Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate School

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 7, 2022 | Published November 5, 2021

Updated September 7, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

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.

Most universities require applicants to submit various documents to help the admissions officer decide if they're a good fit. One of these documents is a personal statement that shows why a candidate chose a field of study. Understanding how to write a personal statement for graduate school can aid your application process and help you get into your dream university. In this article, we discuss what this type of statement is, share tips for writing personal statements, and provide samples of graduate school personal statements.

What's a personal statement for graduate school?

A personal statement for graduate school is an essay requirement for most graduate school applications. It allows you to explain why you're a good fit for the program. This essay can take an open-ended format that allows you to discuss areas of your life you think are relevant for your application. In some cases, schools provide a specific prompt that directs you to their preferred personal statement topic.

Related: 10 Postgraduate Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Tips for writing a personal statement for graduate school

Here are some tips you can follow when writing a graduate school personal statement:

Review the school's instructions

Many institutions provide instructions and guidelines on how they expect candidates to write their personal statements. Usually, you can find these instructions in the email or website that requested a personal statement. Regardless, if the school you're applying to doesn't provide instructions, consider contacting the admissions officer or using standard formats.

Make it personal

A personal statement is less formal than a cover letter, so it's essential you show your personality fully. Your personal statement is a great opportunity to discuss your passions and motivations. If relevant, you may give some insight into your background and how it shaped you. Similarly, you can discuss a cause you're passionate about or an experience that changed you. Such details make your personal statement more convincing and endearing.

Related: How to Write About Yourself (With Tips and Examples)

Be unique

Remember that the admissions officer is also reviewing several other personal statements. To impress the admissions officer, try to use a unique approach with your statement. Avoid including cliche details like your grade or qualifications. In addition, avoid using templates you found online, as the admissions officer may be familiar with them.

Use a relevant story

When picking your story, ensure it's relevant to the program you want to study. While an experience may have changed your life, it won't interest the admissions officer if it doesn't relate to your interest in their school. Ensure you link all stories or examples to your educational ambitions.

Related: How To Write A Powerful Personal Statement

Ensure your tone is professional

While you want to show your personality with your statement, remember that it's still a formal document. For this reason, it's essential you maintain a professional and respectful tone. In addition, to be safe, you can avoid including controversial language or topics in your statement. Lastly, remember to use an appropriate salutation.

Related:

  • What Is a Professional Letter Template? (With Types)

  • How To Write Salutations (With Examples)

Edit and proofread thoroughly

For the admissions officer to read and enjoy your content, it's essential your personal statement is error-free. A well-written resume communicates a good work ethic, which is essential when studying for a graduate program. Ensure you proofread and edit the statement closely to identify and resolve any grammar or spelling errors.

Related: How to Write a Conclusion (With Examples and Tips)

Examples of graduate school personal statements

Here are some samples of personal statements of candidates applying for a graduate program:

Example for a master's program in music education and therapy

Here is a sample personal statement for a candidate in music education and therapy:

For me, music wasn't just a fun indulgence; it was my life. My father was a professional guitarist who played with a band. My mother had an otherworldly voice and was the star of our local community choir, while my brother was an upcoming DJ working on growing his fanbase. In comparison, I combined the talents of my parents as a singer and guitarist. Growing up in this environment, it was hard to imagine myself doing anything other than music. The only question was how to incorporate it into my career.

I found my answer in my early 20s when I began my undergraduate program in Whitehorse, Yukon. I had always used music as a source of therapy, but I soon found out how effective music was as a tool of healing. I volunteered to help at an orphanage and built a relationship with the children, and they'd sometimes watch me play my guitar. I assumed they just enjoyed listening until one of them approached me for lessons.

I asked the others if they'd like to learn, and they all rushed to me in excitement. At that point, I didn't know how I wanted to teach these kids music, but I knew I had to try. So, I immediately reached out to the coordinator and sought permission to start a music program. The orphanage supported the initiative, and I received up to $2,000 in donations. I also spoke to some other community members and convinced them to be part of the initiative.

With that, our small music school was born. My colleagues and I held classes for the children twice a week and taught them how to play some of the donated instruments. The community really came together to help with the initiative. The kids were fast learners, and many of them comfortably played some notes in a few weeks. What left me in awe was the general improvement we witnessed in the children's welfare. They began to perform better in class and showed more interest in other activities at the community centre.

By watching the kids, I realized the music served as a form of therapy for them. Not only did it keep them engaged, but it also gave them something to look forward to each day. Shocked by the impact of my little project, I resolved to dedicate my time to using music as a tool for healing.

That conviction led me to apply for your master's program in music education and therapy. Your prestigious faculty can help me develop the relevant skills and understanding to use music as therapy for children, teenagers, and adolescents.

Related: How to Write a Motivation Letter (With Samples and a Template)

Example 2 for a master's program in education policy

Here is a sample personal statement for a candidate in education policy:

Growing up in a rural, low-income neighbourhood, only a roadside trader on my street had access to children's books. To buy books, I developed a habit of skipping meals to save some of my pocket money. Every time I bought a new book, I was the happiest child in the world. Much of my childhood was spent buried in books.

These books offered me solace from my reality and taught me that I can achieve whatever I wanted if I worked hard enough. As a result, I learned by experience the transformational power of effective education. My love for books continued to grow stronger, and it helped me become a high-performing student. Owing to the same love for books, I decided to enrol in a teacher's training program after secondary school. I was one of the best students in the program, and I immediately received an offer to teach at a public secondary school after graduation.

Teaching in secondary school, I found several areas I felt could use improvement to offer the students a better learning environment. To help the students learn, I made some adjustments to the curriculum. I also encouraged open communication in the classroom and allowed the children to share their opinions on the topics we discussed in class. The results were impressive. My class had the highest attendance and pass rate in the school.

That experience taught me a lot about children's education and learning, motivating me to apply for a bachelor's degree in child education. After completing my degree, I began working in the same town where I grew up. The library was outdated, so I organized a fundraiser and donation drive to bring in new copies of books so there were more available to students.

After a week of rigorous campaigns and reaching out to personal contacts, we gathered 1,000 books. Then, we renovated an old truck and launched our mobile library. Through this initiative, the children can now borrow books and return them at their convenience. This recognition strengthened my conviction to dedicate my life to providing quality education for children.

I decided to apply for this master's program at the prestigious Water University to achieve my goals. I look forward to benefiting from your evidence-based training and unique insights into the art of educating children. Similarly, I can't wait to enjoy your renowned serene learning environment and interact with individuals from your diverse student population. I intend to use my degree to provide more children in my country with the opportunity to have an education.

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