SOP for Hong Kong: Universities Guidelines for UG/PG Courses
A Statement of Purpose (SOP) or a Personal Statement is an important aspect of your application while applying to foreign universities. Along with this document, your Resume and Letters of Recommendation (LORs) also play a crucial role in helping an admissions committee decide on your candidature. Generally, SOPs or personal statements for any country or university are majorly similar in content, i.e., a generic SOP should cover these points:
- Academic and professional background
- Motivation to study the selected course
- Achievements and learnings
- Career goals
- Reasons to choose this particular university
SOP Requirements for Hong Kong Universities
Now that we have covered the basics of SOP writing, let us discuss what universities in Hong Kong look for in an SOP. The admission office holds a holistic view of your application, which means it looks at how well-rounded you are as a candidate. They consider your transcripts, test results, personal statement or SOP, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities. Your test results are not the only critical factor; admission officers take time to screen your personal statements and other relevant documents, thoroughly, before making a decision. Thus, writing a winning SOP is crucial to your overall application. Only one SOP is required, irrespective of the number of programs you are applying to, in a particular university, in Hong Kong. However, SOP requirements for Hong Kong for different universities, at each study level, are different. This means that there may be different requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate applicants.
SOP for Undergraduate Courses in Hong Kong
Here are some of the top universities’ document requirements for undergraduate programmes:
- The University of Hong Kong (HKU): HKU requires an SOP that should not exceed 1,000 words. Applicants need to elaborate on their interest in studying at the university and why they chose that particular programme.
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST): HKUST has no set word limit for an SOP. Applicants need to highlight their strengths, interest in the programme and how it will benefit them in future, previous achievements and future ambitions.
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Submitting a personal statement is optional for undergraduate students at PolyU. However, it is advisable to submit one personal statement to strengthen the chances of getting selected or discuss any gap year or misfortune encountered in life.
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong: A Statement of Purpose is required which should be no more than two pages of an A4 sized page. Emphasis is on why the student chose this particular programme.
SOP for Postgraduate Courses in Hong Kong
At the graduate level, Hong Kong universities usually ask for a Letter of Intent/Motivation, an Applicant Statement, or a Research Proposal (for research-based courses). Here are some university-specific examples:
- The University of Hong Kong: Only a few of the taught programmes require an SOP. Research-based programmes require a statement of research interest. Other courses require a generic personal statement and some additional writing samples. HKU’s MPhil and PhD courses may require a proposal for research that should not exceed 8 pages.
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST): Mostly an SOP is required for taught programmes and is optional in the case of research-based programmes. There is no word limit for the SOP however, research proposals and statements may have a certain word limit. Applicants for research courses also have to submit a past research experience essay.
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Most of the programmes require a personal statement with subject-wise specific requirements. Some courses have made it optional to submit this document. Word limits range from 200 to 1000 words as per the course and the document should be limited to one page.
- The Chinese University of Hong Kong: The requirement of a Personal Statement is optional for various programmes at CUHK. Guidelines for SOP also differ as per the course. Some may require a 500-word SOP elaborating the motivations for applying to the program and future aspirations, while others may require 800 to 1000 words SOP. Certain research-based programmes also require the submission of a research proposal.
- City University of Hong Kong: The university asks for an SOP within 500-1,000 words as per course specifications which should cover the following points:
- Why do you feel you are eligible to pursue this programme and how it will benefit you?
- Brief description of employment history and past international experience.
- Why you are applying to the program?
- How will you fit into the curriculum and the university?
- How you will use the programme for career advancement?
- What are your career goals and how this degree will help in achieving them?
- Briefly highlight the quantitative and analytical skills acquired during undergraduate studies.
Writing Tips for SOP for Hong Kong Universities
You can also have a look at what not to include in an SOP. Apart from content, you need to take care of the formatting as well, which includes:
- Font style and font size: Use Times New Roman 12pt font size, unless specified otherwise.
- Word limit: Usually universities prefer a word limit of 1000-1200 words, or one-page or two-page SOP unless any other specific instructions are given. Essay answers will have a shorter word limit of 200-500 words, per essay.
- Grammar check: Give a thorough reading before finalizing your SOP; don’t forget to do a grammar check. Poor grammar reflects poorly on the candidate.
- Plagiarism: All foreign universities are very strict when it comes to copying content from any other sources. Be true to yourself and write your draft yourself relating to your experiences. Be original!
- Vocabulary: Avoid the use of fancy words and too much technical jargon, unless it is a requirement of the course. Keep your vocabulary rich yet simple, so that the document has a smooth flow of language and content.
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