5 Things to Consider When Writing a Statement of Intent

Statement of intent requirements vary greatly across graduate programs and schools, so students should always consult admission advisors and the program’s website. But following some general rules will strengthen any statement of intent.

  1. Spelling, Grammar, Correct University and Program Name – It Matters!
    Your beautifully written statement of intent could be tossed aside if there is a small typo. If you’re applying to multiple schools, please update the name of the university in each statement. Also, speak specifically about each program. It could be a deal-breaker if you don’t!
  2. Tell Your Story – For Real. Be honest, vulnerable. Be yourself.
  3. We really need to know about your background, so we can get an understanding of your story and why you’re interested in the graduate program. You don’t need to tell us everything, but most graduate programs would like to hear about your path to applying.
  4. Tell us why this field, why this university, why this program. Tie it to your story.
    This is key! Research universities and read up on their mission statements. Know the core messages and ideals of the school and the program to which you’re applying. If there are specific faculty who inspired you to apply, note them in your statement. Applying to five or more schools/programs? Make sure to adapt your statement to match the school’s values.
  5. No Dissertations. Keep it short.
    Faculty are drowning in papers, so they may not read anything more than five pages. At best, they’ll skip a good chunk of it. Many programs have minimum and maximum page requirements, so make sure to check with each school!
  6. Address the prompt provided by the program, but still do #2 and #3!
    Some programs may have a prompt you’ll be asked to address. If you don’t address it, your application may not move forward. It’s ideal to address the prompt while telling the larger story of yourself and your interest in the program.

Your Application is Your Case for Admission

Your application, and all your required application materials, make your case for admission. It’s like applying for a job: you need to convince us with every document that you’re the perfect candidate for the program you’re interested in; it’s also necessary to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of your program’s mission, and USF’s mission as a whole.

  • Resume – Place information most relevant toward your program at the top of your resume, whether it’s volunteer work or academic qualifications. You may need to tweak your professional resume so it fits a degree program.
  • Letters of recommendation should come from someone who knows you well and can speak to your readiness for a grad program. The person should come from a professional or academic setting, not a family member, therapist, or friend. Ask recommenders if they are willing, and if they feel they know you well enough, to write a good letter (remind them of your past term papers, work ethic etc.). If they seem unsure, ask someone else! And when you do get someone who agrees, let them know they’ll get a system-generated prompt from USF. It will arrive in their email after you submit your application.
  • Statement of Intent – This is one of the most important parts of the application. It’s the only way we can actually get to know you and your aspirations. Please do your research before starting this!
  • Transcripts – We review the application holistically. If your transcripts do not reflect your best work, let us know why. Then make the rest of your application as strong as possible.
  • Test Scores – Keep in mind that certain tests are pass/fail (CBEST and CSET). Passing is required for admission or to enroll (Insider’s Tip: As long as you pass, the university does not see a raw score; we only know that you passed!). Other tests (GRE/MAT for Doctoral Applicants Only) will be viewed as part of the total application. So do your best, but don’t stress.



Thinking about Grad School?

At the University of San Francisco School of Education Office of Admission and Outreach, we are here to help you navigate the sometimes confusing process of applying for a program. Reach out to us at any time with questions, or for advice – that is what we are here for and what we like most about our roles!

Looking forward to chatting soon!

Amy Fogliani,
Director of Graduate Admission and Outreach
USF School of Education