I made some changes, I would really appreciate any feedback or suggestions how to consolidated my SOP. Thank you very much in advance.


My interest in the new field of Disaster Resilience took root when I interviewed the people of XXX Island, who suffered the brunt of the 2009 tsunami. I felt compassion toward them, admiring their courage and determination to rebuild their lives. That impelled me to chose this field and apply for this program.

My interdisciplinary master’s program in XXX Science at the University of XXX forced me to go beyond my comfort zones and encounter other sustainability views and research methodologies. One of my Professors, XXX stated “The complex nature of sustainability issues, and the interdisciplinary research which is being encouraged to tackle these issues often requires researchers to go beyond boundaries (which can be disciplinary, knowledge, cultural, or even mental boundaries)”. During my master’s studies I have led projects that allowed me to understand the environmental and social complexities in the field-based exercises by looking at solutions from transboundary and holistic approaches by integrating different disciplines. When conducting field research, I was naturally exposed not just to the issues, but also the complexity of interacting with stakeholders with different views, values or priorities. Specifically, the field-oriented exercises developed my leadership skills that consists of reviewing literature, planning on-site research activities, implementing field surveys, presenting the results of the study, and providing policy recommendations to local authorities.

Many traditional graduate programs are rigidly structured and do not allow for much room for customization depending on the student. Some students, such as I have research interests that require the synergy of two fields to pursue our ideal career. I have conducted an extensive research to choose the XXX program that aligns the best with my academic background and interests. Earning my PhD degree in XXX at XXX best fits my ambitions due to the XXX’s philosophy of interdisciplinary structure to research. As a first step in doing this, XXX tries to bring diverse faculty members together to jointly address sustainability issues, and the students themselves come from a variety of disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. Aside from such diversity, the close interaction with a variety of stakeholders can create platforms where the knowledge of professors and students from various disciplines can interact. I consider myself not only have a deep and specialized understanding of a specific field but also a broad knowledge base, to tackle the variety of social, environmental, and ecological issues that societies face today. In order to achieve these objectives, I am a firm believer in importance of a holistic understanding, looking to build a resilient society and approaching issues in a trans-boundary manner to benefit more groups of people. The Ph.D. program through XXX program will allow me to not only receive a more in-depth look and education in the realm of resilience building and climate change adaptation but also provide me with the opportunity to apply my knowledge to developing a resilient society through improving the long-term sustainability of communities around the planet in the most effective way possible.

Through this program, I would be able to touch on all my interests in 3 years rather than spending countless years receiving other more specific degrees in each of the different fields I am interested in and attempting to obtain careers I may not be completely qualified for. The latter would take much for time than completing a Ph.D. through XXX and preparing myself for a career in research whether climate change adaptation or environmental policy focused. The less time I spend on preparing myself for a career, the more time I will have to make a change in the field I end up in, which is the ultimate goal.

As mentioned previously, many graduate programs are not completely adaptable to the prospective students’ interests like the XXX program is. I would have the opportunity to develop current behavioural decision-making methods, such as the use of in decision making methods and climate adaptation methods, being spearheaded by XXX faculty such as XXX person , XXX person environmental policy development, and I would also have the opportunity to participate in environmental policy research, focusing on environment and climate science education through the XXX faculty with XXX person , and XXX person as well as educator XXX person at XXX University. I would also have the opportunity to collaborate with XXX group at the XXX organization, with specialist senior XXX and XXX.

In the past, I have had formal training and experience in the sustainability science, completing and presenting multiple research projects within the building resilient societies, sustainability concepts, environmental policy analysis. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I draw on theories from multiple fields including environmental policy, social psychology, and decision science, while using mixed methods, such as surveys, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. My research interests focus on systematically analyzing interconnected issues of the adaptation process (e.g. adaptation measures, health, shrinking society, unemployment, policy formulation) and categorize them across different domains (social, environmental, economic) and scales (individual, community, town). Moving forward through this program, I will be able to apply these skills to my research, develop proficiency in new methods of resilience building and adaptation for environmental disasters and developing right measures and policy formulation that will facilitate evidence-based policies. Additionally, through my policy and education research, I will be able to apply my education and research towards creating evidence-based decisions on environmental disasters and identify the issues that the affected area continues to face in its recovery process. The program offered by XXX will allow me to combine my interests and create a change for the better regarding climate change adaptation and environmental policy to be able to help the poorest populations – those that are most vulnerable to climate change.

