One person from studies in a non-religious field suggested this outline:
I. Introductory paragraph demonstrating academic background
II. Detailed explanation of academic interests and how X school fits into those interests
III. Discussion of the research of a few professors and how my interests/background coincide with theirs.
IV. Senior Thesis (this would be irrelevant to me, as this was not a part of my undergraduate program, which was also in an entirely different field)
V. Concluding paragraph briefly explaining intentions after grad school.
Others have said various things including:
- Relate the parts of my background that have prepared me for (or given me my inclinations toward) graduate work; don't tell stories from my life that I find fascinating, but which do not relate to my aptitude or potential in my intended studies with the exception of those stories that demonstrate specifics about my ability to overcome adversity.
- Relate my accomplishments in my field but don't talk about extra-curriculars and/or volunteer work that does not relate my field.
- Mention the professors with whom I have communicated and how their work relates to my interests, but don't mention students with whom I have communicated, in case they are not doing well in the program.
- Use a couple of short quotes if fitting, reference an epigraph from an author I will be studying. Cite things in style consistent with discipline (anyone know what that is for an M.Div?).
That's all helpful. I wonder if there are any peculiarities to an M.Div. statement of purpose?