How to write SOP for MBA colleges?

If you are preparing for MBA exams and want to get into a good MBA college, then you probably must have heard of SOP (Statement of Purpose). In my times (i.e. during 2007-09) only some Indian colleges used to ask for SOP, e.g. S. P. Jain, Great Lakes, etc. But as more and more colleges are preferring people with good profile, they are asking the candidates to write a SOP.

Even if the college you are applying to does not require you to write and submit a SOP, you should write it anyways. It will help you prepare for many of the questions that will most probably be posed to you at the interview, such as:

  • Why do you want to do MBA?
  • Why do you want to join our institute?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

So, let’s begin.

Table of Contents
  • What is a Statement of Purpose?
  • Tips for writing SOP for MBA colleges
  • Format of SOP

What is a Statement of Purpose?

Well, the name is pretty self-revealing. It’s a statement of your purpose – why do you want to do an MBA?

It’s basically a small essay that you will write while filing the form of an MBA institute (or sometimes before their interview/GD round). The interview panel will go through this along with your resume and may even pose questions on it during your interview. Needless to say, it’s pretty essential that you write a perfect SOP and are ready to answer any questions that may be posed to you on its basis.

In fact, whether you get an interview call or not may depend on your SOP in case of some colleges. That is, some colleges use SOP to shortlist candidates. Some even have some marks allotted to it.


In colleges like FMS, S. P. Jain, Great Lakes, some IIMs, NMIMS, MICA, etc. you will need to write a SOP. Though colleges may change it from one year to another. In FMS there is a dedicated SOP discussion. While in most of the other MBA colleges, you will be asked questions from SOP during the interview itself.

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to SOP. You need to come up with your own reasons why you want to do an MBA and how will it help you. You will need to introspect a lot. But still, there are some basics that you need to know, and some golden rules and tips that may come handy to you while you are writing it. Let’s have a look at them.

Tips for writing SOP for MBA colleges

SOP is a short essay wherein you need to answer the following questions.

Tell us something about yourself

Though this part is also covered in your resume, but you need to touch upon it in your SOP too. In fact, in most of the MBA interviews this is the first thing that you will hear from the interview panel – “Tell us something about yourself.” It’s kind of an ice-breaker in an interview.

Why MBA?

That is, Why do you want to do an MBA?, What goals are you trying to achieve?, What are you planning to do in your life in medium to long term, and how will MBA help you in that?, Which stream are you more interested in, i.e. Marketing, Finance, Operations, Systems, International Trade, etc.

You need to connect your past (education, job) with the present (plan for MBA), and also the future (career plan). Mention your strengths, achievements, and interests. You may mention a specific area of interest too, and how you got interested in that.

For example, if you developed an interest in Finance or Marketing while working as a software engineer, then what led to that. What you did to further pursue your interest – did you do some internships, courses, etc.

Even if you had failures in your past, or wasted a few years in your life, it’s not a big deal. They are more interested in whether you were able to learn from your failures. And how those learnings will help you achieve your future goals.

Why our College?

Why do you want to do MBA from our college?

They will also try to estimate from your story (that you have written in your SOP), whether you will fit well in their institute and you have what they want.

For example, if you are giving interview in Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Delhi, then you should come up with some solid reasons regarding your interest in foreign trade, or how an MBA from that college will help you in your career.

Why should we choose you?

What USP (unique selling preposition) do you have?, What value will you add to our college and programme? What achievements do you have? What experience are you bringing with you?

Remember that these colleges want to present the best candidates to the companies that will come to their campus 2 years later for campus placement. That’s why most colleges prefer candidates with some job experience, and select people from a variety of backgrounds.

Answering above questions in a precise, but comprehensive manner will help us structure our Statement of Purpose essay. Also, as space is limited, it will help us be concise. Generally, we are given a word limit of 500 to 1000 words to write an essay (word-limit will vary from one college to another).

Format of SOP

As SOP is a very short essay, we do not have much space to be very fanciful in our language. So, be simple and straight to the point.


However, if you are allowed to write a relatively larger SOP (say 800-1000 words), then you may start with some quotations or describe the values of your life in the first few lines.

First Paragraph - Introduction

Write your qualities, strengths – that is, your USPs (Unique Selling Prepositions). Things that set you apart from the crowd. (But don’t exaggerate – these guys are smart enough to see through your lies!)

Interview panel will go through hundreds of resume and SOPs in a day. If your SOP has something unique and of value to them, then that will definitely attract their attention and set you apart from others from the very beginning. So, it makes sense to highlight it at the very beginning.

Maybe you have a great deal of experience in some field, or are working at a very big post, or maybe you work in an NGO too, have won some big award in your company, or cracked some all-India competition, etc. But whatever you mention, that must be in-line with your MBA goals.

