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- How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples
How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples
Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 28, 2022.
A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.
To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:
- Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
- Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
- Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?
This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.
Urban Planning Psychology History
Attend one of our upcoming livestreams and have your draft reviewed by an admissions essay coach. We’ll tell you if you’re on the right track and explain how you can strengthen your case.
Want some extra inspiration? Watch recordings of past grad school essay livestreams.
Table of contents
Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, want some extra inspiration.
Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.
For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.
There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.
The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.
Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene
An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:
- A personal experience that changed your perspective
- A story from your family’s history
- A memorable teacher or learning experience
- An unusual or unexpected encounter
To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.
Strategy 2: Open with your motivations
To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.
Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:
- Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
- Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
- How does it fit into the rest of your life?
- What do you think it contributes to society?
Tips for the introduction
- Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
- Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.
Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.
To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.
Strategy 1: Describe your development over time
One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.
- What first sparked your interest in the field?
- Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
- Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?
Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.
My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.
Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles
If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.
- Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
- Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.
Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.
Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.
Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field
Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.
- Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
- Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
- Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.
The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.
In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.
Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions
Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.
- If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
- If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
- If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.
Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.
One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.
Tips for the main body
- Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
- Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.
Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.
Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.
Strategy 1: What do you want to know?
If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?
If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.
Strategy 2: What do you want to do?
If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?
Tips for the conclusion
- Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
- Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.
You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.
Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.
Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.
Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.
A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.
A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.
However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.
The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.
Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.
If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.
Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.
If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.
If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.
During our livestream sessions, we invite students to submit their personal statement drafts and receive live feedback from our essay coaches. Check out recordings of our past sessions:
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How to Write a Personal Statement for a PhD Program Application
Personal statement guidelines, general guidelines to keep in mind:.
- One size does not fit all : Tailor your personal statement to each program and department you are applying to. Do your research to learn what is unique about each of your choices and highlight how this particular program stands out.
- Yes, it’s personal : Showcase your unique strengths and accomplishments. Explain what influenced your personal decisions to pursue the program. Ask yourself, could this be applied to your friend or neighbor? If so, you need to be more specific and provide examples. Saying that you are a “good scientist” isn’t enough. Provide examples of your previous research experience, projects you’ve completed, and what technical skills you learned. Explain how you overcame any challenges along the way.
- Set aside enough time : Although personal statements are generally short in length (approx. 700 words; 1-2 pages), give yourself ample time to write a strong, well-written statement. It takes more time than you think to develop a final draft for submission.
- Focus on your spelling, grammar, and vocabulary : It’s important to present a well-written statement with good grammar and vocabulary. Write concrete, succinct sentences that flow well. Avoid flowery language. Visit the Writing Center for additional review and feedback.
- Proofread one more time: Check your grammar and spelling again before submitting your final draft. Ask a friend, professor, or advisor to proofread your final draft one more time before sending it in.
YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT SHOULD ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
- Why do you want to complete further research in this field? Write down a list of reasons as to why you are interested in pursuing further study in the field. When did you become interested in the field and what knowledge have you gained so far? Describe how your previous work provided the foundation and for further study.
- Why have you chosen to apply to this particular university ? Does the institution have a particular curriculum, special research facilities/equipment, or interesting research that appeal to you?
- What are your strengths ? Demonstrate how you stand out from other candidates. Highlight relevant projects, dissertations thesis or essays that demonstrate your academic skills and creativity. Include IT skills, research techniques, awards, or relevant traveling/ study abroad experience.
- What are your transferable skills? Be sure to emphasize transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management skills. Give examples of how you have demonstrated each of these with specific examples.
- How does this program align with your career goals? It’s okay if you don’t know the exact career path you plan to take after completing your PhD. Provide an idea of the direction you would like to take. This demonstrates commitment and dedication to the program.
For examples of successful personal statements, visit the Online Writing Lab (OWL) .
Writing the Personal Statement
Helpful tips and advice for drafting a compelling personal statement when applying for graduate admission.
Make sure to check the appropriate departmental website to find out if your statement should include additional or specific information.
What does this statement need to accomplish?
The personal statement should give concrete evidence of your promise as a member of the academic community, giving the committee an image of you as a person.
This is also where you represent your potential to bring to your academic career a critical perspective rooted in a non-traditional educational background, or your understanding of the experiences of groups historically under-represented in higher education and your commitment to increase participation by a diverse population in higher education.
What kinds of content belongs here?
Anything that can give reviewers a sense of you as a person belongs here; you can repeat information about your experiences in your research statement, but any experiences that show your promise, initiative, and ability to persevere despite obstacles belongs here. This is also a good place to display your communication skills and discuss your ability to maximize effective collaboration with a diverse cross-section of the academic community. If you have faced any obstacles or barriers in your education, sharing those experiences serves both for the selection process, and for your nomination for fellowships. If one part of your academic record is not ideal, due to challenges you faced in that particular area, this is where you can explain that, and direct reviewers’ attention to the evidence of your promise for higher education.
The basic message: your academic achievement despite challenges
It is especially helpful for admissions committees considering nominating you for fellowships for diversity if you discuss any or all of the following:
- Demonstrated significant academic achievement by overcoming barriers such as economic, social, or educational disadvantage;
- attendance at a minority serving institution;
- ability to articulate the barriers facing women and minorities in science and engineering fields;
- participation in higher education pipeline programs such as, UC Leads, or McNair Scholars;
- Academic service advancing equitable access to higher education for women and racial minorities in fields where they are underrepresented;
- Leadership experience among students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education;
- research that addresses issues such as race, gender, diversity, and inclusion;
- research that addresses health disparities, educational access and achievement, political engagement, economic justice, social mobility, civil and human rights, and other questions of interest to historically underrepresented groups;
- artistic expression and cultural production that reflects culturally diverse communities or voices not well represented in the arts and humanities.
PrepScholar GRE Prep
Gre prep online guides and tips, 3 successful graduate school personal statement examples.
Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.
Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program. You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.
A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.
While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.
Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.
However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.
When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.
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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?
A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:
A Clear Narrative
Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).
You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.
A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.
Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.
A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.
Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.
Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.
While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.
You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.
Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1
PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies
For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.
Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:
- An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
- A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
- Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.
Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition
This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.
Here’s what works well in this statement:
- The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
- The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
- The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.
This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important. However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:
- I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
- I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health
This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:
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- This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
- This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
- In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.
Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive
Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.
Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.
This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.
It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.
Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.
Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.
If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.
Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.
In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.
Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.
In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.
Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.
This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.
Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.
This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.
I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.
The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.
This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online
So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.
Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.
Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School
This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.
The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.
Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements
These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.
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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).
University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples
These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.
Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10
This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1
Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled
It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.
Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)
We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:
- A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
- Specific examples to support that narrative.
- Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
- Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
- Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.
Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.
Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.
Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.
Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .
If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .
Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.
See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .
Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?
Author: Ellen McCammon
Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon
How to Write a Stand-Out Personal Statement for Your Graduate School Application
While deciding to embark on the path to graduate school is an exciting first step toward advancing your career, the application process can sometimes feel daunting and confusing.
One major part of the application that most schools require is a personal statement. Writing a personal statement can be an arduous task: After all, most people don’t necessarily enjoy writing about themselves, let alone at length.
A compelling personal statement, however, can help bring your application to the top of the admissions pile. Below, we’ve outlined what you need to know about crafting a personal statement to make your application shine.
What Is a Personal Statement?
The point of a personal statement is for the admissions board to gain a deeper understanding of who you are apart from your education and work experience. It explains why you’re the right fit for the program and a worthwhile applicant. It’s also an opportunity to highlight important factors that may not be readily available in the rest of your application.
A personal statement is different from a statement of purpose (if you’re asked for that as well). A statement of purpose will touch on your academic and career goals, as well as your past credentials. While those should also be discussed in your personal statement, it’s more about your life experiences and how they’ve shaped you and your journey to graduate school.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing a Personal Statement
Before you start crafting your essay, there are a few prompts you can ask yourself to help clarify what you want to accomplish.
- What are the key points you want to communicate about yourself?
- What personal characteristics or skills do you have that make you a strong candidate for this field?
- What exactly are your career goals, and how does graduate school play into them?
- What have you learned about this field already? When did you first choose to follow this path, and what do you enjoy about it?
- What do you think is important for the admissions board to know specifically about you?
- Are there any discrepancies or causes for concern in your application you need to address? For example, is there a career and schooling gap, or a low GPA at one point? This is the time to discuss whether a personal hardship may have affected your academics or career.
- Have you dealt with any unusual obstacles or difficulties in your life? How have they affected and shaped you?
- What sets you apart and makes you unique from other graduate school applicants?
- What factors in your life have brought you to where you are today?
Top Tips for Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement
Pick a few points to emphasize about yourself . Introduce yourself to the admissions board. Select key factors about your background that you want the university to know — elements that reveal what kind of person you are and demonstrate why you’re a strong candidate for the school and field of study.
Be very specific . Again, a personal statement is all about communicating what distinguishes you from other applicants. To accomplish that, you need to share specific anecdotes that underscore your statements. If you say you’re a strong leader, present an example of a time you’ve proven that skill through work, school or your personal life. These specific, personal stories provide a deeper understanding of who you are and prove your intentions.
Do your research . Demonstrate what attracted you to the program. If there is a specific faculty member or class that caught your attention, or another aspect of the program that greatly interests you, convey it. This shows you’ve truly researched the school and have a passion for the program.
“Whatever the topic may be, I would recommend writing in a manner that reflects or parallels the institution’s and/or department’s missions, goals and values,” said Moises Cortés, a graduate/international credentials analyst for the Office of Graduate Admission at USC .
Address any gaps or discrepancies . Explain any factors that may have impacted your academic career. If you had an illness or any other personal hardships that affected your grades or work, discuss them. If there is a discrepancy between your grades and your test scores, you can also take the time to go over any extenuating circumstances.
Strike the right tone . While it’s important to give readers a glimpse of your personality, avoid oversharing or revealing intimate details of your life experiences. You should also avoid making jokes or using humorous cliches. Maintain a professional tone throughout your writing.
Start strong and finish strong . As with any piece of writing, you want to draw in your readers immediately. Make sure to start off with an interesting and captivating introduction. Similarly, your conclusion should be a well-written, engaging finish to the essay that highlights any important points.
“ For a personal statement, I think the first and last paragraphs are most important and should always relate the program they are applying to their own experiences and ideas,” Hoon H. Kang, a graduate/international credential analyst with the Office of Graduate Admission, told USC Online.
Proofread, proofread and proofread again . We can’t emphasize enough the importance of rereading your work. Your personal statement is also an analysis of your writing skills, so ensure you have proper grammar and spelling throughout. In addition, we recommend having multiple people look over your statement before submission. They can help with the proofreading (a second person always catches a mistake the writer may miss), give advice about the statement’s structure and content, and confirm it’s the proper recommended length.
Once you’ve considered all of the above and reviewed and edited your personal statement to perfection, it’s time to submit and check off any remaining application requirements, including your resume and letters of recommendation .
Personal statements are arguably one of the most challenging aspects of applying to graduate school, so make sure to revel in this accomplishment and acknowledge your successes.
For more information, visit the Office of Graduate Admission at USC and explore USC Online ’s master’s degrees, doctoral programs and graduate certificates.
PhD Personal Statements
Updated October 1, 2021
When applying for a PhD position, a personal statement is often required. This can be the case whether you are applying for an advertised PhD research project or with a personally devised project.
This personal statement is separate from your PhD research proposal, which will go into much greater detail about the PhD project you are proposing or applying to undertake.
This article will delve into what to your PhD personal statement should contain and how to structure it for the best chance of success.
What Is a PhD Personal Statement?
A PhD personal statement will support your application and is intended to shed more light on your motivations, academic background/ achievements and personal strengths .
Your statement will most likely be read by the admissions tutor for the department, who, based on your statement and research proposal, will decide whether your application should progress to the next stage of the process.
A personal statement will not always be required, so make sure to check the requirements for your institution and department.
What Should a PhD Personal Statement Contain?
When writing your PhD personal statement, you will need to convey your suitability for the programme or position, indicating that you have the academic ability, background knowledge and drive to take on a project of this level of complexity.
Statements are expected to be heavily related to the discipline and research angle being proposed. Your statement should draw out the strands of your previous exploration and research and illustrate what led you to apply to complete this particular PhD project.
It should discuss your interest in the subject matter, your academic interests within the field and your motivations for applying to the institution in question.
Below is a list of topics that need to be addressed in your personal statement .
