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Applying to a university for an undergraduate or graduate programme is quite a daunting task that involves numerous steps. While all this work is done, students often tend to undermine the importance of a well-written SOP for university admission or, even worse, go for a very sophisticated SOP that rather sounds formal and lacks a conversational tone. Either way, a poorly-written SOP could be the only pillar standing between you and your career aspirations. We understand the importance of a compelling SOP for university admission, and for the same reason, we have dedicated this step-by-step guide on how to write an SOP for masters in data science.
Toolkit for SOP for data science
Below is a quick toolkit to craft an SOP for data science, which includes the four important paragraphs of a university SOP along with their content and relevant examples.
|Questions that need to be answered
|Introduction(motivation and goals)
|What interested you in data science?
|Parents’ success as computer science engineers at Google
ORMotivated to learn more about data science in a college seminar
|What are your related skills?
|SQL, Python, deep learning, statistics and probability
ORCalculus, algebra, and statistics
|What do you wish to achieve with your career in data science?
|To become a machine learning engineer
ORTo become a data science professor
|Body paragraph I(learning, execution, and impact)
|Introduce your academic background
|B.Tech. Computer Science and Engineering from VIT Vellore
ORB.Sc in Mathematics (Honours), MA
|Introduce your professional background
|Run an online blog on WordPress related to information and technology
ORWorked as a part-time mathematics teacher at a private tuition center
|Reflect on your academic and professional accomplishments.
|Took career-enhancing certifications from Coursera-The Data Scientist’s Toolbox and Supervised Machine Learning: Regression and Classification, wrote a blog on “Understanding the Working of Chat GPT” which was received well by the readers
ORHelped a batch of 15 slow learners from falling behind in the first year as a mathematics tuition teacher
|Body paragraph II(why course, why university)
|What made you choose your level of course (diploma/bachelors/masters)?
|To gain more exposure and knowledge to work ahead in the field of data science and machine learning
ORTo transition from a career in mathematics to data science
|What made you choose this specific course?
|To further develop the foundational knowledge and work on real-life-based projects on machine learning
ORDue to its co-operative education program
|What made you choose this specific university?
|Robust curriculum, research centres, luscious green campus, strategic location
ORWill provide me with the opportunity to earn a valuable degree
|What reasons make you a valuable asset for the university?
|Volunteering for the university’s newspaper by writing articles
ORBy joining the Pure Math Club and organizing all the academic social events
|What goals do you wish to accomplish immediately after completion of your degree?
|To get an entry-level job as a machine learning engineer at a renowned firm
ORTo get a PhD in data science
|What goals do you wish to accomplish in the long term?
|To work as a machine learning engineer at Google at a higher position
ORTo become a data science professor in a renowned university
|How will your career as a data science student be able to provide a contribution to society?
|To develop real-world applications to tackle the issues of data privacy and security
ORBy educating and building the future leaders in the field of data science for a better tomorrow
Sample SOP for a student with a background in data science
“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine” – Peter Sondergaard
As I am en route on my professional journey, I am reminded of this famous quote by Peter Sondergaard that fueled my desire to explore and work ahead in the field of data science. I vividly remember that I had always been a child who loved exploring new things with computer software from a very young age. My parents, who are both computer science engineers at Google, exposed me to the world of technology, which made me more curious to delve deeper into this field. Their success was pivotal in my decision to choose to work in the field of computers and pursue a course in data scienceA course in the field of data science will benefit my professional career path as I aspire to become a machine learning engineer. Drawing a roadmap for my career, I have become well-versed in SQL, Python, and deep learning, combining the mathematical skills of statistics and probability to work ahead in the field of data science.
From an early age, I found myself always interested in STEM and STEM-related projects. My interest in data science originated from my undergraduate degree in B.Tech. Computer Science and Engineering from VIT Vellore. In my course module, I happened to learn about data science and machine learning, which ignited my interest in data science. I was amused at the idea of incorporating mathematics, computer engineering, and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze large amounts of data at once. It was then that I decided to learn more about data science, and accordingly, I enrolled in career-enhancing certifications from Coursera like The Data Scientist’s Toolbox and Supervised Machine Learning: Regression and Classification, given the scope to learn and implement something new in the field of data science.Outside of my academic life, I run an online blog on WordPress where I write information and technology-related blogs. I started writing blogs related to machine learning. A blog that I am extremely proud of is “Understanding the Working of Chat GPT”. Its response from several readers helped solidify my interest in working ahead in the field of machine learning. However, professionally, I realized that in order to work as a machine learning engineer, my knowledge of math and computer science was not sufficient, as I hadn’t had the opportunity to train my soft skills and put them to work.
