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Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is a short essay introducing the applicant and his or her interests, goals, and reasons for pursuing graduate study in history. Applicants may wish to share a draft of their statement with the individuals writing their letters of recommendation. While every statement, like every prospective student, will be different, applicants should devote special attention to the following items:

  • Academic/Professional Background: Please give your academic credentials, with degrees, dates, and relevant employment experience. You do not need to list every job you have had, only those that bear directly on your desire to enter graduate school.
  • Motivations and Aims: Explain what motivates you to do graduate work in history and what your goals are, both within the graduate program and after the completion of your degree.
  • Existing Expertise and Accomplishments in History: Discuss any areas of expertise you may already have in your proposed area of interest. If you have experience doing research, please describe the project and your work on it. If you have any special talents or skills, such as a foreign language, please describe them.
  • Proposed Course of Study: Please identify planned major field and minor fields of study.
    Likely Faculty Advisor(s): Please specify faculty members with whom you are interested in working on your major fields. Applicants are invited to contact possible faculty advisors prior to application to discuss their interests and planned study.
  • Possible Thesis/Dissertation Topic(s): While the department does not expect all applicants to have identified precise thesis or dissertation topics, you may wish to include some discussion of possible topics or areas of inquiry.
  • Other Relevant Experiences or Personal Qualities: Discuss any experiences or personal attributes that may illuminate your commitment to the study of history and to the successful completion of the graduate program.

Format: Your statement of purpose should be typed and limited to no more than 750 words (between 2 and 3 pages).

For further information on writing the statement of purpose, applicants may wish to consult the following website:

University of California at Berkley Career Center