Text Your Ex Back Good Examples Of Personal Statements

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There are no ‘right’ ways to writing your personal statement, but there are many ‘wrong’ ways of doing it.

On this page you will not only find everything you need to know about putting together a professional personal statement, but will also have access to dozens of expertly written ones. These samples are a great way to see how other people put together their personal statements, and to visualise the sort of structure and language they use. Reading through these will allow you to judge which ones you think are good or bad, which in turn will greatly help you in putting together your own winning statement. YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED NOT TO COPY THESE EXAMPLES WORD FOR WORD, BUT INSTEAD USE THEM AS USE THEM AS GUIDES AND AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.

Many students struggle to put together an effective personal statement, primarily because they find it difficult to write about themselves. They may also fall for other common essay writing mistakes such as straying from the core subject and message they should be trying to get across. To help students overcome these potential pitfalls we have developed this resource page as a guide to giving them useful tips, strategies and techniques on writing a professional profile that is of the highest quality and one that will maximise their chances of enrolling at their first choice university. By following our advice, preparing properly and with a bit of practise, putting together your personal statement should become a lot easier.

WHAT IS A PERSONAL STATEMENT
A personal statement is a self marketing statement and a vital part of not only the UCAS application form, but also the overall university admissions process. It is essentially a personally written whole page document of no more than 4000 characters (this includes spaces) or 47 lines of text that gives students a chance to say something about themselves and to make a positive impression on the admissions tutors. Over the years the space that UCAS allocate to the personal statement has grown from just a few lines to a whole page, emphasising how important admissions tutors think it is. Students in turn should give it similar attention.

As they are used in the assessment of your application they can be crucial in helping you to be accepted on to your chosen course. The person reading your application form will want to know in what ways you ‘connect’ with the course, and they will be looking for students who can articulate their aims and have the potential to succeed. For these reasons your statement should be informative, interesting and written to the highest standards possible.

  • A personal statement may often be the deciding factor in your application, especially when applying for competitive courses. 
  • It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the use of English language and grammar at a standard suitable for entry to higher education.

Students should view them as a opportunity to show the university admissions team their suitability for a degree course by demonstrating their communication skills, interest of the subject matter and previous knowledge of the course modules.

You should also remember that as many universities do not interview applicants, a personal statement may be the first and only information about you that the university will get to see about you. They may very well judge your commitment to the course and suitability for enrolment on how well it is written. Another reason for its importance is that it may be the only way of standing out from other applicants, particularly if the course you are applying for is popular and oversubscribed. 

PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLES

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STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO WRITING YOUR UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT

You should start off by listing reasons why you would be a good candidate for the course, then focus on demonstrating how these reasons along with your previous study and experiences have given you a keen interest in the subject for which you are applying. Concentrate on illustrating any relevant skills, qualities, or other positive sides of your character, and be prepared to rewrite your drafts repeatedly until you get your statement absolutely right. Also remember once you have gathered together all of the information your are going to use then you'll need to organise it in such a way that it builds a strong argument for why you should be offered a place on the course. Listed below are a series of stages you can follow which will help you to do exactly this and put together a winning professional personal statement. 

Remember that a personal statement will not only be judged by the facts in it but also by the language and style you use in it and also by the way its laid out. 

Stage 1
Start of by thinking about your personal traits and the things you have done that can illustrate your good qualities. List everything from your education and academic studies which you feel might be relevant to the course and university.

List all of your reasons for choosing the course.

List everything from your personal and work history which you think is relevant to the course you are applying for. This could be anything from any work duties or responsibilities, voluntary work, hobbies or awards etc.

Stage 2
Now you need to go through all of the lists you have created and choose those points from then that you feel are the strongest.

Stage 3
Make a outline of what you want to say by designing the layout of your personal statement. At the start describe your reasons for choosing to the course, then move onto your strengths and any supporting evidence. Finish off by concluding why you feel you should be accepted onto the course.

Stage 4
Start writing your first draft, then once you have completed it leave it for a few hours or a day, come back to it read it and rewrite it again. Very few people get their personal statement right the first time, keep rewriting it until you are satisfied with the results.

Stage 5
Once you are happy with your final draft then give it to a friend or colleague for proof reading. Also check it for spelling mistakes and diversity of vocabulary to create the right impression.

Do not

  • Criticise other universities.
  • Use slang or abbreviations.
  • Repeat information you have included on the rest of the UCAS application form (exam results etc). 
  • Tell lies or exaggerate.
  • Mention your age, culture and ethnic background, or your religious and political inclinations.
  • Use repetitive language, for instance repeatedly using phases such as ‘I like...' or 'I have...’ etc.
  • Simply write a list of things you do or have achieved.  
  • Have a string of sentences that start with phases such as 'I do...', etc.
  • Use clichés.
  • Try to be funny or tell jokes.
  • Give political viewpoints.
  • Sound arrogant or pretentious.
  • Ramble.
  • Write about trivial matters.
  • Make any mistakes in grammar and spelling.
  • Write it in the form of a letter, starting with 'Dear Sir / Madam' and ending with 'Thank you for reading my statement, your sincerely'. 

Tips when writing your personal statement

  • Plan your statement carefully.
  • Make a list of points you feel will be of interest to the Admissions Tutor.
  • When creating the structure always ask yourself if each stage is relevant.
  • When planning your statement make a list of the key topics and points that you want to mention.
  • State as clearly as possible your strongest points.
  • Make sure that every paragraph relates directly to your application.