The examples provided are for illustrative purposes only. It is important that your writing is grounded in your own experiences and aspirations, and consistently linked to your research proposal.
1. Why You Want to Do This PhD
It is important to talk about your motivations for undertaking the project, along with an awareness of the challenges you may experience, as this will display your drive for completing your research.
Directly reference your research proposal, talking about how your current or previous studies relate and have prepared you to undertake this project.
The strongest argument for why you want to undertake the PhD will come from the arc of your academic research and displaying a genuine enthusiasm for advancing the research of your chosen field.
During my master’s degree at the University of Nottingham, I had two primary focuses: cultural behaviours and social media impacts. I was interested in how culture reacts under new stimuli, so I wrote my dissertation on how cultural practices can be newly read through the lens of media platforms. My proposed research proposal takes this theoretical and desk-based research a step further, exploring the reflections of the specific cultural practice of...
2. How Your Work Will Benefit the University
When applying for a PhD, what you will bring to the university as a junior academic is an important factor in the decision-making process. You will not just be a student but a member of the department, most likely with teaching responsibilities.
The faculty will want to know that you can meaningfully contribute to the department through both your research and teaching.
If your work links into other PhD projects currently being supervised, or to the research of a senior academic or professor, it is good to indicate these connections and the potential they hold – whether this is in terms of supportive research, a complementary strand or a new angle or perspective.
If there is an academic whose work you are particularly interested in and you have not already indicated that you would like the opportunity to work alongside them, highlight this. Display that you are knowledgeable about the department’s current research interests, specialities and standing.
Since beginning my MSc research and developing a more specific interest in mangrove restoration, I have closely followed the research being conducted by Professor Stephens into restoration and wave attenuation. As I subsequently elaborate upon in my research proposal, I believe that my project fruitfully intersects with this research. It aims to make a meaningful contribution to a department world-renowned for its research into marine and coastal climate change impacts.
3. Why You Want to Study for a PhD at This University
It is important to convey why you want to conduct your research specifically at the institution you are applying to. Admissions will want to know that you have thought carefully about your application and know exactly what undertaking a PhD with their department will involve.
Conveying this intersects with the sentiments of the above point, as you should display that you have investigated the work of the professors in the department and are aware of any individual research groups or projects that relate to your work. These intersections help to show why the university is the best choice for you.
I believe that the University of Cardiff offers the best reciprocal environment in which to grow and diversify my approach to this research. Working alongside my supervisor, I intend to tap into the departmental expertise on biodiversity mapping and – using the framework of the 2019 report by Fischer, Raymond and Wills – reveal new insights by building upon the current research.
4. Why You Are the Best Candidate
The PhD personal statement is an opportunity to promote yourself, so it needs to be specific, personal and unique – nobody else has your history, aspirations or skill set, so explain what it is about you that makes you best suited to this endeavour.
When stating that you possess certain skills, back them up with concrete examples or explanations that are unique to you.
Be wary of making your personal statement too general or simply writing what you believe the admissions team want to hear. There are no correct answers, perfect CVs or ideal academic paths to have followed to reach this point. Your personal statement should reflect your journey and what you have gained from it, segues and unconventional routes included.
During my English Literature master’s degree, I focused on videogames and late medieval literature. I could see at that point that literary studies had a lot to offer the study of games and that games provided interesting new angles for applying longstanding theoretical approaches and fields. This led me to complete a further master’s degree in videogames as I sought to apply my research in a more specific and digitally focused arena. I found, because of my background in humanities and literary theory, that I possessed a perspective that my fellow empirically-minded colleagues, with backgrounds in coding, lacked. Using this unique perspective, I am now seeking to develop the research of my master’s dissertation through a PhD project
5. What You Learned During Your past Degrees and the Skills You Developed
To get to this stage, you will have already spent many years devoted to studying and growing your interest in your subject matter, so sell yourself and your talents. Think about the individual and group projects you have undertaken and the skills they helped you to develop and hone.
Remember to be specific and relate your skill set back to your proposed PhD project. For example, talk about the methodological approaches you have used previously to yield results, the new connections and collaboration you fostered across disciplines, or the positive impact made by projects you were involved in.
Your examples will vary greatly depending upon your academic background and the PhD you wish to complete but, regardless of topic, it is important to reveal your high level of skill and competence.
During my MSc, I conducted fieldwork in [location] and gained direct experience of collecting samples for paleolimnological analysis. I developed an aptitude for rapid algal species analysis and enjoyed the challenge of comparing this population data across cores and sample locations. This practical background has enabled me to be confident in my ability to source and analyse the sediment cores I require for this PhD project.
6. Any Explanations for Lower Grades (If Applicable)
If you have any extenuating circumstances for any results or grades, do not be afraid to explain the situation in your statement. Be honest about your struggles or challenges and seek to convey how you have grown as a consequence of these.
7. Your Future Plans
It is important to have thought carefully about your plans for life after your doctorate, as displaying clear goals will help the admissions team to determine that you have the correct motivations for applying.
Having a considered path you intend to follow beyond your proposed research gives confidence in your dedication to the project. Someone with articulated ambitions is more likely to be committed to the programme in the face of challenges.
If you wish to pursue a career in academia, as many PhD graduates do, show that you are aware of what this will involve. If you have a different industry path in mind, don’t be afraid to share it in your statement. PhDs can lead on to a variety of different career paths, so impress the admissions team with your aspirations of practical application.
The university will also want to ensure they can provide you with the skills and training you require to be successful and reach your goals. Letting the department know early on about your aspirations can help to ensure that the tailored support you will require can be provided.
After completing my PhD here, I intend to pursue an academic career within an architectural faculty in the UK. If the opportunity is available, I will be looking to apply for a lecturing position within this department. I am, however, acutely aware of the fierce competition in this field. I will be proactively seeking legacy funding for my research project as its potential to inform the typologies of housing used for settlement upgrading extends well beyond the timescale of this PhD.
If you are applying to more than one institution, which is highly likely, ensure that you tailor your personal statement to each university. Taking the time to craft a statement that speaks to the specificities of the university and the research of the teaching department will exponentially increase your chances of moving on to the next stage in the admissions process.
How to Structure Your Personal Statement
Below are our tips for structuring your PhD statement. You must ensure that you are aware of all the requirements set out by the university to which you are making your application, as these will influence the structure and content of the piece.
PhD applicants are expected to be highly adept at writing, so it is paramount that your personal statement is carefully constructed and reflects your ability for written communication .
The university you are applying to may provide you with a word count , or it may be stipulated by the space allowed on an online application form . Check if this is the case, as it is far easier to write to a specific word limit rather than having to make extreme edits to a piece that exceeds accepted length.
A PhD personal statement should be approximately one to one-and-a-half pages in length and be split into clear and concise paragraphs. If a sentence does not add value to the personal statement, omit it.
As a guide, aim for between four and six paragraphs , depending on their length. As previously indicated, it is best to keep paragraphs shorter rather than longer, as this will make your statement easier and more enjoyable for the admissions team to read.
Open your personal statement with a context-setting introduction regarding your academic interests and what has led you to apply for this research project. Seek to convey a real sense of yourself, so that those who read your statement can get a genuine sense of the student and junior academic you will be.
In the middle paragraphs , explore your motivations in greater detail, along with the qualities that make you a suitable candidate– with examples of when you displayed them.
It is important to provide a closing paragraph , bringing together the strands in your statement to solidly iterate why you are the right candidate.
Although it is best to avoid clichés and keep your writing original and interesting, conclude your personal statement by thanking the admissions tutor for taking the time to read your statement and considering your application.
When writing your statement, use a formal tone , correct grammar and appropriate language.
Colloquial and familiar language should be avoided. It is important to talk about your past academic and, perhaps, fieldwork or research experiences, but keep these professional in tone rather than anecdotal.
Ask someone to read through your statement to sense-check the tone and language used. It is always good to get a new perspective, particularly on a piece you spent a long time crafting.
Ensure you thoroughly check your grammar and spelling using the spell check function on your computer and also by eye. If including complex academic terminology, double-check that your terms are spelt correctly and have not been mistyped or incorrectly recognised and changed by your computer.
Writing a personal statement that accurately reflects your achievements, abilities and drive to take on your PhD can be a difficult task.
It is important to leave yourself enough time to write a draft statement so you can receive outside feedback, review it yourself and make the necessary improvements to ensure your piece does your potential as a PhD student justice.
Demonstrate your suitability for doctoral work with a personal statement that is personal to you and your unique experience and skills. A carefully thought-out, well-structured and well-evidenced statement will sell yourself and your academic abilities.
Seek to connect with those who read your application, explaining why your journey has equipped you for completing a PhD you will be proud of.
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How to Write an Impressive Ph.D. Personal Statement in 2023? Everything You Should Know
PhD is one the highest academic qualifications in a specific domain or field. Getting PhD admission will require you to prove your skills, qualification, aptitudes, and experiences for the same through a personal statement.
This post shines light on everything you need to know about PhD personal statement.
If you are preparing for PhD admission, the information shared in this blog would help you in writing a winning PhD personal statement.
What Is a Ph.D. Personal Statement?
A PhD personal statement is a document that has to be included in the application for PhD admission. It demonstrates your fitness to be considered for a particular postgraduate research program.
Why Is a PhD Personal Statement So Important?
Your PhD project is going to be a unique one. Institutes want to know how capable you are to complete this project. They read your personal statement for the same. Your PhD personal statement does the following jobs.
- It demonstrates the kind of unique person that you are.
- It showcases your unique skills, experiences and qualifications
- It digs into your motivations behind taking up postgraduate research program
- It justifies why you wish to do further research in the chosen field
- It points out the reasons for your selection of the specific institute and country
NEED EXPERTS HELP FOR WRITING YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT? CLICK HERE NOW!
Five Key Areas to Be Thorough with Before Attempting Your PhD Personal Statement
Be familiar with the guidelines, have a clear picture of what to include, know what tone to use in the writeup, know the five basic questions to address, understand how to structure your ph.d. personal statement, be familiar with the guidelines.
Though all personal statements are similar in nature, a general approach in writing your PhD personal statement would backfire. You need to draft your writeup in total compliance with the university guidelines or country conventions. This will give your writeup much more mileage and attention from selectors.
Have A Clear Picture of What to Include
Make sure to include the following points in your PhD personal statement without failure.
- Your background
- Reasons for undertaking the particular postgraduate research (PhD)
- A brief of your academic and professional background and experience
- Your involvement in extracurricular activities
- Your long-term goals and future plans
Know What Tone to Use in The Writeup
PhD personal statement is a crucial document in your application and is going to be read closely by your selectors. So, the tone of writing should be well balanced – formal but not too formal and engaging to read but not too colloquial.
Know the Five Basic Questions to Address
Why do you wish to undertake additional research in this particular field.
List down your reasons or motivations for undertaking further studies in the chosen field and explain how you became interested in the field.
Why this particular university and country?
Explain what attracts you to this university and the country, for instance a unique curriculum, availability of a specific research program etc.
What qualities and strengths do you possess that make you an ideal fit?
Show how you are or can be different from all other applicants. List down your achievements, skills, creative ideas etc. with supporting information.
What transferrable skills do you possess?
Your transferrable skills such as time management, communication, leadership etc. give you more weightage. Talk about them and show how they helped you in the past.
How does this program live up to your expectations and match your goals?
Give a rough picture of how you are planning to steer your career in the future and how your PhD in the specific field is going to support you in that.
How Long Should a Personal Statement Be for a Ph.D.?
Comply with the wordcount that is recommended by your chosen university . Do not exceed it or run too short of it.
Your PhD personal statement can be approximately about one or two pages if written using the standard font size and line spacing.
Number of paragraphs
Divide your personal statement into multiple paragraphs. 6 to 7 paragraphs are ideal, including introduction and conclusion.
Begin your personal statement with an apt introductory paragraph that triggers the readers curiosity and sets the context. It should show how your academic interest got ignited.
Allocate one paragraph each to speak about various points such as academic background, professional experience, future plans etc. This will allow the reader to locate specific points more easily.
Avoid cliched sentences in the conclusion. It is better to be original. Conclude by giving the summary of the points in one or two sentence and thanking the selectors for considering your application.
How to Write PhD Personal Statement In 6 Steps?
Follow the below instructions on how to write a good PhD personal statement for making a winning writeup for your postgraduate research admission.
Gather all relevant points you should include in your PhD personal statement.
