Personal Statement / Statement of Intent
The essay portion of a graduate school application usually requires a Personal Statement or a Statement of Intent. Some graduate programs ask for a combination of the two.
A Personal Statement should tell the admission committee something about you as a person and why you have decided to pursue the particular advanced degree. If you are unsure where to begin, brainstorm 8-10 reasons why you were inspired to pursue this degree. Try to write a paragraph or two about each. Which ones are you most passionate about? Try expanding on those and see where your ideas take you. Remember, a well-written statement takes time to craft. Do not expect to sit down and turn one out in an evening.
A Statement of Intent should answer the questions: Why this program at this particular school? What are your career plans once you obtain the degree?
- Proofread carefully and make sure there are no mistakes. Your statement will likely be read by faculty members in your program. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
- Ask someone you know well to read it: they will know what you have left out that you may want to include.
- Ask someone who does not know you to read it: they will tell you what impression they have of you, providing insight into how it will be received by the admission committee.
- Attend one of these BCDC workshops: Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate and Law School, or Writing a strong Medical School Personal Statement.
In a Ph.D. program it is very important that you demonstrate why you are a good “fit” for the program or faculty’s area of concentration, scholarship or expertise. It is not enough to have the necessary academic qualifications. Is this institution/program going to meet your needs for academic instruction, research and scholarship? Do your research interests mesh well with theirs? Remember, they are going to invest 5 or more years of close work with you and they will be looking for students whose interests align with theirs.