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Statement of Purpose Format for Graduate School (SOP)

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When it comes to applying to graduate school, there are many things students must prepare, including a  graduate school recommendation letter  and graduate school CV.

However, the most important element in your graduate school admissions package is the Statement of Purpose, also known at many universities as the “personal statement.”

In this article, you will learn why the Statement of Purpose is so important for graduate school admissions, how the Statement of Purpose format differs from  college application essay formats , and how to format a successful Statement of Purpose for graduate school–with examples!

Table of Contents

What is a statement of purpose.

  • How to Format a Statement of Purpose
  • Statement of Purpose Format and Structure
  • Statement of Purpose Sample Examples

In graduate school applications, a  statement of purpose (SOP) (or personal statement) is the one part of the application that allows applicants to construct a narrative of their choosing that includes all relevant parts of their academic and personal histories. This includes academic and professional interests and accomplishments, personality, values, and worldview, as well as how both the student and graduate program can add value to each other. 

Difference between the Statement of Purpose and college admissions essays

At the graduate school level, students often have years of research and academic experience. In the case of MBA programs, applicants also often have years of work experience they can include in their essays. 

  • How to write an effective MBA admissions essay

This makes graduate school admission essays or personal statements distinct from undergraduate application essays. Graduate school applicants have a significant amount of material and context with which to differentiate themselves and stand apart from other applicants. The scope (how much is covered) and depth (how detailed the experiences are) are both much more complex for a Statement of Purpose.

Do I need to write a Statement of Purpose for college?

The graduate Statement of Purpose allows applicants to summarize non-quantifiable qualities for consideration by an admissions committee. This may include an applicant’s personal or professional strengths, as well as goals or passion for certain subjects. 

The graduate school application process is often competitive. In addition to being academically qualified, students must demonstrate a commitment to the program. Remember, one concern graduate programs have is that students will drop out and not continue to pay tuition.

Effect of Covid-19 on the Statement of Purpose

COVID-19 has reduced the feasibility of standardized testing, and there are increased concerns by wider society over the equitable nature of standardized testing in general. 

For example, NYU Stern School of Business on June 15th became the fourth top-25 business school to announce that its full-time MBA program would  not consider the GMAT or GRE any longer . 

Further, Michael Hunt, director of the University of Maryland McNair Scholars Program has gone on record stating that 

“[My] goal is to “remove barriers and not maintain obstacles under the guise of academic freedom or other university policies. I pray that one day, we will not need committees or a pandemic to determine if something is equitable.”

This leaves the Statement of Purpose, academic background,  resume/CV , and  letters of recommendation  as the primary determinants of graduate admission.

How long should a Statement of Purpose be?

Generally, a Statement of Purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words long and should not exceed a single page. But this can depend on the school or program to which you are applying, as well as on the extent of your academic experience.

Graduate Statement Of Purpose Format Guidelines

We have already covered  how to write a Statement of Purpose for grad school (with examples).

Read over these resources and watch our Wordvice Webinar Series for  how to write a winning Statement of Purpose :

General Statement of Purpose Formatting Rules

Unlike a college admissions essay, a grad school Statement of Purpose is generally  not  uploaded in a text box or input field in some platforms, as the Common Application essay is.

Applying to graduate school means applying directly to the graduate program and its parent department. Graduate programs are separate entities within their universities. Applying to the College of Arts & Sciences is different than applying to a university’s College of Engineering. 

As a result, most graduate school applications are simply uploaded directly to the program. So, you will likely be uploading a Word .doc or Adobe .pdf file.

Microsoft Word (.DOC) format

Typical file types for a Statement of Purpose are .doc or .docx. There is a downside to Word files being editable, and there are sometimes conflicts among the different Word versions (2010 vs 2016. vs Office365). One benefit of Word files is that anyone can view them.

If maintaining the visual aspects of your essay is important, this is a safe choice. PDFs prevent formatting issues that might arise with older versions of Word documents.

To make the statement easier to read, applicants should follow the following rules:

  • Use 1-inch margins . Microsoft Word uses this setting by default.
  • Use a traditional Serif font.  These types of fonts include Times New Roman, Courier, and Garamond and are the “classy” fonts you typically see. They add professionalism to your essay. Avoid minimalist sans Serif fonts.
  • Use a standard 12-font size. 
  • Use 1.5- or double-spacing.  Readability is very important for your Statement of Purpose. Double spaces are not an issue as the essay should already fit on 1 page.
  • Add a Header  with your First Name, Last Name, university, and other required information.
  • Clearly   separate your paragraphs.  By default, just press ‘ENTER’ twice.

Additional Statement of Purpose Format Tips

  • Review and Revise.  Make sure your Statement of Purpose is formatted properly and error-free, including spelling and grammar errors. One great way to prepare your admissions essay is by using an application essay editing service that specializes in Statement of Purpose editing and personal statement editing .
  • Write clearly and concisely.
  • Avoid clichés and repetitive language.
  • Avoid casual, colloquial, and text message-based formatting.  This includes emojis and hashtags!
  • Do not write a wall of text.  Admissions counselors only skim statements of purpose . Make your writing readable by adding line breaks and separate paragraphs.

Statement of Purpose Format and Structure Outline

One of the most important characteristics of a strong Statement of Purpose is its structure. Layout the information in such a way that the reader can easily understand it. Well-organized statements keep readers interested.

In general, a Statement of Purpose should follow the  format of an academic essay .

Introduction – State your goals and introduce yourself

The first section of the application should clearly and concisely explain what the student hopes to achieve by completing the program. For a history student, the goal may be to earn a PhD that allows them to take a historian position at a major non-profit institution or museum upon graduation. For a chemistry student, the goal may be to move into a postdoctoral research position at a major university with the hope of becoming a professor later. 

Or perhaps an applicant has goals of going into the private sector. Regardless of the field of study, your professional experience, academic history, prior internships or jobs, and goals should be introduced here.

Tips for writing the Introduction for the Statement of Purpose

  • Grab attention.  Your introduction is the first impression you make on your reader.
  • Write a compelling first sentence.  Consider using an anecdote, quotation, or gripping personal story.
  • Preview.  The second half of your introduction should briefly preview the other sections of your Statement of Purpose. 

Main Body – Academic and career history

In the first part of the body, you must support the idea of you being a qualified candidate with details about your academic and career history as well as examples of projects, accomplishments, and learning experiences.

Start with a brief history of your undergraduate experience and academic results. Then, move on to extracurricular, professional, and career experiences and achievements. As a graduate studies applicant, professional and career experiences will naturally be more diverse and therefore help you stand out. 

You should of course emphasize your academic experience and grades. Mention how you took advantage of your university’s resources and if you developed any special relationships with professors–that is especially what PhD advisors are looking for!

In the second part of the body, support your assertions with examples.

Tips for writing about academic and career history and goals

  • Interest in the program.  Why are you interested in this particular graduate program?
  • Academic goals.  As a graduate student, you are entering into a research environment. What tangible research goals do you hope to achieve?
  • Career and professional goals.  What are your post-graduate plans? Specify if you have academic or private industry goals. 
  • Strengths and weaknesses.  Give context to  why  and  how  you developed your strengths and weaknesses. Demonstrate self-awareness as to how your behaviors and personality affect others–collaboration and equity are huge concerns!
  • Provide context, not a CV.  Fit your achievements and experiences into your compelling narrative, not as standalone. 
  • Give examples.  Extend your personal narrative with compelling examples. The more specific you are, the more convincing your narrative becomes. If you are applying to a program in statistics, write about your poker games with your grandpa and the moment you learned the power of weighted expected value.