The first paragraph
The first paragraph is probably the most important part of your statement. It should be an attention grabbing piece that gets the reader interest in what you are about to say. One of the best ways to grab a audience’s attention is to have a quotation or set of statistics in your first sentence, the main advantage of having a good ‘hook’ is that your reader is more likely to be susceptible to what you write later on.

Examples of 'hook's or attention grabbing first sentences;

  • ’Eighty five percent of geography graduates are in employment within six months of completing their degree course’.

Keep it relevant
Constantly ask yourself how relevant your words, sentences and paragraphs are to the course and university you are applying to. One way to do this is to read a universities ‘Entry Profile’ for the course you want to join. A ‘Entry Profile’ (normally listed on a universities website or prospectus) will explain what the university is looking for in a student, what qualifications that should have and also the type of experience they need. Read it thoroughly and make a list of all the key requirements in there and then keep referring to it whilst writing out your personal profile. This is an effective way to ensure that your personal statement remains relevant, on track and does not wander off course.

Your conclusion
Try to finish off your statement with something that the reader can take away with them. The conclusion should not be a repeat or summary of what you have written elsewhere in your personal statement, instead it should be different, interesting and memorable so that the reader remembers what you wrote. 

Listed below are examples that will help you to visualise a strong conclusion and finish your statement off in a way that concludes everything.
 
Examples of how to start and write a conclusion;

'After completion of my degree I hope to gain relevant work experience in order to make my dream of becoming an engineer a reality.'

‘Overall, I consider myself to be a hardworking, determined student who is motivated by challenges and can gain personal benefit from new experiences. I strongly feel that a university degree in (..........) will be a great foundation from which to launch a successful career in the future, in whatever field that may be.

‘I sincerely hope that this statement has helped you see me as someone who gives everything my best effort, and who always pushes harder.’

‘ My past has inspired me to try to be the best that I can, and to not settle for anything less’.

‘My main priority now is to...(explain your ambitions)’.

‘Enrolling on a degree course is just the beginning for me, I aspire to achieve much more in the next few years starting with...(list your goals)’.

‘In conclusion I would like to say that I am really looking forward to the personal and academic challenges that studying at your university will bring’.

The structure
Have this laid out before you start to put pen to paper. Remember that once you know what you’re going to say, and in what order you’re going to say it, it’s much easier to stay on track when you actually start writing.

Planning a structure is also a very good way of ensuring that you stay within the word limits imposed by UCAS.

Give yourself plenty of time
Creating a effective personal statement can be time consuming, so it’s important that you do not leave it till the last minute. Remember it’ never too early to start thinking about it. 

Key points to note when writing your personal statement

  • Admissions tutors look for people who are enthusiastic and passionate about the subject they want to study, so try to convey these in your writing.
  • It is a opportunity for you to sell yourself to the admission tutors.
  • View it as a chance to emphasise your strongest points that you feel will help your application.
  • If the course is in an area that you have not studied before then you need to show you already know a fair amount about the subject matter.
  • Make every sentence count as you only have limited space and need to convey as much information as you can.
  • The statement can form the basis of an interview discussion, so make sure you only include information on there that you can back up.
  • Do not use bullet points or lists, continuous prose is much better.
  • Focus on the persuasiveness of your language by using keywords and phrases that will optimise the strength of your message.
  • Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are of paramount importance.
  • Keep re-reading and re-writing your personal statement! However many drafts it takes, make it perfect.
  • Include interesting and engaging information that will encourage them to read the rest of your application.

WHEN WRITING YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT FOCUS ON EXPLAINING

  • Why you want to study the subject at degree level.
  • Your reasons for choosing their university.
  • What attracts you to the subject.
  • Why you are suitable for the course.
  • What you enjoy most about the subject matter.
  • What you feel are your strongest skills.
  • Any relevant work or academic experience that you have.
  • Any academic achievements.
  • What your long term future career aspirations are, and how studying this course can help you to achieve them. 
  • The strategic value you can add to the course and university.
  • Why you'd make a successful student. 
  • Your potential to succeed. 

Why you want to study the subject at degree level
This is an important point to explain to the selectors, particularly if you have never studied the subject before. You need to give logical reasons, and the best way to do this is to start of by clearly explaining what you are looking for from the degree and why. After this move onto finding common ground between the core modules and your academic and career ambitions.

If possible you should try to include ‘evidence’ (in the form of examples or experiences) to back up any claims you make and to prove that you have prior knowledge of the topic.

Examples of possible answers

‘There are particular areas of the subject, such as (..........) and (..........) which have really grabbed my attention and have made me want to study field in more depth’.

‘I feel that I am a good match for the course requirements. With my skills, temperament, previous qualifications, interests and goals all matching the requirements’.

‘Because it is a challenging and diverse course that I feel I can pass’.

‘My previous experience makes me well suited for the course'.

‘Your degree program will allow me to enrol for a PhD later on'.

‘I need this degree to pursue a chosen career in (.......).’

‘I really enjoyed studying this subject at college / A level’.

'This course will allow me to expand my existing knowledge of the subject matter’.

‘In my previous academic studies I found that I was most interested in the (........) field, and so I decided to shift my studies to this particular field and subject’. 

