Whether you’re trying to get into medical school or any other kind of graduate school, you’ll have to go through the application process. A written statement of purpose for a graduate school application is a critical component to accomplishing this, as any medical school admissions consulting professional or service will tell you.
If you want to write a truly effective essay, then it’s helpful to know certain strategies you can use for your own words. Reviewing successful examples of written statements of purpose for a graduate school application that other applicants have already done also proves helpful. You should also review expert tips and suggestions from others, including medical school admissions consulting services. All of this can add up to your learning how to write your own graduate school statement of purpose.
A graduate school statement of purpose itself is a very crucial component to applying to any graduate-level school or university. Your academic credentials will be based on letters of reference and academic transcripts, but it’s your written statement of purpose for a graduate school application that allows you the opportunity to present yourself individually. You can display yourself as a unique candidate in a comprehensive light that transcripts and referrals alone won’t do. This is your moment to shine. Take the time to make good preparations for your writing, and treat your written statement of purpose for a graduate school application just as important as interview questions. Leave yourself a lot of time to get ready for it and then work on it.
Not all medical schools or graduate schools are the same. That’s why you need to learn the particular requirement each school has regarding a graduate school statement of purpose so you can adhere to their stated needs. One thing is sure to be consistent, though, and that’s how a strong graduate school statement of purpose is essential to your application success!
Why Is a Statement of Purpose Necessary?
A written personal statement is something that the admissions committee wants to see. It helps them understand you more deeply as an applicant to their educational institution. Any admissions committee will know lots of concrete details about your personal academic performance by looking over your transcripts. Letters of referral can also give them some glimpse into what certain professors thought of you. However, it’s a statement of purpose that lets them determine your individual suitability with the institution and program they determine entry into. Determining a proper fit between applicants and a particular graduate program is critical for both applicants and the selection committees. The statement of purpose that you write is a chance to explain to them why you think their particular graduate program is the best one for you.
Given this, it’s crucial to use your statement of purpose to demonstrate what it was that drew you to their program initially. You also need to show what you aim to achieve, should you be accepted. A successful statement that you write should make the admissions committee aware of two things:
- Your Personal Capabilities and Motivation: A robust statement will clearly state why you are so drawn to a particular program. You need to state clearly what the institution and its program will provide you in regards to your professional and intellectual development while attending. If you have a particular reason for applying to a certain school or program, then you need to tell the admissions committee about that. It might be a certain faculty member that you hope to work with. Maybe it’s the work-placement possibilities students there are afforded. It could just be cutting-edge labs and libraries. Whatever it is, tell them. Another good thing to cover is what aspects of the courses and curriculum of the program are particularly important to you personally. Doing this will tell them how familiar you are with their program details.
- Your Personal Connection to the Field of Study: Any statement you make to the admissions committee is their chance at insight into the specific experiences and interests that pushed you in the direction of their program you are applying for. Take this opportunity to inform the admissions committee just where you stand on any current issues being debated in the field of study that you have chosen. Identify core issues that contemporary field practitioners have to deal with on a regular basis, and then inform them of how you would approach such matters. The right statement of purpose gives any admissions committee a sense that you’re not going to be the one part that benefits from your acceptance because they’ll also add a valuable member to their current academic community.
Preparation Steps You Have to Take
The secret to successful writing is effective preparation. Spend some time laying down the foundation of your statement before you ever write the first draft of your personal written statement. Here are specific steps you must go through in your preparations:
- Carve Out Enough Time: Preparing your statement of purpose and then actually writing it will not happen quickly. You have to commit to the preparations you need to make. Be sure you leave more than enough time for this whole process. Your statement will likely go through several drafts before you finish the final version you proudly submit, so don’t wait until the last second. A good timeframe is actually two months for writing your statement. Be sure you start your preparations as soon as you can. That should leave you lots of time for both writing and rewriting your personal statement as need be.
- Do Very Thorough Research: The research you do here needs to be about the school and its program. Visit the website of the institution, and pay strict attention to any explicitly stated values or mission statements. Visit any and all pages that are focused on your program and department of choice so you can learn anything possible about their current academic culture. Put in enough time to make yourself familiar with the specific research specialties of the individual faculty members. Be sure you note any particular faculty members that have research aligning with your own. They might be possible mentors or supervisors upon your acceptance into a program.
