Personal statement

What is a graduate school personal statement?

After researching graduate programs and finding one that interests you, it will be time to start working on your application — and that could include writing a personal statement.

The majority of Arizona State University’s graduate programs will ask you to submit a personal statement. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself, share your goals and explain why you decided to pursue graduate education.

Five tips for writing your personal statement

Do your homework

Check your graduate program’s website for key focus areas, and speak with the graduate program representative or a faculty member in the department. That way, you can connect relevant information about your background to the mission and goals of the program you want to join. Asking the department to connect you to a current student is another to learn about the program from a peer.

Know yourself and your qualifications

What are you hoping to achieve with your graduate degree, and how are you prepared? When you are writing, remember what makes you unique and what you can bring to the program — your education, work experience, internships and service are all valuable topics to consider.

Follow the instructions

If you are instructed to answer a question in 100 words, stick to 100 words. Use your space wisely, avoid repetition and stay on topic. This will help you develop a focused personal statement.

Ask for help

Proofread your statement and check for any errors before you submit it. Also, whether you ask a friend, a roommate or a colleague, find someone else who will review your statement as well. Another set of eyes will provide a new perspective and may discover something you missed.

Don't write this in one sitting

Take your time and don’t rush it. Writing is a process, and your personal statement will evolve with each new draft. Allow yourself plenty of time to ensure this is the best representation of your work.

Frequently asked questions about graduate personal statements

Is there a page limit for my personal statement?

The page limit for personal statements varies by program. Review your program’s instructions for writing and submitting your personal statement and follow them closely.

What common mistakes are made when writing a personal statement?

Typos, incorrect punctuation and grammar errors are common mistakes seen on personal statements. You’ll be more likely to avoid these errors if you have one or more people review your personal statement before submitting it. Another common mistake is personal statements that don’t follow statement guidelines (e.g., word or page count). Also, remember to give specific examples of what makes you a good match for the program.

What is the committee looking for in a personal statement?

Committees are generally looking for why you want to study in a particular program as well as what your previous experiences can bring to that program. They want to be sure that the program is a good fit for you, and you for it, and that you are capable of succeeding in it.

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