‘To me the subject is very interesting and challenging’.

‘In the future I would like to be employed in this field, and this subject is a ideal starting point for me’.

‘It will give me the opportunity to specialise in a particular field’.

‘It will greatly enhance my career prospects’.

'This qualification will provide me with a good basis for future career moves'. 


Your reasons for choosing their university
Research the university, its history, and achievements and then mention these in your answer. Possible reasons can be;

  • Location (busy city, small town, by the coast)
  • Type of university (small, large, well established, new)
  • Quality and reputation (teaching standards)
  • The facilities (library, resources, sports facilities)
  • The cost (affordable, cost of living)
  • The unique atmosphere
  • Course structure
  • Course content
  • Teaching methods
  • Year abroad opportunities
  • Practical training
  • Transport links
  • Availability of accommodation
  • Students Union
  • General atmosphere and feel of the campus.
  • The support of the staff.

Examples of possible answers

‘I want an all-rounded education where I feel like I’ve been challenged, and where I will experience things that no other university can offer me’.

‘The location was important for me, I want to be in a big city, but also in a university institution that has a campus feel to it’.

‘I like your campus because it does not allow strangers, tourists or random pedestrians to come in and wander around and spoil that university feel’.

‘During a visit to your university I noticed that most students who were not in class were anxious to remain on the campus rather than leave and go to the city centre. This was totally unlike other universities I have visited were everyone was anxious to get off the campus.’

‘The students I met during a visit to your institution all seemed to be engaged in their education.’

‘On a recent visit to your campus I really appreciated the attention and personal interactions that i witnessed between tutors and students’.

‘I want to study at a leading academic institution’.

‘Your university has a reputation for attracting the very best student in this field, and these are people who I want to study with’.

‘Your university is renowned for its high academic standards’.

‘I realised that your university offers something different, that other institutions don’t have’.

‘Everyone there seemed to be really engaged in learning’.

‘I see someone like myself fitting in very easily into the culture and spirit of your university’.

‘When I began research for a university to enrol at ....'.

‘I believe that your university will be able to help me achieve all of my ambitions and much more’.

‘Your universities spirit stands out and dares to be different’.

‘I have made it a point of duty to distinguish myself in my studies and to only enrol at the very best academic institutions’. 


Why you are suitable for the course
In answering this point you need to not only demonstrate your prior knowledge of the core modules, but also explain in detail any specific skills and abilities that you have which will help you to succeed. Emphasise specific characteristics and abilities that make you special and will help you to stand out. You should make your career motivation clear and demonstrate commitment to education. 

Tip when answering this question
It is worth getting into the habit of reading related trade magazines and newspaper reports as this will make you aware of current events and issues. You can then mention these points in your answers, which in turn will go a long way in showing that you have a interest in the field as a whole.

Focus on

  • Clearly showing how you envision your success at their university.
  • Giving details of any hobbies or activities that you do which are linked to the course.
  • Any previous academic studies you have undertaken in the subject or related fields. 
  • Any relevant work experience, placements or voluntary work that you have done. Or any specific duties which you performed and which are related to the course.
  • Details of practical, theory or particular subjects you are good at.
  • Personal experiences that will make you suitable for university life.
  • Highlighting positions of responsibility you have held in the past.

Examples of what to write

‘I firmly believe that i can be an asset to your university because of my drive, resilience and strong career motivation’.

‘I feel I have the critical analysis, experience  and communication skills that will help me to be a outstanding undergraduate at your university’.

‘I have set out my long term career and academic goals in detail and priority, and am therefore fully prepared mentally for this course’.

‘I feel can make a positive impact on the course’.

‘I have a keen interest to learn more about this subject’.


STRENGTHS AND SKILLS TO MENTION IN A PERSONAL STATEMENT
Listed below are areas to consider mentioning, along with examples of how to word them;

Decision making
‘Good decision making skills are at the core of solid learning, and I possess these skills in abundance’.

Time management
‘I possess superb time management skills, which are essential to balancing the conflicting demands of university life’.

Information management
‘One of my strongest points is the ability to collect and manage large quantities of information’.

Meeting tight deadlines
‘I care about deadlines, am very serious about meeting them and always make them a priority’.

Independent research
‘At my college I gained a reputation for conducting quality in depth independent research into subjects’. 

Intellectual ability
‘I consider myself to be intellectually adventurous’.

Teamwork
‘I can work as part of a team, as well as on my own initiative’.

Coping with pressure
‘Through my experiences i have developed an ability to cope with pressure when working to tight schedules’.

Organised 
'I am a highly organised individual'.


WRITING ABOUT YOUR HOBBIES AND INTERESTS
Advice regarding the inclusion of hobbies and interests in a personal statement is often contradictory. However having an interesting list of hobbies and pursuits is an ideal way to show yourself off as a interesting person, which in turn can be a great way to make up for a lack of academic experience and even gaps in your knowledge. It’s also not enough to simply feature a bullet-list of hobbies and interests, you must present them in a way that says something deeper about your character.

  • Interesting hobbies can make you stand out and seem unique, which is exactly what you want.
  • Hobbies and interests can be a reflection of your personality.
  • Universities like student who can bring something different and exciting to their campus.

The golden rule is to always focus on and include those hobbies that are directly linked to the course you want to study, as they can support your overall application. However remember that when writing a personal statement you are limited with the number of words you can use to sell your skills and competencies, therefore if your hobbies are not relevant to the course then do not waste valuable space explaining them.

