What Is a Graduate School Personal Statement?

A graduate school personal statement is a personal essay that is typically required of graduate or professional school admission applications. It is a personal statement that essentially expounds on the reasons why an applicant or candidate should be admitted to a graduate school program. 

According to an article by QS Top Universities, applying for graduate school entails multiple requirements. The most basic requirements that are normally asked for are the following: application forms, academic transcripts, personal statement, reference letters, grad school test scores and grad school application fees. 

Tips for Writing a Grad School Personal Statement

When writing a grad school personal statement, it entails both knowing yourself and marketing yourself well. You not only want to impress the admissions committee, but you also want your personal essay to reflect your true and authentic self. If you are asked to come up with a grad school personal statement, keep in mind these helpful tips:   

Think quality over quantity. The best way to approach a grad school personal statement is by prioritizing quality over quantity. It is not the number of experiences that matter the most, but the depth and quality of those experiences. It is true that for many cases, the number of years of experience is important. But for your personal statement to carry more meaning and depth, you want to focus on quality and how your experiences impacted you as an individual. If you merely emphasize the quantity, it would not be any different from citing work experience in a resume or curriculum vitae. Thus, a grad school personal statement should go beyond mere enumeration and quantification. It ought to be multi-dimensional as opposed to just being a flat, one-dimensional essay. Dive deeper. What sets a good grad school personal statement from an average one is that it has depth and breadth. As mentioned previously, you want to steer clear of writing flat and superficial statements that fail to go beyond surface-level. Since it is a personal essay, you want to present a distinct and individualistic narrative that truly reflects your values and personality. So do not be afraid to go deep. Cite personal and specific experiences that are unique to you. The more pensive and profound your personal statement is, the higher the chances are of it standing out. A lot of people apply for further studies each year or semester; your goal ought to be submitting a grad school personal statement that is not just logical and unique, but one that is memorable and compelling as well. Cite lessons learned. An important tip to remember when creating your grad school personal statement is to include lessons and insights that you gained from your experiences. It is not enough to just narrate your personal experiences, you need to expound on how the experience changed or affected you as an individual. In what ways did you grow from the experience? Did it leave a lasting impact or imprint on your personality? Did it affect you in a positive or negative way? You need to be able to think critically and process your experiences in such a way that you are cultivating a keen sense of self-awareness in yourself. At the end of the day, what really matters is that you are able to grow, gain and apply the lessons learned, no matter what the experience is. Keep it brief but detailed. A graduate school personal statement is usually only one of several requirements for admission. In addition to a personal statement or essay, other documents such as application forms or recommendation forms are generally needed as well. Therefore, an admissions board or committee needs to go through several documents; and that takes time and attention. So as much as possible, try to keep your grad school personal statement within a reasonable length. Practice the underrated art of brevity and say what you need to say in a direct and straightforward manner. A personal essay that is too long or dragging may put off the reader. Some people feel the need to expound on their personal experiences and have the tendency to go too much into detail. You need to be able to maximize your point without taking up too much space on the page.

Elements In an Effective Grad School Personal Statement

A good personal graduate school personal statement contains several core elements. These must be present in the essay in order to deliver a favorable and lasting impact on the reader or the admissions board. The following examples describe some of the major elements in an effective grad school personal statement or essay. 

