How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School: Top 5 Tips

How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School
July 31, 2023 6 min read Liaison

Here are some important things to consider before writing your personal statement for a grad school application.

Key Takeaways

A grad school personal statement is an essay about you as an individual and your reasons for applying.

Some schools have very specific requirements for personal statements, while others have open-ended questions or no requirements.

Focus on relevant experiences and be creative and unique in order to stand out.

Point out specific reasons why you decided to apply to a particular school and program.

Proofread your essay for relevance, tone of voice, grammar, and typos.

A personal statement can help you differentiate yourself from applicants with similar scores and skills.

Introduction

Not sure how to write a personal statement for grad school? This article provides tips for writing a personal statement that will make you stand out.

A personal statement is an essay about yourself, your reasons for applying to a specific program, your interest in the field, and your academic background.

Note that you’ll probably need to write more than one personal statement if you're applying to several programs because each statement should be tailored to the individual school and program.

How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School — Top 5 Tips

There isn't one way to write a personal statement. Below, you'll learn about common requirements, what you should write and how, and other tips to help you craft a strong personal statement.

1. Check the requirements set by the school you want to apply to

While the format of a personal statement for graduate school varies from institution to institution, some schools don't require a written personal statement. In some instances, you'll have to answer open-ended questions like, "Why do you think you're a good fit for the program?" After considering the requirements, you should decide what you'll cover in your statement.

2. Be creative

If you've chosen a grad school that doesn't have requirements for a personal statement but you would still like to submit one, you should choose a topic you know a lot about. When a lot of students have similar standardized test results and GPAs, strong writing skills can make a personal statement stand out. Writing a personal statement for grad school may take a while, so leave yourself enough time to write a perfect one. Try to be creative and unique.

3. Be relevant

If you're applying to a master's program, one of the best options is to write about your undergraduate studies experiences. You can mention things that have impacted you and made you fall in love with your chosen area of study. You can also write about your volunteering experiences, internships, reasons for your interest in the field, and accomplishments.

However, it's generally advisable to write about experiences relevant to your area of study rather than experiences unrelated to the field.

4. Be specific for consistency

No matter which grad school personal statement format a school requires, you'll have to specify the reasons why you are interested in the particular program and what makes you a great fit for it. To provide the best possible answer, research the program first so you can mention specific courses that interest you and the reasons why. Also, you should learn about the professors and mention those whose work you find interesting.

You should be as specific as possible in your personal statement essay.

5. Use an appropriate tone of voice

A personal statement is an essay about you as an individual. However, using the appropriate tone of voice is essential because it can demonstrate your professionalism, which is an important trait for a student.

writing a personal statement for grad school

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Additional Useful Tips

After finishing your essay, it's best to wait a day or two before you submit it. That gives you an opportunity to read it again with fresh eyes and make necessary edits to grammar, punctuation, spelling, and any typos you might have overlooked.

After checking everything, you can give your personal statement to a friend or family member and listen to their opinions.

Conclusion

Writing a compelling personal statement for school applications requires careful consideration and attention to detail. First, you need to check the requirements of the school you're applying to as some may have specific guidelines or word counts for the personal statement.

Be creative and choose a topic that showcases your knowledge and writing skills to stand out from other applicants. Focus on relevant experiences related to your chosen field of study, such as your undergraduate studies, volunteering experiences, internships, and interests in pursuing professional opportunities after earning a graduate degree.

Provide specific reasons for your interest in the program, mentioning particular courses, professors, or other aspects of the institution that appeal to you.

Double-check your essay for relevance, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Using a professional tone of voice is preferable, and you should avoid using famous quotes and cliches.

Consider seeking feedback from others to improve the statement further because a well-written personal statement can enhance your chances of getting accepted. It can help you stand out among students who may have similar scores and achievements as you.

FAQ

A personal statement is an essay you may need to write when applying for graduate school. While many schools require it, some don't. Among schools that do require it as part of the application process, guidelines and instructions may vary.

Grad schools that require a personal statement in the application process often specify how long it should be. The word count is usually between 500 and 1000 words. If there are no requirements for the word count, you should write up to two pages. But always check if there are precise guidelines before you start writing.

Your first paragraph should start with something interesting to grab reviewers’ attention. After that, you need to concisely explain why you wish to pursue a certain degree and give a short overview of your educational background. Lastly, you should write about the career goals you plan to accomplish with a particular graduate degree.

In the last paragraph, summarize your main points in a simple and compelling way. Point out the reasons for applying and your interests in the particular field.

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