Although university staff will scan personal statements looking for offbeat hobbies or activities as evidence of a applicants creativity and personality, they are not really interested in trivial pastimes unrelated to the subject. For example if you are applying for an Computer Science degree course, and your main hobby is collecting stamps, then this is plainly not related to the course in any way. However if your favourite pastime is building your own computers and servers, then it’s well worth mentioning.

It is also worth noting that some universities will value your extra-curricular activities higher than others. Those that do want to see what sort of life you lead away from your studies. They believe that a person with a wide range of interests will be able to get along with people from different backgrounds and consequently find it easier to fit into different environments. 

Ask yourself

  • Have you ever won any awards.
  • Have you ever been elected to any position.
  • Have you ever done something that has surprised people.
  • Are you involved in anything where you have to work as part of a team.
  • Do you speak any foreign languages.
  • Do you play any musical instruments.  

The benefits of having unusual hobbies
Certain hobbies such as scuba diving, skiing and horse riding may not seem very unusual to the candidate that actually practices them, but they can be a very good ice breakers and talking points during the interview stage. A well-executed hobbies and interests list can even compensate for a lack in experience or education.

Do not exaggerate
Don't go over the top when describing your hobbies, exaggerating the truth can come back to haunt you in the long run, especially at the interview stage where you may be asked detailed questions about your claims.

Writing about your hobbies can help universities to;

  • Understand your values and what motivates you.
  • Assess your social skills.
  • See that you can work as part of a team.
  • Identify your leadership and interpersonal skills.

Do not

  • Say that your hobbies and interests are a big part of you life, you don’t want the university to think your leisure activities will take priority over your studying.
  • List hobbies that are indicative of thrill-seeking and risk-taking behaviour.
  • Mention that you do extreme sports i.e. like sky diving, universities want to know that students are going to turn up to classes and not be in some hospital as a result of a accident. Remember they are looking for stability and reliability.
  • Ramble on about your pets (they are not classified as a hobby).

Examples of how to write about your hobbies;
‘As captain of the local football team I helped to organise the team, entered them into competitions and eventually lead them to win a regional trophy. ‘

‘Having photography as a hobby gives me the opportunity to research and organize information in a way that showcases my abilities to maximum effect.’

‘I enjoy the chess club because it stimulates my creative problem solving skills and opens my mind to new ways of thinking outside the box.’


PLAGIARISM AND COPYING
It is vital that you make sure your personal statement is your own work and not something you have copied from another source. You should note that many universities have specialist software that can easily detect copied work. Anyone who is caught doing this will have their application immediately rejected.

There are certain ‘rules’ which must be adhered to when writing your own personal statement. One of the main ones being that you should not copy the work of others. For students being familiar with these rules is important as unintentional mistakes can lead to possible charges of plagiarism, and the rejection of their application. 

Students should avoid plagiarism not only because there are rules against it and there is a real risk of getting found out, but also because it is the right thing to do.

What is plagiarism
Plagiarism can be classified as the close imitation of language, thoughts, writing or expressions. In terms of writing a personal statement this can come to mean copying another authors work and then presenting it as your own (without crediting the original source or having the original writers permission). 

Examples of plagiarism include copying the personal statements of fellow students, buying examples from the internet, or creating a whole article by cutting and pasting blocks of texts from the Internet. Having said that it is not a clear cut area, with the boundaries between plagiarism and genuine research and writing often blurred. A good example of this ambiguity is the fact that in some countries plagiarism is considered to be a violation of copyright laws, and can lead to prosecution in a court of law, whilst in other countries it is not taken so seriously. In the UK universities take this issue very seriously, and anyone caught plagiarising will almost certainly have any university enrolment application rejected.  

Why some people plagiarise
In a educational and academic setting, students are constantly engaged (through discussion and study) with other people’s ideas, thoughts and writings. Whilst most students do not intentionally intend to plagiarise, for a very small minority it can be tempting to use another person’s words and pass them off as their own. What people should remember is that many universities are well versed in using plagiarism detection software which is very effective at catching out ‘offenders’. 

  • It’s easy to do, there is a huge amount of free information on the Internet that can be quickly copied.
  • Many people believe that they will not get caught.
  • Some people may not be able or willing to do the writing themselves.

Points to remember about plagiarism

  • Plagiarism committed by ‘accident’ or unintentionally can still be considered an offence by university admission teams.
  • It does not matter if the original author has consented to their work being copied, a student must still reference or acknowledge it, otherwise it will be considered as plagiarism.

Plagiarism (copying the work of others) is considered to be;

  • Dishonest
  • Academic fraud
  • Immoral
  • A breach of ethics
  • Poor scholarship
  • Possible copyright infringement

If you are caught plagiarising it can lead to

  • Your university enrolment application being immediately rejected.
  • Loss of integrity.
  • Loss of credibility.

Universities regularly check for plagiarism
Institutions work hard to raise awareness of plagiarism, take active steps to reduce it, all with the ultimate objective of improving academic integrity.

