Sample SOPs / Sample statement of purpose for US graduate Schools

Statement of Purpose

Name: xxx; Program: Economics PhD

What shape would take the macroeconomic policies of an economy where micro agents are confined by human limitations and complications and the policy makers by political considerations and constraints is the principal question I would like to focus on in my research. Viewing political economy of macroeconomics from a behavioral perspective would be the cornerstone of my analysis. And the objective would be to reflect on the growth performance and potential of the economy.

My undergraduate study in Presidency College prepared the background of a strong quantitative training through a broad array of courses that made me comfortable in multivariate calculus, modern algebra, linear programming, mathematical statistics to name a few, while giving a taste of the way modern economics is taught worldwide. This exposure to mathematical techniques and their applications to economics made me realize the importance of quantitative and analytical rigor that goes into validating any economic idea. The Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) program at Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) offers precisely this — a mixture of intuitive economic concepts and rigorous formulation of the same to back them up. This is what led me chose this program despite the offers of Professor Manmohon Singh Scholarship from Delhi School of Economics or Professor Thavaraj scholarship from Jawaharlal Nehru University — a choice that expanded my intellectual horizons while deepening analytical expertise.


Courses in ISI provided rigorous training in real analysis, linear algebra, statistical inference, measure theoretic probability and optimal control while the courses in microeconomics simply increased my thirst for a more generous dose of economic theory. Also here I was introduced to game theory and took an instant liking in this branch of economics. I have just completed another course on advanced game in a “game-theoretically” interesting juncture of Indian politics marked by formation of a minimal winning coalition of political parties with polar opposite policy agenda in the Central Government of India. This political co-incidence enhanced my joy of studying different solution concepts in co-operative games and indices of voting power. Also papers by Baron-Myerson (1982), Cramton-Gibbons-Klemperer (1987), Myerson-Satterthwaite (1983), Groves (1973), Groves-Loeb (1975), Holmstrong (1979) provided a rigorous introduction to application of game theory under incomplete information. The sheer power of game theory and its broad range of applications made me realize its indispensability in modern economic analysis.


I.S.I also provided the opportunity for building up a solid grounding in econometrics and with empirical tools at hand I tried to examine the validity of export-led growth in the context of India. But by using the Bai-Perron (1998) procedure the only break in per capita real GDP was found in 1979, a baffling result given the conventional wisdom in favor of 1991 liberalization driven growth. But lucky I am, to have a match of my first empirical “finding” in a Rodrik- Subramanian (2004) paper: “From “Hindu Growth” to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition” which explains this surge as an outcome of an attitudinal shift, mainly probusiness in nature, on the part of the Central Government. This opens the channel for further empirical study with the state of West Bengal being an interesting case since in 1980’s the State Government of West Bengal (WB) was not only political arch-rival of the Central Government but was also characterized by predominant prolabor attitude. Also West Bengal shows a falling share of registered manufacturing when the correlation between per capita GDP growth and this share was becoming positive (80’s) from negative (70’s). I wish to study Real GDP, TFP growth of WB and role of share of registered manufacturing in this growth accounting appropriately for state and central Government policies and relation between these different levels of Government in this period in my next project. Currently I am working on an econometric project that tries to capture business cycles in India (1991Q2-2004Q2) in a multidimensional context. The current emphasis in this field is on analyzing and explaining the linkages between monetary policy, inflation and the real business cycle (Lucas (1997), Gali (2000)). In my project the best-fit VAR involving output gap (estimated using univariate detrending technique, ref: IMF estimate of potential output: Theory and Practice, P.R. De Masi, 1997), inflation and interest rate reveals parameter instability (Bai-Perron (1998)) around 1996.This coincides with the beginning of a current business cycle in India (for dates see Dua and Banerji, 1999). But over any particular cycle the estimated model is found to be stable (5% Andrew’s test). This is an empirical indication that there is some relation involving these real and monetary variables over any business cycle even for a developing country like India, the precise nature of which is subject to further theoretical investigation. Also this project establishes rising role of US real interest rate in explaining fluctuations of economic activity in India with advancement of liberalization studying variance decomposition and impulse responses over different sub samples. With a financial econometric project still to come, I am quite confident that the econometric tools acquired here will go a long way in honing my empirical skills.

All these courses I liked but loved I the course on modern growth. For a developing country like mine growth is not just a passion but an economic compulsion on the part of the policy maker. The papers of Solow (1956), Lucas (1988), Barro (1990), Romer (1986,1990), Aghion-Howitt (1992,1998), Grossman- Helpman (1991) introduced me to the main issue of growth theory– why different countries grow at different rates, while the papers by Alesina-Rodrik (1994), Persson-Tabellini (1994), Benabou (1996) offered a fascinating framework of studying inequality and growth incorporating political considerations.

But even this could not fully quench my thirst for more realistic theoretical insights. In the very first year of undergraduate study the paper: “Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory” by A.K.Sen (1977) led me to search for more realistic psychological foundations of economics. Over the course of graduate study my interest guided me through the works of Rabin (1998,2002), Camerer-Loewenstein (2002), Barberis-Thaler (2002),Thaler-Mullainathan (2000) among others and introduced me to economic agents, different from “Homo Economicus” in displaying bounded rationality, bounded willpower and bounded self-interest. This made me feel the thrill of a revolution unfolding and today I want to be a part of this excitement. In particular through my research I would attempt to improve the realism of the psychological underpinnings of economic analysis for suggesting better policy.

But then economic performance depends on policy implementation and individual decisions in a given policy structure. Political interests and incentives of the Government have profound impact on policy choices but in a democracy individual preferences constitute a core factor in guiding these interests. Thus Government and individual decisions are inter-related in more than one way with the causality running in both directions. And I would like to bring together the macroeconomics of policymaking and the psychology of decision making to explain growth performances of economies.

I believe this strand of work will particularly prove to be useful in studying performances of developing economies. An example may illustrate the point. Standard literature focuses on differences in social contract on the two sides of the Atlantic. But the framework offered in Benabou-Tirole (2004) which brings together the literature on the political economy of redistribution and social mobility and work in “psychology and economics” dealing with cognitive dissonance, strategic ignorance and the like, can be extended to understand an interesting observation pertaining to India. This relates to the fact that while our social life attaches great value to work ethic, it does not stigmatize poverty on count of lack of hard work or will power to any great extent. This may be because while individuals have a psychology-based demand for belief in the just world (BJW), they also constantly face the reality that life may not be that fair. And resulting cognitive dissonance in a developing economy with imperfect markets, rampant political corruption and ineffective bureaucracy may be so poignant to give rise to an asymmetric BJW in the sense that while economic success is attributed to hard work and will power, economic poverty is considered to be outcomes of the ‘system’. It will be interesting to see theoretical implications for redistributive policy in such a framework and to judge its empirical relevance.

In retrospect I see my academic pursuit so far being motivated by the single objective of a career in research – a passion of contributing effectively to intriguing puzzles of economics by offering not only plausible explanations but also feasible solutions. Economics department in New York University epitomizes a vibrant academic community, rich and diverse in its research interest and dynamic in its freedom for exploration. Especially here my fields of interest: growth theory, political economy of macroeconomics and behavioral economics are flourishing under the guidance of the pioneering stalwarts in an outstanding environment. This is why I look forward to NYU to turn my passion into concrete abilities– not just to acquire a foundation of knowledge about how the economy works but to explore what new wonders lie ahead.

NYU is surely a place on earth where I simply dream to belong to. And I am confident that given an opportunity to study here I will be able to live up to the standards that befit a student of such a hallowed institution both in terms of academic commitment and responsibility towards economic development of mankind.

Statement of Purpose

Name: xxx; Program: Mathematics

Since my early childhood I have been interested in subjects that involve thinking rather than reproducing things memorized previously. To be more specific, mathematical problems interested me the most. For example, the question “With how many zeros does 1000 factorial end?” and its solution fascinated me. When in Class IV I used to wonder how one defines quantities like ‘5 to the power ½’; later when I learnt these things formally I verified my initial intuition.

My first achievement in academics came when I was in Class V. I was selected in the All India Talent Search Exam. Later my love for challenging mathematical problems drew me to the Regional Mathematics Olympiad where I was one among the thirty students selected from my state.

Even before completing school, I decided to take up Statistics and Mathematics for higher studies, and the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) seemed like a natural choice: apart from some outstanding teachers who are stalwarts in their respective areas, this was the common thread that bound personalities like P.C.Mahalanabis, C.R.Rao, S.R.S.Varadhan and K.R.Parthasarathy. I was selected for the B-Stat (Hons.) program of the I.S.I. Success in this exam added to my confidence since it is a highly competitive one that selects around forty students out of more than five thousand examinees all over India.

In four out of the six semesters of B-Stat, I stood first. I was also awarded the ISIAA medal for topping the course on an aggregate. After the B-Stat, I joined the M-Stat program of the same institute, and am now in my second year, specializing in ‘Advanced Probability’.

My vacations were spent studying beyond the syllabus. With this in mind I participated in the Visiting Students’ Research Program at the School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research one summer. I was rewarded by the privilege of attending lectures by great names like Prof M.S.Raghunathan, and the opportunity to study Galois Theory.

While at ISI I worked on several projects, almost all of which involved huge amounts of computations and in the process I learnt the mathematical software MATLAB. These projects gave me the scope of practical applications of the methods I learnt in the class. I undertook work in Multivariate statistical methods, Generalized linear models, Regression techniques among other topics.

The probability and mathematics courses in ISI, especially the former, had immense influence on me. For example the ‘Central Limit Theorem’ impressed me: it explained why the average of errors, when the average is taken over a large number of experimental units, is assumed to be normally distributed, – a question that had haunted me since my high-school days. I also enjoyed the course on measure-theoretic probability because it described a general set-up to unify all the different types of probability. Right now I am going through a course in Brownian motion, which will be followed up, in the next semester by a course in Martingale Theory and Ergodic Theory. I spent the lion’s share of my time and energy on the probability and mathematics courses and the fact is reflected in my scores: my average score in the Probability and Mathematics papers are 99% and 85.11% respectively.

Probability Theory is my motivation behind applying for Graduate studies. I have decided to apply to *** university because there I will be able to come in contact with some of the greatest probabilists. Moreover I will get the opportunity to interact with some of the best students. I have heard about *** university from my teachers and seniors and I also went through your web site. The areas in which research is carried on there match my interests to a great extent. The opportunity to study probability theory at *** University would be a dream come true. I am grateful to you for considering my application, a gratefulness that will increase manifold should the consideration be favorable.

(Name goes here)

Statement of Purpose

Name: xxx; Program: Engineering


A simple bridge truss was the first structure I ever analyzed. The simple combination of beams that could hold cars, trains, and trucks over long spans of water fascinated me. Having the tools to analyze the loads on the truss further increased my interest in structures. I encountered the bridge in a textbook for my first engineering class.

Knowing that the professor, Mr. John Doe, was a tough teacher, I asked him for the textbook so I could study and get ready for the class over the summer. Just arrived from Belize, I was determined to succeed. In class we learned about forces on simple members and then we put the members together to form a simple truss. At this point I had almost decided that structural engineering was the career for me. From there the class just took off: We went on to frames, distributed loads, considered friction; basically we were incorporating real world considerations into structural members. I loved the practical, problem solving aspects of the field.

At UC my classes were even more advanced. In my analysis and design classes, I especially enjoyed studying steel design because we not only learned the use of the load resistance factor design but also applied that knowledge — I designed a four-story building. The professor was a practicing engineer, and he always related the subject to real life steel structures he had engineered, for example, the SB Medical Center, an all steel building with a base isolated campus. This is the kind of project on which I would like to work, designing the structure and considering how the building will respond to ground motion. After two quarters of structural analysis, I had come as close as possible to analyzing real world structures. Looking back I realize, I had learned great tools for structural analysis, but my “tool box” was still inadequate. I lacked a very important tool: finite element analysis. According to my professor, finite element analysis has revolutionized structural analysis.

Although I liked my classes, my internship experiences really confirmed my interest in structural engineering. While working at Caltrans as a student volunteer, I reviewed computer grading output for streets under construction. The computer suggested numbers for the road grading, and I had to plot the numbers and make sure there were no abrupt grade changes so the water can drain off easily to the sides of the road. It was exciting to know that I was the last checkpoint before the whole project went for approval. It was enjoyable working on something real — Main Street — but I was somewhat disappointed I did not have the chance to work on any structures.

At UC I volunteered through the Student Research Program to work in the geotechnical library. I worked directly with a doctoral student and helped him to develop a geotechnical data base for the local area. I interpreted the data Caltrans had collected and recorded it in a form accessible to the computer and easy to read. It took hours to finish the job, but I enjoyed the precision involved so I did not mind putting in the time. My supervisor liked my work so much, he hired me to continue the project during the summer. Working on this project also showed me the importance of soils in determining buildings’ responses to earthquakes and awakened my interest in the response of skyscrapers to seismic stress and movement.

At First Choice U, I plan to enroll in the structural engineering and geomechanics program. In this program I hope to draw on my structural analysis and geotechnical research background as a foundation for studying more advanced concepts. I am particularly interested in researching the ties between the structural engineering, geomechanics, and applied mechanics. I believe research is necessary to acquire data and formulate theories, but it is just as important to know how to apply those theories and use that data in the real world. I hope to be involved in some structurally related research at First Choice U. I am particularly interested in two research facilities: The Structures and Composites Laboratory and the Earthquake Engineering Center.

After completing my degree in engineering and working on engineering projects, I know I want to design structures. That is what has fascinated me since I took Mr. Doe’s class. I also know, however, that designing structures of a complexity that appeals to me requires “more tools in my toolbox.” Those I can acquire only by continuing my education. To be competent and competitive I will need a masters degree. After completing my degree, I would like to work for an American engineering consulting firm and engineer complex structures and tall buildings, perhaps focusing on the problems surrounding designing for earthquakes. My long-term goals are to return to Belize and found my own engineering consulting firm there.

Structural engineering will allow me to pursue a career where I can be creatively involved in problem-solving and design functional structures, like the simple truss bridge that initially captivated me in Mr. Doe’s class. My classes, work at Caltrans, and internship in geotechnical engineering have increased my knowledge of and interest in structural engineering since I first looked at the textbook shortly after my arrival in the U.S. A masters degree will give me the up-to-date tools and knowledge to be competitive and competent.

This is the link for a number of sops I found useful personally

Some others are

here

and here

There are many that one can use available on the internet.Do a google search.

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One Response to Sample SOPs / Sample statement of purpose for US graduate Schools

  1. naran says:

    Thank you dear. Your blog is very useful. Keep blogging. Good luck.

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