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I plan to apply for an MS in CS in the United States as an international student. While some universities provide guidance on the Statement of Purpose word limit, I can see that most don't. In such a case if my Statement of Purpose is 1000-1200 words and ends up spanning 1.5-2 pages, can that be somewhat lengthy to read?

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  • A Statement of Purpose should clearly convey why the program would benefit your career or something similar. If it is unnecessarily long, that decreases clarity.
    – Jake
    Oct 7, 2021 at 2:26
  • If somebody can't read it and get the critical information from it in 30 seconds or less, then it's too long. That means the critical information should be in 150 words, not 1000. Anything more than 150 is just "nice to know stuff" that won't be read at all if the first 150 words puts it on the "reject" pile.
    – alephzero
    Oct 7, 2021 at 3:19

2 Answers 2

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I would not exceed 1000 words. Honestly, you should avoid going over one page. 500-750 words is the range I would aim for. An MS in CS is not going to be a program that will be enthralled by lengthy prosaic statements of purpose.

As someone who has read many applications, brevity is much preferred. At the very least, a long statement of purpose gets skimmed, whereas a short one gets fully read. I have never seen a statement of purpose longer than one page that changed my mind towards acceptance because of its length.

Unless the university specifically asks for a longer statement of purpose, I would keep it somewhat short.

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There is almost never a need for a statement of purpose to be this long. By aggressive editing -- rephrasing and deleting -- you should be able to cut the essay down to 800-900 words without sacrificing any actual content. The resulting essay will be better not only because shortness is inherently good, but also because removing the superfluous words produces a more mature writing style.

The trouble with saying "almost never" is that everyone thinks that they are the exception to the rule. But, most people who think this are wrong.

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