How to avoid plagiarism
It is often said that the best way to avoid plagiarising is to not read anything written by other people in your subject area. However as this is not really practical, we have listed some tips below on how to avoid accidental plagiarising;

  • If you intend to use other people work in your statement then you should use an academic style of writing that incorporates referencing. This means making it clear when you have used (or been influenced by) the ideas, concepts and words of others. Use citations and footnotes to name authors, publications or any work you have quoted.
  • It is good practise to read through any required reading material and to then put it all away when you are ready to start writing your own material. Only go back to the original source when you want to check you have the facts rights.
  • Always try to use your own words, ideas and phrases to produce something that is new and original.
  • Focus on improving the existing opinions of works that you have read.
  • Check your paraphrases or summaries against any original text you are using.
  • It is good practise to methodically and accurately note the source of anything you consult and gain ideas from. This is a great way to help you avoid accidentally copying someone else’s material.
  • Consider using a colour coded system to highlight and differentiate your notes and the original work of authors.
  • Evaluate your sources carefully before relying and using them.

Referencing
The aim of referencing is to give the reader a opportunity to clearly see exactly where the author is being influenced or has copied text. Proper referencing should also give the reader enough accurate information for them to be able to find the original source themselves.

Reasons to be original

  • University admission staff (as well as tutors) always prize originality in a students writing.
  • Becoming a good researcher and writer takes time, it will not happen overnight. However it will never happen if you get into a habit of copying the work of others.  


ENTRY PROFILES
These are available for all potential students to view and are intended to describe the course in detail and give key information about the formal entry requirements, admissions policy and selection procedures. Profiles can also show students what to expect on a course, information which in turn can help them to make a informed decision as to whether the course is for them and if they are suited for it. A published Entry Profile will list up to date details and guidance about a courses; content, course structure, optional modules, admission tests, interview procedure, academic entry qualifications, fees, bursaries and financial support. It is a useful resource that can help you to avoid making costly mistakes when choosing a degree course and is well worth reading before you make a final decision on where to study.


COMMON REASONS FOR UNSUCCESSFUL PERSONAL STATEMENTS 

  • It does not show a strong desire to study your chosen course.
  • Your application does not demonstrate a strong understanding or knowledge of the subject matter.
  • It was incoherent, badly structured and had spelling mistakes.


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Not sure what graduate schools are looking for in a statement of purpose? Looking at successful graduate school statement of purpose samples can help! In this guide, we’ll orient you to what makes a great statement of purpose or letter of intent for graduate school. Then we’ll provide you with four successful statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts. We’ll also provide analysis of what makes them successful. Finally, we’ll direct you to even more helpful examples that you can find online!

 

The Graduate School Statement of Purpose: An Overview

A statement of purpose (also called a letter of intent or a research statement) introduces your interests and experience to the admissions committee. For research-focused programs, like most PhDs and many master’s degrees, your statement of purpose will focus primarily on your past research experience and plans. For more professionally-focused graduate programs, your statement of purpose will primarily discuss how your pursuit of this professional program relates to your past experiences, and how you will use the skills from the program in your future career.

A statement of purpose for grad school is also where you sell the admissions committee on why you belong in their program specifically. Why do you fit there, and how does what they offer fit your interests?

 

What’s in a Great Grad School Statement of Purpose?

Here are the essential elements of a strong graduate school statement of purpose:

 

Clear Articulation of Goals and Interests

A strong statement of purpose will clearly and specifically lay out your goals in undertaking the program and what you hope to accomplish with the degree. Again, for a research-focused program, this will focus primarily on the research project(s) you want to undertake while you are there. For a more professional program, discuss what interests you within the professional field and what skills/knowledge you hope to gain through the program.

You should be as specific as possible in discussing what interests you. Use examples of particular phenomena, tools, or situations that you find exciting. If you are vague or say that everything in the field interests you, you run the risk of seeming unfocused or not actually that passionate.

Don’t worry that being too specific will box you into a particular research area or subfield during your entire tenure in graduate school. Your program understands that interests change—they won’t be pulling out your research statement to cross-reference with your dissertation proposal!

 

Evidence of Past Experience and Success

A great graduate school statement of purpose will also show programs that you have already been successful. They want applicants that will be able to follow through on their research/professional plans!

To this end, you’ll need to provide evidence of how your background qualifies you to pursue this program and your specific interests in the field. You’ll probably discuss your undergraduate studies and any professional experience you have. But be sure to draw on specific, vivid examples. You might draw on your thesis, major projects you’ve worked on, papers you have written/published, presentations you’ve given, mentors you’ve worked with, and so on. This gives admissions committees concrete evidence that you are qualified to undertake graduate study!

 

 

Interest and Fit With the Program

The third essential ingredient to a great statement of purpose is to clearly lay out why you and the program are a good fit. You should be able to identify both specific reasons why your work fits with the program and why the program suits your work/interests! Are there particular professors you’d like to work with? Does the department have a strong tradition in a certain methodology or theory you’re interested in? Is there a particular facet to the curriculum that you’d like to experience?

Showing that you and the program are a match shows that you chose the program thoughtfully and have genuine interest in it. Programs want to admit students who aren’t just passionate about the field. They want students who are genuinely enthused about their specific program and positioned to get the most out of what they have to offer.

 

Strong Writing

The final essential piece of a strong statement of purpose or letter of intent is strong writing. Writing skills are important for all graduate programs. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can clearly and effectively communicate your ideas in a way that flows logically. Additionally, you should show that you know how to write in a way that is descriptive but concise. A statement of purpose shouldn’t ever be longer than two pages, even without a hard word limit.