Main Body – Why you are a fit for the program ?

Students’ goals and interests must align with the mission and values of a college or university when being considered for admissions. A common tactic is to highlight a few professors in the department, which demonstrates that the applicant has done the research, whereas other students discuss the accomplishments of prominent alumni they admire. 

Students can use this space to create an impressive application by creatively demonstrating their knowledge of the school and department while matching it with their goals. 

Tips for writing about fit with the program

  • Align with the program . Use the university’s program description as a guide on how to align your Statement of Purpose with the graduate degree program. Refer to your experience in the context of the program.
  • Community and culture.  Nowadays, universities seek students who can be representatives of and contributors to their community. How do your history and goals fit into that program’s city, university, and culture?
  • Your benefit to the program.  You are not giving just your money and time to the graduate program; the admission committee wants to know what benefits you seek to get out of it. This is where you can reference specific departments and professors in the program and any academic contributions of theirs you are familiar with.

Conclusion – Summary

The conclusion must accomplish two goals: package everything together and leave the reader interested in knowing more. If you can accomplish the second part, you will likely get a passing grade on your Statement of Purpose.

Reflect on what attending the program would mean to you, both professionally and personally, as you give one final thought or insight. Write about both the impact you hope to have on the world and the impact attending the program would have on yourself. 

Tips for writing the Statement of Purpose conclusion

  • Keep it succinct.  This section will usually contain no new information, so don’t repeat any information. 
  • (Re)State your value.  You are your own best marketer here. Display confidence not just in your abilities but in your decision to apply and stick with your decision. You also bring a unique profile of academic, career, and personal experiences and goals. You may not gain admission, but make sure it’s because you’re not the right fit, NOT because your value was understated or misunderstood.

Statement of Purpose Format: Structure and Summary

statement of purpose format infographic

Be sure to check our article on how to write a Statement of Purpose for grad school.

We also have recommendation letter templates and dozens of other useful resources to help you prepare your admissions essays. 

If you need editing or proofreading, you can start by checking out our professional proofreading services , including admissions editing services , SOP editing services , and college and graduate essay editing services .

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How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!)

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Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

Learn about our editorial policies

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Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!)

Congratulations on finishing your bachelor’s degree, and starting the next chapter! You might be thinking about applying to graduate school, and fortunately, it’s very similar to applying to an undergraduate program. However, it’s probably been a few years since you’ve had to write an application essay, so you might be wondering how to write a personal statement for graduate school. If so, this guide is the perfect resource for you! Keep reading below to find out more, and don’t forget to check out the example of a graduate school personal statement.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is an essay that encapsulates your personal journey and how that’s shaped who you are as an applicant. They are typically 400-600 words, but can be longer or shorter. 

Be sure not to confuse a personal statement with a statement of purpose as they are two different types of admissions essays. Use this as an opportunity to show colleges what you value and what’s turned you into an ideal student for your desired school. 

What should I write about?

Personal statements are your chance to get, well, personal. While you should answer the prompt in its entirety, you should also write about yourself. Bring a personal element into your essay like family or a story of you overcoming an obstacle. 

Ideally, your story should relate to what you’re trying to accomplish at your graduate school of choice. Tie it all together: your personal experiences, your desired major, and your ideal outcome. 

Tips for writing a personal statement for graduate school

It’s important to start your graduate application as soon as you’re able. Usually, the first round of applications receive the best financial aid packages, so start early! 

Starting sooner can also give you the time to outline your essay and get it read over by your support system. You’ll want it all to be perfect, so don’t rush.

Be transparent

Instead of telling admissions what you think they want to hear, be open and honest about yourself. You want them to understand you, and the only way to do that is to show who you actually are. Offer up personal stories or things that genuinely interest you so that you can show off your sparkling personality!

Be original

Graduate programs are often very competitive since there’s a smaller admissions pool. As a result, your essay should be as original as possible to stand out from the crowd. Tell your story in an organic way, and approach the given prompt with an open mind. 

Related : How to write an essay about yourself

Check your work

It’s extremely important for you to proofread and check for correct spelling and grammar throughout your personal statement. Even simply reading your statement out loud can help you catch any errors and make sure your words flow together. You should also consider having mentors or people within your support system read over your essay to ensure your message is clear.

Common mistakes when writing a graduate school personal statement

Reusing your undergraduate essay .

Reusing your first supplemental essay as a template is a big mistake you want to avoid. Years have passed since then, and you’ve learned new skills and grown as a person and a student. 

The experiences you previously wrote might not resonate with who you are today or tell the graduate team what they want to know about you. It may also have grammatical errors that you might not have noticed before, so take a little extra time to start from scratch and create something new.

Repeating what’s in your resume

It’s likely that your graduate school of choice will require you to upload a copy of your resume as part of your application. Therefore, the admissions committee will already know your professional background, so tell them something else about yourself or provide further depth to a job experience. Repeating yourself only tells them one thing, and you want to be the most well-rounded applicant that you can be.

Graduate school personal statement example

Prompt: Please discuss how your experiences, both personal and professional, have led you to pursue a graduate business degree at this time. What are your short- and long- term goals and how will this program and the J. Mack Robinson College of Business help you achieve these goals? (750 words max)

While many of the applications you receive will detail the many ways that person has been the first to do something, I pose a different perspective: hope to be the last. In other words, you might see me as a first-generation college student, but I see the makings of becoming the last generation to worry about generational wealth in my family. 

Though it is true that I would be the first in my family to get my master’s degree, I’m hoping that my future success means I’ll be the last “first.” It’s not lost on me what this title means, but most of all, it signifies the dawn of an era. A dynasty bred from the struggles and achievements of those before it.

These are big shoes to fill, but I’ve never been afraid of a challenge and the things I’ve learned have helped me secure my future. For example, by observing different business models throughout the years, I found a secret about marketing: people love a product that loves them back. In my case, a product that’s always loved me back were books. I’d fallen in love with bookshelves and bookstores alike, so it only makes sense that a culmination of my love of marketing and books is the goal of one day working in book publishing. I want to know the inner workings of book promotion including design decisions and book tours. Eventually, I plan on working at one of the big publishers such as Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, or Macmillan.

Fortunately, I’ve been given opportunities to decide on my own path, which I hope to execute at Georgia State University. This school’s unique curriculum will be an asset to me since there are classes that specifically cater to buyer behavior, and that’s an area of study I’m particularly interested in. The Social Media Intelligence Lab and social media marketing class will hopefully give me an inside look into influencer marketing and its impact on product profitability. According to your mission statement, GSU educates future leaders, and I want to be a part of that.

As a mentor of mine once said, knowledge is meant to be shared, and if it isn’t, it’s control. I hope to build up the people around me with knowledge and experiences as I go out into the professional world just as I hope this program will do for me. If I’m accepted into this program, I plan on using my creativity and drive for not only my success, but for my family’s as well. There may be times I fall short of a goal, but failure isn’t an option. Each benchmark professors put in front of me will be conquered, and one day, I’ll be one of your notable alumni. 

Why this essay works:

  • The writer clearly researched the school and understands its values
  • The prompt is answered completely and seamlessly
  • The applicant knew their goals and thought of ways to achieve them at the college 
  • This statement communicates not only what the college gains from this applicant’s admission, but also what the applicant gains
  • It’s also well within the word limit

Frequently asked questions about how to write a graduate school personal statement

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How to Write a Stand-Out Personal Statement for Your Graduate School Application

How to write a personal statement for grad school

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.

Northeastern University Graduate Programs

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Congrats! You’ve chosen a graduate program , read up on tips for applying to grad school , and even wrote a focused grad school resumé . But if you’re like many students, you’ve left the most daunting part of the application process for last—writing a statement of purpose. The good news is, the task doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming, as long as you break the process down into simple, actionable steps. Below, learn how to write a strong, unique statement of purpose that will impress admissions committees and increase your chances of getting into your dream school.

What is a statement of purpose?

A statement of purpose (SOP), sometimes referred to as a personal statement, is a critical piece of a graduate school application that tells admissions committees who you are, what your academic and professional interests are, and how you’ll add value to the graduate program you’re applying to.

Jared Pierce, associate director of enrollment services at Northeastern University, says a strong statement of purpose can be the deciding factor in a graduate student’s admission.  

“Your statement of purpose is where you tell your story about who you are and why you deserve to be a part of the [university’s] community. It gives the admissions committee the chance to get to know you and understand how you’ll add value to the classroom,” he says.

How long should a statement of purpose be?

“A statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words,” Pierce says, noting that it should typically not exceed a single page. He advises that students use a traditional font at a readable size (11- or 12-pt) and leave enough whitespace in the margins to make the statement easy-to-read. Make sure to double-space the statement if the university has requested it, he adds. 

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you understand how to format a statement of purpose, you can begin drafting your own. Getting started can feel daunting, but Pierce suggests making the process more manageable by breaking down the writing process into four easy steps.

1. Brainstorm your ideas.

First, he says, try to reframe the task at hand and get excited for the opportunity to write your statement of purpose. He explains:

“Throughout the application process, you’re afforded few opportunities to address the committee directly. Here is your chance to truly speak directly to them. Each student arrives at this process with a unique story, including prior jobs, volunteer experience, or undergraduate studies. Think about what makes you you and start outlining.”

When writing your statement of purpose, he suggests asking yourself these key questions:

  • Why do I want this degree?
  • What are my expectations for this degree?
  • What courses or program features excite me the most?
  • Where do I want this degree to take me, professionally and personally?
  • How will my unique professional and personal experiences add value to the program?

Jot these responses down to get your initial thoughts on paper. This will act as your starting point that you’ll use to create an outline and your first draft.

2. Develop an outline.

Next, you’ll want to take the ideas that you’ve identified during the brainstorming process and plug them into an outline that will guide your writing. 

An effective outline for your statement of purpose might look something like this:

  • An attention-grabbing hook
  • A brief introduction of yourself and your background as it relates to your motivation behind applying to graduate school 
  • Your professional goals as they relate to the program you’re applying to
  • Why you’re interested in the specific school and what you can bring to the table
  • A brief summary of the information presented in the body that emphasizes your qualifications and compatibility with the school

An outline like the one above will give you a roadmap to follow so that your statement of purpose is well-organized and concise. 

3. Write the first draft.

Your statement of purpose should communicate who you are and why you are interested in a particular program, but it also needs to be positioned in a way that differentiates you from other applicants. 

Admissions professionals already have your transcripts, resumé, and test scores; the statement of purpose is your chance to tell your story in your own words.

When you begin drafting content, make sure to:

  • Provide insight into what drives you , whether that’s professional advancement, personal growth, or both.
  • Demonstrate your interest in the school by addressing the unique features of the program that interest you most. For Northeastern, he says, maybe it’s experiential learning; you’re excited to tackle real-world projects in your desired industry. Or perhaps it’s learning from faculty who are experts in your field of study.
  • Be yourself. It helps to keep your audience in mind while writing, but don’t forget to let your personality shine through. It’s important to be authentic when writing your statement to show the admissions committee who you are and why your unique perspective will add value to the program.

4. Edit and refine your work.

Before you submit your statement of purpose:

  • Make sure you’ve followed all directions thoroughly , including requirements about margins, spacing, and font size.
  • Proofread carefully for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Remember that a statement of purpose should be between 500 and 1,000 words. If you’ve written far more than this, read through your statement again and edit for clarity and conciseness. Less is often more; articulate your main points strongly and get rid of any “clutter.”
  • Walk away and come back later with a fresh set of eyes. Sometimes your best ideas come when you’re not sitting and staring at your computer.
  • Ask someone you trust to read your statement before you submit it.

Making a Lasting Impression

Your statement of purpose can leave a lasting impression if done well, Pierce says. It provides you with the opportunity to highlight your unique background and skills so that admissions professionals understand why you’re the ideal candidate for the program that you’re applying to. If nothing else, stay focused on what you uniquely bring to the classroom, the program, and the campus community. If you do that, you’ll excel.

To learn more tricks and tips for submitting an impressive graduate school application, explore our related Grad School Success articles .

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2017. It has since been updated for thoroughness and accuracy.

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How to Write Your Graduate School Admissions Essay

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The admissions essay is often the least well-understood part of the graduate school application yet it is critical to your admissions success. The graduate admissions essay or personal statement is your chance to distinguish yourself from other applicants and let the admissions committee know you apart from your GPA and GRE scores . Your admissions essay can be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted or rejected by a graduate school. Therefore, it is necessary that you write an essay that is honest, interesting, and well organized.

How well you structure and organize your application essay can determine your fate. A well-written essay tells the admissions committee that you have the capacity to write coherently, think logically, and do well in grad school . Format your essay to include an introduction, a body, and a concluding paragraph. Essays are often written in response to prompts posed by the grad school . Regardless, organization is key to your success.

Introduction:

  • The introduction is the most important part of the essay, especially the first sentence. The first sentence introduces your essay and a bad introduction, in person or in writing, is detrimental to your admissions chances.
  • The first sentence should be unique and compelling, possibly thought provoking or attention-grabbing.
  • First sentences may explain your desire to study the subject of interest or discuss the motivation that influenced your desire to study the subject of interest. State it in a creative manner.
  • The sentences following the first sentence should provide a brief explanation that supports the claim stated in the first sentence.
  • Your goal for the introduction is to entice the reader to continue beyond the first paragraph.
  • The body includes several paragraphs that provide detailed evidence to support the statements made in the introductory paragraph.
  • Each paragraph should have a transition, which starts each paragraph with a topic statement that will be the theme of that paragraph. This gives the reader a heads up of what's to come. Transitions connect paragraphs to preceding paragraphs, enabling the essay to flow smoothly.
  • Each paragraph should have a resolution, which ends each paragraph with a meaningful sentence that provides a transition to the next paragraph.
  • Experiences, accomplishments or any other evidence that can support your claims should be included in the body. Future goals should also be mentioned in the body.
  • A short summary of your educational background can be discussed in the 1st paragraph of the body.
  • Personal experiences and the reasons for wanting to attend the school can be discussed in the 2nd paragraph.
  • Do not simply repeat what was stated in the application.
  • The last paragraph can explain why you are a good match for the program.

Conclusion:

  • The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay.
  • State the key points mentioned in the body, such as your experiences or accomplishments, that explain your interest in the subject. State it in a conclusive and brief manner.
  • Convey your fit to the specific graduate program and field.

Your essay should include detail, be personal, and specific. The purpose of the graduate admissions essay is to show the admission committee what makes you unique and different from other applicants. Your job is to display your distinct personality and provide evidence that confirms your passion, desire, and, especially, fit for the subject and the program.

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APA Writing Guide: Formatting for Graduate Students

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Writing Center

The Liberty University Writing Center is available to provide writing coaching to students. Residential students should contact the  On-Campus Writing Center  for assistance. Online students should contact the  Online Writing Center  for assistance.

General Rules

Liberty University has determined that graduate students will use APA 7’s formatting guidelines for professional papers. To assist you, Liberty University's Writing Center provides a template paper and a  sample paper .

For professional papers, the following four sections are required: 

  • Title Page with Running Head
  • Abstract with Keywords
  • Reference List

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you format your paper:

  • Fonts  - LU recommends that papers be typed in 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Calibri fonts.  
  • Use only one space at the end of each sentence in the body of your paper.
  • In general, APA papers should be double spaced throughout. A list of exceptions can be found here.
  • To make sure that your paper is double spaced throughout,  select the text ,  right click , select ' Paragraph ,' and look under the section ' Line Spacing ' as shown below:

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  • Margins/Alignment  - Your paper should use 1-inch margins on standard-sized paper (8.5' X 11'). Make sure that you use  Align Left  (CTRL + L) on the paper, except for the title page.  
  •   Indentation – The first sentence in each new paragraph in the body of the paper should be indented a half inch. The abstract, however, should not be indented. References use hanging indentation .  
  • Headings:   Please note that all headings are in title case. Level 1 headings should be centered (and in bold), and Level 2 and 3 headings should be left-aligned (and in bold or bold italic, respectively). Level 4 and 5 headings are indented like regular paragraphs. An example of formatting headings in a paper is available here

Title Page: When setting up the professional title page, please note the following elements should be present on the page:

  • There is no limit to the number of words in the title.
  • Add an extra blank double-spaced line between the title and author’s name.
  • Name of each author (centered)
  • Name of department and institution/affiliation (centered)
  • Place the author note in the bottom half of the title page. Center and bold the label “Author Note.” Align the paragraphs of the author note to the left. For an example, see the LU Writing Center template for graduate students here .
  • Page number in top right corner of the header, starting with page 1 on the title page
  • The running head is an abbreviated version of the title of your paper (or the full title if the title is already short).
  • Type the running head in all-capital letters.
  • Ensure the running head is no more than 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • The running head appears in the same format on every page, including the first page.
  • Do not use the label “Running head:” before the running head.
  • Align the running head to the left margin of the page header, across from the right-aligned page number.

Abstract Page: The abstract page includes the abstract and related keywords.

The abstract is a brief but comprehensive summary of your paper. Here are guidelines for formatting the abstract:

  • It should be the second page of a professional (graduate level) paper.
  • The first line should say “Abstract” centered and in bold.
  • The abstract should start one line below the section label.
  • It should be a single paragraph and should not be indented.
  • It should not exceed 250 words.

Keywords are used for indexing in databases and as search terms. Your keywords should capture the most important aspects of your paper in three to five words, phrases, or acronyms. Here are formatting guidelines:

  • Label “ Keywords ” one line below the abstract, indented and in italics (not bolded).
  • The keywords should be written on the same line as and one space after the label “ Keywords ”.
  • The keywords should be lowercase (but capitalize proper nouns) and not italic or bold.
  • Each keyword should be separated by a comma and a space and followed by a colon.
  • There should be no ending punctuation.
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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.

Specific Examples

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.

Strong Writing

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.

Appropriate Boundaries

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

What’s Next?

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?

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How to Write a Personal Statement

A personal statement can be a key part of your college application, and you can really make yours shine by following a few tips.

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When you're applying to college—either to an undergraduate or graduate program—you may be asked to submit a personal statement. It's an essay that gives you the chance to share more about who you are and why you'd like to attend the university you're applying to.  

The information you provide in your personal statement can help build on your other application materials, like your transcripts and letters of recommendation, and build a more cohesive picture to help the admissions committee understand your goals.

In this article, we'll go over more about personal statements, including why they're important, what to include in one, and tips for strengthening yours.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement—sometimes known as a college essay —is a brief written essay you submit with other materials when applying to college or university. Personal statements tend to be most common for undergraduate applications, and they're a great opportunity for an admissions committee to hear your voice directly.

Many colleges and universities in the US, especially those using Common App , provide prompts for you to use. For example, "Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea" or "Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time" [ 1 ]. If the school you're interested in attending doesn't require prompts, you will likely want to craft a response that touches on your story, your values, and your goals if possible.

In grad school, personal statements are sometimes known as letters of intent , and go into more detail about your academic and professional background, while expressing interest in attending the particular program you're applying to.

Why is a personal statement important?

Personal statements are important for a number of reasons. Whereas other materials you submit in an application can address your academic abilities (like your transcripts) or how you perform as a student (like your letters of recommendation), a personal statement is a chance to do exactly that: get more personal.

Personal statements typically:

Permit you to share things that don't fit on your resume, such as personal stories, motivations, and values

Offer schools a chance to see why you're interested in a particular field of study and what you hope to accomplish after you graduate 

Provide an opportunity for you to talk about past employment, volunteer experiences, or skills you have that complement your studies 

Allow colleges to evaluate your writing skills 

Bring life to a college application package otherwise filled with facts and figures 

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How to write a personal statement.

As we mentioned earlier, you may have to respond to a prompt when drafting your personal statement—or a college or university may invite you to respond however you'd like. In either case, use the steps below to begin building your response.

Create a solid hook .

To capture the attention of an admissions committee member, start your personal statement with a hook that relates to the topic of your essay. A hook tends to be a colorful sentence or two at the very beginning that compels the reader to continue reading.

To create a captivating hook, try one of these methods:

Pose a rhetorical question. 

Provide an interesting statistic. 

Insert a quote from a well-known person.

Challenge the reader with a common misconception. 

Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. 

Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it comes from a reliable source.

Follow a narrative.

The best personal statements typically read like a story: they have a common theme, as well as a beginning, middle, and end. This type of format also helps keep your thoughts organized and improves the flow of your essay.

Common themes to consider for your personal statement include:

Special role models from your past

Life-altering events you've experienced

Unusual challenges you've faced

Accomplishments you're especially proud of

Service to others and why you enjoy it

What you've learned from traveling to a particular place

Unique ways you stand out from other candidates

Be specific.

Admissions committees read thousands of personal statements every year, which is why being specific on yours is important. Back up your statements with examples or anecdotes.

For instance, avoid vague assertions like, "I'm interested in your school counseling program because I care about children." Instead, point out experiences you've had with children that emphasize how much you care. For instance, you might mention your summer job as a day camp counselor or your volunteer experience mentoring younger children.

Don't forget to include detail and vibrancy to keep your statement interesting. The use of detail shows how your unique voice and experiences can add value to the college or university you're applying to.

Stay on topic.

It's natural to want to impress the members of the admissions committee who will read your personal statement. The best way to do this is to lead your readers through a cohesive, informative, and descriptive essay.

If you feel you might be going astray, ensure each paragraph in your essay's body supports your introduction. Here are a few more strategies that can help keep you on track:

Know what you want to say and do research if needed. 

Create an outline listing the key points you want to share.

Read your outline aloud to confirm it makes logical sense before proceeding. 

Read your essay aloud while you're writing to confirm you're staying on topic.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and make suggestions.

Be true to your own voice.

Because of the importance of your personal statement, you could be tempted to be very formal with structure and language. However, using a more relaxed tone is better than you would for a classroom writing assignment. 

Remember: admissions committees really want to hear from you . Writing in your own voice will help accomplish this. To ensure your tone isn't too relaxed, write your statement as if you were speaking to an older relative or trusted teacher. This way, you'll come across as respectful, confident, and honest.

Tips for drafting an effective personal statement.

Now that you've learned a little about personal statements and how to craft them, here are a few more tips you can follow to strengthen your essay:

1. Customize your statement.

You don't have to completely rewrite your personal statement every time you apply to a new college, but you want to make sure you tailor it as much as possible. For instance, if you talk about wanting to take a certain class or study a certain subject, make sure you adjust any specifics for each application.

2. Avoid cliches.

Admissions committees are ultimately looking for students who will fit the school, and who the school can help guide toward their larger goals. In that case, cliches can get in the way of a reviewer understanding what it is you want from a college education. Watch out for cliches like "making a difference," "broadening my horizons," or "the best thing that ever happened to me."

3. Stay focused.

Try to avoid getting off-track or including tangents in your personal statement. Stay focused by writing a first draft and then re-reading what you've written. Does every paragraph flow from one point to the next? Are the ideas you're presenting cohesive?

4. Stick to topics that aren't controversial.

It's best not to discuss political beliefs or inappropriate topics in your essay. These can be controversial; ideally, you want to share something goals- or values-driven with an admissions committee.

Polish your writing skills on Coursera.

A stellar personal statement starts with stellar writing skills. Enhance your writing ability with a writing course from a top university, like Good with Words: Writing and Editing from the University of Michigan or Writing a Personal Essay from Wesleyan University. Get started for free to level up your writing.

Article sources

1. Common App. " 2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts , https://www.commonapp.org/blog/2022-2023-common-app-essay-prompts." Accessed January 9, 2024.

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Articles & Advice > Graduate School > Articles

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3 Great Grad School Application Essay Examples

The grad school personal statement is an important part of your application. Here are a few good graduate admission essay examples to inspire you.

by CollegeXpress

Last Updated: Jan 3, 2024

Originally Posted: Jun 15, 2017

Graduate school application essays, personal statements, and letters of intent can be a major hurdle to overcome in the application process. Getting just the right words on paper to convey why you want to go to grad school and the impact you intend to have using your degree is a lot to ask. To help you get some inspiration and tell your story the right way, check out these three essay examples. Every essay here comes from a successful grad school application, and after reading the essay we break down just what makes it good. And you’re going to love their stories.

Daniel Masciello, Juris Doctor

University of Connecticut Class of 2015

T ry. To get. Some. Slee—it’s no use.

It’s 3:00 am, 90 minutes before our day at work in the landfills of rural Thailand is set to begin, and the 60-watt bulb is still shining bright overhead. It is radiant.

Directly on my left is one grown man’s bare armpit; to my right is more of the same. I keep my nose pointed at the ceiling. I can’t lift my arms because I am too big, a Caucasian beetle trying to fit into this Thai ant colony.

I’ve been lying still for the better part of six hours now, unable to determine exactly why my host family insists on leaving the brightest light in the house on all night (to this day, still a mystery). It is not for a child’s sake; I, at 22 years old, am the youngest in the home. I’m also the only American. Five grown men, lined up snugly on a queen-sized mattress, are soundly sleeping while I contemplate excuses for not working in the landfill that day.

Twelve hours later, over sticky rice and “fresh” vegetables (from the landfill), I try to call out some of my bunkmates for being afraid of the dark. Nobody laughs at my jokes, but they don’t stop smiling either. Perhaps they don’t understand my infantile Thai. From what I can understand of them, they enjoy talking about how grumpy I’ve been all day. No sleep for some 60-odd hours and putting in two grueling days in the landfill, filtering through mountains of trash from the nearby city of Khon Kaen, looking for yogurt containers and car batteries in the hot Thai sun—these things can change a man’s general disposition.

But I did wake up and go to work with my host family. No, I was not prepared physically or mentally, nor was I in the best of moods that day. But the smiling way of the Thai people is infectious, and it wasn’t long before I was smiling too that night, stomach full and ready for more...

That was back in the fall of 2008. The study abroad program I was participating in revolved around studying specific issues (damning rivers, mining minerals, razing slums, etc.), staying with a village that was negatively affected by an issue, and then working to help solve the problem. It was not uncommon to have sessions lasting eight or nine hours just to prepare for a town meeting the next day. Free time after exchanges and interviews would be spent working in the fields with the villagers or perhaps working on our program’s publications. It was not your typical study abroad experience. I have yet to learn of another like it.

It was also challenging at times. Thailand changed my view on a lot of things for the better, including what it means to truly work hard. As a waiter back home, it was a routine practice to work 40 hours a week in addition to going to class and studying. Still, sometimes I wonder if I used jobs outside of class as a crutch. I always had the excuse: I have to work to support myself. But so do a lot of people. And for some of those people, like many of the villagers in Thailand, working extra hours is not temporary. It's a way of life.

At the time I'm not sure I truly appreciated the privilege I had of going to college, as my undergraduate GPA might indicate. Part of that disappointing number is that I feel as if I was afraid of putting 100% of my effort into school. If I was to put all my effort in and still get mediocre grades, I would have considered myself a failure. Apparently I couldn’t or refused to handle that. How cowardly, not to mention foolish!

But while I was in Thailand, I developed a confidence in myself that I simply hadn’t been able to locate before. On multiple occasions I tasted the failure that comes with studying complex issues in a foreign land. Each time it tasted horrible. But I worked on these failures.

For example, I nagged my homestay families to help me with my Thai and forced myself to request constructive criticism in a group setting. Through these trials I discovered the sweetest feeling of them all: perseverance. That meal next to the landfill, described above, was one of the most deliciously memorable meals of my life for that same reason. I was exhausted and maybe a little bit grumpy, but I learned to work through it—and smile too.

I am well aware that law school will probably force me to even further revise my definition of hard work and present challenges and setbacks the likes of which I may not have yet experienced. But I would like to face these challenges, and most importantly overcome them, at your school. I hope my letters of recommendation and LSAT score give the indication that I am capable of doing so. This essay, lastly, is a chance for me to convince you that I can and will. I look forward to hearing from you.

Why this essay is great

Try to stop reading this personal statement, we dare you. The introduction grabs you and doesn’t let go. But besides spinning a great yarn that also says a lot about Daniel’s values, this application essay has an important function: it thoughtfully and maturely addresses any concerns the graduate admission committee might have regarding Daniel’s undergraduate academic performance. Showing rather than telling, he depicts a person who is prepared to do the work to overcome obstacles and learn from mistakes. And since he was admitted to the grad program, clearly it worked.

Related:  How to Know If Law School Is Right for You

Bridget Sullivan, Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration

Boston College Class of 2017                                                                                                    

I did not know higher education existed as a field until I came to college. Despite this, it has surprisingly been the field that has had the largest impact on my college experience. It has given me direction going forward.

College has been my most important experience so far, in that it has allowed me to better understand how I interact with my environment and how others experience the world around them. Without the Student Affairs professionals I have interacted with over the past four years, I would not be where I am today. I hope that in my future as a Student Affairs professional I can give students the great experience I have been privileged to receive. I will take the lessons I have learned and those that I will learn in the future to improve the college experience for many future generations going forward. 

I have enjoyed being a Resident Advisor, a Parent Orientation Leader, and an Assistant Resident Director while attending the University of Massachusetts Lowell for the past four years. All of these jobs fall under the Office of Residence Life. These opportunities have been cornerstones of my college education. They have taught me the long-term and transferrable skills of organization, conflict management, and supervision.

I have most enjoyed being an Assistant Resident Director, as I get to work with the Resident Advisors and Resident Director in a more administrative capacity. The ARD works closely with the RD to get the work done and hold RAs accountable. I think my favorite part of being an ARD this year has been working with the RAs to make sure they have the best experience they can, while at the same time making sure they complete their work well and on time. I enjoy helping RAs and other students reach their full potential, and I feel that it is a learning process for me too. The ARD position has shown me how much I value helping others on the path I have set for myself through my experiences with the RAs I supervise.

Because of the ARD role I have been afforded, I have had the opportunity to see how this potential career may play out. I feel confident about my ability to transition to the professional side of the field because the ARD position has already forced me to take on many of these steps. I tested the waters of the potential career in my RA role last year; this year as an ARD has shown me that I know I can succeed. 

I am passionate about student affairs and higher education because it is an opportunity to work with college students and help them grow and develop. I truly believe that there isn’t a more rewarding career than one that allows you to help others. This field allows me to assist others every day at a time in their lives when many students need it most. It was my developmental path, and I want to give that support to others.

So far my academics and daily practice have not been linked nor intentional. I am excited to be able to make this so by starting a graduate program in higher education. Understanding my former responsibilities in terms of theory and learning how to turn new theories into practice is a process I cannot wait to begin. 

I know the Lynch School of Education can assist me in achieving this goal through their program in Higher Education Administration. The opportunity to study in the Boston area will give me a multitude of professional development opportunities that would be hard to find anywhere else. If I am admitted, I will work hard to maximize my time at the Lynch School and become a young professional who can innovate and improve upon current practices in the field.

This personal statement takes you on a journey, as Bridget discovers her calling as an undergrad, gets all the hands-on experience in it she can, and figures out the perfect way to make it her career: grad school. And not just any grad school—Boston College in particular! There’s no doubt in your mind that she’s going to take advantage of everything BC’s master’s program has to offer, and she has the real-world experience to back her claims up.

Related:  Great Alternative Jobs for Education Majors Who Don't Want to Teach

Haviland Johannesson-Forgit,  Master of Arts in Arts Administration

Vermont State University , formerly Castleton University Class of 2018

While contemplating how I should approach my personal and professional goals and how earning an advanced degree will support them, I came upon my application essay for Goddard College that I wrote close to three years ago:

“Oftentimes, children who lack positive, authoritative figures and emotional support end up making unwise choices that stay with them and induce prejudice and judgment from other people who may be ignorant to what caused these children to make the choices in the first place. This cultural stigmatism that exists in our society often leads to these children being segmented into a disenfranchised group as adults. The misunderstanding and neglect that occurs in communities towards socially disenfranchised children goes against everything that I was raised to take in regard when attempting to understand a person.

I envision my studies reaching children and young adults in many different communities. It is my goal to immerse myself in rural, inner-city, and lower-income communities and meet these children before or in the midst of their time when the decisions they make can influence where their life may lead. I believe that the teachings of dance as a holistic lifestyle will provide outlets of knowledge and self-expression for these children and young adults that will lead them in positive directions.”

In this essay we were expected to write about our intentions and ambitions for our studies; to address the passions that acted as the drive for our work during our attendance at the college as well as after graduation. In returning to this essay, I was pleased to discover that my ambition and dedication to using the performing arts as a source of structure and reliability for youth in this country has not changed. When applying to Goddard College for my undergraduate degree I knew that I would want to continue on to pursue my graduate degree afterwards to enhance myself as a qualified candidate working in my field. Earning my advanced degree will enable me to go forth in the world as a confident and learned individual prepared to create the positive opportunities I envisioned years ago.

While earning my advanced degree, I intend to learn the details and structure that is needed to successfully run arts organizations. The closeness that Castleton University has with the Association for Arts Administration in developing its program for the MA in Arts Administration encourages me; it assures me that the quality and rigor of the program at Castleton is the right fit for my personal and professional aspirations. The efficacy of the program combined with the professional portfolio of projects demonstrating a mastery of skills in a range of areas in the arts and the six-credit culminating internship is exactly what I am looking for in an advanced degree program.

My background in the performing arts is broad. Not only have I have spent many years performing in productions of theater and dance, but I have also devoted my time and learning to other aspects of performance arts, whether it be technical, political, or social. My time attending Goddard College has proven to be extremely educational in training me in areas of social justice and cultural realizations of privilege, class, and human rights. With an accomplished and culturally diverse faculty and staff, the College requires its students to incorporate this training into their degrees, which makes for globally conscious citizens.

What I stand to bring to Castleton University’s campus is a vibrant love for the performing arts accompanied by acute social awareness training. My dedication to improving myself as an individual in my career is resolute; earning my advanced degree is vital to my continuing as a professional in a field so important to the foundation of our culture. I look forward to the opportunity of earning my Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Castleton University. 

Haviland draws a remarkable line from her undergraduate studies and goals to the present day . She’s been on a clear path for a long time, and grad school has always been part of the plan and the logical next step for her career. Her unwavering commitment to arts education and dance as a means for furthering social justice will serve her well professionally—and it probably impressed the graduate admission folks too. Haviland also references specific features of Castleton University’s graduate program, showing she’s genuinely interested in the school and its unique strengths.

Related:  Careers for People Who Want to Use Their Creativity

We hope these essay examples helped you get a better idea of where to take your grad school personal statements. The most important part of writing your essay is ensuring every word you put on the page is authentically you and true to your goals. You can write a great essay and get into a good grad school; just give yourself the time and flexibility by starting early and focusing on your story. Good luck!

Need help getting the ball rolling on your graduate essays? Check out these  Good Strategies for Writing Grad School Personal Essays from the experts at GradSchools.com.