Prepare an outline for your personal statement. Refer reliable samples for insights.
Prepare the first draft. Do not spend too much time for picking the right words or sentence beauty at this stage.
Improve the first draft by proofreading several times, correcting mistakes, replacing sentences or words etc.
Get your personal statement reviewed by one or two people and seek their feedback.
Incorporate their suggestions into the final copy. Do a final cross-checking to ensure compliance of all requirements.
Read more here on personal statements:
PhD Personal Statement Example
Referring to a well-written personal statement sample would help you understand its structure well.
Personal Statement for Ph.D
As a literature student, I always had an interest in reading historical fiction. As a history lover, I never leave a chance to read about my county’s past. I believe historical fiction is the greatest way to study history of a particular time. Applying theories like New Historicism can help us understand various societal dimensions of a particular society. As Louis Montrose has pointed out New Historicism is the textuality of history and historicity of text. New Historicism helps us understand an age more clearly and precisely.
I am a post graduate in English Language and Literature who specialized in British Literature. My specialization in British Literature helped me to dive deeply into Anglo Saxon Poetry and Chaucerian poetry. Historical pieces like Canterbury Tales and Beowulf are prominent poetries of a particular age which help us understand the past. As a British Literature major, I have also read many post colonial and regional literature. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a prominent historical piece of African people which clearly depicts the life of Igbo people in pre-colonial Africa. Both my undergraduate and postgraduate degree projects revolved around historical fiction and I wish to engage in historical fiction even for my Ph.D research. As a prerequisite for my research career, I have started publishing in several journals.
With this research I intend to apply the theory of New Historicism on prominent historical novels and analyse a particular society with the available history over them. I am sure my choice of world war fiction will be good to analyze the after effect of two deadliest wars on people which would be far greater than what is mentioned in the historical text. I wish to learn more about a particular society mentioned in the novel, through field study, referring journals, etc. I am sure this attempt can throw light upon existing the history of this society.
In terms of a career, after the successful doctoral studies and research, I foresee myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and engaging myself in editing or publishing articles. As my specialization is in historical fiction, I wish to engage in an interdisciplinary approach and contribute both to the study of English Literature and History as well. I am sure this Doctoral studies will prove to be valuable to me in several ways. The teaching assistance offered by this program would give me practical exposure. Earning a Ph.D in British and American English Literature would give me the expertise in both branches of literature. I also don’t plan to end my quest in literature with this post doctoral research, instead, I will try to try my hands in Indian and post colonial literature as well and try to conduct research on the same. I am sure this research would leverage my existing skills and equip myself for my future research career. With this program, I can give wings to my professional career and ignite my academic skills.
Remember These Basic Guidelines While Writing Your PhD Personal Statement
Follow these basic guidelines on how to write a PhD personal statement while making your document.
Customize each writeup
If you are planning to apply at different universities, customize your personal statement for PhD for each of those institutes.
You may require more time than you think to write a comprehensive and perfect PhD personal statement. So, start early.
Keep zero tolerance to mistakes
PhD is the highest qualification in a given discipline. You can’t apply for it with a document full of mistakes.
Honesty is the key
Being honest in your personal statement will certainly add uniqueness to it and allow the reader to develop more emotional connection.
Show your confidence
Do not write your personal statement as if you are confused. Write it confidently so your selector will know it.
Top 10 Universities for Doing PhD
You can do PhD in any university but doing it from the world’s best universities will add more value to your qualification. Here is a list of top ten universities in the world for doing PhD.
- Harvard University
- Yale University
- Stanford University
- University of Oxford
- University of California
- Princeton University
- University of Cambridge
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Imperial College of London
Popular PhD Specializations
You can do PhD in your interested field of research. There are universities that offer it all over the world. Take a look at the most common PhD specializations.
- PhD in Science
- PhD in Educational Psychology
- PhD in Physics
- PhD in Mathematics
- PhD in Computer Science
- PhD in Biology
- PhD in Neuroscience
- PhD in Economics
- PhD in Pharmacology
- PhD in Organic Chemistry
Before We Wrap Up…
Considering its top ranking in the academic ladder, you must always try to draft an outstanding personal statement for your PhD application.
In this blog, we have covered everything you need to know regarding a PhD personal statement and how to write PhD personal statement.
If you still have any doubts or want to share your feedback on this with us, you are most welcome to share them in the comments section below.
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Writing Personal Statements for Graduate School
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Preparing a well-written and effective personal statement (sometimes referred to as statements of purpose or personal essays) that clearly articulates your preparation, goals, and motivation for pursuing that specific graduate degree is critically important. You will need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in crafting these statements. The focus, structure, and length of personal statements vary from program to program. Some will have prompts or questions you need to answer, while others will leave the topic open-ended. The length varies widely as well. Read instructions carefully and make sure to adhere to all parameters laid out in the application guidelines.
Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. The first and most important task is to decide on a message. Consider carefully which two or three points you wish to impress upon the reader, remembering that your audience is composed of academics who are experts in their fields. Your statement should show that you are able to think logically and express your thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Remember that the reader already has a record of your activities and your transcript; avoid simply restating your resume and transcript. Writing your statement will take time; start early and give yourself more than enough time for revisions. If no prompts are given, you can use the questions below to begin brainstorming content to include in your statement; for more information, see our Writing Personal Statement presentation Prezi and our three-minute video on Writing Personal Statements .
- What experiences and academic preparation do you have that are relevant to the degree you’re seeking?
- Why are you choosing to pursue a graduate degree at this time?
- Why do you want to pursue this particular degree and how will this degree and the specific program fit into your career plans and your long-term goals?
- What specific topics are you aiming to explore and what does the current literature say about those topics?
After you’ve written a first draft, start the work of editing, refining, simplifying, and polishing. Provide specific examples that will help illustrate your points and convey your interests, intentions, and motivations. Is any section, sentence, or word superfluous, ambiguous, apologetic, or awkward? Are your verbs strong and active? Have you removed most of the qualifiers? Are you sure that each activity or interest you mention supports one of your main ideas? Spelling and grammatical errors are inexcusable. Don’t rely on spell-check to catch all errors; read your statement aloud and have it reviewed by multiple people whose opinion you trust. If possible, have your statement reviewed by a writing tutor. For individual assistance with writing your personal statement, consult with the writing tutor in your residential college or the Writing Center within the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning .
Office of Career Strategy
- Personal Statements for PhD Study
Written by Mark Bennett
Universities often ask prospective students to provide a personal statement for PhD study. This is likely to be a key part of your PhD application .
Whereas your research proposal explains the potential of your project, your personal statement (also known as a PhD statement of purpose) demonstrates your suitability for doctoral work in general.
Writing a PhD personal statement can seem challenging, but it’s also a valuable opportunity to state what you have to offer and ‘sell yourself’ as a PhD candidate.
This page explains what a PhD statement needs to cover, suggests an effective structure and provides some additional tips for success.
On this page
What is a phd statement for.
A personal statement provides additional information on a PhD applicant’s academic background, relevant experience and motivations for undertaking postgraduate research.
It is different from a PhD proposal , which outlines a particular research topic, explaining its aims, methodology and scholarly or scientific value.
Put simply, if a PhD is a unique individual project (and it is) then your personal statement shows that you’re the kind of unique individual who can complete one.
The form it takes can vary. Universities may include a space for a personal statement in their application materials, or they might ask you to submit it as a separate document or in place of a covering letter . Make sure you check what’s required before you start writing.
Will I have to write a personal statement for a PhD programme?
Not necessarily. Some PhD applications don’t actually ask for a separate personal statement. This may be because the admissions tutors want to focus on your research proposal instead (and leave other details for interview questions ).
A personal statement is very likely to be requested if you you’re applying to an advertised project with pre-defined aims and objectives (and aren’t submitting your own PhD proposal). If so, it will be your main chance to say why you’re the best student for this position.
Who will read it?
Your PhD statement may end up being read and considered by various people:
- Admissions tutors will check that you have relevant experience and qualifications for this programme and that these are up to the standard expected of a PhD candidate.
- Potential supervisors will be interested in your specific academic background as well as your motivations for working in their department or research group.
- Interview panellists (who may include admissions tutors and supervisors) will probably consult your personal statement when preparing questions for you .
These people will be interested in slightly different things, but don’t worry: a good statement should be able to satisfy all of them.
What is a PhD statement of purpose?
If you’re applying for a PhD programme at an American grad school , you may be asked to provide a ‘PhD statement of purpose’.
A PhD statement of purpose (SOP) is your chance to demonstrate that you’re an ideal fit for the grad school in question.
It’s essentially the equivalent of a personal statement, but you should check the application details for your preferred institution to make sure you’re covering everything you need to. Always follow the conventions of the country that your prospective programme is in.
What should my PhD personal statement include?
The exact content of your PhD statement of purpose will depend on the kind of project you’re applying for and the requirements set by your university.
You should check the latter carefully. If the admission guidelines ask for your personal statement to refer to specific details (such as motivations, career goals, your choice of university, etc) make sure it does.
In general, your PhD statement should cover the following topics:
1. Your background
Keep this relevant (and fairly brief). Admissions tutors and supervisors will be interested in what’s brought you to choose a PhD, but they won’t need to know your life story (and you won’t have time to tell it to them).
If your interest in your subject was inspired in childhood, feel free to say so. But focus on the interest, not the childhood.
2. Why you want to research a / this PhD
Every personal statement needs to explain your motivation for taking on a PhD, but what you include here will depend on the kind of PhD you want to take on.
If you’re also submitting a separate research proposal you should probably focus more on why you want to research a PhD than the specific topic you’re proposing to research (that, after all, is what your research proposal is for).
If you’re applying for an advertised project (and not proposing your own research) you should say something about your interest in that PhD: what interests you about it and what you can bring to it.
3. Academic experience
Your personal statement isn’t a CV, so avoid simply listing qualifications you’ve detailed elsewhere in your application (on your CV , for example).
But your personal statement is a chance to comment on your CV and explain the significance of those qualifications for your PhD application. This is vital if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Most PhD applicants are academically excellent. Be proud of your own results, but explain what those degrees (including specific units and dissertation projects) taught you about the subject you now want to research.
4. Extra-curricular experience
Another way to build upon your academic qualifications is to include other experience that has also demonstrated (or developed) relevant skills for your PhD.
Again, relevance is key. You may also wish to include one or two examples of your wider experience and achievements, but the focus should be on your suitability for PhD study.
Examples of your character and qualities may be relevant for some projects – particularly those with a charitable focus, human-interest angle or clear social benefits / outcomes. Otherwise, try to stick to relevant skills such as organisation, independent project management, self-motivation, etc.
5. Your broader goals and motivations
It’s a good idea to say something about how this PhD fits into your wider aims and career goals.
The specifics of what you plan to do after your doctorate may not matter to your admissions tutors, but the fact that you have plans and can show that a PhD fits them demonstrates that you’ve thought seriously about a doctorate and are likely to commit to overcoming the challenges it involves.
6. Other areas or issues arising from your CV
Your personal statement is a great opportunity to expand upon your CV.
That could mean providing more detail about academic degrees (as above). But it can also mean explaining any gaps or irregularities and anticipating some of the questions they might raise.
Perhaps you didn’t do as well as you hoped on your undergraduate degree, but went on to find your niche and succeed with a more specialised Masters. It’s OK to acknowledge and explain that if so – particularly if your Masters relates closely to your PhD.
Similarly, if there’s a gap in your CV, it’s better to explain it than leave any begged questions – particularly if there’s a perfectly good reason why you weren’t working or studying at that point.
Learn more about PhD applications
There are several components of a PhD application , besides your personal statement or statement of purpose. Our guides cover references , research proposals , academic CVs , cover letters and more.
How should I write my PhD personal statement?
Crafting a good PhD personal statement requires discipline and planning.
Writing about yourself may not seem particularly hard, but selecting, sequencing and organising your material can be harder than it seems. You know a lot about you, after all, but you only have so much time and space. Speaking of which:
How long should a PhD personal statement be?
A PhD personal statement should be 400-500 words, fitting on one side of an A4 sheet of paper. Your university may set a specific word count or maximum length, so make sure to check the application details.
Either way, you should aim to be disciplined and concise. There are two reasons for this:
One is that the ability to think – and express yourself – clearly is a key PhD skill in all subject areas. There’s no harm in demonstrating it now.
The other is that admissions tutors and prospective supervisors are people. People who may well have a lot of personal statements and applications to assess, besides yours. If you give them a long essay to read, they might not.