Admissions committees for humanities programs may be a little more focused on writing style than admissions officers for STEM programs. But even in quantitative and science-focused fields, written communication skills are an essential part of graduate school. So a strong statement of purpose will always be effectively written. You’ll see this in our statement of purpose for graduate school samples.

 

 

Real, Successful Statement of Purpose Samples

In this section, we’ll present four successful graduate school statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts, along with a brief commentary on each statement. These statements come from a diverse selection of program types to show you how the core essentials of a statement of purpose can be implemented differently for different fields.

Note: identifying information for these statements have been changed—except for example four, which is my statement.

 

Statement of Purpose Sample One: Japanese Studies MA

This statement of purpose is notable for its great use of space and its vivid descriptions. The author is able to cram a lot into about a page. She discusses how she came to her two primary research interests (and how they are connected). She integrates this discussion of her interests with information on her past experiences and qualifications for pursuing the course of study. Finally, she includes details on her goals in pursuing the program and components of the program that interest her. Her examples are specific and fleshed-out. There’s a lot very cleverly included in a small amount of page space!

Additionally, the language is very vivid. Phrases like “evocative and visceral” and “steadily unraveling,” are eye-catching and intriguing. They demonstrate that she has the writing skills necessary to pursue both graduate study and her interest in translation.

 

Statement of Purpose Sample Two: Music MM

This sample is fairly long, although at 12 point Times New Roman it’s under two pages single-spaced. The length of this statement is partially due to the somewhat expansive nature of the prompt, which asks what role music has played in the applicant’s life “to date.” This invites applicants to speak more about experiences further in the past (in the childhood and teen years) than is typical for a statement of purpose. Given that this is for a master’s degree in music, this is logical; musical study is typically something that is undertaken at a fairly young age.

This statement does an excellent job describing the student’s past experiences with music in great detail. The descriptions of the student’s past compositions and experiences performing new music are particularly vivid and intriguing.

This statement also lays out and elaborates on specific goals the student hopes to pursue through the program, as well as features particular to the program that interest the student (like particular professors).

 

 

Statement of Purpose Sample Three: Economics PhD

One of the first things you’ll likely notice about this statement is that it’s a little on the longer side. However, at 12 point Times New Roman font and single-spaced, it still comes in under 2 pages (excluding references). It makes sense for a PhD statement of purpose sample to be longer than a master’s degree statement of purpose—there’s more to lay out in terms of research interests!

The writing style is fairly straightforward—there’s definitely a stronger focus on delivering content than flashy writing style. As Economics is a more quantitative-focused field, this is fine. But the writing is still well-organized, clear, and error-free.

The writer also gives numerous examples of their past work and experience, and shows off their knowledge of the field through references, which is a nice touch.

 

Statement of Purpose Sample Four: History of the Book MA

This is actually my statement of purpose. It was for a program that I got accepted to but did not end up attending, for a Master’s in the History of the Book. You’ll notice that the two essay prompts essentially asked us to split our statement of purpose into two parts: the first prompt asked about our research interests and goals, and the second prompt asked about our relevant experience and qualifications.

I’ll keep my comments on this graduate school statement of purpose sample brief because I’ll do a deep dive on it in the next section. But looking back at my statement of purpose, I do a good job outlining what within the field interests me and clearly laying out how my past experiences have qualified me for the program.

Obviously this statement did its job, since I was accepted to the program. However, if I were to improve this statement, I’d change the cliche beginning  (“since I was a child”) and provide more specificity in what about the program interested me.

 

Deep Dive Analysis of a Sample Statement of Purpose for Graduate School

Next, we’ll do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of my statement, statement of purpose sample four. I’ll analyze its strengths and suggest ways I could shore up any weaknesses to make it even stronger.

 

Essay 1: Academic Interests

To refresh, here’s the first prompt: Please give a short statement that describes your academic interests, purpose, objectives and motivation in undertaking this postgraduate study. (max 3500 chars – approx. 500 words)

 

Paragraph 1

Since I was a child, my favorite thing has always been a book. Not just for the stories and information they contain, although that is a large part of it. Mostly, I have been fascinated by the concept of book as object—a tangible item whose purpose is to relate intangible ideas and images. Bookbindings and jackets, different editions, the marginalia in a used book—all of these things become part of the individual book and its significance, and are worth study and consideration. Books and their equivalent forms—perfect bound, scrolled, stone tablets, papyrus—have long been an essential part of material culture and are also one of our most significant sources of information about the human historical past. Through both the literal object of the book, the words contained thereon, and its relationship to other books—forms of context, text and intertext—we are able to learn and hopefully manage layers of information with which we would otherwise have no familiarity.

First, the good: this paragraph does a good job introducing my academic interest in the book-as-object, and shows off pre-existing knowledge both of the study of material culture and literary theory. Additionally, the language is engaging: the juxtaposition of “tangible” and “intangible” in the beginning and phrases like “perfect bound, scrolled, stone tablets, papyrus” lend life to the writing and keep the reader engaged.

If I were to go back and improve this paragraph, first, I would absolutely change the first sentence to something less cliche than talking about my childhood. I might try something like “My love of books is a multifaceted thing. I don’t only love them for the stories and….” Second, I would chill out on the em dashes a little bit. Three sets in one paragraph is a little excessive. Finally, I might actually cut this paragraph down slightly to make more room word-wise later in the statement to discuss what specific things about the program interest me.