In order to gain more exposure and knowledge to work ahead in the field of data science and machine learning,I have decided to pursue an MS in data science program to further develop my foundational knowledge and work on real-life-based projects on machine learning. To learn more about the same, I have enrolled in the UBC Master of Data Science (MDS) program at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, which will help me realize my dream of becoming a machine learning engineer. I was inclined to choose UBC Vancouver as my postgraduate school owing to its robust curriculum, research centres, and luscious green campus, which is strategically placed near the downtown Vancouver city centre, which in itself opens up new prospects for students to gain working experience as interns at large MNCs. Given UBC’s competitive and comparative environment, I believe that my time as an international student at UBC will keep me surrounded by people who are intellectually curious, driven, and excited about learning.I look forward to committing to the university’s academic standards and volunteering for the university’s newspaper by writing articles and contributing to faculties other than computer science. By gaining a degree of MS in data science at the University of British Columbia, I am confident that I can become a skilled and professional machine learning engineer utilizing real-world data experience, which will help me effectively translate data into knowledge.
Pursuing an advanced course of study in data science will take me a step closer to achieving my short and long-term goals. It is only with the help of this degree that I can work on my short-term goal of getting an entry-level job as a machine learning engineer at a renowned firm where I can put my skills to the test. I wish to utilize my theoretical and statistical knowledge to prepare data models and implement machine learning models.After developing enough experience, I look forward to working as a machine learning engineer at Google, just like my parents, as I have been highly inspired by their work culture and innovation. I wish to transition into a higher position where I am able to manage a team of engineers and train them by incorporating my previous knowledge of computer applications and statistical understanding of industry trends I aim to set a worthy example and contribute to society by delivering solutions that make people’s lives easier, as I feel that the role of a machine learning engineer is not just limited to work on projects but to innovate and build new projects for the betterment of society. I wish to apply my knowledge of machine learning and harness the power of AI to develop real-world applications to tackle the issues of data privacy and security. To fulfill my goal, pursuing a UBC Master of Data Science (MDS) program at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, would provide me with a stimulating environment to put my knowledge and skills to better use.
Sample SOP for a student with a different background
Being an analytical and rational person who strives to create and absorb new ideas, I have always been fascinated by the limitless possibilities of solving a single mathematical problem given to someone. Mathematics allows me to be myself by helping me release my unconventional yet creative ideas into the world. With time, my love for mathematics, combined with my passion to enter the teaching profession, led me to pursue a masters degree in mathematics. However, it was during my postgraduate degree that I happened to learn about data science in a college seminar, which clicked something in me. I was fascinated by the concept of data science and how it incorporated mathematics and computers to analyze large amounts of data. Started as a passion, my interest in data science grew, and I decided to transition my course of study from mathematics to data science.I believe that my combination of knowledge of calculus, algebra, and statistics with experience in the teaching profession makes me an ideal candidate to pursue an MS in data science and hence become a data science professor.
Throughout my student life, I have been a brilliant student and used to get involved in many curriculum-related as well as extracurricular activities. From a young age, I was always fascinated by the idea of imparting education to a wide audience. With the same thought in my mind, I took a huge step and decided to take up teaching as my professional path. To work towards the same, I successfully completed my B.Sc. in Mathematics (Honours) from Panjab University, Chandigarh.Upon its completion, I started my career in 2020 as a part-time mathematics teacher at a private tuition center. My working experience as a teacher allowed me to work with multiple students, which strengthened my love for teaching and taught me the value of discipline in the educational process. As a tuition teacher, I went the extra mile to take additional classes for students who required more attention, and I'm very proud of my accomplishment as a teacher to help a batch of 15 slow learners from falling behind in my first year itself. The following year, I enrolled in a MA (Education) course from Panjab University to then pursue a PhD in mathematics to realize my dream of becoming a mathematics professor while remaining committed to my passion for teaching. However, my journey took an unexpected turn when I decided to transition from mathematics to data science. The field of data science, which is a fusion of mathematics and computer science, not only enhances my professional journey but also reflects my commitment to teaching about the latest technologies. I am enthusiastic about my journey ahead to become a data science professor.
For the same reason, I decided to apply for the Master of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (MDSAI) course from University of Waterloo.What drove me towards choosing the University of Waterloo as an international student was their flexible co-operative education programs. As an international student looking forward to working in a new field, I recognize all the challenges that I might come across while adapting to a completely new routine. I believe that a co-operative education program at the University of Waterloo stands out as an ideal solution, helping me to juggle my commitment to work and studies with an opportunity to build connections in the workplace for networking.Apart from this, I feel that earning a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in North America will add a feather to my cap and open several doors for my career in data science. I am fulfilled by the program’s curriculum and its approach to studying, which will provide me with personal and professional growth.I look forward to being a valuable addition to the university by joining the Pure Math Club and organizing all the academic social events. By choosing MDSAI from the University of Waterloo, I am confident that I am investing in a top educational institute while positioning myself for the success that lies ahead.