How should I structure my statement?
The sequence above actually provides a good ‘spine’ for a personal statement (with roughly a paragraph or two for each section):
Start with a quick introduction, explaining who you are and what your background is. Try to have this progress naturally into your research interests and your choice of PhD and university.
From there you can move on, logically, to expanding on your skills and experience and how these make you a good fit for the PhD in question. If you wish to comment on other areas of your CV, do so at appropriate points here.
Finally, you can conclude with a section on your longer-term goals and aspirations.
What writing style should I use?
The ‘personal’ aspect of your statement should extend to its content (it’s a document about you) but not necessarily to its tone (it’s also a professional document, part of an application for a specific role).
That doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself (your reader will want to see that you’re passionate about your subject and enthusiastic about PhD research) but keep things professional and relevant.
These guidelines should also extend to way you write. Try to stick to short sentences and express yourself with clarity and precision. After all, a personal statement that’s easy to read is more likely to be read.
Tips for writing your PhD personal statement
Some of the ingredients for a great PhD statement vary from project to project and from student to student (it’s a personal statement, after all).
But the following general tips are still worth bearing in mind:
- Keep it relevant – Remember that this is a statement about you as a potential PhD student, not just a statement about you.
- Don’t duplicate your research proposal – A personal statement and a research proposal are two separate things. If you’re submitting both, make sure they cover different (and appropriate) ground.
- Be honest – If you’re lucky, the content of your personal statement could end up informing questions at your PhD interview . Don’t let embellishments or inaccuracies turn those into awkward questions.
- Look for guidelines – If your university asks you to cover something specific in your proposal, make sure you do so. The same applies to space limits or word counts.
- Think of the statement as a beginning, not an end – Resist the temptation to include everything, ‘just in case’. By focussing on the most important elements you’ll improve the clarity of your statement and increase your chance of covering other details at your interview.
- Address questions arising from elsewhere – If there’s a gap in your CV or an issue with one of your references, your personal statement can be an opportunity to (briefly) explain that.
- State, don’t plead - This isn’t a letter asking to be given a PhD place. It’s a statement showing why you should be given a PhD place. That’s even more important if there’s funding involved.
- Be confident – By the same token, don’t be afraid to demonstrate self-belief. Express your skills and achievements honestly, but be proud of what they represent.
Finally, before you submit your statement (and the rest of your PhD application ) ask someone who knows you to read it. They could be a friend, an employer, a current tutor or even one of your referees .
Either way, they’ll have a fresh perspective on your statement and will be able to tell you if it makes sense and comes across effectively. If they know you (and your work) well enough they may also be able to spot any details you’ve missed, or suggest ways to improve what you have included.
Grade Point Average (GPA) is one of the most common grading methods worldwide. In this guide, we cover how GPA works, when it matters for PhD applicants, and how it compares to some other grading systems around the world.
The Ivy League is a group of eight prestigious, high-ranking universities in the USA. Find out more about PhD study at an Ivy League university and how you can earn a place!
Integrated PhD programmes consist of a one-year Masters followed by three years of PhD research. Find out more about what it's like to study an integrated PhD, how to apply and the funding options available.
Thinking of applying for the Doctor of Engineering (EngD)? Our guide covers everything you need to know about the qualification, including costs, applications, programme content, and how it differs from a PhD.
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Writing Your Personal Statements
Your personal statement must demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have considered graduate school and their specific program seriously. It’s your opportunity to summarize your academic and research experiences. You must also communicate how your experiences are relevant to preparing you for the graduate degree that you will be pursuing and explain why a given program is the right one for you.
The personal statement is where you highlight your strengths. Make your strengths absolutely clear to the reviewers, because they will often be reading many other statements. Your self-assessments and honest conversations with peers and advisors should have also revealed your strengths. But you must also address (not blame others for) weaknesses or unusual aspects of your application or academic background.
Your personal statement should focus on two main aspects: your competence and commitment.
1. Identify your strengths in terms of competence that indicate that you will succeed in the grad program and provide examples to support your claims. Start your statement by describing your strengths immediately. Because faculty will be reading many statements, it’s important to start off with your strengths and not “bury your lede.” Consider traits of successful graduate students from your informational interviews, and identify which of these traits you have. These traits could involve research skills and experiences, expertise in working with techniques or instruments, familiarity with professional networks and resources in your field, etc.
- Check your responses from the exercises in the self-assessment section. You may wish to consult notes from your informational interviews and your Seven Stories . Write concise summaries and stories that demonstrate your strengths, e.g. how your strengths helped you to achieve certain goals or overcome obstacles.
- Summarize your research experience(s). What were the main project goals and the “big picture” questions? What was your role in this project? What did you accomplish? What did you learn, and how did you grow as a result of the experience(s)?
My research examines the interplay between U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy during the Cold War. As a native New Yorker, I saw firsthand how dramatically my city changed after 9/11, which prompted my early interest in U.S. policy at home and abroad. As an undergraduate at the City College of New York, I planned to study international relations with a focus on U.S. foreign affairs. I also quickly became involved in student activist groups that focused on raising awareness about a wide range of human rights issues, from the Syrian refugee crisis to asylum seekers from Central America.
The more I learned about the crises in the present, the more I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of the past to fully grasp them. I decided to pursue a PhD in history in order to gain a clearer understanding of human rights issues in the present and to empower young student-activists like myself.
— Vannessa Velez, PhD candidate in History
Addressing weaknesses or unusual aspects
- Identify weaknesses or unusual aspects in your application—e.g., a significant drop in your GPA during a term; weak GRE scores; changes in your academic trajectory, etc. Don’t ignore them, because ignoring them might be interpreted as blind spots for you. If you’re unsure if a particular issue is significant enough to address, seek advice from faculty mentors.
- Explain how you’ll improve and strengthen those areas or work around your weakness. Determine how you will address them in a positive light, e.g., by discussing how you overcame obstacles through persistence, what you learned from challenges, and how you grew from failures. Focusing on a growth mindset or grit and this blog on weaknesses might also help.
- Deal with any significant unusual aspects later in the statement to allow a positive impression to develop first.
- Explain, rather than provide excuses—i.e., address the issue directly and don’t blame others (even if you believe someone else is responsible). Draft it and get feedback from others to see if the explanation is working as you want it to.
- Provide supporting empirical evidence if possible. For example, “Adjusting to college was a major step for me, coming from a small high school and as a first-generation college student. My freshman GPA was not up to par with my typical achievements, as demonstrated by my improved GPA of 3.8 during my second and third years in college."
- Be concise (don’t dwell on the issues), but also be complete (don’t lead to other potentially unanswered questions). For example, if a drop in grades during a term was due to a health issue, explain whether the health issue is recurring, managed now with medication, resolved, etc.
2. Explain your commitment to research and their graduate program, including your motivation for why you are applying to this graduate program at this university. Be as specific as possible. Identify several faculty members with whom you are interested in working, and explain why their research interests you.
- Descriptions of your commitment should explain why you’re passionate about this particular academic field and provide demonstrations of your commitment with stories (e.g., working long hours to solve a problem, overcoming challenges in research, resilience in pursuing problems). Don’t merely assert your commitment.
- Explain why you are applying to graduate school, as opposed to seeking a professional degree or a job. Discuss your interest and motivation for grad school, along with your future career aspirations.
I am definitely not your traditional graduate student. As a biracial (Native American and white), first-generation PhD student from a military family, I had very limited guidance on how best to pursue my education, especially when I decided that graduate school was a good idea. I ended up coming to this PhD in a very circuitous manner, stopping first to get a JD and, later, an MFA in Young Adult Literature. With each degree, I took time to work and apply what I’d learned, as a lawyer and as an educator. Each time, I realized that I was circling around questions that I couldn’t let go of—not just because I found them to be fascinating, but because I did (and still do!) feel that my research could help to bridge a gap that desperately needs bridging. Because my work is quite interdisciplinary, I strongly feel that I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this line of research without the degrees and life experience I gained before coming to this program.
— Jamie Fine, PhD candidate in Modern Thought and Literature
WRITING YOUR DIVERSITY STATEMENT
- Read the instructions for statements related to diversity carefully. Many universities have subtle and yet significantly different approaches to asking similar questions.
- Review online statements related to diversity, inclusion, and equity from the university’s leadership.
- Being aware of different approaches to diversity may help you to communicate your own perspectives. Marc Nivet’s brief paper on Diversity 3.0 might be a helpful introduction.
- Review how the graduate program or university classifies diversity categories, e.g., in terms of race/ethnicity, gender identity, first-generation students, LGBQT+ communities, undocumented and DACA students, veterans, former foster youth, religion, etc.
- If you identify as a URM (under-represented minority) in your discipline, consider how aspects of your identity have shaped your academic journey and informed your research and career interests. Be sincere and genuine and avoid superficial or hyperbolic "overcoming all barriers" and "I’m the little engine that could" appeals.
- Whether or not you identify as a URM in your field, you can share how you participated or led activities that broadened participation in your field and promoted diversity and inclusive practices, e.g. mentorship or outreach programs, community-building events, professional development activities for underprivileged students, etc.
- Deciding whether or not to disclose aspects of your personal identity can be difficult, especially when dealing with less visible aspects of identity. Consider talking with close friends who have navigated similar paths. It might also help to observe if the graduate program (from websites and your personal interactions with contacts at the university) appears to operate from a “deficit model” or superficial “checkbox” approach to diversity, or has developed a more sophisticated framework in diversity (e.g. Diversity 3.0).
Statement of Purpose: subtle aspects
- Think in terms of engaging faculty in a conversation rather than pleading with them that you should be admitted. Ask reviewers to read drafts with this concern in mind.
- With later drafts, try developing an overall narrative theme. See if one emerges as you work.
- Write at least 10 drafts and expect your thinking and the essay to change quite a bit over time.
- Read drafts out loud to help you catch errors.
- Expect the "you' that emerges in your essay to be incomplete. . . that’s OK.
- You’re sharing a professional/scholarly slice of "you."
- Avoid humor (do you really know what senior academics find funny?) and flashy openings and closings. Think of pitching the essay to an educated person in the field, but not necessarily in your specialty. Avoid emotionally laden words (such as "love" or "passion"). Remember, your audience is a group of professors! Overly emotional appeals might make them uncomfortable. They are looking for scholarly colleagues.
© Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
- Get Informed
Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School
How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples?
Writing a personal statement example for graduate school may at first seem like an overwhelming task. It sets the tone for your grad school application after all. While every examples of personal statements for graduate school should be different, these examples can help you brainstorm ideas and give you a place to start.
Can you get your personal statement grad school example professionally edited? Absolutely! Having an effective personal statement that reflects your abilities and personality may assist you in the graduate school admissions process!
6 Tips for Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
- Make sure your personal statement is unique
- Find out what the requirements are before you start writing
- Be sure to answer your prompt entirely (if you received one)
- If no prompt, select a central idea and stick to it
- Incorporate why you would be the perfect candidate and showcase your skills and/or qualities
- Proofread and edit
Are there Grad Schools that do not require Personal Statements? Absolutely! One way of dealing with the headache of personal statements is to avoid them completely! Below, find some of the most popularly applied-to graduate schools that may not require personal statements:
Graduate Personal Statement Examples Below:
Below are two personal statement examples grad school. Read these to get an idea of what to expect when writing yours.
Keep in mind that every school may have specific requirements. Use a prompt to write your personal statement. Be sure to answer it fully. Focus your personal statement around a central idea or message even if you do not have a prompt. The goal here is to show why you are a good candidate for admission to a certain program, be it business, communications , engineering, or other programs, and demonstrate your qualities. These include your writing capability, goals and reasons for applying, and your personality and background. Also, be sure to follow all other guidelines, including length, and copy edit carefully.
- Apply eligible work experience and prior college credits toward up to 75% of your undergraduate degree
- Experience a Purdue Global undergraduate program for an introductory 3-week period. There’s no financial obligation beyond the application fee
- Competency-based ExcelTrack™ programs may allow you to earn your degree faster and for less money
Personal Statement Examples for Grad School
Personal statement graduate school examples lead #1.
While I will never make the grandiose statement of knowing the nitty-gritty of my life’s plan at an early age, I can state – with a degree of certainty – that it would undoubtedly involve books.
