How to Write a Psychology Personal Statement (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Writing an effective personal statement is crucial in applying for admission to an advanced degree program for aspiring psychologists. These schools frequently ask candidates to provide a personal statement as part of their application. Understanding what a psychology personal statement is and how to create one is crucial to achieving your career objectives. In this article, we discuss the value of writing a psychology personal statement, explore more about what personal statements are, explain what to include, describe how to write an effective one, and provide an example to guide you in writing your own.

Why write a psychology personal statement?

As part of their application, many graduate degree programs in psychology and the social sciences require candidates to submit a psychology personal statement. A personal statement allows you to describe your interests, detail your educational and employment experience, and highlight your assets to aid an admissions counsellor in evaluating your qualifications. Admissions counsellors review personal statements to gain a deeper understanding of your characteristics and determine whether you're a candidate for their program. A well-written personal statement that highlights your professionalism, writing ability, and personal characteristics can make your application unique compared to other candidates.

Related: Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate School

What are personal statements?

Personal statements are essays written in the first person. A personal statement is usually part of the application process to gain admission to graduate or professional schools. A professional educator may prepare a personal statement to include in their portfolio. Someone applying for a scholarship may submit a personal statement as part of their request for the award. People write personal statements in response to a prompt or a question posed by the organization to the candidate.

Related: How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

What does a personal psychology statement include?

Depending on the institution's expectations to which you're applying, personal statements might contain a variety of information. Some programs may require you to respond to a specific question and provide explicit directions on the length, topic, and details to include in your essay. Carefully read the instructions to ensure that your application meets all the institution's standards. Personal statements typically follow the traditional essay format, which comprises an introduction, one to three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You can write about the following topics:

  • Your achievements and life experiences

  • Any relevant abilities

  • How you can apply your skills in the program

  • An explanation of your career objectives, emphasizing how the program can assist you in achieving them

This information can help the admissions counsellor assess whether you're a suitable fit for their program by identifying your personal and professional interests.

Related: How to Write a Personal Mission Statement (With Examples)

How to write a personal psychology statement

Here are some steps to help you write your statement:

1. Read the instructions thoroughly

Knowing what your audience wants from your essay is the first step in producing an excellent personal statement. Take the time to read all the essay directions for the schools to which you intend to apply. If you're applying to many programs, you can put all your applications in a spreadsheet or document to track them. Make a note of the submission deadlines for each application, track pertinent links, and write down any specific submission instructions. Staying organized can help you meet deadlines, complete all application criteria, and demonstrate your attention to detail, organization, and professionalism.

2. Brainstorm content

Then, using the essay topic or instructions as a guide, develop relevant content. Consider how you can demonstrate your abilities, accomplishments, and relevant experiences. For example, you can describe your job as a research assistant as an undergraduate and the skills you obtained from the experience. Consider how you can apply your talents and knowledge to the program for which you're applying. You can help the admissions counsellor learn more about your qualifications by giving specific instances of your personal and professional qualities.

You can also use brainstorming tools to help you. For instance, try adopting freewriting as a method for generating ideas. Set a timer for five minutes and write down every idea you can. Then review the concepts again and choose the ones you want to expand on in your essay. Another alternative is to underline phrases from the application requirements and develop examples of when you demonstrated such attributes.

3. Create an outline

Begin creating an outline for your essay after you've prepared several examples. At this point, you can be as general or as specific as you like. Some people prefer to work with a thorough outline, while others prefer to write in the moment. What's crucial to the writing process is to organize your paper's overall structure. Effective organization can guarantee that you present your ideas logically, with each paragraph focusing on a single key idea. Consider the following outline to help you structure your essay:

  • Introduction: Introduce yourself, your motivation for applying, and the key points you aim to make in the body of the essay in this paragraph.

  • Body paragraphs: Pick one topic of focus for each body paragraph. Start with a sentence that introduces the paragraph's main point, and then follow up with specific examples to support the main idea.

  • Conclusion: Conclude the personal statement with a summary of your main points. Write a final sentence or two that emphasizes why the program is important for helping you reach your career goals.

3. Write the first draft

Write your first draft after you've created an outline for your material. In each of your body paragraphs, develop the major arguments by giving particular examples of your abilities and accomplishments. Relate your characteristics to the institution or program's values and explain how the skills you intend to obtain from the program can help you advance in your profession. Concentrate on completing a comprehensive draft at this point in the writing process. The next stage allows you to make tiny changes to the organization, clarity, and tone.

4. Revise, edit, and proofread

Finally, polish the draft by reorganizing it, rewriting it for content, and proofreading it for tone, spelling, and mechanical improvements. Refer to the essay prompt and instructions as you review your draft to ensure you've included all the required elements. Look for ways to improve the essay's organization by removing irrelevant text, expanding on your ideas, or moving portions. Make certain that the wording you use has a professional tone while reflecting who you are personally.

Have a friend or a trusted individual read the essay for you as a proofreading strategy. Another approach is to read the essay aloud or have it read to you by someone else. This method can help you increase the clarity of your sentences by rewriting them. Before editing, it's also a good idea to take a break from the essay for a few hours or wait until the next day.

Related: How to Write a Statement of Intent (With Tips and Sample)

Example personal statement for psychology students

Here's a sample personal statement for psychology:

I'm excited to apply for admission to the University of Vancouver's graduate program for clinical psychologists as a recent graduate of Clinical Health College of Victoria with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. I'm a motivated student who has worked in clinical research and volunteered in an equine-assisted therapy program for children. I wish to learn the skills and information necessary to work as a licensed clinical psychologist by working as a student at your university, where I can assist my clients in achieving their health and wellness goals.

I had the privilege of working as a research assistant for Dr. Kimberly Armstrong during my undergraduate studies. I performed surveys of 200 first-year university students under Dr. Armstrong's supervision to measure their mental health as they moved to full-time student life. I assisted with the survey writing, distribution, data collection, and data entry into our analysis program. My responsibilities allowed me to use my research methodology knowledge while also receiving practical experience working in a research setting. When I complete graduate-level research at your university, I intend to employ and further develop these skills.

During my senior year, in addition to my research experience, I helped with a youth equine-assisted therapy program. I worked with children ages eight to 16 in an outdoor group therapy setting. Preparing materials for treatment sessions, monitoring group activities, and role modelling expected behaviours were all part of my responsibilities. Other volunteers, training psychologists, and qualified mental health specialists were also part of my team. This event influenced my interest in working with children and inspired me to become a certified clinical psychologist to continue my education.

The University of Vancouver's clinical psychology graduate program can equip me with the training required to become an extraordinary practitioner. I hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the country's greatest adolescent mental health researchers, allowing me to learn the most up-to-date and relevant knowledge for working with this demographic. I intend to use my research skills and clinical experience to flourish in this program before pursuing my doctorate in adolescent mental health to attain my career ambitions.

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