Tips for Writing the Statement of Purpose

Admissions committees view the statement as:

  1. “A way of understanding how the applicant developed her interest in social work and how she has experienced her interest through employment, internships, and/or volunteer experiences”. The statement helps the committee understand if the applicant’s decision to pursue a career in social service is grounded in a realistic view of the profession.
  2. A sample of the applicant’s writing. Schools of social work believe that good writers are good thinkers. Expressing oneself clearly, intelligently and succinctly in written form is essential to success in social work school. “The ability to analyze problems and formulate sound realistic and practical solutions is center to being a social work student and professional.”
  3. How well the applicant follows instructions. Committees expect applicant to be through and thoughtful in following instructions. “Neglecting to follow directions can project an image of sloppy and careless work.”


  • Make a through self-assessment before writing your statement. List jobs, volunteer positions and internships. Take an inventory of any experiences that somehow contributed to your interest in social work.
  • Begin with a well thought-out introduction.       Avoid “I’ve-always-been-a-people-person-and-I-want-to-work-with-people” type statement. Or “I was born to be a social worker. I know the exact moment that I wanted to be a social worker. I was 5 year old”.
  • Identify the skills you attained as a result of your experience.
  • Discuss the personal qualities you bring to the profession, and what you hope learn.
  • Career changers should highlight transferable skills.
  • Clearly state how the school’s programs match your goals. Be clear about your professional goals while “maintaining a healthy expectation that other possibilities are likely to arise.”

In summation, the application is used to determine the applicant’s capacity to perform academically at a high level, her appropriateness for the field as demonstrated by prior work or volunteer experience and the applicant’s thoughtful assessment of the her strengths and suitability for the profession. The statement of purpose needs to demonstrate the capacity to think critically about human diversity and need and current issues confronting the profession.


Reyes, Jesus.   (2005) . The Social Work Graduate School Applicant’s Handbook. Harrisburg, PA. White Hat Communications

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