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Amanda Gibb

How To Write A Statement Of Purpose For MBA + Examples

March 2, 2024
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What is Statement of Purpose?How to Write the Statement of Purpose for MBA AdmissionsWhat Do MBA Admissions Committees Look For in Statement of Purpose?Statement of Purpose for an MBA ExamplesCommon MistakesTips for Writing a Statement of PurposeFAQs

One of the best ways to convey your MBA goals in one cohesive story is through a personal statement. This guide will cover everything you need to know about to write a statement of purpose.

Applying to business school means you’ll have to gather or write many documents, to sum up why you’re the perfect candidate. You must collect your university transcripts, take the GMAT or GRE, and ask for recommendation letters. 

Besides burning the midnight oil studying for your choice of standardized test, perhaps the most time-consuming part of your MBA application is writing admissions essays. 

You’ll likely write essays in response to prompts asking about challenges you’ve faced and how you overcame them, what your professional aspirations are, achievements you’re most proud of, and much more. Some business schools ask explicitly for a statement of purpose or have supplemental prompts that ask for the same things. 

We will walk you through what a statement of purpose is, how to write one for MBA admissions, a statement of purpose example, and tips to help you create your masterful essay. 

What is a Statement of Purpose?

A statement of purpose is a critical essay required for graduate school admissions explaining why you are applying to that program. Some people interchangeably call it a personal statement or a goal statement. 

Typically 1-2 pages in length, it outlines your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements, clarifies why you want to pursue further education, and makes the case for how you are a strong fit for both the program specifically and the field more broadly.

Most business schools will provide specific questions or guides to write your statement of purpose. For example, Stanford GSB explicitly requests an SOP covering the following material:

  • “Your past work on relevant issues
  • What excites you most about your chosen field of study
  • Possible areas of research you might pursue
  • Any research projects you have completed with faculty
  • Any faculty member’s research that is of interest to you
  • Any other information you would like to provide to the admissions committee.”

On the other hand, Wharton does not explicitly ask for an SOP but asks for supplemental essays requesting essentially the same information: 

Essay 1

“How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton.”

Essay 2

“Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community?” 

A SOP is an extremely important step in the application process as it is one of the few opportunities you’ll have to speak directly to the admissions committee.

How To Write the Statement of Purpose for MBA Admissions

Writing a stellar statement of purpose requires good writing skills and time. You’ll need to ensure you answer the prompts entirely, your narrative has a logical flow, and your essay is as impactful as possible. Keep in mind, that there’s no one right way to write an SOP as long as it answers the question and has a logical flow.

Writing a statement of purpose isn’t easy, but these steps will show you a possible method for writing your SOP. 

Identify What the Prompts Are Asking You 

This sounds straightforward, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in your narrative and miss particular elements admissions committees want to see. Referring to the Stanford GSB example above, the admissions committee asks you to touch on six points. For a truly outstanding essay, ensure your response answers the question. 

Do Your School Research 

One of the SOP’s primary purposes is to describe why you want to attend a school’s MBA program. The school research helps tie together your aspirations with what the school offers. Your research will not only make your writing more robust but also show the admissions committee you took the time to learn about the school before applying. 

Create An Outline 

An outline helps ensure you don’t exceed word limits, hit all the main points you want to discuss and structure your writing. Separate your response into three parts, and figure out what information you want to convey in the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. 

Introduction: Introduce Yourself And Give Background

When we say to introduce yourself, we don’t mean, “Hi, I’m John Doe and I want an MBA.” While pretty straightforward, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of your creativity and writing skills. You may want to begin with an anecdote about what sparked your interest in an MBA in the first place and give a little bit more background about your academic experience and what you do for work. 

Body: Talk About Qualifications, Express Interest, State Your Goals 

The body of your statement of purpose for MBA admissions is where you can write about your academic awards, accomplishments, and research. If you’ve received any other awards or other notable achievements like writing a book, spearheading an important project, or starting an initiative, you should write about it here. 

Some applicants like using the body of their statement of purpose to express their interest in the school’s MBA program, and some writers like to lean into that content toward the end of their response. The same applies to stating your goals: What do you want out of an MBA program? How will an MBA from this school help you achieve your professional goals? 

Conclusion: Wrap Up and Look Toward the Future 

The conclusion is where you should wrap up any loose ends in your writing. You should reaffirm why you want to attend an MBA program if you haven’t already. To help guide your thinking, answer the following questions

“What does this university/program offer you that other schools don't? Which courses and professors most interest you? What makes you a ‘good fit’ for this institution? What can you bring to this program?”

