Writing a Personal Statement

The Personal Statement, sometimes referred to as the "Personal Essay”, “Statement of Purpose,” or “Statement of Academic Goals”, is a key piece of the application. It is your chance to provide the admissions committee with subjective information about your preparation, qualifications, and your reasons for choosing a particular program/career. For graduate programs, you may be asked to include research interests and/or faculty who you would be interested in conducting research with. For professional schools, they typically are interested in how you have experience and skills in working with patients/clients in a clinical setting as well as knowledge of the profession. 

Before you start writing your statement, read the directions from the program(s) carefully to ensure you address their specific questions. We also have detailed information in our Canvas Module. 

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If there are no specific questions, begin by brainstorming answers to these questions

  • Why do you want to go to graduate or professional school?
  • What are your relevant experiences (i.e. research, clinical, volunteer, or jobs)?
  • When did you become interested in the field and what have you done and learned that has solidified this is what you want to pursue (classes, shadowing, research, work)?
  • What are your short and long-term career goals?
  • What skills, strengths, and qualities do you possess and how do they relate to your career plans?
  • How do your unique background, experience, and/or identities add to the program or profession? 

For graduate school

  • What area(s) of study are you interested in and why?
  • Think about how your interests may relate to any specific features of the program or school.
  • Who are the faculty with whom you want to work and why do their research areas interest you?
  • If you visited a school and program, mention whom you met with and when.
  • What are your short/long-term career goals? To teach? Do research? Work in academia? Work in private industry?

For professional school

  • What are the skills and qualities desired by the profession? How can you demonstrate you have these skills or qualities? Be specific and give examples.
  • Why do you want to be a doctor, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc.?

Develop a draft based on your answers to the questions in the section above.