University of California graduate admissions

Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose is a short essay that should be customized for each program you apply to. It will be evaluated by the graduate program faculty, so present yourself as someone who will be a good fit for the program.

Crafting a strong Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose is an important part of your UC graduate school application. Be sure to write a polished essay so you'll make a good first impression when you apply. Each application is different, but a good Statement of Purpose shouuld contain the following elements: 

  • Introduction: Indicate the degree you want to earn and the topic you want to study. Describe your research and how graduate school will help you reach your career goals, as well as the contribution you will make to the program.
  • Accomplishments: Summarize your achievements, including research projects, classes or work that stimulated your desire for graduate studies during your undergraduate or master’s career.
  • Referrals: If you've received encouragement from professors in the program you would like to enter, mention that as well.
  • Format: Modify your statement of purpose for each application you submit, carefully following the guidelines and instructions, which may vary from program to program. Typically, your essay should be one to two pages, single-spaced, using a 12-point font that's easy to read; but make sure to confirm the institutions formatting requirements. Proofread to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.

A few writing helpful tips

Writing a statement of purpose can be intimidating, but the following tips can help you create a strong statment that highlights your readiness to begin your graduate education. 

  • Address your audience: Your primary audience is the faculty in the program to which you are applying. Treat your statement of purpose as an application to work with a specific professor in that department or scholarly field. Be compelling and clear.
  • Provide specific examples: Rather than simply saying you are a high achiever, for example, describe a project on which you exceeded a professor’s expectations. If your grades suffered because of a misfortune, such as an illness, explain how you persevered. You can describe a mistake that taught you a valuable lesson — but don’t make excuses. Be positive and concise.