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Permanent Link: https://blogs.babson.edu/graduate/2018/08/24/5-tips-for-nailing-your-graduate-school-essay/

Graduate Blog / Graduate Admissions

5 tips for nailing your graduate school essay.

By Johanna Beers | August 24, 2018

When applying for graduate school, the essay is a great way to stand out from the rest of the applicants. Johanna Beers , associate director of Graduate Admissions, at Babson College gives an insider perspective on what makes a graduate school essay that will set you apart.

Find your story

In the application process, the essay is a key opportunity to round out the admissions committee’s understanding of who you really are. Your résumé and recommendation focus on your professional life, and your test scores and transcripts focus on your academics, but the essay is where we get to know you. This is a chance to share your values, what your goals are, and why you are specifically interested in pursuing a graduate degree at our college. While you are forming a picture of what life might be like as a student, the essay helps us to picture you as a member of the community.

Find the “X” factor

Every graduate school you will be applying to is different. They all have unique offerings and mindsets of what a graduate degree means. When you are writing your essay, make sure you understand what makes that specific school unique. It can be tempting to copy and paste an essay from another school that is similar, but resist the temptation. For example, at Babson, one of the essay prompts asks about “entrepreneurs of all kinds,” understanding what that means in the context of Babson will be vital to a great essay. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a graduate school essay, each one needs to be personalized and tailored to the specific school and program.

Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!

This may sound obvious, but never forget the final review of your essay. This is crucial to catch any last mistakes, like using the wrong school name, or using a word in the wrong context that spell check did not catch. Something as simple as using the word “university” vs. “college” can turn off an admissions counselor and come off as careless. Sometimes it is the little things!

Take ‘optional’ literally

Most schools have an optional essay, and some people may tell you that you should always complete it. We do not believe that is the case. The optional essay should be for explaining anything in your professional or academic offerings that needs additional information. Is there a gap in your résumé? Did you have a year in undergraduate that did not go particularly well? This is the place where you can give context to anything that might stand out. If you do not have anything of that nature, do not force yourself to write the optional essay. Just because it is there, does not mean that you need it.

Be authentic

We know there is a lot of pressure around the essay to hit all the important topics: leadership, teamwork, professional development, and others, but do not just tell us what we want to hear. We want to hear a story about you, a story that only you can tell. Trying to write to what you think we want to hear does not come off as authentic. We want to make sure that the details do not get in the way of your personality. We should be able to know who you are from the story of your essay.

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Personal Statement

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A personal statement is often required of applicants to jobs, internships, and graduate programs. It can be challenging because you need to answer some questions about yourself in this document while still keeping it interesting!

Your statement should be more than just a list of skills and accomplishments. Here you have the perfect opportunity to write about your career goals, what makes you unique from other candidates.

These statements are always different and dependent on the institution you're writing for. But all types of statements require a specific format as in other academic papers, so make sure to follow these guidelines carefully!

This statement is a core component of the application essay process. In this blog, we will discuss how to write a personal statement in the correct format. So, let’s get this started.

What is a Proper Personal Statement Format?

You should always follow formatting and structure guidelines when writing your personal statement. By following the proper format, you can ensure all the information is organized correctly for easy reading!

Make sure you format your statement in both interesting and engaging ways. Here is a basic format that should help you get started:

  • The perfect length for a statement is 500 words. So, be sure to finish your paper within 495 - 505.
  • Keep your paragraphs single-spaced and aligned with an extra line of space from the next.
  • Times New Roman is a great font choice for every paper.
  • Make sure the font size is 12 pt.
  • Mention your name and page number in the header of each page.

How do you format a personal statement heading?

A statement heading should include the name of your document, your name, and for which school or department.

These statements should be formatted in a standard, reader-friendly style. Carefully consider the type of formatting that will make your statement appealing to review.

As admission committees go through thousands of these documents each year, it is important to make sure that you stand out from other applicants.

How to Format a Personal Statement?

Many students ask,  'What is the format of a personal statement?’ How should I write my personal statement?

The requirements for writing a statement vary but generally, it includes specific information in the format.

Introduction

It often begins with an opening statement designed to grab the reader’s attention. In this opening paragraph, you can highlight your skills and experiences so they can connect directly to the program you're applying for.

If you are applying for a degree or a position, make sure to include the program name and your title.

Body Paragraphs

In these paragraphs, you need to answer any specific questions about your qualifications, long-term goals, and compatibility with the program.

Should a personal statement have paragraphs?

Yes, your statement is a series of well-written paragraphs that connect together in an elegant and logical way.

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence to inform the readers of what that paragraph will be focusing on. Also, provide examples from your experience and make sure these are relevant to the argument.

In conclusion, summarize all the points discussed in your body paragraphs. Also, restate your interest in that specific program or position you're applying for.

Highlight how this degree or position will help you achieve your long-term goals.

Personal Statement Format Examples

Do you want to know more about the perfect personal statement format? Check our helpful examples. Going through them will give you a great idea of how to outline your personal statement.

It is important to know the specific details that should be included in your statement. You want it to match who you really are and what makes YOU unique, right? We've provided some good examples of perfect statements below:

It is important to avoid plagiarism, but you should feel free to use the following examples as inspiration for your own statement.

Personal Statement Format for College

A statement for college is written to show admission officers who you are and why your talents deserve a place at their college.

In college personal statements, you must discuss your high school major accomplishments. With the help of this example, you can format your own statement for college.

The following example includes all sorts of ways to ensure that it is personalized and interesting enough, so colleges want YOU!

Personal Statement Format Graduate School

This statement is a chance to share more about who you are. It should not be simply an introspection but also provide insight into your plans and goals.

Do you want to know the best way to create an engaging and creative graduate school personal statement? Check out this example! This will help ensure that all of your information has been properly formatted.

Personal Statement Format for Masters

This statement is an opportunity to express your unique qualities in a way that will make you stand out from other applicants.

You might be wondering why students study the courses they do. They have reasons for wanting to take that specific course. Look at this Master's example to know how they mention those specific reasons.

Personal Statement Format for University

A personal statement is the most important document. It will help you convince the admission committee why you are a deserving candidate to study at their university.

These examples will help you write your own statement in an engaging and informative way.

MBA Personal Statement Format

It's time to take the next step in your career! Get an edge over other applicants by writing the perfect MBA personal statement.

It's not too late to get into the MBA program you've always wanted. This easy personal statement format template will surely help you write one.

Personal Statement Law School Format

This statement is your chance to reflect upon life and show law admission committees who you really are. So, it must be well-written and formatted correctly.

A perfect law school personal statement can be drafted using the following format:

Nursing School Personal Statement Format

The nursing personal statement is an integral part of your application process. It's an opportunity to show off your personality and address any questions that admission committees could have.

The following example will inspire you and ensure that your statement is on the right track.

Personal Statement Format Medical School

Personal statements for medical school are an opportunity to tell your story and explain why you want to be a doctor.

Your medical school personal statement should be creative, interesting, and engaging. The following example is a great way to stimulate your creativity.

Personal Statement Format for Job

What makes you stand out from the others? That's what your statement should be all about. It is an opportunity for self-expression and highlighting what makes you special, so use this space wisely!