- Think Hard About You Might Fit In: Just wanting to attend a certain school isn’t enough. The admissions committee won’t care if their geographic location or general public reputation appeals to you. They want to know what you’ve learned about their educational institution, faculty, and program that make you think it’s right for you. You need to reflect a lot on why you personally would gel with their community. Your thoughts and reflections on this matter will prove really important when it comes time to write the statement.
- Communicate With Possible Mentors: Have you found a particular faculty member that has done work that piques your interest? If so, contact them, introduce yourself to them, and let them know about your own personal interests in research. If you can establish a direct line of communication with a current member of the institution’s faculty, then you might make your chances of acceptance as a candidate grow dramatically. This is particularly true if that faculty member is open to the idea of supervising your work after you arrive. Faculty members can at least answer questions you have regarding common research interests. They can also help you explore things inside the program.
- List All Recommendations and Requirements for the Statement of Purpose: As already stated, each school is unique. Even within the same school, every program will have its own distinct requirements and suggestions regarding a statement of purpose. Be sure you know the particulars for each school that you happen to be applying to. More than that, be sure you understand them thoroughly. Particular factors they might list could include length, formatting guidelines, and emphasis. The more closely you can adhere to their stated desires, the less likely you are to make a mistake with the formatting, structures, or other technical elements. In fact, quite a few graduate schools provide prompts that simplify the writing process. Be sure you read each prompt word for word with great care. They might be generally open-ended, but they can also clue you into what an admissions committee wants to see in the statement that you give them.
- It’s Okay to Ask: If you’re not totally sure what a school will expect from the written statement that you offer them, then identify the proper school authority and request clarification from them. Every institution should have both an admissions office and a website available to make anything clear regarding requirements and deadlines. Get clarification about anything and everything you aren’t totally sure about.
- Arrange Your Materials: Do this before you write anything. Be sure that you have closely available to you everything that you might want to reference. That starts with copies of all of your personal academic transcripts. Also, have your graduate school CV close to you. These will help your memory recall particular courses and individual achievements that you might want to incorporate into your personal written statement. You should also have easy access to useful information regarding the educational institution, its faculty, and its program.
- Jot Down Some Notes: A blank page is intimidating. It can, in fact, be a form of intellectual torture that you don’t need to put yourself through. Having a handful of notes takes a lot of the stress out of writing the specific statement of purpose. Go through your accumulated reference materials to compile a short list of specific achievements and experiences that you want to mention in your written statement. Your notes should help you learn your strengths and also weaknesses in advance of your writing. Use that to relate them to the program. When you have great prep notes, your actual statement writing will go that much faster and easier.
- Consider Their Culture and Mission: The more you study a particular educational institution and its program you hope to be a member of, you’ll better understand their particular mission and culture. Frame your personal strengths and accomplishments in terms of what you have learned about the school so they can see how you’d fit in well there. Events and experiences you have that fit them well make a good narrative to include somewhere in your statement. Don’t just convince them that their school is right for you. Convince them that they’d be lucky to have you for a few years.
Structuring Your Statement
Once you have finished all your research and preparation, it’s time to begin drafting the actual written personal statement. Again, keep in mind how every school is different. While there are examples listed later in this content, you must be sure that your statement of purpose actually aligns with the requirements of the educational institution that you are applying to. Know their list of criteria, and use it to structure your own statement. Don’t begin any writing until you’ve gone through all the required prep work and you are very familiar with their expectations of you.
When you feel ready to start writing, stop for a moment to go over their length requirements. Statements of purpose usually range between 500 words up to 1,000. This puts a burden on you, because you need to impart a great deal of meaningful information regarding yourself in a pretty tight space in terms of word count. A typical written statement of purpose has four primary sections. Having said that, try to avoid having explicit separations between these four sections. If you can get a natural flow going, such as a letter, then you can make more of an impact with your statement. Then again, your program might explicitly require a particular format. If they do that, then give it to them.
Your Statement Structure
An effective written statement that you do should have clarity and structure. You should ensure that all of the information you present happens in ways that are simple for readers to go through. A statement that is organized well is one that keeps your reader engaged and interested from start to finish.
While every school or program might have its own stipulations about how their desired statements should look, most of the time, you’ll just follow the typical structure of a general academic essay.