Now, link your past, present and future. What job experience or educational qualifications you have, what do you want from MBA and how will it help you achieve future career goals. Let’s see how.

Second Paragraph – Describe your Past

Tell them WHAT YOU ARE – No more abstract values and strengths. They want to see facts and evidences. Tell them about the job experience or educational qualifications you have, i.e. things that you have achieved till now. How you achieved them, how you used them, etc.

For example, if you are in software company, and are working as a module lead or are a lead member in interacting with a foreign clients, then you may mention these achievements here.

If you have worked in an educational start-up and have helped them increase student enrolment, then you may mention that. Maybe you did a course in digital marketing and then helped your organization to make a solid presence online too.

Do highlight the main points, that you want to draw their attention to. Sometimes, these guys take one interview after another, and they do not have time to read every line of your SOP.

Third Paragraph – Answer “Why MBA?”

This is the most important question. No MBA interview is complete without it. And no SOP is complete without it either.

Tell them WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME. Your PURPOSE of doing an MBA.

This is something that only you can tell. You cannot copy paste it from others. Your SOP must have a personal touch. That will help set it apart from other run-of-the-mill SOPs.

Introspect and find out the answer to it. If you are going to invest two years of your life (and probably a lot of money) in something, you must know “why?”

Describe your Future Career Plans and how MBA will help you achieve them. What things made you think about an MBA programme.

For example, maybe you are already working in a digital marketing company, and are involved in marketing. But now you want to learn more about Marketing and be a full-fledged Marketing or Sales guy.

Or maybe after working 2-3 years in a software company as a developer, now you want to become a project manager. Generally, that will take 6-7 years. But with an MBA in IT-Systems from a good college you may achieve that in 2 years and also learn a lot in those two years in college.

Whatever your future plans are, you should seem passionate regarding the college or stream you are talking about. Say you like numbers and want to do an MBA in finance, and maybe want to go in investment banking. Then make sure your SOP reflects that passion of yours – how you like to analyze big data, follow mergers and acquisitions of companies, read company statements, etc.

Fourth Paragraph – Why our college? And Why should we select you?

Now mention how that particular MBA college will help you in achieving your career plans in short and long term.

Do some research regarding that college – see their curriculum, the clubs and societies they have and how that will help you. Talk to students, alumni and professors of that college; see online forums, articles regarding that college, etc. You will definitely find something that you can mention in your SOP. This will give a good indication to the interview panel that not only are you clear in your goals, you have done thorough research of their college.

You also need to mention now why you think you are ready for an MBA. And what makes you think that you are competent enough for that college.

You must show them that you are ready for an MBA, that you are prepared for it. If you have interest in consultancy, then just showing interest and potential may not be enough. You need to prove that you have done many things for that goal of yours. Say you have participated in many consultancy events in college time, or if you want to be an entrepreneur then have you tried to run a start-up, etc.

Winding Up

Do not write your SOP in a hurry. You cannot generally submit the same SOP to different colleges. You need to customize it a bit. It requires a lot of introspection and revisions.

Start writing a SOP atleast a week before the submission date. Believe me, you will come up with new ideas every day. That will force you to rewrite the SOP a few times. So, do REVIEW your SOP a few times. Make sure that after reading your SOP people get a sense of:

  • Purpose – that your goals are clear. What you have done till now, and your future plans align with each other. It should give a sense of you being a good planner. Management is afterall all about planning. If you cannot mange your career and your life, how will you mange others – people, money, deadlines, company.
  • Potential – it must become very clear that you have a lot of potential, you are an achiever, and ambitious.
  • Passion and Positivity – Tone of your SOP must be optimistic and filled with enthusiasm regarding your future. (But don’t overdo it)
  • Story – Your SOP should not just be an accumulation of facts. The person reading it must get a feel of a story or movie. For example, when I was in 10th class I developed a strong liking for computers, then I did my B. Tech in IT and started working in C++ (or JAVA, JavaScript, Python, DBMS, Data Mining, Mainframe, etc.). Now, after working for 4 years in a software company as module lead, I want to enrich my knowledge by doing an MBA in Systems and then help a software company in developing better software solutions or products for its clients. This story is showing that you have a purpose, have potential and passion too.

SOP is also a kind of a test of your writing skills. Make sure there are no grammatical errors, or else it will have a very bad impression. No need to use very fancy vocabulary though. Rather it should be easy to comprehend.

Once you think that you have a good draft ready, take opinions of other people. If possible, present your SOP to a mock interview panel of some coaching. They may point out a few very drastic pitfalls in your SOP. Also, things that sound ok when we are writing them on paper, may not sound reasonable at all when we say them out loud in front of others. So, it’s essential to take a Third-Party Opinion.

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