about how you will use the most of the scholarship if you receive the same.

  • Conclusion

At the end of the SOP, you must summarize the key points, express your willingness to receive the scholarship and express your gratitude to the committee for considering your application.

Components of an Impressive SOP for Scholarships

SOP Writing for University

In this section, you will learn about the components of the format for SOP for university in detail.

  • Introduction

This section is the most confusing section in the general SOP format for most students. They often think that it is a self-introduction paragraph. But it is not. In this section, you must introduce your chosen field of interest in academics and explain your future expectations from the course.
You can discuss your long-term goal and its relation to the course you are choosing. You can also mention your interest in your post-study work options.

  • Your Academic Background

In this section, you must provide details about your school or college before applying to the university. You can also highlight your academic achievements and other projects you worked on or are working on.

  • Professional Experience

Students who are interested in studying abroad usually have some kind of work experience. These experiences may include part-time jobs, internships, projects, freelancing or full-time jobs. In this paragraph, share your work experience along with your capabilities.

  • About the Chosen Course

While writing a general SOP, always remember to add a description about why you want to pursue the specific course for higher studies. In this, you can mention the course syllabus and express the skills you want to improve.

  • About the University You Opted for

In this section of this SOP structure, you need to tell the committee why you are a perfect applicant for the university. Here, you must mention faculty names, course syllabi, research work, and institute-specific activities that will help you enhance your profile.

  • Future Career Goals

The most crucial section of the SOP is the paragraph in which you mention your future career goals. Here, you should express your plans and long-term aims in your career. Always make sure not to add anything that makes the examiner feel like you want to study overseas to settle in the country.

  • Conclusion

In your final paragraph of SOP structure, you need to focus and prepare for the challenges that can come in the way of your journey. You must showcase your confidence to the panel of selectors and succeed in the field of your.

Components of an Impressive SOP for Universities

As you come across the idea about how to write SOP, it is high time you also know some ideal formats for various SOPs.

What Is the Ideal SOP Format for Scholarships, Countries, Universities and Courses

In this section, you will learn about the ideal formats for different SOPs based on the type of scholarships, universities, countries and courses you are applying to.

  1. Ideal SOP Format for Scholarships for Study Abroad

The following table will give you all the necessary information about the ideal SOP format for the scholarship applications in detail:

Type of SOP Ideal SOP Format
SOP for scholarships
  • Word count limit for the document - 800-1000 words
  • Word count limit for each paragraph - 100-150 words
  • Mention your career and academic goals
  • Reasons why you are eligible and your financial requirements
  • Your contribution to the society
  • Reasons why you choose the specific scholarship
  • Your commitment

2. Ideal SOP Format for Top 5 Study Abroad Countries

The following table will give you all the necessary information about the ideal SOP format for the top 5 study abroad countries in detail:

Countries Ideal SOP Format
United States of America
  • SOP should be 2-3 pages long (depending on the university you applied in)
  • Ideal word count limit - 600-1500 words
  • Language used must be English only
  • SOP should be original and must have direct answers to the questions or topics given by the university.
  • Ideal word count limit - 1000-1500
  • Include details related to academic background, work experience and future goals
  • Should describe your unique qualities
  • The writing should be original, clear, positive and grammatically correct.
  • Ideal word count limit - 1000-1500
  • Must start with a brief introduction about your background and academic details
  • Reasons for application to a specific university
  • Mention your career goals both short-term and long-term
  • Mention your research about the university and the quality of education
United Kingdom
  • Ideal word count limit - 600-900
  • Include your extra co-curriculum achievements
  • Brief introduction with academic background and work experience
  • Share your future goals in the chosen course
  • Should be error-free, plagiarism-free and written in English only
  • Brief detailing about your introduction, academic background, and work experience
  • Mention the reasons for opting for the specific university and course
  • Mention your long-term as well as short-term goals clearly
  • Align the opted course with your career goals

3. Ideal SOP Format for the World’s Top 5 Universities

The following table shows the ideal format for how to write Statement of Purpose for the world’s top 5 universities in detail:

Universities Ideal SOP Format
University of Oxford
  • SOP should be 1-2 pages long
  • Ideal word count limit - 1000-1500 words
  • Connect your academic background and work experience with your reasons for opting for a specific course
  • Reasons to apply for a particular course
  • Proof related to your commitments
Stanford University
  • Ideal word count limit - 1000 words
  • Brief details about your background, research interests, and career path
  • Reasons to apply to a particular programme
  • Mention any other skills that can contribute to your admissions
  • You may need to submit a Diversity Statement of a maximum of 500 words
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • SOP should be 2 pages long
  • Should cover details related to your academic background, inspiration for opting for the specific course
  • Mention your career goals
  • Reasons how do you fit into MIT
  • About professors or research projects that caught your attention
Harvard University
  • Ideal word count limit - 600-1500 words
  • Brief introduction about the background and your work experiences
  • Reasons to pursue a course
  • Mention your Research interests and your career plans
University of Cambridge
  • Ideal word characters - 4,000 characters
  • Mention Research the course thoroughly
  • Reasons to pursue a particular course
  • Mention your academic strengths
  • Why do you fit this course?

Ideal SOP Format for Different Courses

The following table shows the ideal format of how to write SOP for various courses in detail:

Courses Ideal SOP Format
MBA Courses
  • Brief information about your personal and academic background.
  • Your professional career.
  • mention your future career goals.
  • What made you decide that you want to pursue an MBA?
  • Reasons why you want to pursue an MBA
  • Why do you want to opt for an MBA from this particular University/College?
  • Why should the University select you?
MS Courses
  • Ideal word count limit - 800-1000 words
  • Must have double-space and written in 12-point type
  • Brief introduction
  • Mention your academic Background
  • Mention your professional Experience
  • Should include your future career goals
  • Conclusion
UG Courses
  • Reason for pursuing the course and career goals
  • Reasons to choose a specific university
  • Reasons for opting for a particular country
  • Mention your experience and achievements
  • Conclusion
PhD Courses
  • Make a statement for yourself
  • Answer the why question
  • e straight-forward with your research interest
  • Mention your academic and research background
  • Be honest in addressing the previous issues
  • Reasons to join this specific course/ programme and university
  • Mention your career goals both short-term and long-term
  • Some soft skills must be included in your SOP for a PhD

Do's and Don’t of an SOP

As you learn how to write SOP, you must be aware of the do’s and don’ts of making an impressive SOP for both general use and scholarships. In the upcoming sections, you will learn about common mistakes and tips for making an excellent SOP.

Do’s and Don’t of an SOP

Do’s of an SOP

In this section, you will learn what you need to do to write an impressive SOP. These include:

  • Be Specific, Consistent and Straightforward

While writing a statement of purpose, make sure to provide specific, consistent, and straightforward information. Do not just say or write something because you think it will impress the committee. Whatever you say, you have to say it in detail.

  • Use a Professional yet Simple Tone

Writing an excellent SOP can be troublesome for students. However, creating an SOP in too formal tone that cannot connect with the committee is not the right way. Thus, scholars should make an SOP more like a conversation with your college principal, formal yet simple.

  • Portray Yourself Correctly

While writing, students must create an SOP in such a way that it conveys their character and personality. They can portray their attitude correctly and show their gist for the course program they opted for.

  • Check for Grammatical Mistakes Twice

Always check for grammatical mistakes twice before submitting the SOP to the committee. This will help you present your SOP without any silly grammar mistakes.

  • Use of Active Voice and Strong Verbs

Always use an active voice and mention everything with positivity. Also, use strong verbs in your SOP to define yourself. Make sure to write in stories, not in statements, to clarify your point.

Don’t of an SOP

In this section, you will learn about the things that you need to do to write an impressive SOP. These include:

  • Exceed Word Limit

Usually, students are given a word count limit for writing a statement of purpose. However, several applicants neglect the limit, either exceeding or failing to reach the limit. This is one of the most common mistakes that students make while creating an SOP.

