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Statement of Purpose (SOP) Guidelines

Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) for the School of Biological Sciences (BioSci) Ph.D. Program should address the topics below in 1500 words or less (total for entire SOP). Organize your document with the following three sections (put the stated header at the top of each section):

Header #1: Motivation to earn a Ph.D.

Your goal for this section: Explain why you want to get a Ph.D. in biological sciences. As one part of your answer, identify the question or phenomenon in biology that you find most exciting and explain what it is about this question that interests you and how you came to be interested in it.

Header #2: Previous research experience

Your goal for this section: Describe your previous research experience. Depending on how many different research experiences or projects you have had, you may not have space to fully describe them all. In that case, focus in detail on the ones that impacted your intellectual and scientific development the most, and you can mention any others briefly. You can assume you are writing to a biologist, but your description must be understandable to a reader who is not an expert in the specific field of your research. Be sure to include the following information:

  1. What research question did you set out to answer?
  2. What is the context for this question and why is it interesting, important, and/or useful?
  3. How did you address this question?
  4. What were your findings?
  5. What insights or knowledge did you gain from this research experience?

Header #3: Motivation to attend the UCSD/Salk Biological Sciences Ph.D. Program

Your goal for this section: Explain what motivates you to pursue graduate training specifically in the UCSD/Salk BioSci Ph.D. Program. In your answer, be sure to specify the labs whose research topics interest you the most and explain your reasons.