This is the first chance you get to make an impression on the reader, and you should know by now just how crucial first impressions can be. Your reader’s attention is something that you should grab immediately. Do this with a brief introduction about yourself and also why applying to this program is something that compels you. Write clearly but enthusiastically. Come up with something compelling for your very first sentence in order to snag the reader’s attention immediately. Your opening sentence might be an intriguing anecdote, a quotation, or a fascinating personal fact. Take time to think about what sort of opening statement might make readers stick with your writing all the way to the end. An opening sentence can honestly make your essay successful or break your application chances. Admissions committee members have to read quite a few applications, so if your opening is tense or incoherent, they might pass on your work and move on to the next application.
The latter half of your introduction is where you can expand in a little more detail about what you stated in your initial opening. Then, offer the admissions committee a quick glimpse into what the main body that follows will go into more detail about.
Are you having a hard time writing your introduction? Save it for last! Just because it’s the first thing in your statement doesn’t mean it needs to be the first thing you write. In fact, once you have done your body and the conclusion, you’ll know exactly what your written personal statement is saying in totality. That will make it easier to tie everything together with a great introduction.
The Main Body
Your statement’s main body will account for most of the text in your word count. Within that space, you need to highlight two or three particular formative experiences you’ve personally experienced in life leading to your application with this educational institution and its program.
It’s in this stretch of your statement that you need to touch on four primary elements that the admissions committee will be looking for in your statement:
- What focus or interest you have in their program
- Your professional and academic preparations
- All your various strengths and different weaknesses
- Your chosen career plans
These sections need to cover these points, but they also need to weave through a gripping narrative including your personal interests and life experiences. Don’t just recite a boring list of personal accomplishments without providing context. The admissions committee has your academic transcripts, and they don’t need to have them rehashed for them.
As always, be specific. Provide individual examples that explain how your personal experiences matter to you. If you want to write a next-level statement, show the admissions committee what you have actually learned from each experience. More specificity makes you more compelling as an applicant. Don’t just talk about how you’re a great applicant they should take in. Show them.
The conclusion of your statement is something that needs to bring everything together. However, it should also leave any reader with a burning desire to learn more about you as a person. If you can, try leaving the reader with a final insight or intriguing thought while you contemplate what participation in their program might mean to you on both professional and personal levels. Consider discussing how eager you are to make contributions to your chosen field, or talk about contemporary challenges that experts in your chosen discipline are currently facing.
Your statement of purpose conclusion can be a great place to reference your career plans. Doing so means ending your statement with a view on the future. Consider pointing out how their program might assist you in reaching certain professional goals. The reader should wind up convinced of your commitment to growing and learning. That will make them believe you are totally prepared for what lies ahead of you in your academic career.
Content in Your Statement of Purpose
Previously, it was mentioned how your personal written statement needed to have four particular elements within the main body. It’s worth knowing more about each of these.
These are your chances to help the admissions committee understand why you have decided on a certain field and program. You might even want to make mention of a particular research question or area within the specific field in which you’d like to study even more, should you have the chance to enroll in their program. Help them see clearly that you aren’t just trying to get into their school and program simply for the sake of doing so but that you have chosen them for mindful reasons. You need to convince them that you’re invested in being in the best possible place for you academically and professionally. An applicant who is laser-focused and highly motivated is always a very alluring candidate to an admissions committee.
Your Focused Interest in Your Field
The statement of purpose that you write lets you share with the admissions committee your personal focused interest within the field you have chosen. When considering your own specific interests in research and intellectual pursuits, think about including one or more of these elements:
- Stimulating Problems of Interest Within Your Field of Study: If you want to demonstrate to an admissions committee how you’re already familiar with the current conversations going on in your field of study, then you should highlight any particular problems that you find compelling. Take it a step further and show how you’re ready to make contributions to addressing any issues through your own studies and efforts.