If you can confidently answer these, you have a good argument for why you chose the institution you’re applying to. 

Writing your hopes for the future and exactly how an MBA would help you achieve them is crucial in your writing. Although you can touch on this a little bit in your body paragraphs, you want to ensure you end on a memorable and impactful note.

What Do MBA Admissions Committees Look For in Statement of Purpose?

Your statement of purpose (SOP) tells the admissions committee how your background has prepared you to excel in the MBA program. It should clearly articulate short and long-term goals, and explain how pursuing this specific MBA provides the knowledge and opportunities to accomplish those career objectives.

An outstanding SOP makes a compelling and memorable case that you have the capability and motivation to excel in your MBA studies and career.

Statement of Purpose for an MBA Examples 

A well-written statement of purpose sample can help guide your writing process. Here is a striking statement of purpose sample from an applicant to Harvard Business School

“In 2012, I realized a life ambition—I completed my first novel, all while working full time at [Top U.S. Investment Bank]. I could not wait to share it with the world and eagerly went in search of a literary agent. But each agent I contacted declined to represent my novel.

Nevertheless, I was passionate about my work and was determined to put it into readers’ hands. In true entrepreneurial fashion, I self-published my novel through the digital platforms Smashwords and Createspace. 

I worked with a promotional expert to organize a month-long book tour to promote the book to prominent book bloggers and their readers. The result? My novel has received multiple 5-star reader reviews, from Amazon to Goodreads, and was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Storytelling is my lifelong passion; it saw me through a difficult childhood. After my father left, my mother raised me as a single parent in [U.S. City/State], a rural Bible Belt town two hours south of [U.S. State]. We did not have much money and that coupled with my bookishness made me a target for bullies. 

Books and writing were an escape; they gave me an avenue to articulate the feelings of abandonment and powerlessness I otherwise did not want to express. Writing made me happy and the more I wrote, the more my talent blossomed. I began to win awards and my work was published in youth literary journals. These experiences made me more confident, a key part of my success later in life. It all started with a pen, a notebook, and my imagination.

Stories are an integral part of the human experience. They uplift and inspire us, permit us to dream and to visualize what could be. Storytelling has been an integral part of my career, from building financial models at [Top U.S. Investment Bank] that illustrated my expectations for the companies that I covered to delivering a presentation to [International Daily Newspaper]’s chief revenue officer explaining why reducing ad prices for tender house advertisers would not lead to an increase in revenue.

My passion has also informed my growth as a leader; I believe my most impactful expressions of leadership have been my efforts to help others write the narratives of their own lives and careers. At [Top U.S. Investment Bank], I created an informal mentorship program for female and minority interns and first-year analysts in the research division and led a “soft skills” class to help new analysts handle difficult interpersonal situations. 

For four years, I’ve mentored a young Hispanic woman through Student Sponsor Partners, a nonprofit that gives low-income students scholarships to private high schools. Being a mentor gave me the privilege of guiding another first-generation college student along what I know can be a lonely, difficult path. This fall, she started college with a full scholarship.

Storytelling will be a part of my future career path; as an MBA graduate, my goal is to obtain a position in strategy and business development at an entertainment company that specializes in film or television. Long term, I want to start a multimedia and merchandising company with a publishing arm (books and magazines) as well as film, TV, and digital operations. 

Using strong, fictional heroines and informative lifestyle content, my company’s goal will be to educate and inspire women to become their best selves. My particular focus is creating compelling, multidimensional characters to inspire young women of color, who are constantly bombarded by negative images of women who look like them in media.

I’m pursuing a Harvard MBA because I want to become a better business strategist and strong general manager. Also, I want to further develop my leadership and presentation skills as I will manage professionals on the content and business side; it will be my task to unite them behind a shared strategic vision. 

Specifically, I want to learn how to motivate teams and individuals to perform at their highest level, and to become more adept at persuasion and generating “buy-in” from others. Harvard’s unique approach using the case method and emphasis on leadership development will challenge me to grow in both these areas. I also feel that I have much to contribute to Harvard’s community. 

My varied background in finance and media has given me a unique perspective that will be valuable in classroom discussions and team projects. I want to share my passion for the entertainment industry with my classmates by chairing the Entertainment & Media club and planning conferences, career treks, and other opportunities.

My background gives me the capacity for fearless thinking that is needed to meet the challenges of the entertainment industry’s shifting landscape. A Harvard MBA will strengthen that foundation and help me to become the kind of dynamic leader who can bring the vision for my own company to life and be at the forefront of entertainment’s structural shift.”