Personal Statement Main Body #1
In that much, I was accurate. All the more so when I began to attend ABC College for my undergraduate studies. Entering the college as a Theater and English double major, I soon became consumed with the latter. It’s important to note that my diploma lists a B.A. in English, and not the aforementioned. I became intrigued with critical theory, a trend that my professors highly indulged in. With their encouragement, I would be able to explore the analysis of non-canon works such as fan-authored fiction, romance novels, and graphic novels. Albeit, the classics were always present (I cap my Jane Eyre reading count at a wholesome 7), it was refreshing to take a stab at new works. The course load kept me insanely busy and my brain constantly turning.
The following year, post-graduation, would be the finalizing stroke. I was fortunate enough to work a slew of odd jobs: bartender, cast member at Walt Disney world, and facilities assistant to a financial investment banking firm. Out of these, a few stood out: my blogging experiences for a non-profit theater, my editing position with a marketing firm, and the freelance gigs friends would throw my way.
Personal Statement Conclusion #1
Why did these standout to me, though? All of them dealt with what was near and dear to my heart – dissecting text and getting to the meat of things. Frankly, it wasn’t enough – I missed the chunk of myself that got left in undergrad. The part that was encouraged to dissemble text and put it out into the world as something new and unexplored. It took me a year of doing these odd bits of work to confirm that graduate school was the best option for me. It is a chance to hone my skills and dive right back into the deep end of literature.
I had stated that I previously had little inkling to where my adult life would take me. I’ve experienced a little bit more of life since then. It is my sincere hope that a graduate education at GradSchools.com University can set me on a path towards future academic pursuits. At this point in time, my studies would be geared in three possible directions: future application into a PHD program, a professional teaching career, or a career in book publishing (which places a high emphasis on graduate studies). In addition, it would be a personal goal to exhibit current and future work in conferences to become part of the national – or even international – literary discussion.
I’m certain that GradSchools.com University’s English department can not only best address my current needs and professional aspirations, but also my academic curiosity.
Personal Statement for Grad School Examples
Sample personal statement for graduate school lead in #2.
Ever since I was a teenager, it has been my goal to increase access to assistive technology in underserved communities. Specifically, I want to work toward developing inexpensive and accessible adaptive technology for special needs children in educational settings. The XYZ Engineering program has historically been and continues to be a leader in the field of innovation. Additionally, your focus on the diverse needs of disadvantaged communities, and on using technology to help improve the lives of those in need aligns with my passion for using my skills to help others thrive.
Personal Statement Main Body #2
While I’ve been gifted in mathematics, science and technology since I was young, it wasn’t until I reached high school that I dedicated myself to developing and improving assistive technology. I have always been lucky enough to thrive both at home and in school. Though my school and community lacked money and resources, the support of my teachers and mentors helped me to succeed. But that wasn’t the case for everybody.
When I turned 14, my younger brother entered elementary school. It quickly became evident that he needed the robust support of a special education program to succeed in a regular classroom, not to mention throughout life. And while his teachers and the administration at his school were dedicated to supporting him as much as possible, the lack of funding in our district made it extraordinarily difficult to access the technology my brother needed. My parents attempted to do some of this on their own outside the school system, but quickly realized how much of it was financially out of reach.
My brother was lucky. With the dedicated support of his school and our parents’ determination, he eventually was able to get the help and resources he needed. But how many other children aren’t so lucky? Innovation is, in many ways, an expensive thing. But should that be the case for the people who need it most? When the cost of developing crucial technology is passed down to families in need, kids go without help. With my flair for creativity, dedication to helping others, and technical expertise, that’s something I can change. By making essential assistive technology affordable for all, more schools could provide their students with the services they really need, and families can rest easy that their children are able to thrive.
Personal Statement Conclusion #2
That’s why I spent my undergraduate years studying engineering with ABC University. Not only did I graduate near the top of my class, but I was lucky enough to assist the head of my Engineering department, in conjunction with several other departments, in a research project on increasing physical mobility for individuals with functional movement disorders. The results of this project are soon to be published in a peer-reviewed Medical Engineering journal.
I also completed an undergraduate internship experience in a major medical device engineering corporation headquartered in my home town. There, I was directly mentored by experienced industry professionals. I continue to rely on their guidance, both personally and professionally, to this day.
Because of our shared passion for using engineering to help real families and communities advance, I am requesting admission to the XYZ Engineering master’s program this upcoming semester. I intend to pursue study of assistive technology development. My overall objective is to make strides in the cost-effectiveness of and broader access too necessary technology in classrooms across the country. Together with your rigorous academic program and support, I believe I can do that as a member of the XYZ Engineering school community.
Feel free to refer back to these personal statement for graduate school sample throughout the writing process. Or check out our How to Write a Personal Statement article for more advice. You can also find a sample letter of intent here. Good luck!
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Graduate School Statement of Purpose
Criteria for success.
Your statement of purpose, sometimes referred to by other names including “statement of objectives” or (rarely) “personal statement” should…
- convince a faculty committee that you are qualified for their program and that you are a good fit for their program’s focus and goals.
- show a select group of skills and experiences that convey your scientific and technical accomplishments and interests.
- include concrete and quantitative experiences, accomplishments, and qualifications.
- adhere to the length and formatting guidelines of the program to which you are applying (usually no more than 2 pages).
The graduate school statement of purpose should strengthen your chance of acceptance into a graduate program by demonstrating that you are a good match for the particular department or program. Matching goes both ways: they should be interested in you, and you should be interested in them. Your statement should make this match clear by telling your personal story as a researcher.
Analyze Your Audience
Your statement of purpose is typically read by a graduate committee, a handful of faculty from your program. They’re trying to determine if you will be a successful graduate student in their department, a positive force in the department’s intellectual life, and a successful researcher after you graduate. They are therefore interested in your qualifications as a researcher, your career goals, and how your academic focus matches their labs and department.
The graduate committee could read hundreds of applications a year. To make it easy for them to figure out that you are a good fit, make direct, concrete statements about your accomplishments and qualifications. To make it easy for them to remember you, create a narrative that “brands” you.
Create a personal narrative
PhD programs invest in the professional and technical growth of their students. Get the committee excited about investing in you by opening your essay with a brief portrait of what drives you as a scientist or engineer. What research directions are you passionate about, and why? What do you picture yourself doing in 10 years?
If you’re not quite sure what you want to do in graduate school, it’s still best to focus on a specific area or topic in your application. What would you work on if you had to start graduate school tomorrow? You can always change your research focus later.
Any personal stories should fit in the overall narrative of your research story. Avoid cliche openings like “ever since my childhood, I’ve been fascinated by…”. The statement of purpose, sometimes called a personal statement, is “personal” in the sense that it tells your unique research story, not your life story.
Close your essay with a 2-3 sentence discussion of your career interests. No one will hold you to these plans; it simply helps your committee visualize your potential trajectory. Emphasize how the program you are applying to will help prepare you for these long-term goals.
Describe your experiences
Experiences are the “what” of your essay. What experiences led you to develop your skill set and passions? Where have you demonstrated accomplishment, leadership, and collaboration? Include research, teaching, and relevant work experience or extracurriculars. State concrete achievements and outcomes like awards, publications, or projects completed.
Achievements do not need to be directly tied to research projects or publications. However, they should relate to the type of work you expect in graduate school. For example, you can discuss significant, research-oriented class projects. Describe any collaborations with senior students or faculty that demonstrate your passion about relevant research topics. Computer science students can discuss projects from software internships that involved architecture design, algorithm design, security considerations, machine learning, etc. These experiences can inform your academic interests and demonstrate ability as well as more formal research experience. Also consider including experiences that demonstrate other skills that are crucial for a successful grad student such as good communication and self-motivation.
Quantify your experiences to show concrete impact. How many people were on your team? How many protocols did you develop? How many people were in competition for an award? As a TA, how often did you meet with your students?
Describe actions, not just changes in your internal mental or emotional state. A statement of purpose is a way to make a narrative out of your CV. It is not a diary entry
Explain the meaning of your experiences
Meaning is the “why” or “so what” of the document. Why was this experience important to your growth as a researcher? What does it say about your abilities and potential? It feels obvious to you, but you need to be explicit with your audience. Your descriptions of meaning should also act as transition statements between experiences: try to “wrap” meaning around your experiences.
Demonstrate match to your target program
Demonstrate an understanding of the program to which you’re applying and about how you will be successful in that program. To do this:
- Read the program’s website. See what language they use to describe themselves, and echo that language in your essay. For example, the website for MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory displays three main research areas and the values of the lab .
- In some areas (often those with a more rigid lab structure), reaching faculty is very important. You should know what faculty members are taking new students and whether or not you would be a fit for their lab before applying. In other areas, contacting faculty is not expected and may be difficult. Reach out if in doubt and consult current graduate students, undergraduate professors, or graduate admissions officers if you are unsure what is typical in your area.
- State which professors in the program you would plan to work with. Show how their research areas align with your background and your goals. You can even describe potential research directions or projects. It can also be helpful to mention other departments or groups at the university that you might be interested in collaborating with or learning from.
Content adapted by the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Communication Lab from an article originally created by the MIT Biological Engineering Communication Lab .
For more information, see these statements from MIT EECS faculty about what they look for in a grad school application.
Resources and Annotated Examples
Annotated example 1.
Personal Statement submitted by graduate student enrolled at MIT in CSAIL 192 KB
Annotated Example 2
Personal Statement submitted by graduate student enrolled at MIT in EECS 292 KB
Annotated Example 3
Personal Statement submitted by graduate student enrolled at MIT in EECS 873 KB
Personal Statements for Further Study
A personal statement is usually one or two pages long..
Guidelines given vary from the simple “Provide evidence in support of your application” to the more common “Tell us why you are interested in the course to which you have applied. Describe your academic interests and reasons for applying to XXX”. For some courses there may be a much more prescriptive and structured approach, requiring you to write a series of shorter responses to specific questions relating to your motivation, experience and suitability for the course. You may also come across some institutions that ask you to reflect on how you might add to the diversity of a cohort should your application be successful.
If you are applying to more than one university, each statement will need a different emphasis – do not use the same statement for all applications.
In your statement, you should demonstrate:
- Motivation, enthusiasm, and a clear understanding of why you are making the application to this particular course, and to this particular institution.
- How your academic background and other experiences have shaped your decision to apply and how the course contributes to your plans for the future.
- Evidence that you have the ability, experience, skills and motivation to successfully contribute to the course, and to complete it.
Structure and Content
The opening paragraph sets the framework for the rest of the statement, think of it as your ‘trailer’. This is where you can grab the reader’s attention or lose it… You might start with a powerful anecdote, a brief narrative of your initial inspiration, or a thought-provoking statement linked to your academic interests.
Within the main body of the essay you should aim to cover:
Why you want to study this topic or field
Is it a natural extension of your current interests? How did you become interested in this area? Why does it continue to fascinate you? What have you done within your degree or outside of your study to fuel this interest? Would the course provide a step towards a longer-term goal?
Why you have chosen this specific course and institution
Are there particular options or modules that interest you? Is there particular expertise in that department? Has access to specific resources such as museum collections, libraries or laboratory equipment been a factor? Has the reputation (through recommendations or other means) of the course inspired you? Are you attracted by opportunities for collaboration or work placements? Have you attended any Open Days or other visits?
How your experience equips you for the course
Consider the subjects you studied at undergraduate level; your relevant skills (technical, language, computing, research methods); independent study or research; prior (relevant) experience; academic awards and other achievements. The focus here is likely to be on your academic suitability for the course, but if you have relevant work experience or extra-curricular activities that provide further evidence of your interest or ability then include them too. Your non-academic achievements might also provide evidence of project management, resilience, effective communication and so on.
Where the course might lead you
You don’t need to have a detailed career plan, but you do need to show how this course fits in with your general aspirations. Are you intending to continue on to a PhD? Do you have a broad interest in contributing to a particular issue or field, e.g. social enterprise, public policy, human rights, sustainability? Or do you have a more specific goal in mind? How will your chosen course help you to achieve your goals?
Use your closing paragraph to summarise your application, return to any themes you introduced at the beginning, and to restate your enthusiasm for the course.
- Writing effective personal statements takes time. Expect to go through several drafts and ask tutors, peers, careers advisers and others to review your statement before you submit it.
- Good English, grammar and spelling are essential. Avoid jargon and make sure it can be understood by non-experts.
- Keep the tone positive, fresh and lively in order to convey enthusiasm and make yourself stand out, but remember that this is a document introducing you in a professional capacity.