The challenges in the road I have experienced have made me stronger, however, more than anything, they helped me uncover the traits I already had within myself. I have learned that life cannot come to a stop simply because of financial difficulties, or prejudice and that when presented with opportunities that scare me, I should take them on. By giving up and letting my goal of attaining a Ph.D. go, I would be letting myself, the XXX female community, and the immense and growing community of powerful women in XXX discipline down. I have been setting myself up for success during my entire undergraduate and graduate careers, and I am more than ready to take the next step in obtaining a graduate degree to pursue my dream career

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It is still nearly 1100 words, even though you just copied the example I gave to to eliminate extraneous text.

Delete the trivial unnecessary details. Eliminate repetition. Avoid jargon and "sophisticated" words that really don't have much content.

Aim for no more than 800 words.

For example:


My interdisciplinary master’s program in XXX Science at the University of XXX forced me to go beyond my comfort zones and encounter other sustainability views and research methodologies. One of my Professors, XXX stated “The complex nature of sustainability issues, and the interdisciplinary research which is being encouraged to tackle these issues often requires researchers to go beyond boundaries (which can be disciplinary, knowledge, cultural, or even mental boundaries)”.

You have a lot of repetition here. It has considerable unnecessary personal "drama"

During my master’s studies I have led projects that allowed me to understand the environmental and social complexities in the field-based exercises by looking at solutions from transboundary and holistic approaches by integrating different disciplines. ( I really don't understand what you are getting at. ) When conducting field research, I was naturally exposed not just to the issues, but also the complexity of interacting with stakeholders with different views, values or priorities. Specifically, the field-oriented exercises developed my leadership skills that consists of reviewing literature, (Reviewing literature is not a leadership skill, is it?) planning on-site research activities, implementing field surveys, presenting the results of the study, and providing policy recommendations to local authorities.

Thanks so much AlpheccaStars for the comments, and suggestions. Agreed, literature review is not considered a leadership skills. I will greatly appreciate your further feedback on consolidating my SOP.

My interdisciplinary master’s program in XXX Science at the University of XXX forced me to go beyond my comfort zones and encounter other sustainability views and research methodologies. During my master’s studies I have led projects that allowed me to understand the environmental and social complexities in the field-based exercises by looking at solutions from transboundary and holistic approaches by integrating science and social science disciplines.When conducting field research, I was naturally exposed not just to the issues, but also the complexity of interacting with stakeholders with different views, values or priorities. Specifically, the field-oriented exercises developed my leadership skills that consists of planning on-site research activities, implementing field surveys, presenting the results of the study, and providing policy recommendations to local authorities.

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Hulkar Agreed, literature review is not considered a leadership skills.

Neither are most of the other items you listed.

You are not doing very well at removing the unnecessary trivia and convoluted stuff from your text. You need to include only that information that your target reader would find significant or interesting. Do not be so self-centric. Do not try to impress with high-falutin' jargon.

Imagine yourself in the seat of a person who has 500 applications to sift through for 10 positions. Her time is very valuable, and it is late at night and she is tired. She tries to read "by looking at solutions from transboundary and holistic approaches" about 5 times before giving up and putting it in the "reject" bin.

Thanks so much AlpheccaStars for the feedback! Definitely agree with all you said above. Initially, I reposted with further changes where I cut out most of the repetitive paragraphs.

Reposting it below here as well:

I have always dreamed of studying abroad but I have never envisioned pursuing my studies in one of the best universities in the world, plan on studying in XXX country or receiving a scholarship and internship opportunity that would change my career forever. It was early on when I realized that the path you set for yourself, specifically in education, is never as direct as you dream it to be. My interest in the new field of Disaster Resilience took root when I interviewed the people of XXX Island, who suffered the brunt of the 2011 tsunami. I felt compassion toward them, admiring their courage and determination to rebuild their lives. That impelled me to choose sustainability field and now apply for this program. While my main interest has been in sustainability science I have an additional goal of closing the behavioral decision gap between sustainability scientists and public communities through evidence-based policy research.