Why This Example Works

This statement of purpose weaves together a compelling personal narrative with clear goals and qualifications relevant to Harvard. The applicant does an excellent job showing rather than telling why they would be a strong fit for Harvard. 

For example, instead of simply stating they have leadership experience, the applicant illustrates their leadership skills through specific anecdotes like creating a mentorship program and leading a professional development seminar. The applicant also ties their interests in entertainment and storytelling directly to concrete skills like building financial models, persuading executives, and managing teams that would translate well to an MBA environment. 

While the essay focuses mainly on the applicant's background and goals, the applicant makes sure to explain why Harvard specifically, with its case study method and emphasis on leadership, would further their growth. 

Overall, this statement of purpose makes a persuasive case through its seamless integration of the applicant’s past experiences, future aspirations, and alignment with Harvard’s offerings.

Let’s take a look at another sample statement of purpose for an MBA program.

“Diversity is the key to an impactful and far-reaching career. All my life I have strived to diversify both my professional and academic endeavors, and it has developed me into a comprehensive individual whose skills permeate through many facets of business. 

The growth of my professional skills began in Armenia, where I was born and raised. Then, in 2015 I sought the opportunity to branch out and empower my career in different ways, in new and unique places. This motivation is what brought me to the United States, where I have been focusing on utilizing my professional skills in a new environment. 

It is what has also brought me to this exciting pursuit of a prestigious MBA degree. My professional endeavors include over ten years of experience in IT/Telecom, Oil/Gas, and Construction. 

The bulk of my work has been facilitating growth and improvement in a variety of managerial positions which have led me to the exploration of many other facets of business. For instance, my work as the Franchisee Sales Director for three years with Orange Armenia had me focusing on sales and our financial objectives, such as preparing annual budgets, scheduling expenditures, and a variety of financial analyses. 

This job led me to my next position with Veya Investments, where I led all the financial processes, and oversaw much of the sales and shipping processes. I have been fortunate to follow much of the financial organization at different levels across multiple companies, which has rounded out my comprehensive understanding of finances, economics, and accounting. 

A large bulk of my work, however, has been on the managerial side of the spectrum. I have done everything from recruitment to upper-level management where I have worked hard to motivate individuals and build efficient, high-quality teams of people. As a manager at Amsnet SOPFOR MBA PROGRAM SAMPLE Telecom, I developed and managed financial strategies, and helped train employees to reach the best of their ability. 

I oversaw employee performance as well, overall working to build morale and ensure ever-growing success for the company. I used these skills in a marketing capacity as well, particularly when I worked as Head of Business Development and Marketing with MLL Industries. I quickly found that a broader understanding of the synchronous aspects of business helped in my ability to market the company effectively. 

A deeper knowledge of the flow and hierarchy of the business environment was vital to my ability to put together proper and effective marketing strategies. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned in my years of experience is that all facets of business work in tandem with one another, and it is ineffective to just understand one aspect, even if your understanding is incredibly dense. Understanding how the parts of a business work and flow together is how to make effective change in a company, and it all plays into quantitative business analysis, something I have utilized in almost all of my jobs. 

Looking toward the future, I know that I can expand my knowledge even further in all aspects of business, which is why an MBA program is perfect for me. This program will allow me to utilize skills I have acquired in the past, and apply them in new and unique ways. 

It is an opportunity for trial and error, learning what is effective and what isn’t as I work towards taking on more responsibilities as a business professional. I am excited for where this MBA could potentially take my career, and I hope you will consider my application.” 

Why This Example Works

This statement of purpose makes a strong case for the applicant's candidacy by emphasizing their professional diversity and ability to succeed across various business functions. The applicant does an excellent job using anecdotes from their international work experience to demonstrate a comprehensive skillset spanning finance, management, marketing, and more. 

They also tie each experience back to overarching business concepts like financial analysis, showing an aptitude for making connections between discrete roles. Though their career has been more tactical so far, the applicant conveys strategic thinking and big big-picture perspective when discussing how all facets of business interconnect. 

Their thoughtful reflection on past challenges and eagerness to expand their knowledge make a persuasive argument for why an MBA would be the next logical step. By blending specific examples with commentary on key takeaways, this essay paints a portrait of a consummate professional who will thrive in business school and beyond.

It’s always helpful to see a few examples before writing your statement of purpose. So, let’s take a look at a statement of purpose for an applicant to Cornell’s MBA degree program. 

“Dear Admissions Committee,

I am writing to express my sincere interest in pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. With a passion for business strategy, leadership, and innovation, I am eager to leverage the unparalleled resources and rigorous academic environment at Cornell to further develop my skills and make a meaningful impact in the business world.