- It’s a good idea to mention relevant individuals whose work has truly inspired you, but avoid name-dropping for the sake of it, and excessive and evidence-free flattery of the institution or the course.
- If you refer to any papers or books then reference these correctly in a bibliography at the end of the statement.
- Pay attention to any word limits. If none are stated then aim for no more than two sides of A4 or 1000-1500 words.
- It is usually possible to apply for multiple courses at a single institution. Many (including Oxford) will require you to complete a separate application form for each course that you wish to apply for.
For many PhD and some research Masters applications the personal statement is often accompanied by a research proposal – a document that sets out your research interests and proposed area of study. The detail required in this section varies hugely for different disciplines. For some science subjects it may simply be a list, in order of preference, of the named PhD projects you wish to be considered for. However, for most areas – and especially in the arts, humanities and social sciences – you will need to devote a considerable amount of time to developing your ideas, discussing them with potential supervisors and writing a proposal. Your academic tutors should be able to give you some guidance on writing research proposals, and there is some useful advice from Vitae and from Find a PhD .
Admission Essays for US Graduate Schools
The information in this handout applies also to applications to American universities. However, there are subtle differences in the style and approach to essays aimed at the US context. A statement written for the US is likely to feel more personal; think of it as your academic biography – setting out your inspiration for the academic path you have followed in the past, the present and into the future. The Careers Service runs a workshop on US applications early each Michaelmas Term. The Fulbright Educational Advisory Service also publishes guidelines on completing US applications. US university career services often provide useful advice on writing graduate school admissions essays. See for example: MIT graduate school essay advice , UC Berkeley advice on writing graduate admissions statements , UNC application essay advice and Yale advice on writing personal statements for graduate school.
Teacher Training Applications
The personal statement for postgraduate teacher training is the key part of your application. The question is quite prescriptive, and your focus should be on your motivation for becoming a teacher: particularly how your teaching and other experiences have contributed. Ideally you should also set out how these have helped you to understand the role, and the sort of teacher you aspire to be. The Careers Service runs a workshop on careers in teaching each Michaelmas Term, which includes advice about the application process. For more information, see the Careers Service information on Teaching in Schools .
Graduate Entry Medicine
Applications to graduate entry medicine courses are submitted via UCAS and include a personal statement. Much of the advice in this document also applies to medicine applications, but you are likely to need to place considerable emphasis on the relevant work experience you have gained prior to your application.
See Careers Service's information on Medicine as a Second Degree for further information.
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Personal Statement and Writing Sample
In your statement of purpose, please discuss the following in one to two single-spaced pages:
- Your professional, academic, and community experiences
- The area of research you wish to potentially pursue as a student in the program, the name of at least one member of the Epidemiology PhD Program Faculty or Participating Faculty who shares this research interest, A brief statement regarding your proposed research area interests with the research of the identified faculty member(s),
- Your specific interest in UNC Charlotte’s program
- Your career and personal goals including how the program aligns with your career plans
- How you plan to actively participate in UNC Charlotte’s mission to advance health equity and well-being in an urbanizing world
In addition to the statement of purpose, a writing sample is required for all applications to the PhD program in Epidemiology. Your writing sample should:
- Demonstrate aptitude for scholarly writing e.g., a literature review, a report of a needs assessment or evaluation project, a master’s thesis, or a published original research article on a public health or an epidemiologic topic where the applicant is the sole or first author.
- Demonstrate conceptual and analytic skills
- Use appropriate and consistent citation and reference formatting
- Applicants without existing examples of academic or scholarly writing should develop a 10-20 page paper on an epidemiology topic of interest that demonstrates conceptual skills and writing ability, use appropriate and consistent citation and reference formatting
This page has been archived and is no longer being updated regularly.
Preparing your personal statement for graduate school applications
Nearly all doctoral programs and many master’s degree programs in psychology require submission of a personal statement as part of the application package. In my experience advising students as well as serving as a graduate dean for many years, few things in the application process cause students as much anxiety and prompt so many questions.
Why so much concern? Several reasons. First, what we generically call the personal statement goes by different names at different institutions: “statement of goals,” “purpose and interests” and a host of other terms. Second, institutions have varying requirements for length and specific topics. Third, you have to compose it from scratch, in contrast to your transcript (which the registrar sends), your letters of recommendation (which other people compose) and any required test scores (which the testing agency sends).
Here are answers to students’ four most common questions.
Is the personal statement important?
Absolutely yes. Summaries of research on what is important in the application process, particularly for doctoral programs, show that the statement of purpose plays a key role in admission decisions — often more important than such standbys as your GPA and GRE scores. Admission committees really do pay attention. Each program in APA’s (2018) Graduate Study in Psychology provides a rating of the importance of the statement of purpose, so you can check for your target programs. This is where you display your:
- Fit with the program.
- Especially desirable qualifications.
- Clarity of plans.
- Writing skill.
Do I use the same one for all?
Absolutely not. Customize your statement for each program to which you apply. Each program will provide a brief description of what it wants in the applicant’s statement of purpose, the length and topics. One program may want 500 words covering topics A, B and C. Another program may want 1,500 words covering topics A, B, D and E. Pay attention to these directives. If, as program director, I want the latter and you give me the former, you have just done yourself a great disfavor — and irritated me. If you are applying to many programs, make a little spreadsheet showing what each program wants in the statement. Then, cross-check your customized statements against your spreadsheet.
What do I include?
Despite the latter advice about customizing, many programs ask about similar topics. The most common topics include your professional/career plans, academic objectives related to a particular program, research experience and other applied experience (for example, internships). Doctoral programs (but not usually master’s programs) often ask for your interest in or fit with particular faculty members (just two or three — not everyone). Of course, that fit relates to your objectives and the faculty members’ areas of expertise/research.
Because these topics appear frequently in programs’ requests, a useful strategy calls for developing a boilerplate statement covering the latter topics. Thus, you don’t have to start from scratch for every program. Construct the boilerplate, the common statement, first. Get it in good shape. Then customize it as needed for different programs.
You should certainly have a paragraph or two focusing on what you want to do in terms of career goals, academic specialty and research interests. And sift through your experiences to see which might set you apart and make you especially attractive as a candidate. Perhaps you have a strong research record, an exceptionally meaningful field experience or a few advanced undergraduate courses. Maybe all three of these.
When writing about your goals and experiences, aim for precision and detail. Avoid generic statements (“I have a lot of research experience,” “I did an internship”). Provide details, as space permits. What exactly did you do in your research, and what did you learn from it? What did your internship entail, and, again, what did you learn from it?
While on the topic of what to include, let’s identify a few things to not include. Norcross and Sayette (2016) call these the 3 Hs: humor, hyperbole, hard luck . No jokes or funny stories in the personal statement. Watch out for hyperbole in your statement: I’m the most qualified; I had the greatest major; I never have interpersonal conflicts. And don’t describe your own depression, substance abuse or family turmoil. Appleby and Appleby (2007) included such items among their “kisses of death” for applicants’ personal statements.
Will you read it for me?
The answer will vary for different faculty members and your relationship with them, but many will be happy to help. Please, however, do not ask a faculty member to read your first rough draft. Get it cleaned up. No half-sentences, no typos. Your institution may have a writing center that will prove helpful. When you have it in pretty good shape, ask a faculty member for feedback.
Finally, proofread your statement before hitting the submit button. Remember, it’s used partly to evaluate your writing skill.
Watch this free video series for more information on graduate school applications.
American Psychological Association. (2016). Graduate study in psychology: 2017 edition . Washington, D.C.: Author.
Appleby, D.C., & Appleby, K.M. (2007). How to avoid the kisses of death in the graduate school application process. Eye on Psi Chi, 11 (3), 20-21.
Norcross, J.C., & Sayette, M.A (2016). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology: Revised 2016/2017 edition . New York: Guilford.
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Examples of Successful Statements
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Media File: Examples of Successful Statements
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Below are samples of personal statements. You may also select "Sample Statement" in the Media Box above for a PDF sample.
My interest in science dates back to my years in high school, where I excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. When I was a senior, I took a first-year calculus course at a local college (such an advanced-level class was not available in high school) and earned an A. It seemed only logical that I pursue a career in electrical engineering.
When I began my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the full range of engineering courses, all of which tended to reinforce and solidify my intense interest in engineering. I've also had the opportunity to study a number of subjects in the humanities and they have been both enjoyable and enlightening, providing me with a new and different perspective on the world in which we live.
In the realm of engineering, I have developed a special interest in the field of laser technology and have even been taking a graduate course in quantum electronics. Among the 25 or so students in the course, I am the sole undergraduate. Another particular interest of mine is electromagnetics, and last summer, when I was a technical assistant at a world-famous local lab, I learned about its many practical applications, especially in relation to microstrip and antenna design. Management at this lab was sufficiently impressed with my work to ask that I return when I graduate. Of course, my plans following completion of my current studies are to move directly into graduate work toward my master's in science. After I earn my master's degree, I intend to start work on my Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Later I would like to work in the area of research and development for private industry. It is in R & D that I believe I can make the greatest contribution, utilizing my theoretical background and creativity as a scientist.
I am highly aware of the superb reputation of your school, and my conversations with several of your alumni have served to deepen my interest in attending. I know that, in addition to your excellent faculty, your computer facilities are among the best in the state. I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing my studies at your fine institution.
(Stelzer pp. 38-39)
Having majored in literary studies (world literature) as an undergraduate, I would now like to concentrate on English and American literature.
I am especially interested in nineteenth-century literature, women's literature, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and folklore and folk literature. My personal literary projects have involved some combination of these subjects. For the oral section of my comprehensive exams, I specialized in nineteenth century novels by and about women. The relationship between "high" and folk literature became the subject for my honors essay, which examined Toni Morrison's use of classical, biblical, African, and Afro-American folk tradition in her novel. I plan to work further on this essay, treating Morrison's other novels and perhaps preparing a paper suitable for publication.
In my studies toward a doctoral degree, I hope to examine more closely the relationship between high and folk literature. My junior year and private studies of Anglo-Saxon language and literature have caused me to consider the question of where the divisions between folklore, folk literature, and high literature lie. Should I attend your school, I would like to resume my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, with special attention to its folk elements.
Writing poetry also figures prominently in my academic and professional goals. I have just begun submitting to the smaller journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a collection. The dominant theme of this collection relies on poems that draw from classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as everyday experience, in order to celebrate the process of giving and taking life, whether literal or figurative. My poetry draws from and influences my academic studies. Much of what I read and study finds a place in my creative work as subject. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past.
In terms of a career, I see myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and going into editing or publishing poetry. Doctoral studies would be valuable to me in several ways. First, your teaching assistant ship program would provide me with the practical teaching experience I am eager to acquire. Further, earning a Ph.D. in English and American literature would advance my other two career goals by adding to my skills, both critical and creative, in working with language. Ultimately, however, I see the Ph.D. as an end in itself, as well as a professional stepping stone; I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the Ph.D. program.
(Stelzer pp. 40-41)
Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs
So you’ve decided to apply to a Ph.D. program—how exciting! While the application process can be harrowing at times, being accepted to a graduate school that is a good fit for your interests and skills is a privilege that will be well worth your efforts.
Before we get too wrapped up in the future, though, let’s return to the task at hand: writing a thoughtful personal statement that compellingly represents your academic journey and makes a persuasive case for your admission. This page will orient you to the process of writing a personal statement. The subsequent pages in this section will give you some general guidelines for constructing a convincing statement.
The advice on these pages is designed for students who are applying to Ph.D. programs in the U.S. While some of what we say may be applicable for graduate school applications to master’s degree programs, professional schools (like business school, law school, or medical school), or other kinds of courses of study, keep in mind that some (or many!) aspects of these applications may be different.
Although the title of this page mentions personal statements, the truth is that each department has different names for the essays they require for admission. Some departments require only a personal statement, others will ask for a personal statement and a research statement, still others will request only a statement of purpose (among other permutations!). While the personal statement, statement of research, and statement of purpose may seem like different essays altogether, this is not always the case. For this reason, it is critical that you read through the admissions guidelines for each program you are applying to. Carefully dissecting and understanding the criteria for each part of the application is an important part of applying to graduate school.
If you have any question about the kind of essay a school requires, your first defense should be your advisor (a professor in the field to which you are applying). Together, you can strategize about the requirements for the essay and can determine if you should reach out to the graduate coordinator for clarification.