The two areas of study I plan to focus my doctoral studies on are sustainability science, specifically focusing on climate studies, and policy studies. During my graduate career, one problem I have seen not only in the news and politics, but in my own life as well, is the disconnect in communication between the science community and the public. This gap has caused issues promoting scientific ignorance in the public due to ineffective communication from scientists and lack of communication from the government sector. However, if more people focused on the quality of decision making rather than number of policies being passed there were better communication methods, there may be less issues in the policy making realm.

Many traditional graduate programs are rigidly structured and do not allow for much room for customization depending on the student. Some students, such as I have research interests that require the synergy of two fields to pursue our ideal career. Earning my PhD degree in XXX at XXX best fits my ambitions due to the XXX’s philosophy of interdisciplinary structure to research. I am a firm believer in importance of a holistic understanding, looking to build a resilient society and approaching issues in a trans-boundary manner to benefit more groups of people. The Ph.D. program through XXX program will allow me to not only receive a more in-depth look and education in the realm of resilience building and climate change adaptation but also provide me with the opportunity to apply my knowledge to developing a resilient society through improving the long-term sustainability of communities around the planet in the most effective way possible.

As mentioned previously, many graduate programs are not completely adaptable to the prospective students’ interests like the XXX program is. I would have the opportunity to develop current behavioural decision-making methods, such as the use of in decision making methods and climate change adaptation methods, being spearheaded by XXXX faculty such as XXX, XXX on environmental policy development, and I would also have the opportunity to participate in environmental policy research, focusing on climate change and disaster risk management through the XXX Group with XXXX.

Through this program, I would be able to touch on all my interests in 3 years rather than spending countless years receiving other more specific degrees in each of the different fields I am interested in and attempting to obtain careers I may not be completely qualified for. The latter would take much for time than completing a Ph.D. through XXXX and preparing myself for a career in research whether climate change adaptation or environmental policy focused. The less time I spend on preparing myself for a career, the more time I will have to make a change in the field I end up in, which is the ultimate goal.

Over the course of completing these research projects, I have gained experience in environmental and social complexities in the field-based exercises by looking at solutions from transboundary and holistic approaches by integrating science and social science disciplines. When conducting field research, I was naturally exposed not just to the issues, but also the complexity of interacting with stakeholders with different views, values or priorities. Moving forward through this program, I will be able to apply these skills to my research, develop proficiency in new methods of evidence-based policy analysis and climate change adaptation methods. Additionally, through my evidence-based research, I will be able to apply my climate change adaptation methods and research towards creating the evidence based policies. This new generation can help to stimulate a new movement of environmentalism and activism, creating positive environmental change. The program offered by XXX will allow me to combine my interests and create a change for the better regarding climate change and environmental policy making.

You need to put this aside for 3 days. Imagine that you are on the selection committee. Get out of your own head. If you had five minutes to present your three best, most convincing argument points in your favor, what would they be?

It is still too repetitive. As an example, you used "focus" twice in the sentence quoted below. It dilutes any effectiveness. "Climate and policy studies" are incredibly broad subject areas; certainly not in any way imaginable related to a sharp focus.

"Climate changes in Australia and policies related to wild fire control and post-disaster recovery" is more what I call "focus".

You really need to use your critical thinking skills on the words you employ.

HulkarThe two areas of study I plan to focus my doctoral studies on are sustainability science, specifically focusing on climate studies, and policy studies.
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AlpheccaStars

You need to put this aside for 3 days. Imagine that you are on the selection committee. Get out of your own head. If you had five minutes to present your three best, most convincing argument points in your favor, what would they be?
It is still too repetitive. As an example, you used "focus" twice in the sentence quoted below. It dilutes any effectiveness. "Climate and policy studies" are incredibly broad subject areas; certainly not in any way imaginable related to a sharp focus.

"Climate changes in Australia and policies related to wild fire control and post-disaster recovery" is more what I call "focus".

