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Academic Statement of Purpose (ASOP)


Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1000 words) your academic training, skills, research experiences, and accomplishments relevant to your future graduate work. Discuss the types of research questions you are interested in pursuing during your graduate studies. In addition, explain how our program would help you achieve your intellectual and short and long-term professional goals.  Within your statement, please identify specific faculty member(s) whose research interests align with your own interests.


The Academic Statement of Purpose (ASOP) is one of the most important documents in your graduate school application. It is a space to describe your previous research experiences and express why you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Cornell Entomology. The admissions committee will use your ASOP to determine whether you are a good match for the department and for the lab(s) you have selected. Please read this excellent article provided by the Graduate School for how to write a strong ASOP; we will summarize a few key points described in that article and expand on details relevant to the department of Entomology.

Prior research experience

The ASOP is the place to describe what specific skills you have gained from your prior research experiences and how they connect to your future academic goals. For example, do you have experience doing field work, if so what did you do and why? Have you used molecular methods before, if so which ones and for what purpose? Do you have experience analyzing and/or presenting data? Do you have independent research experience? What have you learned from all of these experiences and how has that shaped your interest in science and in pursuing a graduate degree at Cornell Entomology? While you describe the specific skills you have gained, be sure to also briefly include the general context for the research: what was the question being asked, how did you go about answering it, and what did you find? Most importantly, what was your specific role in the project?

Other relevant experience

You can describe other experiences that have prepared you for graduate school, including internships, work experience, and/or leadership in extra-curricular organizations. The Entomology department is very active in science outreach and extension and thus welcomes students who are interested in engaging with stakeholders of different backgrounds.

Please know that resiliency is a key characteristic for succeeding in graduate school, so don’t be afraid to describe challenges that have come up in your work life and how you have overcome them.

Research questions of interest with specific faculty

In addition to describing relevant prior research experience, discussing the types of research questions you are interested in pursuing during your graduate studies and how they connect to the work that your potential PI currently works on is a critical part of a strong ASOP. It is very important to describe why you are a good match for the specific lab you are applying for. Show that you know what research they do in that lab (e.g. refer to recent publications and the lab website), what techniques are used (e.g. molecular techniques, fieldwork in agricultural settings, bioinformatics, etc.), and how that relates to your goals. Describing your goals for graduate school and beyond can help the committee pinpoint whether the PI you have selected is set up to help you succeed. This is a place where you can describe what makes you a strong candidate and a good match for the department and for the specific PI you are applying to work with.