That being said, this guide will focus primarily on personal statements, which we will define as essays in which applicants give details about their interest in an academic discipline and intellectual journey. Applicants may also be asked to write about challenges they have faced or the kinds of academic questions that most interest them. These statements’ main purpose is to convince admissions committee that the applicant is a good match for graduate work.
As you write your personal statement, be sure to read through these pages:
- Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
- Guided brainstorming exercises
- Get more help with your essay
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Writing Process and a Suggested Timeline
Now that we know what we’re talking about, let’s think about how you will actually write this statement. What follows is a brief outline of one process for writing a personal statement. Keep in mind, though, that everyone is different. You may find that you are able to rigidly follow this process and timeline, but this also may not be the case.
Before you start your applications, think carefully about the kinds of writing you have done in the past. What kinds of writing processes have worked for you? What hasn’t? At what point in the day or week can you get the most work done? When are you not usually as productive?
Based on your answers to these kinds of questions, create a schedule for yourself and set deadlines for completing writing goals (like finishing a first draft of your personal statement, for example). Transcribe this schedule onto a physical calendar, your phone’s calendar application, or a boatload of sticky notes—whatever makes the most sense for you. Just make sure that you can see easily see your schedule in the places where you work.
One last note: try to build in extra time. Most students applying to Ph.D. programs are able to quickly write short essays, so you may be tempted to assume that you’ll also be able to write your personal statement without devoting too much time or effort to this process. Although personal statements are short, they’ll require more time than you might expect. This kind of writing is hard word—and can be emotional, especially because you’ll need to share your statement with tough critical reviewers. Sometimes, too, these reviewers may take a while to get back to you with feedback, so make sure that your schedule can accommodate these anomalies.
What follows is a suggested (and we think, realistic!) timeline for crafting a compelling personal statement based on the assumption that applications are due in December. Here, we’ve outlined a rough schedule that covers when you should start a particular element of the writing process, but we haven’t attempted to say how long each element will take. (For example, we say that you should write the first draft of your personal statement in August, but we don’t say how many hours you should devote to completing this draft.) We hope that you will use the schedule below to create your own calendar that includes your own estimates for the amount of time each element of the writing process will take. For example, you may want to schedule four two-hour writing sessions in August that you can use to write your first draft. Once you have a sense of how long it takes to write this kind of draft, you can tailor your calendar to your own writing habits.
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How To Start a Cover Letter With Examples and Tips
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Opening Sentence Examples
Personalize Your Cover Letter
- What to Write in the Rest of Your Letter
Cover Letter Sample
More cover letter examples and templates.
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What's the best way to start a cover letter for a job? The first couple of sentences of your cover letter are the most important ones. Recruiters and hiring managers often spend mere seconds scanning your application.
If your cover letter doesn't grab their attention right away, they may never even get as far as the second paragraph. What should these all-important first sentences say? Keep in mind that you're hoping to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your goal is to explain to the reader who you are, why you're writing, and how you can contribute to the employer's success.
This might mean highlighting a contact , providing a quick window into your relevant background and experience, or emphasizing a significant accomplishment that would make you an asset to the organization.
Think about why the hiring manager should select you, above all other candidates, for an interview, and you'll be on the right track.
How to Start a Cover Letter
Be direct. In these opening sentences, you want to explicitly let the reader know which position you're applying for. Hiring managers are often looking at candidates for several open jobs at any given time. Make sure it's easy for them to discover your intent. For example:
I am interested in the coordinator position at ABC company.
Mention a contact. If someone referred you to the position , include that information early on as well. Referrals are one of the key aspects to securing an interview, so be sure to mention yours right away. For example:
Jane Doe suggested I contact you about the job, as she feels my skills would be a good fit for the position.
State an accomplishment. Try to state an accomplishment from your previous job. If you can, show how you added value to the last company you worked for. You might even add the job title you had if it's similar to the one you are applying for. For example:
As coordinator at XYZ Enterprises, I have increased my group's output by 37% over the past 15 months.
Express excitement. Convey your passion for your work, and your excitement about the job and company. Your cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring manager, and to share why you're well qualified for the job. For example:
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to bring to the position at ABC company.
Use keywords. If you can include any keywords from the job listing, do so. You can mention a skill you have that was included in the post. For example:
My track history of successfully managing teams and delivering projects on time and on budget makes me a good fit for this role.
Examples of Cover Letter Opening Sentences
- As an information technology professional with high-level management experience in the IT industry, I learned that the best way to achieve success was to utilize the resources I had by employing well-defined objectives and an attitude of empowerment.
- I am very interested in the entry-level position that is available at ABC Investment Partners. I recently graduated from XYZ college, and my courses in investments, finance, and business have equipped me with a solid base upon which I plan to build my career.
- I am writing to express my strong interest in the international marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, owing to the years I have spent developing successful campaigns for XYZ company.
- I'm writing to express my interest in the editorial assistant position listed on Monster.com. Given my five years of editorial experience and excellent capabilities, I would appreciate your consideration for this position.
- I have a very strong interest in pursuing a teaching career. With experience working at both elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom, I have a diverse background with much to offer.
- I have the pleasure of being acquainted with one of the counselors on your staff, Eleanor Seville. She let me know about the open position and recommended that I contact you.
- I was excited to read about the administrative assistant job opening at XYZ company. I have several years of administrative experience in a variety of fields, including insurance and finance.
- I understand that you have been deluged with resumes since Computer World released their list of the best companies to work for. Mine is one more, but I do have experience that is hard to come by.
- My proven track record of successfully performing complex analyses on various corporations makes me an ideal candidate for the analyst opportunity that you have advertised.
When you're not sure how to get started, it can be really helpful to review examples of cover letters . You can use these as a guide, but be sure to tailor your introduction to your personal circumstances and the job you're applying for.
The more closely you construct your cover letter to show that you're a match for the job requirements , the better your chances of getting selected for an interview.
What to Write in the Rest of Your Cover Letter
Of course, the rest of your letter is important too. You'll need to use an appropriate salutation , and make your cover letter closing polite and inviting. In the body of your letter , you have the opportunity to pitch your qualifications for the job in more detail than you have room for in your resume.
If there are specific events or accomplishments you feel are likely to make you stand out, you can briefly mention them and explain in more detail should you secure an interview.
Make sure your contact information is complete as well, and format your signature to match the letter style you are using.
Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word Online) or read the example below.
Sample Cover Letter (Text Version)
John Smith 37 Oak Street Middle Village, New York 10502 555-555-555 firstname.lastname@example.org
March 22, 2021
Dr. Jane Doe All Smiles Dentistry 5 Main Street, Suite A Middle Village, New York 10502
Dear Dr. Doe,
My former coworker, Maria Rodriguez, suggested that I contact you to express my interest in the position of dental assistant in your office in Middle Village.
I’m a licensed dental assistant with over 10 years of experience helping dentists and hygienists make their patients smile. In my current role with ABC Dental, I have gained proficiency in the four-handed dentistry technique, as well as mastering Henry Schein Dentix software.
I also have the following skills and qualifications, as outlined in the job description on your website:
- Experience taking and developing dental X-rays
- Infection control expertise, including preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Knowledge of several different types of scheduling software
- Language skills (bilingual: English/Spanish)
- Excellent customer service skills and attention to detail
Most importantly, I love people. I consider it a great privilege to help dentists improve their patients’ lives by providing the very best support and customer care.
I’ve enclosed my resume, and I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to arrange an interview.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Review cover letter examples for many different types of jobs, and get downloadable templates you can use to write your own cover letters.
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- Should I Do A Masters?
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- What is a PhD?
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Writing your PhD Personal Statement
If you are completing a PhD application, you may be required to write a personal statement, although you will find this is less common for PhD applications than those for Masters courses.
Typically you will be allowed around 1 side of A4 to say why you think you should be accepted on to the course. Sometimes you will just be asked to provide a statement that supports your application, though at other times you will be given more of a description of what to include. For example, if you are applying for a PGCE course: Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people. There will be times when you are not given any clear indication of what you should include in your statement, so we’ve written some guidelines to help you put together a well-structured statement.
1. Write a checklist
Before starting to write your first draft of your personal statement, put together a beginner's checklist using the points below as a guide.
Try to write down a paragraph of 2 or 3 sentences for each question, as this will help you construct a good personal statement that focuses on what the reader is interested to find out. Think about:
- Why do you want to pursue a PhD?
- What are your reasons for wanting to study at a particular university ?
- Why is this topic of most interest to you?
- What previous academic and practical experience have you got that shows your interest in your chosen subject?
- What skills do you have that will help you make the transition between undergraduate and postgraduate study and make you succeed in the research area?
2. Pay attention to detail
Make sure you use good vocabulary and grammar throughout your statement – using well-written sentences that flow easily will make it more fresh and dynamic compared to other applicants. Avoid overly long sentences. Try to keep the tone of your statement positive and enthusiastic. You also need to demonstrate you are able to make the points required in a concise manner, and make sure you adhere to the word limit. After you've completed your final draft, make sure you use the spelling and grammar checker on your computer to correct any mistakes. However, don't rely on this entirely - you should read it through several times for sense, and to check for other mistakes.
When you think your statement is as good as you can make it, ask a few friends or family members to take a look at it and see if they can suggest any improvements.
Print off a copy of each statement you write as what you have written will probably be referred to in your interview.
3. Give your statement structure
Your statement should be structured, with an introduction, main body and end. The aim of the introduction is to grab the reader’s attention and hold it so they remain interested and read to the end of your statement. In the main body of the statement you should concentrate on relating your skills, knowledge and experience in the field and how this relates to the course you are applying for.
4. Explain why you chose your topic
This means writing down your reasons why you are interested in and enthusiastic about pursuing further study into the field.
Convey your motivation and mention any relevant projects, dissertations or essays that demonstrate your skills. Put down anything that shows creativity, responsibility and independence.
You should also mention any prizes or awards you have, plus any relevant travelling experiences or time spent studying abroad.
Again, think about why you want to study this particular subject – make your reasons clear why you have chosen it, e.g. does the course place emphasis on a certain area of the subject, or offer specialist modules? When did you become interested in the field and what knowledge have you gained about it?
5. Include why you like this particular university
Does the institution have special research facilities/equipment that appeal to you? Are there certain academic staff in the field you wish to work with?
Try to mention at least a couple of things about the university that you are excited about as a potential student.
Staff want to hear that you have done your research and tell them why you want to join their department.
6. Talk about your skills
- Academic skills you have to offer – include IT skills, and knowledge of any appropriate research techniques.
- Personal skills – e.g. ability to work as part of a team; communicate effectively with others; organisation and time management, etc. Give examples of how you have demonstrated each of these skills, as this shows that you have considered all your strengths and potential weaknesses.
- Work experience - what skills did you learn from any placements you've completed since school? Again, think about specific examples that you can give to demonstrate these.
Place emphasis on your strengths and show how you are a better candidate than any others. Include the relevance of your undergraduate degree to the course – describe how any work you did as part of your degree relates to the course you are applying for, and what foundation in knowledge it has laid for further study.
7. Career plans
Although you may not have a concrete idea of what career path you hope to follow after completing your PhD, you should at least have some ideas that you can put down for your statement.
For example, do you think you will want to continue working in academia, either in research or teaching? Or do you see yourself working in industry? Having an idea of which direction you would like to go in will show more commitment to the course, and show that you are likely to get good results.
8. Make it unique
O ne way you can make your statement stand out is to relate a detailed example of something specific to your own experience, e.g. something that influenced your decision to pursue a particular undergraduate degree, or career path.
Remember that for each point you make in your statement, always provide an example to back it up.
E.g. if you are applying for a Masters in Biotechnology, saying you are a "good scientist" isn't enough - give examples of your previous laboratory experience, any projects you have completed and what technical skills you have learned.
9. Sell yourself
It's important to remember that a personal statement is meant to be "personal".
There's nobody else who knows you and your experiences as well as you do, so you are the best person to write your personal statement in order to present yourself in the best possible light.
You may wish to ask yourself: could my personal statement apply equally to, say, my friend or my neighbour?
If the answer is "yes" then it is probably too general and you need to make it more specific and more personal.
10. Tailor your statement
Do not use the same statement for each application – each one will require slightly different content depending on the university you are applying to and the department you are applying to. Therefore it’s important to research each university and what’s involved in each project so you can see what is unique about each of your choices, and how they each stand apart from the others.
Don't underestimate how difficult it can be to write a good personal statement that will do you justice. Make sure you give yourself ample time to write it.