My journey into the realm of business began with a strong foundation in Economics, where I cultivated analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a keen understanding of market dynamics. Throughout my academic and professional experiences, I have consistently sought opportunities to challenge myself and expand my horizons, whether through internships, research projects, or extracurricular activities.

One defining aspect of my career has been my commitment to continuous learning and growth. I have actively sought out diverse perspectives and interdisciplinary knowledge, recognizing the importance of adaptability in today's dynamic business landscape. This mindset has not only enabled me to navigate complex challenges but has also fueled my desire to pursue advanced education in business administration.

Cornell's MBA program stands out to me for its reputation of excellence, distinguished faculty, and emphasis on practical, real-world learning experiences. I am particularly drawn to the program's immersion learning approach through the Johnson Leadership Fellows Program, which will provide me with hands-on experience and mentorship opportunities to refine my leadership skills. Additionally, the opportunity to participate in the Strategic Operations Immersion will allow me to apply classroom concepts to real business scenarios, preparing me to drive operational excellence in future roles.

Beyond the classroom, I am eager to take advantage of Cornell's extensive network of alumni and industry connections, leveraging these resources to gain valuable insights and forge meaningful partnerships. I am especially interested in joining the Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion to explore innovative business models that prioritize environmental and social responsibility. Additionally, I look forward to contributing to the Cornell Consulting Club, where I can apply my analytical skills to solve complex business problems and collaborate with diverse teams.

In conclusion, I am confident that Cornell's MBA program will provide me with the knowledge, skills, and networks necessary to excel as a business leader in today's global economy. I am committed to fully immersing myself in the academic and professional opportunities available at Cornell, and I am excited about the prospect of contributing to the university's legacy of excellence.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of joining the Cornell community and embarking on this transformative journey together.” 

Why This Example Works

This statement of purpose aligns the applicant's background and goals with the specific strengths of Cornell's MBA program. The applicant demonstrates a strong foundation in economics and analytics while highlighting their commitment to lifelong learning across disciplines. 

Though their experience is still an early career, they convey intellectual curiosity and adaptability that would enable them to thrive in an advanced business program. The applicant does an excellent job articulating why Cornell is their top choice, citing specific learning opportunities in leadership, operations, and sustainability that match their interests. 

They also express genuine enthusiasm for getting involved on campus through clubs and consulting projects. By balancing academic motivations with extracurricular and professional ambitions, this essay paints the picture of a well-rounded applicant who sees Cornell as the perfect catalyst to accelerate their business education. 

The level of research and fit conveyed gives admissions confidence that this candidate would actively contribute to the vibrant campus community.

Common Mistakes

Common mistakes when writing MBA SOPs include repeating your resume without adding new information or examples. It’s also a mistake to lack confidence in showcasing your achievements and personal story. Let’s take a closer look at these common pitfalls. 

  • Avoid Repetition: Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) should not regurgitate your resume. Instead of listing your accomplishments again, use the SOP as an opportunity to delve into your personal story, showcasing your unique qualities and experiences.
  • Use Examples: Support your claims with concrete examples. Instead of simply stating that you possess certain qualities like hard work or innovation, provide specific instances where you demonstrated these traits. This helps to make your SOP more engaging and credible.
  • Be Confident: Approach your SOP with confidence. Trust in your experiences and abilities, and convey this assurance in your writing. Avoid undermining yourself or downplaying your achievements.
  • Plan and Reflect: Take the time to plan and reflect on your experiences before writing your SOP. Consider how each experience has shaped you and contributed to your goals. This reflection will help you craft a coherent and compelling narrative.
  • Learn from Setbacks: Embrace setbacks as opportunities for growth. Don't shy away from discussing challenges or failures in your SOP. Instead, demonstrate how you overcame obstacles, showcasing your resilience and determination.
  • Be Modest, but Proud: Find a balance between humility and confidence in your SOP. While it's important to be modest, don't hesitate to highlight your achievements and strengths. Present yourself in a positive light without coming across as arrogant.
  • Avoid Clichés: Tell your story in your own words, avoiding clichés and overused phrases. Be authentic and original in your writing, focusing on what makes your experiences and aspirations unique. This will help your SOP stand out to admissions committees.

In wrapping up, remember to steer clear of these mistakes in your MBA application. A well-crafted SOP can truly make a difference in standing out among applicants.

Tips for Writing a Statement of Purpose 

Writing a statement of purpose might sound difficult, but once you have an outline, the process is quite simple. To help you write your statement of purpose, we’ve outlined 10 tips, listed below.