 

 

Paragraph 2

Furthermore, blogs, webcomics, digital archives, e-readers, and even social media sites like tumblr and Facebook have revolutionized the concept of the book by changing how we share and transmit ideas and information, just as the Gutenberg printing press revolutionized the book all those years ago in the fifteenth century. Once again there has been an explosion both in who can send out information and who can receive it.

This paragraph briefly and effectively introduces my other main academic interest: how new technology has changed the concept of the book-as-object. The tie-back to the printing press is a nice touch; it’s a vivid example that shows that I’m aware of important historical moments in book history.

 

Paragraph 3

I am deeply interested in the preservation of the physical book, as I think it is an important part of human history (not to mention a satisfying sensory experience for the reader). However I am also very concerned with the digitization and organization of information for the modern world such that the book, in all of its forms, stays relevant and easy to access and use. Collections of books, archives, and information as stored in the world’s servers, libraries and museums are essential resources that need to be properly organized and administered to be fully taken advantage of by their audiences. My purpose in applying to the University of Edinburgh’s Material Culture and History of the Book is to gain the skills necessary to keep all forms of the book relevant and functional in an age when information can move more radically than ever before.

This paragraph actually has a focus problem. Since it covers two topics, I should split it into two paragraphs: one on the integration of my two interests, and one on my goals and interests in the program. I could also stand to expand on what features the program has that interest me: professors I’d like to work with, particular aspects of the curriculum, etc.

In spite of these things, however, this paragraph does a good job clearly integrating the two academic interests related to the book I introduced in the first two paragraphs. And the language is still strong—“satisfying sensory experience” is a great phrase. However, I’ve been using the word “information,” a lot; I might try to replace with appropriate synonyms (like “knowledge”) in a couple of places.

 

Paragraph 4

Additionally, I intend on pursuing a PhD in Library and Information Sciences upon completion of my master’s and I feel that this program while make me uniquely suited to approach library science from a highly academic and interdisciplinary perspective.

This final paragraph offers just quick touch on my future goals beyond the program. It’s typically fine for this to be relatively brief, as it is here, just so long as you can clearly identify some future goals.

 

Essay 2: Relevant Experience

The second prompt just asked me to describe my relevant knowledge, training, and skills.

 

Paragraph 1

As a folklore and mythology student, I have gained a robust understanding of material culture and how it relates to culture as a whole. I have also learned about the transmission of ideas, information, stories and pieces of lore among and between populations, which is an important component of book history. Folklore is also deeply concerned with questions of the literary vs. oral lore and the tendency for text to “canonize” folklore, and yet text can also question or invert canonized versions; along with this my studies in my focus field of religion and storytelling have been deeply concerned with intertextuality. One of my courses was specifically concerned with the Heian-period Japanese novel The Tale of Genji and questions of translation and representation in post-Heian picture scrolls and also modern translations and manga. In addition to broader cultural questions concerned with gender and spirituality both in historical Japan and now, we considered the relationships between different Genji texts and images.

This is a strong, focused paragraph. I relate my academic background in Folklore and Mythology to my interests in studying the book, as well as showing off some of my knowledge in the area. I also chose and elaborated on a strong example (my class on the Tale of Genji) of my relevant coursework.

 

Paragraph 2

I also have work experience that lends itself to the study of the book. After my freshman year of college I interned at the Chicago History Museum. Though I was in the visitor services department I was exposed to the preservation and archival departments of the museum and worked closely with the education department, which sparked my interest in archival collections and how museums present collection information to the public. After my sophomore year of college and into my junior year, I worked at Harvard’s rare books library, Houghton. At Houghton I prepared curated collections for archival storage. These collections were mostly comprised of the personal papers of noteworthy individuals, categorized into alphabetical folders. This experience made me very process-oriented and helped me to understand how collections come together on a holistic basis.

This paragraph also has a clear focus: my past, relevant work experience. Discussing archival collections and presenting information to the public links the interests discussed in my first statement with my qualifications in my second statement. However, if I were to revise this paragraph, I would add some specific examples of the amazing things I worked on and handled at Houghton Library. In that job, I got to touch Oliver Cromwell’s death mask! An interesting example would make this paragraph really pop even more.

 

Paragraph 3

Finally, in my current capacity as an education mentor in Allston, a suburb of Boston, I have learned the value of book history and material culture from an educational perspective. As a mentor who designs curriculum for individual students and small groups, I have learned to highly value clearly organized and useful educational resources such as websites, iPad apps, and books as tools for learning. By managing and organizing collections in a way that makes sense we are making information accessible to those who need it.

This final paragraph discusses my current (at the time) work experience in education and how that ties into my interest in the history of the book. It’s an intriguing connection and also harkens back to my discussion of information availability in the paragraph three of the first statement. Again, if I were to amp up this statement even more, I might include a specific example of a book-based (or book technology-based) project I did with one of my students. I worked on things like bookbinding and making “illuminated manuscripts” with some of my students; those would be interesting examples here.

 

This statement is split into two parts by virtue of the two-prompt format. However, if I were to integrate all of this information into one unified statement of purpose, I would probably briefly introduce my research interests, go in-depth on my background, then circle back around to speak more about my personal interests and goals and what intrigues me about the program. There’s not really one correct way to structure a statement of purpose just so long as it flows well and paragraphs are structured in a logical way: one topic per paragraph, with a clear topic and concluding sentence.

