How to Write Your Technical SOP
If you are planning on applying for a master’s degree programme, it is important that you put together a compelling application. Apart from your resume and letters of recommendation, a vital part of your application is your Statement of Purpose (SOP). Serving as your voice in the application process, this is where you get to tell admissions officers your story and what inspired you to choose your current path. Previously, we’ve outlined how to write an impactful SOP, but what if you are someone who has some technical exposure or some amount of experience? Does this change what goes into this statement? The simple answer is yes!
Besides following all the guidelines for a good essay, your technical SOP needs to provide an accurate description of the technical topic you are planning on studying. You need to focus on vocabulary and technical terminologies that will signal to someone who is knowledgeable in your field that you have significant domain knowledge. Whereas other SOPs may focus on personal experiences, thoughts and motivations, the technical SOP requires facts, figures and analysis to be presented in a clear and concise manner.
Start off with a strong introduction that refers to your topic, similar to a thesis statement, which you can elaborate on in the following paragraphs. While you may not know exactly what your dissertation topic will be, you should identify a specific field in that programme. Your departmental admissions committee is looking for you to stand out, so be specific about your interests within the field. For example, an SOP for an engineering masters applicant should highlight analytical abilities and showcase technical knowledge acquired while interning or working full-time. Describing the project you embarked on, the subject areas you researched for a project, the obstacles you faced during testing and your return to the drawing board make for a great read and also highlight your attributes. This detail is far more impactful than you merely stating that you value perseverance.
When writing the body of your technical SOP, focus on establishing your research interests or explaining how the degree will add to your previous experience and help you achieve your professional or academic aspirations. Your aptitude and motivation, along with future career goals should be stated clearly. It is also important to provide your analysis of the topic rather than simply mentioning it. You can include quotes from relevant articles to further illustrate your point, however, make sure you cite from proper sources like conference papers, academic papers, and peer-reviewed books and reference them properly.
Apart from these points, remember that extracurricular activities, unless they are related to your programme, should not be included. Volunteering at an old-age home for the sake of the application isn’t necessary or relevant. However, if you have been consistent in your visits and these have added value to the residents of the home and have directly contributed to enhancing your skills, then it is worth mentioning.
If you are considering a technical course, then getting to know the fields of research being carried out on campus is imperative. Your interests or previous experience should align with the department’s research programmes so that the admissions committee will view you as a fit for ongoing projects or labs. If you have no exposure to the area – for example, hospital administration – but if you have a keen interest and desire, then these need to be supplemented by readings, research followed, a description of your future goals and a clear articulation of how you will achieve them. This proves to the admissions committee that you will add value to the department’s culture by taking part in discussions, projects and taking initiative. Some technical master’s degree programs have prerequisites to ensure that you manage course requirements. This is why you should showcase your diligence in your undergraduate degree either within the curriculum or outside of it by virtue of online courses, internships or research work.
End your technical SOP with a conclusion that summarises and closes the discussion that you have started in a few sentences. This should have a positive tone, showcasing your excitement to be a part of the institute and its culture and legacy.
Writing a technical SOP takes some time. You will have to reflect and organise your thoughts before you start and will go through multiple drafts before you are satisfied with the outcome, so make sure to start working on it right away! The next pieces of critical information that a university seeks about an applicant are letters of recommendation. To know more about them, read our blog post here. For assistance with your master’s application, get in touch with us.