Personal Statement for Graduate School
Writing a personal statement for graduate school may at first seem like an overwhelming task. It sets the tone for your grad school application after all. While everyone should be different, personal statement examples can help you brainstorm ideas and give you a place to start.
Below are two personal statement examples. Read these to get an idea of what to expect when writing yours.
Keep in mind that every school may have specific requirements. Personal statements are often written in response to a prompt. Be sure to answer it fully. If one isn’t provided, your personal statement should still be focused around a central idea or message. The goal here is to show why you are a good candidate for admission to a certain program and demonstrate your qualities. These include your writing capability, goals and reasons for applying, and your personality and background. Also, be sure to follow all other guidelines, including length, and copy edit carefully.
Personal Statement Example 1
While I will never make the grandiose statement of knowing the nitty-gritty of my life’s plan at an early age, I can state – with a degree of certainty – that it would undoubtedly involve books.
In that much, I was accurate. All the more so when I began to attend ABC College for my undergraduate studies. Entering the college as a Theater and English double major, I soon became consumed with the latter. It’s important to note that my diploma lists a B.A. in English, and not the aforementioned. I became intrigued with critical theory, a trend that my professors highly indulged in. With their encouragement, I would be able to explore the analysis of non-canon works such as fan-authored fiction, romance novels, and graphic novels. Albeit, the classics were always present (I cap my Jane Eyre reading count at a wholesome 7), it was refreshing to take a stab at new works. The course load kept me insanely busy and my brain constantly turning.
The following year, post-graduation, would be the finalizing stroke. I was fortunate enough to work a slew of odd jobs: bartender, cast member at Walt Disney world, and facilities assistant to a financial investment banking firm. Out of these, a few stood out: my blogging experiences for a non-profit theater, my editing position with a marketing firm, and the freelance gigs friends would throw my way. Why did these standout to me, though? All of them dealt with what was near and dear to my heart – dissecting text and getting to the meat of things. Frankly, it wasn’t enough – I missed the chunk of myself that got left in undergrad. The part that was encouraged to dissemble text and put it out into the world as something new and unexplored. It took me a year of doing these odd bits of work to confirm that graduate school was the best option for me. It is a chance to hone my skills and dive right back into the deep end of literature.
I had stated that I previously had little inkling to where my adult life would take me. I’ve experienced a little bit more of life since then. It is my sincere hope that a graduate education at GradSchools.com University can set me on a path towards future academic pursuits. At this point in time, my studies would be geared in three possible directions: future application into a PHD program, a professional teaching career, or a career in book publishing (which places a high emphasis on graduate studies). In addition, it would be a personal goal to exhibit current and future work in conferences to become part of the national – or even international – literary discussion.
I’m certain that GradSchools.com University’s English department can not only best address my current needs and professional aspirations, but also my academic curiosity.
Personal Statement Example 2
Ever since I was a teenager, it has been my goal to increase access to assistive technology in underserved communities. Specifically, I want to work toward developing inexpensive and accessible adaptive technology for special needs children in educational settings. The XYZ Engineering program has historically been and continues to be a leader in the field of innovation. Additionally, your focus on the diverse needs of disadvantaged communities, and on using technology to help improve the lives of those in need aligns with my passion for using my skills to help others thrive.
While I’ve been gifted in mathematics, science and technology since I was young, it wasn’t until I reached high school that I dedicated myself to developing and improving assistive technology. I have always been lucky enough to thrive both at home and in school. Though my school and community lacked money and resources, the support of my teachers and mentors helped me to succeed. But that wasn’t the case for everybody. When I turned 14, my younger brother entered elementary school. It quickly became evident that he needed the robust support of a special education program to succeed in a regular classroom, not to mention throughout life. And while his teachers and the administration at his school were dedicated to supporting him as much as possible, the lack of funding in our district made it extraordinarily difficult to access the technology my brother needed. My parents attempted to do some of this on their own outside the school system, but quickly realized how much of it was financially out of reach.
