Professor lecturing at the front of a lecture hall

Stand out in the crowd with a polished personal statement.

When applying to graduate school, personal statements are your chance to highlight your writing skills and demonstrate your passion for your chosen field of study.

Content

Your personal statement should be exactly that: personal. Use specific examples and speak honestly about your experience, interests, and goals.  

Potential Topics to Address:

  • Academic Influences: Comment on an inspiring writer or article in your field of study, your favorite professor and how they influenced you, the best project or paper you ever wrote, or the single most important concept you learned about in college.
  • Academic Background: Discuss the rigor of your academic program, your specialized skill set, or relevant knowledge of the field.
  • Motivation: Explore the evolution of your interest in the field, including turning points, contirbuting factors, challenges or hardships that influenced your decision, and what you have done to test your commitment to the field (work experiences, volunteering, internships, research, etc.).
  • Personal Endeavors: Include any leadership opportunities or community service experiences, and highlight your maturity and self-reflection.
  • Career Goals: Identify your specific post-graduate career plans, the role that your graduate-level education plays in those plans, your 5 to 10-year goals, or any additional educational plans beyond this program.
  • Academic Record: If there are any major gaps or declines in your academic record, speak to the circumstances that led to those changes.

Length

Some graduate schools have specific guidelines for their personal statements. If your program provides instructions, be sure to read them carefully. You want to be sure to answer the question that is asked, and stick to any length requirements given. If there are no guidelines for length, consider keeping your statement between 1 and 2 pages long.

Additional Resources

Whether you're still brainstorming possible topics or need someone to review your final draft, UVM's Writing Center and the Career Center are both great on-campus resources. Check in with your Interest Group leader to schedule time for in-person support, or make an appointment at the Writing Center.

If you're looking for additional online resources, consult the following: