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PureB
10-22-2014, 01:23 PM
Hi, guys. I am applying to MA programs and looking for your kind advice on my PS.

These days, I am revising my PS after reading many articles making suggestions on how to write an effective PS. Right now, I briefly talk about my academic performance and extracurricular activities, and I focus on how I became interested in economics (I major in business but not economics at university), why I want to study it in greater depth, and what to I plan to do with the master's degree (I want to pursue further study in a PhD program). In some articles, I read that PS should be self-marketing, and that I am supposed to mainly write about my skills, qualities and what I can bring to the graduate programs to convince the adcom that I am an ideal candidate. However, I only mention my preparation for graduate-level study, and I don't have a clear research interest yet. Is the content and structure of my PS appropriate?

I also have another question: how long is my PS expected to be? 500-600 words?

I am eager to know your opinions, and thank you in advance!

fantinity
10-22-2014, 01:44 PM
I also have another question: how long are my PS expected to be? 500-600 words?

I've seen several successful statements. Most of them are 1 or 2 pages long, which is 600 or 1000 words

PureB
10-22-2014, 02:21 PM
I've seen several successful statements. Most of them are 1 or 2 pages long, which is 600 or 1000 words

Do you mean that a PS of 500-600 words is too short? Some schools ask prospect applicants to write a BRIEF PS without giving a definite expected length.

fantinity
10-22-2014, 03:44 PM
Do you mean that a PS of 500-600 words is too short? Some schools ask prospect applicants to write a BRIEF PS without giving a definite expected length.
1 page or 600 words should be fine as long as you answer all the questions (like reasons to apply).

PureB
10-23-2014, 12:45 AM
1 page or 600 words should be fine as long as you answer all the questions (like reasons to apply).

That's the problem. I find it hard to answer all questions in only 600 words. Maybe I should include more materials to make my PS more informative while still keeping it concise.

Econhead
10-24-2014, 12:26 AM
I have several on my list that have a "no more than 500 words" policy. From reading through old posts, it seems fairly customary that many on this board end up with two groups of applications: Those that ask for 500 max and those that ask for 1000 max. In general it seems like people just add 1 or 2 paragraphs (as necessary) to the 500 word SoP to fulfill the requirement of larger SoPs.

What I have done for my own benefit is create an excel sheet of all the universities, what my logins are, what materials I still need to upload (or complete) for each application, whether they require official transcripts mailed (or only mailed if accepted), and what each ask for in their SOP (if they happen to specifically indicate that they want to see materials X, Y, and Z. I have not written my SOP yet (although it is on the short list), but I plan to write a somewhat "general" SOP that hits on the 'major topics' that should go into an SOP/are dominant across the lists, and then make small modifications as necessary for each university. Well, one that is less than 500 and one that is more. Based on what each application is asking for, I don't expect that it will require much effort to make these changes (in terms of content).

Note that above I am not referring to tailoring my SOP for each program (based around what I like about the university), but only small changes based on what they ask that you include. If I have time I will tailor some, but I don't expect to do this much given that the conventional wisdom on this board is that it will only help at the extreme margin.

fakeo
10-24-2014, 07:31 AM
I'm already done with the online part of my applications and what I've experienced (at least where I applied) is that there are two types of schools largely along the lines of what @Econhead mentioned.

The only thing I'd add is that schools with short (500 word / 1 page) SOPs tend to require an additional personal statement/diversity essay (of similar length). I assume these essays are mostly BS (and exist only because the school was prohibited from using affirmative action to make their student body more diverse?), although I did write them well. But in any case, I sort of wrote a long SOP that can be split into a academic statement and a personal statement of sorts. This way, I can adapt the document to any school with relatively little work.

Another interesting thing is that it seemed to be the majority opinion here that name dropping is not a good thing for your SOP. In fact, some schools explicitly ask you to name profs you could see yourself working with on the online application platforms (UCSB, UC Davis and USC come to mind). Now, I'm not saying this makes name dropping in an SOP a must, but just a heads up that it's still worth noting down some prof names when you decide where to apply.

Econhead
10-24-2014, 11:14 AM
...some schools explicitly ask you to name profs you could see yourself working with on the online application platforms ...

I noticed this as well. I kind of wondered whether this was some type of micro filter from, say, a population of individuals that the department is considered making offers to. That is, I suspect that not every individual lists at least one professor (and some may only list 1) since this is not required. (In fact, the ones that I have come across have said, "please list the professors that you have had contact with or are interested in working with.") If they have 50 applicants they would like to make offers to, this seems like it could serve as a last-step filter for those they are unsure how likely they are to attend. After all, if you are truly interested in attending school A, shouldn't you already be aware that person X, Y, and Z are potential professor you'd like to work with?

fantinity
10-24-2014, 01:23 PM
Yep, I just noticed that several schools indeed require both SoP and Personal History statement. This is very annoying, because I have to rewrite the whole thing now. I had I good structure in SoP, but I cannot divide it into two parts without intersection, so that both make sense :(

Also: almost every school I'm applying to (in top-30) encourages to name specific fields and people from the faculty. All professors I spoke to (all European, among them three DoGS in respected econ PhD programs) said it's a must.

Econhead
10-24-2014, 02:11 PM
Yep, I just noticed that several schools indeed require both SoP and Personal History statement. This is very annoying, because I have to rewrite the whole thing now. I had I good structure in SoP, but I cannot divide it into two parts without intersection, so that both make sense :(

I still have 5 or 6 applications that I haven't started yet, but 1 of the 10 that I have completed also requires a statement describing teaching/research experience seperate from an SoP, which is yet a third format that differs from straight SOP and SoP/Personal History described above.

PureB
10-24-2014, 02:26 PM
I noticed this as well. I kind of wondered whether this was some type of micro filter from, say, a population of individuals that the department is considered making offers to. That is, I suspect that not every individual lists at least one professor (and some may only list 1) since this is not required. (In fact, the ones that I have come across have said, "please list the professors that you have had contact with or are interested in working with.") If they have 50 applicants they would like to make offers to, this seems like it could serve as a last-step filter for those they are unsure how likely they are to attend. After all, if you are truly interested in attending school A, shouldn't you already be aware that person X, Y, and Z are potential professor you'd like to work with?

Are you talking about application to PhD programs or MA programs? I was told that it would be an bad idea to contact professors in advance of admission to MA programs.

Econhead
10-24-2014, 02:36 PM
Are you talking about application to PhD programs or MA programs? I was told that it would be an bad idea to contact professors in advance of admission to MA programs.

I am talking about Ph.D programs.

It is a bad idea to contact professors, but that is what the question on the application still asks. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but all the applications that I have completed where some form of this question was asked was similar to "please list professors that you have had contact with or are interested in working with." Perhaps it was phrased closer to "If you have had contact with anyone in the program, please state their name, and also list any professors that you are interested in working with." Again, something along these lines. I think in a couple of the applications that I have completed it split the two up - one box for "have you contacted anyone" and another for "who do you want to work with."

Insti
10-26-2014, 03:51 AM
I believe the schools ask you about which profs you would like to work with so that they can construct a somewhat balanced class. Believe me, no school wants to admit 25 people who all want to do micro and work with the same professor. Also, it is not feasible for a certain professor to advise a lot of students.


I think this is something that we have discussed here, but most schools (if not all) seem to have quotas (we want roughly 10 micro, 10 macro and 10 metrics students to enroll). So if you apply for the same school as candidate X, but you guys choose a different field you might face different competition.