 

 

More Statement of Purpose Examples

We’ve provided you with four great graduate school statement of purpose examples from our graduate school experts. However, if you’re looking for more, there are other sample letters of intent and statements of purpose for graduate school online. We’ve rounded up the best ones here, along with some strengths and weaknesses about each example.

 

Majortests Statement of Purpose Sample

This is a fairly straightforward, clearly written statement of purpose sample for a biology program. It includes useful commentary after each paragraph about what this statement of purpose is accomplishing.

 

Strengths

  • This statement of purpose sample is well-organized, with clear topic sentences and points made in each paragraph.
  • The student clearly identifies what interests her about the program.
  • The student proactively addresses questions about why she hasn’t gone directly to graduate school, and frames her professional research experience as a positive thing.
  • She gives a tiny bit of color about her personality in a relevant way by discussing her involvement with the Natural History Society.

 

Weaknesses

  • In general, discussing high school interests is too far back in time unless the anecdote is very interesting or unusual. The detail about The Theory of Evolution is intriguing; the information about the high school teacher seems irrelevant. The student should have condensed this paragraph into a sentence or two.
  • While this statement is cogently written and makes the candidate sound competent and well-qualified, it’s not exactly the most scintillating piece of writing out there. Some of the constructions are a little awkward or cliche. For example, the “many people have asked me” sentence followed by “the answer is” is a little bit clunky. This is probably fine for a STEM program. But just be aware that this statement is not a paragon of writing style.

 

UC Berkeley History Statement of Purpose Sample

This is a graduate school statement of purpose example from the UC Berkeley History department’s PhD program, with annotations from a professor as to why it’s a successful statement.

 

Strengths

  • The author is able to very clearly and articulately lay out her research interests and link them to past work she has successfully completed, namely, her thesis.
  • She is able to identify several things about the program and Berkeley that indicate why it is a good fit for her research interests.
  • She addresses the time she spent away from school and frames it as a positive, emphasizing that her use of time was well-considered and productive.
  • Her writing is very vivid, with excellent word choice and great imagery.

 

Weaknesses

While very well-written and engaging, this sample statement of purpose for graduate school is a little bit on the long side! It’s a little over two single-spaced pages, which is definitely pushing the limits of acceptable length. Try to keep yours at 2 pages or less. Some of the information on the thesis (which comprises over half of the statement of purpose) could be condensed to bring it down to two pages.

 

 

Pharmacy Residency Letter of Intent Sample

This is not technically a sample letter of intent for graduate school because it’s actually for a pharmacy residency program. However, this example still provides illumination as to what makes a decent graduate school letter of intent sample.

 

Strengths

  • This is a serviceable letter of intent: the writer clearly lays out their own goals within the field of pharmacy, what qualifications they have and how they’ve arrived at their interests, and how the program fits their needs.
  • The writing is clearly structured and well-organized.

 

Weaknesses

  • The main weakness is that some of the writer’s statements come across as fairly generic. For example, “The PGY-1 Residency Program at UO Hospitals will provide me with the opportunity to further develop my clinical knowledge, critical thinking, teaching, research, and leadership skills” is a generic statement that could apply to any residency program. A punchier, more program-specific conclusion would have amped up this letter.
  • While the writer does a decent job providing examples of their activities, like working as a tutor and attending the APhA conference, more specificity and detail in these examples would make the statement more memorable.
  • There’s a typo in the last paragraph—a “to” that doesn’t belong! This is an unprofessional blip in an otherwise solid letter. Read you own letter of intent aloud to avoid this!

 

NIU Bad Statement of Purpose Example

This is an ineffective graduate school statement of purpose example, with annotations on why it doesn’t work.

 

Strengths

As you might imagine, the main strength in this document is as an example of what not to do. Otherwise, there is little to recommend it.

 

Weaknesses

  • The annotations quite clearly detail the weaknesses of this statement. So I won’t address them exhaustively except to point out that this statement of purpose fails at both content and style. The author includes irrelevant anecdotes and lists without offering a decisive picture of interests or any particular insight into the field. Additionally, the statement is riddled with grammatical mistakes, awkward sentence structures, and strange acronyms.
  • You’ll note that the commentary advises you to “never start with a quote.” I agree that you should never start with a freestanding quote as in this example. However, I do think starting with a quote is acceptable in cases like the Berkeley history example above, where the quote is brief and then directly linked to the research interest.

 

 

Graduate School Statement of Purpose Examples: 4 Key Points

Graduate programs ask for statement of purpose to hear about your interests and goals and why you think you and the program would be a good fit.

There are four key elements to a successful statement of purpose:

  • A clear articulation of your goals and interests
  • Evidence of past experiences and success
  • Interest and fit with the program
  • Strong writing

We’ve provided you with four successful statement of purpose samples from our graduate school experts!

We also provided additional statement of purpose samples (and a sample letter of intent) for graduate school from other sources on the internet. Now you have all kinds of guidance!

 

What’s Next?

If you’re looking for more information on graduate school, see our guide to what makes a good GPA for grad school.

Not sure if you need to take the GRE? See if you can get into graduate school without GRE scores.

Want more information about the GRE? We can help you figure out when to take the GRE, how to make a GRE study plan, and how to improve your GRE score.

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Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

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