- Possible Areas of Interest: A specific research question that you would like to look into is a great thing to include. You might spend so much time worrying about your written personal statement that you focus more on the statement aspect than the purpose part. An effective applicant is one who already knows their personal purpose. You can express that purpose with utmost clarity by revealing the specific research question or area of interest that you would like to dive into through your studies. Tell the admissions committee what you want to discover more about. Then, also tell them why. At this point, you don’t need to have a fully outlined research project already detailed. You just need to know what paths you might like to explore. That alone can tell the committee that you’re an applicant who is finely tuned in with your personal intellectual curiosity. Show them how eager you are for any chances to get deeper into particular problems or research. You’re always free to change your mind about your focus once in the actual program. However, a deep possible interest in something specific when you apply helps your odds of acceptance a lot. An effective statement stands out if you can mention specific faculty members that have research interests aligning with your own because they might be someone you might work with when doing your own studies.
- Your Own Intellectual Influences and Perspectives: Have you ever personally encountered a scholar or teacher that wound up shaping your own perspective? Did they influence the intellectual pursuits you follow? If so, mention them in your personal purpose statement. It’s even better if you can mention a certain faculty member from the school you’re applying to whose work you admire. In any case, share who your intellectual influencers are and what you have picked up from them along the way.
Professional and Academic Preparations
Professional and academic preparations might be many different things. This is the reason why you must consider with care how your path has provided you with the tools to find success in the program that you choose. However, you also need to remember that any written statement that you do can’t just regurgitate what your transcripts already covered. Rather, your statement of purpose needs to offer the admissions committee a narrative about not so much the specific steps you’ve taken but how and why they put you in the path of graduate school. Four specific examples you might cite include:
- Prior Positions: This can include jobs you’ve already had, internships you did, or even volunteer work you were a part of. Any relevant work or volunteer experience needs to be mentioned in your written statement. For instance, if you want to get into an institution’s public health program, you should talk about how your volunteer work in a soup kitchen piqued your interest in how marginalized communities demonstrate a relationship between local food insecurity and subpar health outcomes. You might even tell the admissions committee about relevant technical skills that you picked up through your experiences along the way.
- Research: Do you already have a bit of exposure to research projects of either your own or helping someone else as an assistant? If so, then share what you learned from these experiences. This can be an effective addition to any written purpose statement. Any research experiences that helped mold your interests or focused your abilities help the admissions committee see how you’re truly prepared to do the required intellectual effort that any graduate program will demand of you. Make sure that you also refer to any crucial skills you wound up developing while finishing research tasks. These skills might include the synthesis of relevant information, just finding that information initially, and even multi-tasking. Admissions committees also love to see applicants who make their communication skills stronger by writing reports and enhancing their attention to detail.
- Teaching Assistantships: As with research assistance, being a teaching assistant is an experience that can help you get precious exposure to the field you want to go into. You can also develop specific mentorship skills worthy of mention in the statement of personal purpose that you write. Consider that being a teacher assistant is crucial work experience, specifically in the academic realm. It demonstrates your ability to function as a team player within such a community. Potential skills you might highlight from these kinds of experiences include the capacity to work with various learning styles, your ability to mentor others, how to communicate effectively with other people, and working with other academic professionals on a collaborative basis.
- Relevant Degrees: This can cover not just relevant degrees but also conferences and courses. Remember, don’t just go through your transcripts and academic resume again. Highlight particular degrees and courses that you’ve taken that wound up putting you on the path to applying for a certain graduate institution or program. Also, make reference to conferences that you attended. Even better is if you presented at them or did anything in relation to your stated research interests. As always, take the time to contemplate why particular classes or conferences wound up being formative in your path. For instance, talk about how important specialty knowledge you picked up in a certain course is or the value of public speaking skills that you developed in preparation for or even during a presentation at a particular conference.
Your Personal Strengths and Individual Weaknesses
Every single applicant that the admissions committee sees has both strengths and also weaknesses. Your written personal statement is your opportunity to demonstrate to the committee your self-awareness about both individual achievements and setbacks. When covering all of this, consider these:
- Clarity and Self-Awareness: You’ll be tempted to promote yourself in terms of your strengths and defend yourself against criticism about your weaknesses. Don’t do it. It’s better to be objective and honest. Make your statement of purpose stronger by incorporating intentions for how you can improve your personal weaknesses. You can and should convince the committee you have the capability to grow. Conveying your intellectual prowess and personal maturity will make your candidacy stronger.
- Relate Things to Your Responsibilities: It’s not enough to just go over your list of strengths as well as weaknesses. You also need to relate how they apply to your professional and academic responsibilities. An effective written statement of personal purpose will highlight a particular strength or weakness by using relevant examples. Be objective and concrete when highlighting a strength, because evidence makes a more powerful statement than boasting. Likewise, you can’t skip or gloss over your weaknesses, but you can make them ways of showing how you learned and improved later on.
