Statement of Purpose (SOP) is one of the most important documents required by universities abroad for enrollment of candidates in popular courses like MS or MBA. Check out some of the major differences between an MBA SOP and an MS SOP.
As the name suggests, a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a document containing a set of statements that define the purpose of a candidate to join a college in a specific course. It is one of the most important documents necessary to complete the application form for admissions to universities abroad. While there are a plethora of graduate courses offered at universities, the two most popular degree programmes opted by students are MS and MBA.
Since universities receive applications in large numbers for MS and MBA degree programmes from across the world, an SOP is considered as an important part of the application that allows the candidate to directly convey his/her desire to join a specific course/college and explain the reasons why he/she is the right choice to be considered for admission.
Thus, making a strong SOP is beneficial in making the first impression, thereby increasing the chances of acceptance to universities abroad. While writing an SOP, candidates must keep in mind the specialization and course they are applying to, as an emphasis must be placed on the interest of the candidate in a specific course offered at the university. Despite their many similarities, an MS SOP and an MBA SOP have several defining pointers which make them distinctive.
This article covers the difference between MBA SOP and MS SOP which will help candidates write an effective Statement of Purpose (SOP).
A Statement of Purpose document highlights the skills, knowledge, calibre and interest of a candidate in a particular area of studies. The basic structure and format of any SOP remain the same, however, the content of MS and MBA SOP varies as both are two different fields of study and require candidates to have unique qualities.
For an MBA, the admission committee expects an aspirant to highlight his managerial and leadership skills, while, an MS student is expected to discuss his technical knowledge on the particular subject
Have a look at the points that differentiate an MS SOP from MBA SOP, as specified in the table below.
Point of Difference
SOP for MS degree programmes should be more technical in nature. It may include terms like ELISA, LS/MS and so on.
SOP for MBA programmes should focus more on managerial and leadership capabilities and skills. Technical terms, here, may be added subtly, which should be self-explanatory.
Technical skills, previous projects, thesis and area of interest are a few major points that should be highlighted in an MS SOP.
The major highlights of an MBA SOP should include leadership quality, management and communication skills along with decision-making ability of the candidate.
Usually, candidates enrolled in MS programmes are recent undergraduates with little or no work experience. Thus, the MS SOP must highlight those areas the candidate is good at, with an emphasis on the specialization they wish to undertake under MS.
Most business schools offer admission to candidates, preferably, with some years of work experience. Thus, in an MBA SOP, emphasis should be put on the kind of work and recognition of the candidate at previous organisations.
An effective MS SOP is one that demonstrates candidates’ willingness to contribute to the field of study they wish to be enrolled in.
An effective MBA SOP is one that demonstrates the candidates’ willingness to emerge as leaders, entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers.
Need Help With Writing an MBA or MS SOP?
An MBA Statement of Purpose is the most important part of an MBA application form. It helps in convincing the admission committee about the intense desire of the candidate to join the college in a particular course. A strong SOP increases the chances of the candidate to get enrolled in the course and so while creating a Statement of Purpose for an MBA programme, the candidate must highlight certain points to make it more effective for the readers.
A good MBA SOP will always have a basic structure, which helps accentuate an applicant’s profile. Here are the parts one must incorporate in an MBA SOP:
Part 1: Introduction
Typically, an MBA SOP should be started with the top highlights of the applicant’s academic and professional profile. This may include details such as one good reason for choosing to do an MBA, key experiences that led them to pursue the program, one interesting fact about them or what program they have studied before. It should be added in a way that helps the SOP stand out and encourages the reader to read on.
Part 2: Academic Record
All details related to academic background must be covered here, including GPAs, involvement in sports, clubs, extracurricular activities, projects and so on. In case the applicant has experience as a leader in a school or university team or group, it may be used to show their leadership or management skills. This part may also include participation in college or university elections or political campaigns and more.
Part 3: Professional Experience
Most b-schools abroad will require applicants to have prior professional experience be it an internship, a part-time or full-time job in a relevant field. In this part, all professional experiences, roles and responsibilities, initiatives taken, participation in activities, skills developed should be highlighted. In case, the applicant has won awards on their previous jobs, the same can also be pointed out. Some students also have experience in volunteering for NGOs, which further help in making an MBA SOP better.
Part 4: The ‘Why’
The motives or reasons behind joining the MBA programme should be discussed here. The applicant must further talk about their interest in studying at the specific b-school. While highlighting this point, the candidate should emphasize their willingness to join the college and discuss their expectations.
Part 5: Post-MBA Goals
An MBA SOP must also contain the candidate’s expectations from the course and how it is going to impact or enhance their career prospects. They can go on to discuss their career goals and objectives after pursuing an MBA from a b-school in the particular country.
Part 6: Conclusion
Conclude by adding one last note why they should select the candidate, how they can be the perfect fit for the program or how they can add value to the program or the community.
Keep it Short & Simple: A short, crisp and effective SOP has better chances of getting more attention, where all questions are answered in a well-organised manner. It should not be more than 500-600 words, unless otherwise stated.
Talk About Goals Post MBA: Every good MBA SOP would have details about the student’s short- and long-term career goals, specified in terms of industry, location, the set of firms, dream job roles and so on. While doing so, one should not forget to be honest.
Ask a Professional to Review: Asking former MBA students or teachers to go through the MBA SOP draft once will let the applicant understand if there is something they may add or remove. It is always better to have it reviewed by someone who has experience in writing an MBA SOP before submitting it.
Comply With University-specific Rules: What many do is send the same SOP to different b-schools, not considering having a look at each school’s SOP rules. It is important to abide by them and send them accordingly.
Do Not Exaggerate: While it is good to have an impressive academic or professional background, making it sound glamorous or adding flowery words in an SOP is not going to impress the admissions committee. The key here is to sound as straightforward as possible.
A Statement of Purpose and Transcript are the two important documents that are submitted with the application form while applying for MS admission. The transcript of the candidate defines his/her academic qualifications and the marks scored by him/her, whereas the SOP defines the major purpose of the candidate, his/her interest in the subject and willingness to do something productive after acquiring the relevant knowledge.
Here is the structure to write an SOP for Masters abroad:
Part 1: Introduction & Purpose
The beginning of an MS SOP, like SOPs for any other program, should have an attention-grabbing hook. Ideally, it should be a brief introduction of the applicant, their background and why they are motivated to pursue the program. One must be mindful to put in details such as which field and course they are applying for, their prior subject knowledge and passion for the subject.
Part 2: Academic and Professional Background
Now this will talk about the writer’s academic and professional experience and how their background has influenced them to take up the particular field. The MS SOP must highlight the academic qualifications and achievements of the candidate with an emphasis on the technical aspect of the previous academic programmes. The candidate can further discuss the previous projects, work experience and the major roles and responsibilities they took up in the past. They must specify their learning experiences as well. They may also add a few examples to prove their skills and abilities like their contribution to a specific project, internship or highlight any other work undertaken.
Part 3: Why the Program and the University
Here, aspects such as why the particular university and country were chosen should be touched upon. One may talk about all the reasons why the university seems like an ideal fit for them, which could be its reputation, faculty, cutting-edge infrastructure, reputed researchers and so on.
Part 4: Post-MS Goals
Before concluding, one should talk about their plans for the future and how their chosen program could lead them to it. In simple words, telling them about the five-year plan post MS would help the admissions committee understand that the candidate is making an informed decision.
Part 5: Why You?
Lastly, the candidate can demonstrate their ideas, aspiration and innovative thinking through which they can make a contribution to the field of study. They can focus on the factors how they will be an asset to the university and the department.
The expectations of the admission committee and the university are different from a student who wishes to be enrolled in an MS degree programme. Thus, while creating a Statement of Purpose for MS course the candidate must keep certain points in mind, which have been mentioned below:
Content: Add technical terms only wherever required. It should not be overloaded with jargon, which often makes a bad impression on the evaluators. Also, proofread carefully for spelling, grammar and punctuation while also making sure that the SOP is to-the-point and easy-to-read.
Flow: An MS SOP should not be haphazard, forcing the reader to think too much. A flow, according to the structure mentioned above, is simply moving from the past experiences to the present and lastly to the future or goals. Having said that, this is not a hard and fast rule and the applicant may use their discretion to ensure flow in their MS SOP.
Length: Do not write too much and exceed 500-600 words. Every word mentioned in the SOP should be authentic and not untrue or fabricated, aimed only at impressing the admissions committee.
Knowledge: It is extremely crucial for an MS applicant to mention what knowledge and skills they have developed over the years which are relevant to the program. Remember, universities admitting graduate students are looking for students who understand a given field and have a strong grasp of it.
Finally, it should be understood that a Statement of Purpose, whether for an MBA or an MS, should be tailored to the experiences and understanding of the candidate submitting the same. Each Statement of Purpose acts as an official document highlighting the motives, qualifications and understanding of a candidate for a particular subject, and their respective relevance to a specific programme offered by the University they aspire to enrol within.
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