Applying to Graduate School

  Personal Statement

The purpose of the personal statement is to give you the opportunity to articulate your goals and reasons for applying to graduate school in your particular field of study. You may need to brainstorm before starting the draft on what's unique about you, how you became interested in the field, your personal characteristics and skills, and your previous experiences.

The opening paragraph should grab the reader's attention. Introduce the main elements that you will discuss in the statement. The middle paragraph should include the "meat" of the statement. Indicate why you are interested in the field and any relevant experience you have had. State some of your long term goals, and be specific. You should state what you can offer the program, and, in turn, what you will gain from it. You could also include some of your personal qualities and strengths. The closing paragraph should leave the reader with an image of you that they will remember. You should either re-articulate the main points of the statement, or add a particularly significant point. An average length of the statement is around two pages or approximately 500 words.

Some items that should be left out of a personal statement are: any information from high school (unless an interest in the field began in high school), potentially controversial subjects, and any item that doesn't answer the question asked or follow the guidelines specified. Be selective. It is important to demonstrate your enthusiasm, and the statement should show your personality and individualism. Lastly, it is important that the statement be well-written. We encourage you to have faculty, staff in Career Services and staff in the Writing Center review your personal statement.

Some schools will require an interview for acceptance. If you are applying for an assistantship or internship, an interview may also be required. If the school does not require an interview, it would still be advantageous to schedule a time to meet with a faculty member or chairperson of the department for which you are applying. This meeting will provide an opportunity for you to find out more information about the school and the program. Before the interview, you should read over the catalogue to become familiar with the institution's goals and functions.