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Preparing a Statement of Purpose

The personal statement that accompanies your application for graduate study at Northwestern is very important to the admissions committee and is often a crucial factor in the decision to admit. A clear, well-focused statement reveals your potential for graduate work and may compensate for average grades and test scores.

Tips for success

  1. Your statement should show a commitment to a compatibility with the goals of the Northwestern program.
    Review the anthropology department’s Guide to Graduate Study to make sure that your interests in graduate work can be met in an area of study offered at Northwestern. If possible, email those faculty members with whom you would most like to work.
  2. Be as specific as possible about (1) the direction you wish to pursue in the area of your interest, and (2) your educational objectives.
    Provide details about types of anthropology problems that interest you, the kinds of methodologies and approaches you want to learn more about, and what parts of the world you want to study. If you want to work with specific people in the Anthropology Department (or even elsewhere in the University) you should mention this in your essay.
  3. Write clearly and persuasively.
    Your statement should demonstrate the clearest and most persuasive effort of which you are capable. The admissions committee needs to be able to evaluate your ability to analyze problems and organize your thoughts on research interests or problems in Anthropology.
  4. Proofread your statement carefully.
    It’s a good idea to have a friend or faculty member at your undergraduate or M.A. institution look over your statement before you submit the final copy. 

Remember, the graduate committee is looking for people who have focused  interests, and who are strongly motivated, self-sufficient students. Our ultimate goal is to train people as scholars who can define and solve problems on their own.

The more you show the committee that you know what you want to do, and what training you want to get in order to do it, then the better your chances of admission and funding.