I am currently writing up my SOP for a PhD in Economics. I studied math and economics in college and I have been working for 4.5 years in financial services since graduation.

I have two main question:

  1. How much should reiterate my educational courses in college? It's on my transcript and I have already mentioned a synopsis of the coursework I took. Am I being redundant by mentioning the tough courses I took. I wrote a senior thesis, I'll obviously mention that.

  2. Since the career jobs I took after graduation are heavily economic modelling/quantitative finance oriented and add a lot of value in terms of modelling skills and programming skills. How much of the SOP should be focused on my academic how much on my work experience? I feel like the skills I received from my work experience do a better a job at expressing how qualified I am for the program. I had a high GPA in difficult math and econ courses but the same can be said about most applicants, so I was wondering that if the work experience is extremely relevant, maybe I should concentrate on that to distinguish myself.

  • Anyone? Really appreciate any advice on the topic.
    – jessica
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


The SoP should focus on what you can add to the programme that no one else can. In your case, it sounds like the work experience is really what sets you apart. The students who apply for PhDs will generally all have taken difficult classes and gotten good grades in them, so that's not something you should spend time on in your SoP. The only exception is if any class contained a project or small dissertation or research component where you did really well: this should be mentioned. Anything else will show up in the transcript.

So yes, focus on the experience you got from working, and how that will make you an asset in an economics lab.

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