1. Hone in on Your Abilities and How They Spell Success

It’s one thing to consider yourself a diligent worker, but it’s another to demonstrate how your diligence has led to success. You want the admissions committee to understand you’re an excellent candidate by showcasing your strengths but do so in a way that focuses on results. 

2. Ensure You Describe the Mutual Benefit

Although you’ll undoubtedly benefit from a school’s MBA program, you want to show the admissions committee how your acceptance will benefit the school. Share how you plan to contribute to the school’s community, class discussions, and overall culture. 

3. Quantify Your Experiences

Your statement of purpose shouldn’t be a list of facts and figures, but adding some can help your credibility and showcase your potential. Think about the quantifiable measures of success you can add to your SOP, such as your hand in increasing revenue and productivity. 

4. Edit Your Statement of Purpose to Perfection

Even the best writers need some help to unlock their work's full potential and impact. You’ll likely write numerous SOP drafts before you’re confident in the final product. 

5. Show, Don't Tell

Rather than broadly stating your skills or accomplishments, use vivid examples and anecdotes to showcase them. For research, describe a specific breakthrough discovery. For leadership, tell a story where your initiative drove impact.

6. Find Your Perspective

What distinct experiences, viewpoints, backgrounds, or interests set you apart from other applicants? Be introspective about an obstacle you have overcome, a passion that drives you, or a particular lens through which you view the world. Then highlight this in your statement to show what distinctive perspective you will bring to the program.

7. Research Thoroughly

Strengthen your statement by citing specific courses, faculty experts, facilities, institutes, or other details offered at the target program that align with your academic interests and future goals. Not only does this demonstrate a genuine interest and fit with the program, but it also shows you have done your homework and understand what this specific school can offer you.

8. Be Succinct

Admissions committee members must read through hundreds of statements of purpose from applicants. While you want to include critical details about your abilities, experiences, and goals, be mindful that convoluted, excessively wordy essays can lose the reader’s interest quickly.

9. Customize for Each School 

Avoid recycling one generic statement of purpose to submit to all schools. Tailor each statement you draft to reflect the specific values, culture, and offerings of each program by citing details you uncovered through your research about that particular institution.

10. Refine Through Multiple Drafts

Treat every sentence and paragraph of your statement with great care and importance. Allow yourself ample time to write multiple drafts, letting it rest in between for a fresh look each time.


Let’s move on to some commonly asked questions.  

1. Do I Need to Rewrite My Statement of Purpose for Each School? 

Yes, you should write a unique statement of purpose tailored to each MBA program you apply to. While some background details may overlap, your SOPs should highlight different skills, goals, and fit to align with the values and offerings of each specific school.

2. How Do I Avoid Rehashing My Resume?

Use vivid stories and examples that bring your background to life rather than just listing accomplishments. An engaging personal narrative and themes related to your goals help form the backbone for compelling writing.

3. How Important Is My Statement of Purpose? 

Your SOP is critical for MBA applications, allowing you to stand out from applicants with similar test scores/GPAs. It demonstrates fit with the program and how you’ll contribute to the school’s community.

4. How Long Should My Statement of Purpose Be? 

Follow any length requirements stated by the school. If none is specified, 1,000 words or less is best. Concise, well-crafted writing keeps the reader's interest.

5. Can I Include Extenuating Circumstances in My Statement of Purpose? 

If gaps exist in your application, explain them in your SOP. However, avoid excessive focus on weaknesses. Many schools have an optional essay for addressing anything else admissions should know.

6. Does My Story Need to Be Earth-Shattering to Make a Good Essay? 

No - admissions committees look for evidence of resilience, introspection, and initiative. While dramatic essays may seem compelling, grounded stories of overcoming challenges can be equally persuasive.

Bruce DelMonico, Assistant Dean of Admissions at Yale University School of Management, said he approaches dramatic stories and stretched truths in essays with caution. He said he’s not “looking for students to have exotic experiences but for evidence of resilience, introspection and initiative.” 

7. Can I Play With the Statement of Purpose’s Format? 

Yes, organize your SOP however best presents your candidacy, as long as it flows logically. Tailor both content and structure to each school.


Your statement of purpose should be well-written, impactful, and creative to give you the best chance of admission. Statements of purpose help the admissions committee get to know you and your skills better and add value to your application. 

Remember, you want to demonstrate why the program is an excellent fit for you as much as why you're a perfect fit for the program. Admissions committees want to admit applicants who display positive character traits diverse skill sets, and are willing to contribute to their school community. 

With the help of this guide, you can feel empowered knowing you have the tools to craft an outstanding statement of purpose. 

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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