My brother was lucky. With the dedicated support of his school and our parents’ determination, he eventually was able to get the help and resources he needed. But how many other children aren’t so lucky? Innovation is, in many ways, an expensive thing. But should that be the case for the people who need it most? When the cost of developing crucial technology is passed down to families in need, kids go without help. With my flair for creativity, dedication to helping others, and technical expertise, that’s something I can change. By making essential assistive technology affordable for all, more schools could provide their students with the services they really need, and families can rest easy that their children are able to thrive.
That’s why I spent my undergraduate years studying engineering with ABC University. Not only did I graduate near the top of my class, but I was lucky enough to assist the head of my Engineering department, in conjunction with several other departments, in a research project on increasing physical mobility for individuals with functional movement disorders. The results of this project are soon to be published in a peer-reviewed Medical Engineering journal. I also completed an undergraduate internship experience in a major medical device engineering corporation headquartered in my home town. There, I was directly mentored by experienced industry professionals. I continue to rely on their guidance, both personally and professionally, to this day.
Because of our shared passion for using engineering to help real families and communities advance, I am requesting admission to the XYZ Engineering master’s program this upcoming semester. I intend to pursue study of assistive technology development. My overall objective is to make strides in the cost-effectiveness of and broader access too necessary technology in classrooms across the country. Together with your rigorous academic program and support, I believe I can do that as a member of the XYZ Engineering school community.
Feel free to refer back to these grad school personal statement examples throughout the writing process. Or check out our How to Write a Personal Statement article for more advice. Good luck!
How to apply
Start your application
Upload and submit all application materials, including transcripts, directly to the ApplyYourself admissions system. For additional information on how to apply, visit the Graduate School website.
Graduate school application
Choose “Ed-Psych Special Education-M.A.” or “Ed-Psych-Special Education Ph.D.” as your proposed major and degree objective.
Required fields: Personal Information, Application Information, Educational Background, Languages, Awards and Activities, Employment/Residence Information, Financial Support, Applicant Statement #1 (Statement of Interest), Program Supplementary Information and Recommendations.
Optional fields: All other fields or application materials are optional, but will be taken into consideration if submitted.
Visit the Graduate School website for more information
Download the program application
Complete the program application form and upload it in the Program Supplementary Information section of the ApplyYourself online application under 'Graduate Program Additional Application.
Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. International students should also upload an English translation if the transcript is not in English. Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts, there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review.
If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.
More information about transcripts and credentials
Letters of recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required. Recommendations should be from professors or others who are able to comment on your educational and professional goals and potential.
You must input the names and contact information for each recommendation provider in ApplyYourself.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
The GRE (General Test) is required for all applicants and must have been taken within five years of date of application. You do not need to take any GRE subject tests. Due to the length of processing time all applicants should take the GRE test no later than the October testing date to meet the December application deadline. Be sure to request that ETS send your scores to the University of Minnesota Graduate School (using institution code 6874).
Get more information about the GRE or see if the Graduate School has received your official scores
English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
Students whose native language is not English are required to submit English Language proficiency scores.
More information on English Language test scores
Upload a statement (not to exceed three double-spaced pages) to your application, outlining your interests and professional goals. This statement is an integral part of your application and will be weighted heavily in its evaluation. You should include, minimally, the following points:
- How did you become interested in educational psychology?
- What specific factors have led you to apply to Minnesota for this specialization?
- From whom have you received encouragement to continue work in educational psychology?
- What do you consider to be your outstanding strengths and weaknesses?
- Please mention specific skills, special talents or aptitudes. What aspects of or specific problems in your area of specialization interest you most at this point? What kinds of educational psychology work do you see yourself doing seven or eight years after you get your degree? Please describe briefly any participation in research, applied educational psychology, or employment which might be relevant to your application.
Resume/curriculum vitae (CV)
Upload in the Program Supplementary Information section of the ApplyYourself online application under “CV/Resume.”