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Do’s and Don’ts for your Statement of Interest/Statement of Purpose

Thanks to Rob Toonen, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii
Sections reproduced by permission

• Explain something about yourself, your self-discipline, time management
skills, motivation, and drive for seeking a graduate degree in your field.
• Mention scientific accomplishments that you are particularly proud of and why. Try to
explain to the committee how you evaluate yourself in terms of accomplishments
and productivity.
• Try to present a clear and well-thought-out idea of who you are and what you would
like to do in graduate school.
o Briefly introduce a general problem of interest to you (why would anyone
care?), and then get to the specific area of your interest.
o Explain what you would like to accomplish with regard to resolving some
open question. BUT don’t come across as dogmatic, or claim that you’re
going to solve any of the world’s problems! (see DON’Ts below)
• IMPORTANT: Specifi