  • Using Too Complex and Technical Terms

While writing an SOP, students desire to create an impressive SOP to create an impression in front of the committee. But while doing this, they often use many complex words with technical terms. Doing this is not beneficial as it distracts the readers more.

  • Provide False Information

The information provided in the statement of purpose must be completely accurate. Not only this, but they also have to submit proof of the same during admission. Thus, providing false information can lead a student to rejection or permanent blacklisting from the institute.

  • Submitting Copied SOP

Some students do not work hard to create an SOP on their own. They usually surf the internet and copy-paste the SOP from other sources. This can directly lead to their application rejection as the committee does not consider the type of copied SOPs.

  • Use of Passive Voice and Weak Verbs

Try to use very little or negligible amount of passive voice and weak verbs in your SOP. Passive voice will make your sentence lengthier and tough to understand sometimes.

Also Read: How to Prepare SOP for UK Study Visa? Tips and Guide

In this blog, you learned about the most crucial things you should know to create an impressive statement of purpose. These include the knowledge gained about what is SOP letter, the difference between general SOP and scholarship SOP. You also learned about the types of scholarship SOP. Not only this, you come across the idea of the format of SOP for various scholarships, universities, countries and courses. Also, the do’s and don’t mentioned in this blog will help you build a better and more impressive SOP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Should I Put My Name in My SOP?

In a traditional SOP, you do not need to mention your name or course details in it. This is because an SOP is a part of your application, which will have your name and course details by default. But there might be some institutes as an exception that may need you to mention your name in your SOP. Thus, you need to follow the institute's guidelines before creating an SOP.

2. Should I Mention My Low Grades in My SOP?

You must avoid mentioning any low grades in your SOP. You should always mention your strengths in your SOP. However, you can mention them if you have any ill circumstances, such as poor health.

3. Why is an SOP Considered a Crucial Criterion for Admission to Universities?/h3>

An SOP is considered as a crucial criterion for admission to universities because it is an essay that draws attention to your academic background, aims and accomplishments. Also, in an SOP, you share your reasons for why you would like to study the desired program at the university you opted for.

4. Are an SOP and a Personal Statement Different From Each Other?

Yes, an SOP and a personal statement are different from each other. An SOP focuses more on why you want to study in the program, your academic background and your abilities. Whereas, a personal statement usually includes your inspirations and interests, thus speaking more about who you are as a person.

5. Do the Word Counts for SOP and Personal Statement Differ From Each Other?

Yes, the word counts for SOP and personal statement differ from each other. The ideal word count for an SOP is 800-1000 words, but in some cases, it can go beyond 1000 words. While in a personal statement, the ideal word count is 500-600 words, which can extend to 600-700 words in some exceptions.

6. What Is the Ideal Font Size for Writing an SOP?

The ideal font size can be 11-12 points based on the length of the document. The font style that can be used in writing an SOP can be either Times New Roman or Calibri.

View all comments
Pooja Sharma

Clear, concise, and incredibly helpful. A must-read for aspiring students!

Faizal Khan

Hello sir, I recently completed my studies in B.Tech Civil Engineering at a private university in India, and I want to pursue my master's at MIT, USA. Can you please brief me about their admission requirements and the SOP format they follow?


MIT, like many top universities, typically requires strong academic performance, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students. Additionally, they value research experience, relevant coursework, and extracurricular activities. For the Statement of Purpose (SOP), MIT usually expects a concise, well-structured essay outlining your academic and professional background, research interests, career goals, and why you're interested in their program specifically. It's essential to demonstrate your passion for your field and how MIT aligns with your aspirations.

Ranjana Suresh

Thank you for simplifying the Statement of Purpose process. I can't wait to get started!

Aran Yogesh

This blog provided the necessary information for my SOP inquiry.

Gavin Thomas

Hello, I am a student of BSc Physics. I have a query: Is it necessary to write an SOP on our own for university admission?


Yes, it is recommended to write your Statement of Purpose (SOP) for university admission on your own, but our experts can provide guidance and assistance in crafting a compelling SOP tailored to your academic and personal achievements.



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