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I'm applying to a summer undergraduate research program at a top research university (in US), and the application asks for a statement of purpose. In particular, I need to talk about why I'm applying to this program.

One obvious and strong reason is that I want to work with professors there, make good impressions, and potentially work with one professor there during my Masters and/or PhD program - I'm pretty sure that at least 75% of all applications have this in mind.

Is it acceptable to explicitly mention this? I'm in dilemma because, while mentioning this conveys what I want, it might make me seem overly intentional.

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I doubt that will make or break your application, though it sounds a bit like pandering. Don't think of it as a backdoor way to get into that university's graduate program, though. For that it won't work. There is a defined process for graduate applications.

But such a research experience will be a plus in any graduate application in the US and likely elsewhere.

I you mention any professor by name, make sure that you know what it is that the actually do, not just that they are prominent. Look at some of their recent work, for example. And make sure that you find that interesting.

Make sure that the SoP says what it is intended for. Express you goals (learning goals primarily) for this program but also for longer term goals. Do you intend to work toward a doctorate eventually? An academic career? Are you seriously considering a particular subfield?

In fact, if you think about it, you can say something similar to what you suggest without saying it explicitly if you are a bit subtle. Note that "connections" are important in academia even when you don't have an ulterior motive at the moment.

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