I am applying to a PhD in Economics; I am a big in Macro Economics as my background is entirely in macro.

One of the schools I am interested in is more focused in game theory. They have some economists focused in macro & monetary theory but it's just 2-3 members, extremely small compared to the other PhD programs I am applying to.

Should I reword my statement of purpose to areas they have more focus in? I like the school a lot! Do I make myself more or less competitive by being interested in an area a university isn't its best strength?

Two ways of looking at it:

  1. If I say I am interested in X and most of the faculty is doing Y and the students and program are more focused in subject Y, less of the faculty vote for my admissions and I am rejected.


  1. I am interested in X and most of the faculty is doing Y, subject X is underrepresented, I become a minority and they vote me in.

Which one do you think is the more likely outcome? Should I reword my SOP to the school's strength?

1 Answer 1


It seems you are looking at this from the wrong angle.

You should not (primarily) tune your SOP to whatever increases your chances of acceptance, but to your interests. If you are "a big Macro guy", then what good does it do you to pretend like you are really into Game Theory? Do you want to do your PhD in Game Theory, even if you are not passionate about it (hint: you really shouldn't)?

Further, is it possible that you are actually not applying to the right school, if they have close to no faculty in your speciality? Why do you think this school is a good fit? If this question has a good (academic) answer, this is what you write in the SOP. If the answer is non-academic ("I like their sports team!"), I suggest you should reconsider applying to this school altogether. As you can see from browsing various questions on this site, being in the "wrong" grad school can be a terrible experience.

  • Thanks, I guessed I would get responses similar to yours.
    – jessica
    Jan 5, 2015 at 19:36

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