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EIU Master of Science in Sustainability

Guidelines for Writing a Statement of Purpose

Many graduate schools require a Statement of Purpose Essay along with an application so that the application review committee can map your previous education, experience and interests to the master’s program goals and objectives. A statement of purpose essay, in addition to your transcript and GRE scores, provides a comprehensive profile of each candidate. This essay also helps committee members determine if you are a qualified applicant for the master’s program.

What to Include in a Statement of Purpose Essay

As mentioned, your Statement of Purpose essay should map your previous education, experience and interests to the master’s program goals and objectives. The essay gives the review committee the opportunity to see who you are beyond you transcripts and GRE scores.  The following describes a general guideline in terms of format for the Statement of Purpose.

The first paragraph is an introductory paragraph and should include your thesis statement, that is, the central idea of your essay. Indicate the degree you want to earn and the topic you want to study. Explain why you chose that program for graduate studies. Describe your goals and how this particular graduate program at EIU will help you reach your career goals.

The next paragraph of your essay should address your interest and experience in the graduate program, as well as some of your knowledge of your field of study. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about graduate study goals, the career you want and why you're suited for it.

The next paragraph might include information about your desired course of study and what you plan to do with the degree when it is awarded. Relevant details of your professional or academic experience could be added here. Details of recent honors or awards or publications accepted or internships and promotions recently earned could be mentioned this paragraph. Specific details of courses you hope to take and professors with whom you hope to study can be included in this paragraph. You can also address your goals, both short term and long term.

A concluding paragraph should reiterate your thesis statement. The impact of your graduate degree on your career could also be highlighted here. Describe the ways in which the graduate degree will advance your future plans and what this will mean to you personally.

Do's and Don'ts


1. Plan ahead. Start out by making a list of all the things you want to include in the essay. Identify which are the strongest points and eliminate the weak ones. Develop and outline for your essay. Determine your thesis statement, that is, your central idea.

2. Write several drafts of your essay. After you’ve written your first draft, read through it and revise it. Your final essay may take five or six drafts to be effective.

3. Ask for reviews. Ask friends and other students to review your draft. Ask an instructor or professional to provide feedback.

4. Get meaningful feedback. After someone reviews your essay, ask them how it can be improved. Ask them what is the strongest points are. Don’t settle for a response like, “It looks ok to me.”

5. Read your essay out loud to someone. You can catch errors more easily when you hear them.

6. When you’ve completed your final draft, put the essay aside for a few days. Then, come back and read it again. This will help you identify strengths and weaknesses.

7. Be positive. Use your essay to sincerely convey your thoughts and voice about your desire to attend graduate school at EIU.


1. Don’t copy an essay from the Internet. That is plagiarism and violates academic integrity.

2. Don’t copy another student’s essay. That, too, is plagiarism and violates academic integrity.

3. Don’t use vocabulary you don’t understand.

4. Don’t complain or whine.

5. Don’t use quotes unless they are absolutely necessary in conveying your main idea. If you use a quote you must cite the author and source of the quote.

6. Don’t repeat yourself.

7. Explain and describe. Don’t assume your reader knows what you’ve done or experienced.


  • Standard 8" x 11" white paper

  • Double-spaced text

  • 1" margins, all sides

  • Times New Roman font, 12 pt.

Related Pages

Contact Information

Dr. Nichole Hugo
Associate Professor &
Graduate Coordinator of Sustainability

600 Lincoln Ave,
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 581-8595

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