Writing a statement for your job application can feel overwhelming, but don't worry! This is one of the short personal statement examples that will guide you through the process.

When you start writing a personal statement, always refer back to the guidelines and examples provided above.

When you are ready to write your statement, remember that it should be professional and follow all the formatting guidelines. After you've done writing, read your personal statement several times to ensure it is error-free.

This statement is a tricky thing to write for a lot of reasons. Sometimes mistakes are just too hard to overlook, and in the end, you lose everything that matters most - your chance at getting into college or university.

Wasting your time on your statement is a huge mistake. However, if you make the wrong choice, it's game over for scholarship opportunities.

Many people miss an opportunity by not doing enough to make their school application form perfect. But there’s always a way, and that includes hiring professional writers who can write custom statements for you!

The right professional writer can help you craft a statement that will make it easy for you to get into any college or university of your choice. A statement written by professionals flows smoothly and is impressive throughout.

If that's a tough task for you, get the best college essay help online at CollegeEssay.org  to increase your chances of enrolling in your dream college/university. Bring to the table all of your important information and let our expert writers take care of it.

You can also try out our AI essay writer and make a great first impression!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a personal statement.

A personal statement should not be more than 4,000 characters, so you'll need to stay within this limit when writing one. 

Does a personal statement need a title?

There is no need to add titles when submitting your personal statement. Avoid mentioning things that the college wants you to say. Be honest and genuine about yourself! 

Should I leave spaces between paragraphs in my personal statement?

Yes, you should leave spaces between paragraphs to avoid cramped-looking text. 

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  1. Statement of Purpose Format for Graduate School (SOP)

    Microsoft Word (.DOC) format. Typical file types for a Statement of Purpose are .doc or .docx. There is a downside to Word files being editable, and there are sometimes conflicts among the different Word versions (2010 vs 2016. vs Office365). One benefit of Word files is that anyone can view them.

  2. PDF Writing a Graduate School Application Essay

    • End strong: End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the intro and restates your thesis. This helps unify your essay as a whole, connecting your experiences back to the reason you are writing this essay in the first place —to detail your career goals and show your qualifications for your graduate program of choice.

  3. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    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 ...

  4. How to Write a Stand-Out Personal Statement for Grad School

    Step 3: Figure Out Your Angle. Your "angle," or focus, in your graduate school personal statement will depend on a few key factors: What your grad program wants you to write about. Your field of study and research interests. How much experience you have in your field.

  5. Guide To Writing Your Grad School Admission Essay

    Learn top tips and tricks for writing your grad school admissions essay. You've made a big life decision: applying to grad school. The transcripts are ordered, the letters of recommendation ...

  6. How to Write a Grad School Application Essay

    A grad school essay containing errors or reflecting poor writing does not leave a favorable impression. Re-reading the essay allows for catching mistakes, clearing up confusing sentences, and strengthening the main points. Unfortunately, writers can gloss over errors after reading the essay just once. As a rule of thumb, when students believe ...

  7. How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!)

    Personal statements are your chance to get, well, personal. While you should answer the prompt in its entirety, you should also write about yourself. Bring a personal element into your essay like family or a story of you overcoming an obstacle. Ideally, your story should relate to what you're trying to accomplish at your graduate school of ...

  8. How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School: Tips & Samples

    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 ...

  9. Best Personal Statement for Graduate School 2024+

    Graduate Personal Statement: Rather than a letter, a personal statement for graduate school is an essay. It's intended to show who you are as a person, your personal and academic goals, and why you might be a good fit for the program. An important distinction here is "who you are as a person.". Personal statements should speak to what you ...

  10. How to Write Your Grad School Application Essay

    Essay requirements will vary from school to school, but you'll likely be asked to write 250-750 words. Common graduate application essay prompts include the following: Describe a situation where you overcame adversity/exhibited leadership/learned from failure/experienced an ethical dilemma.

  11. How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

    1. Brainstorm your ideas. First, he says, try to reframe the task at hand and get excited for the opportunity to write your statement of purpose. He explains: "Throughout the application process, you're afforded few opportunities to address the committee directly. Here is your chance to truly speak directly to them.

  12. How to Write Your Graduate School Admissions Essay

    State the key points mentioned in the body, such as your experiences or accomplishments, that explain your interest in the subject. State it in a conclusive and brief manner. Convey your fit to the specific graduate program and field. Your essay should include detail, be personal, and specific. The purpose of the graduate admissions essay is to ...

  13. APA Writing Guide: Formatting for Graduate Students

    Place the author note in the bottom half of the title page. Center and bold the label "Author Note." Align the paragraphs of the author note to the left. For an example, see the LU Writing Center template for graduate students here. Header, which includes: Page number in top right corner of the header, starting with page 1 on the title page

  14. PDF Writing Your Graduate School Application Essay

    Graduate School Application Essay FAQs Application essays are also difficult to write since there's a lack of consensus about the best practices of the genre. There isn't one correct way to write application essays because you can make yourself stand out in many different ways. These FAQs highlight some of the differing approaches.

  15. 3 Successful Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

    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 ...

  16. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Insert a quote from a well-known person. Challenge the reader with a common misconception. Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it ...

  17. The Personal Statement

    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. The response to very specific questions: Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement ...

  18. 3 Great Grad School Application Essay Examples

    T ry. To get. Some. Slee—it's no use. It's 3:00 am, 90 minutes before our day at work in the landfills of rural Thailand is set to begin, and the 60-watt bulb is still shining bright overhead. It is radiant. Directly on my left is one grown man's bare armpit; to my right is more of the same.

  19. 5 Tips for Nailing Your Graduate School Essay

    5 Tips for Nailing Your Graduate School Essay. When applying for graduate school, the essay is a great way to stand out from the rest of the applicants. Johanna Beers, associate director of Graduate Admissions, at Babson College gives an insider perspective on what makes a graduate school essay that will set you apart. Find your story.

  20. How to Write and Format Headings in Academic Writing

    At the outset, make a plan for how you will deal with matters of capitalization, formatting and sequencing of headings. Headings at the same level should be formatted the same. For instance, "Section 2.2" should get the same treatment as "Section 4.1". They should also have parallel structure.

  21. PDF Graduate School Writing Samples

    Graduate School Writing Samples Bernhard Nickel · [email protected] July 10, 2022 1 The Goal of the Writing Sample A writing sample for graduate school primarily serves an evidentialfunction: its purpose is to give evidence of your qualifications to enter graduate school at the program you're applying to. Of course the central

  22. Personal Statement Format

    Here is a basic format that should help you get started: The perfect length for a statement is 500 words. So, be sure to finish your paper within 495 - 505. Keep your paragraphs single-spaced and aligned with an extra line of space from the next. Times New Roman is a great font choice for every paper.

  23. Personal Statement Format

    Step 3 - Header Inclusion for Organization. To keep your document organized, consider including the title and page number in the header of each page. This simple addition aids in document management and ensures easy navigation, particularly if your personal statement extends across multiple pages. Step 4 - Structuring the Content

  24. Grace John-Stewart receives the 2024 Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished

    Congratulations to University of Washington School of Public Health faculty Grace John-Stewart for receiving the 2024 Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award! The Landolt Award recognizes faculty who exemplify excellence in graduate student education.

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