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During my masters program I changed my major from Molecular Biology to Biotechnology. Should I explain in my statement of purpose for PhD programs why I changed my major?

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    Was it really that large of a change? I could easily see this being a change in concentration within one department. – Jon Custer Oct 19 '15 at 20:50
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Should I explain in my statement of purpose for PhD programs why I changed my major?

Yes, this is a substantial enough change that it's worth at least a brief explanation. As a general rule, it's better to explain than to make the committee guess. There might not be much to say beyond that you realized biotechnology was a better fit for your research interests. If so, then say that; if there is more to say, then it's worth clarifying further.

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I have finished my undergrad in physics and wanting to change the field to ecology. After consulting a lot of good questions here, my solution is:

Write in detail in your website, write briefly in your statement, and put a link to your full version

I will call this the Changing Major Dilemma. This dilemma actually is a combination of two smaller dilemmas.

The first dilemma is the contracting of you and the school. On one hand, since changing your field is your important decision, it's about your benefit. On the other hand, the SOP is the place to show how you fit their benefit. Your benefit is having a new breeze in knowledge, to have the fun of discovering things that you have lost in your old field, and to make your life easier. Their benefit is to recruit someone is capable to do the research. Having fun in the new area is one thing, being capable to do it is another thing. You need to prove that your benefit will give you the ability to satisfy their benefit. The SOP is born for this. Therefore, you definitely want to give them the reason why you decide to change your field, however long it is.

The second dilemma is, it is hard to explain your decision within only a paragraph, while the structure of the SOP require you to focus on their benefit, aka your future research. Your future research should be the most important point in your SOP, because, well, it is the place to show how you fit their interest. Knowing why you switch your field is can explain how your interest give you the power to fill their interest, and that is interesting, but it's not urgent.

Luckily we live in a world which has internet. You can build your own space in the internet, focusing only to your interest, and leave the SOP to focus only to their interest. Write briefly the reason you want to switch, then give them a link to your website. Leaving a link in your SOP is acceptable.



How should I write a statement of interest about how my research will fill gaps in the field, when I don't know enough about the field yet?
Are hyperlinks allowed in a Statement of Purpose?
Should I mention my blog in my SOP?
My link, if you are interested ^^
I use URL Analytic to tracking my links. They do click on the links. I need to disclaim that I haven't known how successful this approach is yet, because I'm applying this year. Will update soon.

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This was "barely" a change. You need to mention and give a brief explanation for it, just so people see that you are acting "rationally". But you don't need to dwell on it.

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