- Extenuating Circumstances: Talk about any special circumstances that might have delayed or just compromised your academic performance in your life. If you think that something impacted your performance at an academic level, then talk about how those events influenced your personal challenges. This is your opportunity to highlight your capacity for growth and adapting to new circumstances. Illustrate how overcoming these hurdles helped you grow and learn as a person. Adaptability and resilience are both things that make you look stronger as an applicant to the committee who loves seeing people overcome the obstacles in their life.
Your statement of purpose should highlight your prior achievements before moving into your current plans. However, you also need to have and mention your future goals. You don’t have to have your post-graduation plans laid out chapter and verse just yet, but incorporating any goals you currently have will help the committee see that you have some capacity for long-range planning. You should be obviously eager to apply what you learn from their program to effective use in the future. Use your written statement section about your career plans to deal with these:
- Roles You Might Pursue: Do you have a particular job that you dream about? If so, talk about it. Explain why it’s a dream for you. For instance, what attracts you? Is it a mission of a particular position or job? The location? A particular institution? Anytime you can talk about what you find compelling, you’re likely to provide the admissions committee with something they also find compelling. Do what you can to talk about the sort of role you hope to have after finishing their program.
- Skills You Can Transfer: Any graduate program will give its students valuable skills that can be transferred into many different parts of their careers. Talk about any skills you want to get in the program and also how such skills might help you in the professional or academic paths you go down after you graduate. Mention how research projects make your communication and writing skills better, or discuss how you learned time management by balancing lab work and classes. Soft skills, including public speaking and being a team player in a group setting, are also worth mentioning. Interpersonal and technical skills are going to be necessary wherever you wind up working.
3 Do’s, 3 Don’ts
Writing a statement of purpose for graduate school can involve some frequent traps you might fall into. While the statement requirements at every school might vary a bit, there are some guidelines you can use to improve your odds of success while avoiding common mistakes:
- Do Write Multiple Drafts: Your statement has to be robust, effective, clear, and gripping. The chances of you nailing this on the first draft are not good. Even if your first draft is really strong, be ready to write it and rewrite it several times. Review each draft carefully for anything you might improve, replace, or add.
- Don’t Plagiarize: Your statement of personal purpose has to be yours. Getting feedback from those you trust is a great move, but don’t expect anyone to write your statement for you. You have to showcase your abilities and individuality. The act of plagiarism violates academic integrity. It’s also a violation of yourself because you’re misrepresenting your abilities.
- Do Get Feedback: Knowing how your own writing conveys to others is difficult. It’s even harder when you read what you write time and again. A fresh perspective helps, so ask those you trust to read your statement and then give you feedback. A good person to ask is any academic mentor familiar with you, your goals, and your own academic history. There’s no shame in getting professional help via a writing center through your college, university, or even an academic consultant.
- Don’t Use Cliches: Some phrasing is overly tired. You need to write examples specific to you. Any applicant can proclaim their love for learning new things. It’s better to highlight a specific activity or memory that illustrates your love. It might be a cliche to say ‘show, don’t tell’, but it’s also exactly what you should do.
- Do Proofread: The power of your narrative and content won’t matter a thing if your readers get tripped up with grammar errors, disorganization, and typos. Read your work and then reread it. A good rule of thumb is that it’s not done until you can reread it four consecutive times and not find a single thing to nitpick. Better yet, do that one day and then check it again the next day.
- Don’t Get Highly Technical: Concise writing has clarity. Don’t try to impress an admissions committee with overly obscure terms or vocabulary that is very specialized. The committee won’t be totally comprised of people familiar with the field of research you hope to enter. If you have to use a term that is specific to your specialty, then make sure you define it for their comprehension.
A Submission Checklist
The day will come that your written personal statement is ready to go. Or, at least, you’ll have done all you can think to do. Once that happens, be ready to look it over one more time to compare it to this checklist prior to submitting it:
- Institutional Requirements: Every school or program might have stipulations you need to fill in terms of proper format and length. Also, make sure that your statement of purpose includes any particular information they request. For the most part, just make sure it actually answers the prompt provided you.
