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US Graduate School Personal Statements
Comprehensive information and advice on writing a winning personal statement for grad school.
Avoid common mistakes in your personal statement with our list of do’s and don’ts.
How do I write a grad school personal statement?
To write a successful grad school personal statement, we recommend you:
- Start early (don't leave it until the last minute!)
- Explain your reasons for choosing your chosen subject/career
- Back everything up with examples and be specific
- Tailor your statement to each school - all are sligtly different in terms of the program they offer and their research interests
- Be open, honest and sincere
- Talk about shared interests with the school's faculty (but keep it to just one or two areas, not everything!)
- Describe your motivations and how you can contribute to the school's reputation and successes
- Keep it succinct - grad school personal statements shouldn't be more than two A4 pages long at the most
- Proofread and revise - this means asking for feedback from trusted family and friends
- Stay calm and don't miss the deadline! Submit your application as soon as your statement is as perfect as you can make it, and you have completed the rest of the form.
How long should my grad school personal statement be?
While every school will have its own guidelines, a grad school personal statement is normally between 250 and 750 words long.
Where can I see some grad school personal statement examples?
If you're struggling with your personal statement, you can see some grad school personal statement examples here at Studential.
Please only use these for inspiration and don't copy phrases or whole sections from them, as this is plagiarism and your application may be penalised if the school finds out.
Can I use the same personal statement for different grad schools?
You shouldn't submit the same personal statement to multiple different schools, just changing the school and program names.
Many applicants, especially at postgraduate level, show each school they've done their homework, mentioning particular researchers at the school that they would like to work alongside and have shared interests with.
How do I write a grad school personal statement for social work?
To write a successful personal statement for social work at grad school, you need to:
- Stay on topic - keep to the specifics and don't drift off on a tangent. Remember, you are trying to convince admissions tutors why you are a great candidate for the course.
- Write notes - this will help ensure you include everything that is relevant, and shows that you have put thought and effort into your statement.
- Start early - give yourself plenty of time to put together the perfect statement, so allow at least a month to write (preferably longer)
- Revise and proofread - it's important to go through several revisions of your statement before showing it to trusted family members and friends to get feedback on it. Once you've incorporated their comments, proofread it carefully (don't just rely on a Spellchecker for this!).
How do I write a psychology grad school personal statement?
To write a great grad school personal statement for psychology, you should:
- Talk about why you are interested in psychology - pick one or two aspects that you enjoy and explain why
- Sell yourself - you need to grab the tutor's attention with your opening paragraph, and make them want to read to the end, so try to portray yourself in the best possible light at all times
- Highlight your strengths - describe your skills and experience and back everything up with examples. Be specific and tell the admissions tutors why you are an ideal candidate.
- Research different programs - this is crucial if you are going to choose ones that are right for you. Look at the course content and the school's research interests - do they all match with yours? Will you learn more about the topics you are most enthusiastic about?
- Ask for feedback - get your family involved and see what they think of your statement. Incorporate their comments and suggestions if you feel they improve your statement.
- Proofread properly - once you have a final draft, check it carefully for spelling, grammar and sense. Again, don't just rely on a Spellchecker to do this for you.