Earning a masters degree in data science represents a pivotal step towards realizing both my short-term and long-term goals in my professional trajectory. I believe my masters degree will help me achieve my immediate goal of getting a PhD in data science to fulfill my career in academia.This would eventually aid me in moving a step closer to my long-term goal of becoming a data science professor at a renowned university. Beyond my personal aspirations, I am dedicated to contributing meaningfully to society by building leaders in the field of data science for a better tomorrow. I am confident that a Master of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (MDSAI) course from the University of Waterloo, with its commitment to academic excellence, will allow me to create a life where I get to incorporate my love for data science along with my passion to teach the upcoming generations.
How to write an SOP for data science
Now, we will understand how to write an SOP for data science in more detail with respect to the given sample SOP.
Introduction (motivation and goal)
The introductory paragraph should provide the SOP reader with a brief overview of your life and goals. To begin with, talk about your source of inspiration in the field of data science and open your SOP with one of their quotes. Then, relate these experiences to the unique skill sets that you possess to show the SOP reader how you have already started working on your professional path and what you aspire to achieve in the field of data science. Keep your introduction short and sweet, as you will discuss all these details in greater depth in the upcoming paragraphs.
Checklist for writing introduction:
- Hook (quote related to data science)
- Source of motivation
- Long-term goal
- Reason to pursue the course
- Unique aspects about your personality
- Future goals
Body paragraph I (learning, execution, and impact)
Now, in the first body paragraph, you will shed light on your academic and professional journey to date. While talking about your academics, give concrete details about the projects that you have worked on that have ignited your interest in data science. Include relevant details and name all the terminologies and techniques that you used while working on the project. Next, talk about the skills that you developed while working on the project.
It is advisable to mention all the related details to your academic qualifications, as most SOPs are rejected due to the lack of concrete details related to a student’s academic background. For instance the given SOP sample provides information on how to write SOP for Canada, likewise you can write for your chosen university.
Checklist for writing body paragraph I:
- Academic accomplishments
- Professional accomplishments
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Impact of all the cumulative experiences
- In case of a fresher, talk about internships and volunteerships
Body paragraph II (why course, why university)
Moving on to the second body paragraph, you will have to persuade the reader to believe that you can be a valuable addition to their university. Start by explaining your previously acquired skills and strengths, then correlate these skills with your course so that you can show the readers that your skills align very well with your course. Then, talk about the university’s features that made you choose it as the place to pursue your higher education. In this section, you can talk about the students, faculty, or infrastructure of the university that make it different from others.
Checklist for writing body paragraph II:
- The skills and knowledge you know related to data science
- Why this particular college/university?
- What do you like about the university?
- How can you be a valuable addition to the university?
Conclusion (closing statement)
In your closing statement, you will summarize all the given information and show it aligns with your future plans. In the SOP, your future plans will strictly be about your professional trajectory, including your short and long-term career goals. At the end of your SOP, mention how your professional career will add value to society.
Checklist for writing conclusion:
- Path to achieve your career goals (short-term and long-term goals)
- What after the course (long-term goals)
- Contribution towards the society
To wrap up, an SOP for data science is written in a paragraph format with four important paragraphs: an introduction, which includes your motivation to study data science; a first body paragraph, which includes your life’s learnings, its execution, and its impact upon your life; a second body paragraph, which includes your reasoning for choosing a particular course and university; and a conclusion, which includes the closing statement for your statement of purpose. By following these steps, you can craft your own SOP and get into the university of your dreams.
Why should you choose data science?
As a student with a science background, data science is the perfect fit for you, as it opens you to a world of wide possibilities. A course in data science covers diverse career paths, with its specialization in various fields, you get the chance to use your skills in science and technology to make better decisions for the future world. Statistics validate the same, as job opportunities for data scientists are expected to rise by 35% in the next decade.
Why SOP is important?
In simple terms, your SOP is your chance to give your dream university’s admissions committee a chance to consider your application, given that there are thousands of similar applicants who, just like you, match the criteria to enroll for admissions. Your SOP provides the university with a brief description of how your academic and professional background and their learnings helped you choose your career path. It is with the help of an SOP that you can portray your personality with your skills, strengths, and accomplishments over time, which make you different from the other applicants.
How long should an SOP be?
A university SOP is stated by the university itself; if it is not, write an SOP within a word limit of 600-900 words. It's always safe to stick to the word limit and write a clear and concise SOP to make a lasting impression on the SOP reader.
What should be the tone of an SOP?
An SOP should ideally be an honest written statement by you that shows why you wish to pursue a particular course at a particular university. While writing an SOP for the university, be mindful of the fact that your SOP will be read by the admissions committee and keep a formal tone. Try to avoid any words that sound informal or colloquial; however, maintain a conversational tone that shows how you will be a valuable asset for the university. Do not write about any factual experiences that aren’t true, and stick to writing about your life experiences that are relevant to your career goals and your selected course