Format. The format of a personal statement can easily be overlooked. However, a personal statement is still considered a formal essay. Thus, you need to approach it as if it were one. Maintain the structure and outline of an essay and make sure to follow the guidelines when it comes to format. Practice consistency in your writing. Since it is a personal essay, you can exercise creativity with the style and tone of your graduate school statement. But just make sure to still retain some structure by being consistent with your format. You can begin your statement with an introduction, a body and end with a conclusion. Lastly, do not neglect grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure too. Experiences. A key element of an effective graduate school personal statement is personal experience. Although you can come up with compelling reasons and justifications for being qualified enough for a graduate school program, it is more meaningful when you allow yourself to be known and seen in a personal and intimate way. Of course, you only need to cite one particular instance or memorable experience in your essay, but you can use that experience to reveal your values and authentic personality. Thus, your account should be in first person. And again, as stated in the previous section, try to take it a step further when recalling your experiences. Do not just settle for a simple narration of events, incorporate the lessons you gained and insights you picked up from your experiences as well. Reasons. Along with your personal experiences, you need to establish why you want to attend the graduate program you are applying for. Your reasons must be intertwined within those experiences you mentioned. The purpose of sharing your personal experience in your essay or statement is to persuade and instill confidence that you are capable and interested to pursue graduate studies. With your experiences, you need to build a sound argument as to why you believe you have what it takes to enter your chosen program. Not only does your graduate school personal statement need to be narrative and descriptive in nature, it must also contain elements of an argumentative essay. Make sure your claims are truthful, sensible and relevant to your personal goals and principles. Values. Core values are another vital element of an effective graduate school personal essay or statement. Your principles or values in life must be evident in the way you approach your statement and in your personal recollection or reflection of past experiences. What are the values that drive you or influence your daily decisions and life choices? You need to be able to have a sense of what you value and prioritize in life in order to really craft a meaningful and personal statement. This requires self-awareness and introspection. Keep in mind that your degree of self-awareness and authenticity will be reflected in the way you frame and write your graduate school personal statement.

How to Create a Grad School Personal Statement

To create a grad school personal statement, you need to have an idea of the expectations for pursuing further studies. And if you are short on time and need help with drafting one, you can easily make use of any of the sample templates from the collection above. Choose one that suits your needs and follow the basic steps below.  

Step 1: Reflect on Your Experiences

Before you begin writing, you have to take the time to reflect if you want to create a profound and impactful personal statement. Since it is a personal statement, drawing from personal experiences, memories, and insights is key. Not only are you investing in reflection and introspection, but this step also allows you to properly plan your approach or how you will present your graduate school personal essay. You can create an outline if it helps you organize your thoughts and ideas better. Since it is an essay, traditional format guidelines are easy to follow; after which, you can incorporate your own creative style and voice to your statement.    

Step 2: Create an Introduction

Once you have established a framework in which to write your personal statement, you can then proceed to drafting the introduction. A graduate school personal statement is essentially an essay that aims to reveal aspects about yourself, your values, and your personality for graduate school admission. The introductory section of your essay is crucial. It is where you should be able to hook the reader and capture their interest. Keep your introduction brief but not too general or generic that there is nothing unique about it. Since it is a personal statement, you can be as creative as you want. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and challenge the norms.     

Step 3: Cite Personal Experiences and Insights

The body or main content of your graduate school personal statement is your personal narrative or experiences and the lessons that came with it. This should be the meat of your personal statement. If you are unsure of how to proceed or need ideas on how to draft this portion, refer to the various tips that were shared in previous sections. The important thing to remember is to allow the reader to get a glimpse of you as an individual, as well as your values and principles, through your narration and arguments. Lastly, make sure the personal experiences and insights you cite are also related and relevant to your objective of pursuing a graduate school degree.    

Step 4: End With a Powerful Conclusion  

The last step is to conclude your graduate school personal essay on a high note. Like any basic essay, there must always be a conclusion. After sharing your personal experience and lessons learned in the body of your essay, you can tie up any loose ends in your conclusion. Or better yet, you can connect both your introduction and conclusion in a creative or unexpected way. There can be different ways to deliver an impactful conclusion. Whether you choose to end with a reiteration of your core values or a call to action, keep in mind that your personal statement is a reflection not just of your personality, but of your principles as well.  


What should a personal statement for graduate school include?

A personal statement for graduate school ought to include a detailed narration of personal experiences and insights and a consistent format all throughout. Refer to section above for more descriptive details on elements of an effective grad school personal statement.

How long should a grad school personal statement be?

A graduate school personal statement should not be too lengthy or dragging. Since it is a personal essay, it should contain the basic structure of a typical essay. Keep your personal statement brief yet detailed and informative enough.

How do you write a good personal statement for a masters degree?

A good personal statement for a masters degree or graduate school application is relevant, interesting, and introspective. It should also be technically sound so do not neglect grammar, punctuation and sentence structure when crafting your personal statement.

A graduate school personal statement should strike a balance between creativity and technicality. Browse the collection of sample templates above to start customizing your own grad school personal statement now!