Best of luck with your PhD personal statement, and remember: you are not trying to answer your research question, just provide an outline of why you want this place, and what qualifications, skills and work experience make you so well suited to it.
For more tips and advice on applying for a PhD, please see:
- PhD entry requirements
- How to apply for a PhD
- Choosing a supervisor
- Choosing a topic
- Writing a CV
- Research proposals
How to Write a Personal Statement for a Ph.D.
How to Write a Personal Statement to Get Into a University
Personal statements are common requirements for doctoral program applications. These statements give admissions committees insight into the Ph.D. applicant that they cannot gain through transcripts and test scores. Moreover, personal statements give the applicant an opportunity to express his academic specializations and research goals which prove important to doctoral programs. A thoughtful, well-written personal statement can make the difference between an acceptance letter and a rejection letter.
Brainstorm about your statement. Personal statements are generally open-ended questions, so you need to organize your thoughts before putting pen to paper. Consider your knowledge of the field of study. For example, if you are applying to an engineering doctoral program, discuss your professional and academic experience as a chemical engineer and what it has taught you. Also, consider any obstacles or hardships you have faced or any gaps or problems in your academic record worth explaining, as suggested by the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
Draft an outline of your personal statement with a specific focus in mind. Carnegie Mellon University recommends that your focus should be “a value or an observation that has shaped you as a person.” For example, if you are applying to a doctorate program in nursing, talk about how your brother’s successful battle with cancer pushed you to help others through medicine.
Write your first draft. Use the value or observation identified in your outline as your guide. Make sure that this value is sustainable—you don’t want to risk repeating yourself. Identify specific experiences that relate to this value. For example, the nursing applicant can write about how she observed the nurse’s care of her brother and wanted to provide that level of care with patients of her own.
Consider the program you’re applying to as you write. Rutgers University’s School of Education encourages its Ph.D. applicants to explain their plans for graduate study, research interests and career plans in their personal statements. Incorporate your research and career goals into your personal statement to show that your interests align with the program’s goals. An engineer might want to focus his research on chemical engineering, while a nurse might want to focus on oncology.
Proofread the statement with your admissions committee in mind. The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers this question: “What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?” Revise your personal statement by looking at each point you make in the statement and ensuring that it serves as a convincing reason to admit you to the Ph.D. program
- Check your school’s requirements for personal statements before writing. Some schools ask generally for a personal statement, while others give students more guidance by offering suggested topics or required questions.
- Omit biographical information. The admissions committee expects a pointed statement with a specific focus, not a lengthy review of your academic history.
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- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Writing the Personal Statement
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.
How to Write a Winning UCAS Personal Statement: Examples and Tips
- How to Guides
- March 9, 2023
When it comes to university admissions in the UK, a UCAS personal statement is a crucial document that can make or break your application. To write a compelling UCAS personal statement, you need to understand the guidelines and requirements and be able to showcase your skills and suitability for the course. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips and examples on how to write a winning UCAS personal statement, along with advice on UCAS application processes and personal statement editing services.
What is a UCAS personal statement?
A UCAS personal statement is a document that supports your university application. It is a chance for you to explain why you are applying for the course, what interests you about the subject, and what you can bring to the course. To write an effective personal statement, you need to be aware of the UCAS application process and requirements, including UCAS personal statement structure and format. You can also benefit from personal statement writing tips and guidance from professional personal statement editing services.
How to write a winning UCAS personal statement
To write a winning UCAS personal statement, you should follow these tips:
- Brainstorm ideas – think about what motivates you to study the course and what experiences have prepared you for the course.
- Structure your personal statement – create an introduction, body, and conclusion. Make sure you have a clear and logical structure that flows well.
- Start with a hook – your introduction should be engaging and capture the reader’s attention. You could start with a quote, a personal experience, or an interesting fact.
- Be concise – make sure every sentence in your personal statement adds value and showcases your skills and attributes.
- Showcase your achievements – highlight any relevant achievements that demonstrate your skills and suitability for the course. For example, if you are applying for a course in medicine, you could mention any volunteering or work experience you have in the healthcare sector.
- Avoid clichés – phrases such as “I have a passion for” or “ever since I was a child” are overused and do not add any value to your personal statement.
- Show your personality – your personal statement should reflect your personality, so avoid using overly formal language and make sure your voice shines through.
- Proofread your personal statement – make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your personal statement. Ask someone else to read it through for you to ensure it makes sense and flows well.
Examples of successful UCAS personal statements
To get inspiration for your UCAS personal statement, you can look at successful personal statement samples from previous successful applicants. Examples of successful UCAS personal statements include those for courses in law, nursing, engineering, and many more. These personal statements can provide you with a better understanding of what admissions officers are looking for and how to showcase your unique strengths.
Tips for writing an effective UCAS personal statement
- Research the university and the course thoroughly
- Understand the requirements and guidelines for the personal statement
- Brainstorm ideas and create an outline before writing
- Use a clear and concise writing style
- Avoid using clichés and generic language
- Showcase your relevant achievements and experiences
- Emphasize your unique qualities and strengths
- Provide evidence to support your claims
- Show your passion for the subject
- Proofread and edit your personal statement multiple times before submitting
UCAS personal statement structure and format
- Understand the character and line limit for the personal statement
- Start with an engaging introduction that hooks the reader
- Divide the personal statement into an introduction, main body, and conclusion
- Use headings and subheadings to organize your ideas
- Avoid using jargon or overly technical language
- Focus on your achievements, experiences, and qualifications relevant to the course
- Show your passion and enthusiasm for the subject
Writing a winning UCAS personal statement requires time, effort, and careful planning. By following the tips and examples provided in this blog post, you can increase your chances of getting accepted into your desired university course. Remember to keep your personal statement concise, relevant, and engaging, and to seek advice and guidance from trusted sources throughout the application process. Good luck!
Q: What is a UCAS personal statement?
A: A UCAS personal statement is a document that supports your university application in the UK. It is your chance to explain why you are applying for the course, what interests you about the subject, and what you can bring to the course.
Q: How long should a UCAS personal statement be?
A: A UCAS personal statement should be no more than 4,000 characters or 47 lines in length, including spaces and blank lines.
Q: What should be included in a UCAS personal statement?
A: A UCAS personal statement should include an introduction that hooks the reader, a main body that showcases your relevant achievements and experiences, and a conclusion that summarizes your personal statement and reiterates why you are a strong candidate for the course.
Q: How do I structure my UCAS personal statement?
A: Your UCAS personal statement should be broken down into an introduction, main body, and conclusion. You can use headings and subheadings to organize your ideas.
Q: How do I make my UCAS personal statement stand out?
A: To make your UCAS personal statement stand out, you should focus on your relevant achievements and experiences, emphasize your unique qualities and strengths, and show your passion and enthusiasm for the subject. You should also avoid clichés and use a clear and concise writing style.
Q: Can I use personal statement editing services?
A: Yes, you can use personal statement editing services to refine your personal statement and ensure that it meets all the guidelines and requirements. However, you should make sure to review and revise the final version before submitting it.
Q: What else do I need to know about the UCAS application process?
A: In addition to writing a strong personal statement, you should also research the universities and courses thoroughly, meet the application deadlines, provide accurate and up-to-date information, and make use of UCAS tools and resources. You can also seek advice and guidance from your school or college, UCAS advisors, and online forums and communities.
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Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.
If so, you need to be more specific and provide examples. Saying that you are a "good scientist" isn't enough. Provide examples of your previous research experience, projects you've completed, and what technical skills you learned. Explain how you overcame any challenges along the way.
For example, research that addresses issues such as race, gender, diversity, and inclusion; research that addresses health disparities, educational access and achievement, political engagement, economic justice, social mobility, civil and human rights, and other questions of interest to historically underrepresented groups;
Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We'll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful. Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1 PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 - Japanese Studies
The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories: 1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2.
Pick a few points to emphasize about yourself. Introduce yourself to the admissions board. Select key factors about your background that you want the university to know — elements that reveal what kind of person you are and demonstrate why you're a strong candidate for the school and field of study. Be very specific.
Here is an example of a personal statement written for graduate school admission: Jean Smith Personal statement for master's program in educational policy and analysis Columbia College of Education "I held my first college textbook when I was a 23-year-old college freshman.
Your examples will vary greatly depending upon your academic background and the PhD you wish to complete but, regardless of topic, it is important to reveal your high level of skill and competence. Example: During my MSc, I conducted fieldwork in [location] and gained direct experience of collecting samples for paleolimnological analysis.
Your PhD personal statement can be approximately about one or two pages if written using the standard font size and line spacing. Number of paragraphs Divide your personal statement into multiple paragraphs. 6 to 7 paragraphs are ideal, including introduction and conclusion. Introductory Paragraph
Best PHD Personal Statement Example Reading this Ph.D. application personal statement example coupled with the guidelines given above will give you more clarity with regard to how to start and proceed with your document. I feel lucky to have got the opportunity to apply for this doctorate program.
Your statement should show that you are able to think logically and express your thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Remember that the reader already has a record of your activities and your transcript; avoid simply restating your resume and transcript.
A PhD personal statement should be 400-500 words, fitting on one side of an A4 sheet of paper. Your university may set a specific word count or maximum length, so make sure to check the application details. Either way, you should aim to be disciplined and concise. There are two reasons for this:
Your personal statement should focus on two main aspects: your competence and commitment. 1. Identify your strengths in terms of competence that indicate that you will succeed in the grad program and provide examples to support your claims. Start your statement by describing your strengths immediately. Because faculty will be reading many ...
Personal Statement Example: Student Applying for a Ph.D. in Literature Writing an effective personal statement for a Master's or PhD application for a university abroad is probably one of the most important steps of your application process abroad.
Personal Statement Graduate School Examples Lead #1 While I will never make the grandiose statement of knowing the nitty-gritty of my life's plan at an early age, I can state - with a degree of certainty - that it would undoubtedly involve books. Personal Statement Main Body #1 In that much, I was accurate.
Purpose. The graduate school statement of purpose should strengthen your chance of acceptance into a graduate program by demonstrating that you are a good match for the particular department or program. Matching goes both ways: they should be interested in you, and you should be interested in them. Your statement should make this match clear by ...
In your statement, you should demonstrate: Motivation, enthusiasm, and a clear understanding of why you are making the application to this particular course, and to this particular institution. How your academic background and other experiences have shaped your decision to apply and how the course contributes to your plans for the future.
The area of research you wish to potentially pursue as a student in the program, the name of at least one member of the Epidemiology PhD Program Faculty or Participating Faculty who shares this research interest, A brief statement regarding your proposed research area interests with the research of the identified faculty member(s),
5. Use a professional tone. While you want to project your personality in your personal statement, you can also respect the formality of the situation and the institution. Use a professional and respectful tone throughout your essay. Your tone can reflect the professionalism that you prioritize for yourself as a student.
One program may want 500 words covering topics A, B and C. Another program may want 1,500 words covering topics A, B, D and E. Pay attention to these directives. If, as program director, I want the latter and you give me the former, you have just done yourself a great disfavor — and irritated me.
Below are samples of personal statements. You may also select "Sample Statement" in the Media Box above for a PDF sample. Statement #1. My interest in science dates back to my years in high school, where I excelled in physics, chemistry, and math.
This page will orient you to the process of writing a personal statement. The subsequent pages in this section will give you some general guidelines for constructing a convincing statement. The advice on these pages is designed for students who are applying to Ph.D. programs in the U.S. While some of what we say may be applicable for graduate ...
You might even add the job title you had if it's similar to the one you are applying for. For example: As coordinator at XYZ Enterprises, I have increased my group's output by 37% over the past 15 months. Express excitement. Convey your passion for your work, and your excitement about the job and company.
2. Pay attention to detail. Make sure you use good vocabulary and grammar throughout your statement - using well-written sentences that flow easily will make it more fresh and dynamic compared to other applicants. Avoid overly long sentences. Try to keep the tone of your statement positive and enthusiastic.
Step 2. Draft an outline of your personal statement with a specific focus in mind. Carnegie Mellon University recommends that your focus should be "a value or an observation that has shaped you as a person.". For example, if you are applying to a doctorate program in nursing, talk about how your brother's successful battle with cancer ...
Divide the personal statement into an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Use headings and subheadings to organize your ideas. Use a clear and concise writing style. Avoid using jargon or overly technical language. Focus on your achievements, experiences, and qualifications relevant to the course.