Thank so much AlpheccaStars for being so resourceful. This is the best feedback I have received so far. The reason why my focus is still broad, I am still reading up on the area I would like to focus within climate change and policy studies. I already have specific topics I am interested, I will incorporated it in the next drafts.
Possible best three points:
1. My interdisciplinary research backgound, and experiences that puts me into best place as a candidate in the interdisciplinary program.
2. My area of focus is very unique and has a potential to provide great solutions in both disciplines of research.
3. My background, ready to take challenges as international student and very firm on my academic goals.
This is a very competitive program, and I do need to stand out to be noticed. Do you think these points would be convincing enough?

I have read a lot of SOPs and cover letters. The ones that attract attention need to be well-crafted and present some unique aspect that sets them apart from all the other candidates.

Hulkar My interdisciplinary research backgound, and experiences that puts me into best place as a candidate in the interdisciplinary program.

All applicants for an interdisciplinary program will make this claim.

Hulkar2. My area of focus is very unique and has a potential to provide great solutions in both disciplines of research.

You have not defined anything that could be described as "focus". Focus means something very specific; drilling down to a small range of narrow topics and details within a broader area.

Again, "providing great solutions" is not anything that would make your application distinguished from the others.

Hulkar3. My background, ready to take challenges as international student and very firm on my academic goals.

That is not much different from the first point.


When you think about this, ask yourself what sort of person are these committees looking for? Here are my ideas.

Certainly well-qualified academic achievers with the background to be able to succeed in the program. They do not want anyone who will drop out early, especially if they need financial support.

Someone who will complement their current student body, adding diversity, novel experiences and ideas. This is hard to predict, because they may have a certain gap that they are looking to fill if they can, for example, a woman from the Scandinavia. Some are looking for teamworkers, some for individual contributors.

Someone who, after completing the program, will enhance the reputation of the institution. This person has ambitions beyond the degree. Getting a PhD is only one step to their greater goals.

The more you learn about this institution, their program, and how they want to grow it, the better you can design your application (without any deceptions!) to portray their ideal candidate. Each institution will have different criteria. so a one-size-fits-all type of letter will not be very compelling.




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AlpheccaStarsqualified

Thank you so much for feedback AlpheccaStars, this is very helpful.

1. Yes, in terms of academics I have always maintained high GPA (3.8/4) and I was able to self fund my studies during 6 years of education through various scholarships as well as working as a part-time teacher. Therefore, I am not afraid of challenges, and can adjust to new country despite financial and social hardships. PhD is a long study, and so it will take lots of perseverance and resilience during that time. I am definitely someone who can withstand any hardships and find opportunities during challenging times.

AlpheccaStarsSomeone who will complement their current student body, adding diversity, novel experiences and ideas. This is hard to predict, because they may have a certain gap that they are looking to fill if they can, for example, a woman from the Scandinavia. Some are looking for teamworkers, some for individual contributors.

2. I have studied Sustainability Science which is a unique, multidisciplinary program in one of the best Universities in the world with the full scholarship. As an international student I have conducted research in Uzbekistan, considered as a developing country by contributing through novel research by implementing Sustainability concepts. As a female, and an eldest sister of 3 young women, I consider myself as a role model that would like to represent as Uzbek female community. I will be definitely brining diversity through my background and international experiences.

As one of the top universities in the world, they are looking for someone who can combine two different disciplines and conduct novel research with the help of two different disciplines ( e.g. : agro-economy). Their requirement is to have knowledge in those two disciplines, and contribute to sustainable development and sustainability. Also, actively represent the University in different conferences, symposiums and etc and be a role model on the campus.

AlpheccaStarsSomeone who, after completing the program, will enhance the reputation of the institution. This person has ambitions beyond the degree. Getting a PhD is only one step to their greater goals.

My goals after completing the PhD program at XX University is to apply forgery competitive program at XX International Organisation. One of the requirements is for the candidate to have a PhD degree. This opportunity will bring me closer toward my long term goals working in international development by contributing to sustainable development goals.


I have briefly drafted these points, I apologise before hand for any typos, grammar or context related mistakes. As always, I appreciate your further feedbacks and suggestions AlpheccaStars. This is such an immense support from your side, and I can't thank you enough.

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