- Multiple Drafts: Have you done several drafts of your statement so far? If you haven’t, then drop everything and get the gears grinding with a rewrite. A statement can’t be its best until it has gone through a number of drafts, especially where the statement gains strength and effectiveness every time. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the question of doing multiple drafts, then you need to ask yourself if your current statement is the best possible version it can be? If you have a shred of doubt, get another round of feedback.
- Claims and Examples: Every claim you make in your personal purpose statement needs an example that supports it. Look over your entire statement for cases of you claiming a particular experience or ability. Every such claim needs clearly specific examples to support them.
- Compelling Narrative: Read your written personal statement carefully to see what kind of narrative you have created. Will the reader find it compelling? Or is it just a random list of things they already know from your academic transcripts? Your statement has to not only tell a story but tell the story that gives them a context of who you personally are.
- Proofreading: Even when you think your written personal statement is in peak form, you have to proofread it several times to be sure that you’ve hunted down and removed every typo and grammatical error. Don’t do all your proofreading at once. Taking breaks in between means you come back with a fresh mind and set of eyes each time you sit down to read it. Be sure your statement is organized effectively and reads with a good flow for style and structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your written personal statement is your moment to answer certain questions for an admissions committee for a particular university or program. Then again, you’re likely to have quite a few questions yourself. Many of these were covered already, but it was a lot to go through, so here’s a recap:
- What’s the Point Behind a Statement of Purpose?: Your personal statement informs an admissions committee a lot more about you as a potential student than they’ll see from just the referral letters and academic transcripts. An effective statement will provide them with a gripping and intriguing narrative about your personal experiences, abilities, and interests. It’s your chance to demonstrate your strength as an applicant to the committee and how you can fit well within their institution’s program.
- What Are Good Steps to Take Prior to Writing?: Leave plenty of preparation time to avoid doing this in a rush at the deadline. You need to research both the institution and its program with care so you can ascertain their mission, values, and academic culture. Think about what might make you someone they want to have around. Communicate with possible mentors in the faculty to talk about your current research interests. List the requirements the program might have regarding your written personal statement about your purpose. Should you have any questions, identify the right authority and then get clarification from them. When you begin writing, have all your materials necessary for potential reference close to you. Some notes can create an outline that forms the structure of your initial written personal statement when you start writing.
- What Is an Appropriate Length for a Statement of Purpose?: A graduate school statement of purpose will usually run between 500 up to 1,000 words. Make sure you verify your length against the stated requirements as listed by any institution or program that you are applying to.
- What Does My Statement Need to Include?: Your personal statement should cover your personal research interests within a chosen field, the professional and academic preparations that you have taken thus far, your personal strengths and individual weaknesses, and the career plans you currently have. Every one of these elements should be supported by specific examples, and you need to explain to the admissions committee what you have picked up from each experience mentioned in your statement.
- How Should You Structure Your Statement?: Your personal statement should start with an introduction. Then, move into the main body covering two or three personal experiences. Wrap it all up with a conclusion. Any statement that you write needs to be written clearly and organized well to maintain a good narrative flow for any reader.
- What Should You Do and Not Do?: Commit yourself to writing multiple drafts to make the statement as strong as you can. Get feedback from professional consultants and academic mentors that you trust. Proofread your work carefully and many times prior to submission. Don’t commit plagiarism of any kind. Avoid general phrases or cliches in favor of originality. Clarity takes precedence over being artistic, and explain any technical or specialty terms that you use.
- How Can You Ensure Your Statement Makes an Impact?: Your statement’s strength will rely on your own power to write concisely based on your personal research. Allow enough calendar time to write more than one draft. Doing so is inevitable. Also, be very selective with the personal experiences that you put in the statement. Show the admissions committee how their institution or program would be lucky to have you around instead of just telling them. If all of this overwhelms you, then just look into consultants and companies that might help you with polishing your statement.
- What Has to Happen Before Submission?: Review the final form to be sure it’s the absolute best work you can do. Check off all the formatting, length, and technical requirements an institution or program might have for statements of purpose submitted to them. Even if you have done several rewrites, ask yourself if you really think this is the one. Be sure the narrative and examples are compelling and not just rehashing your other documents. Proofread, proofread, and then proofread again. Any grammar error or typo is a needless distraction to the reader away from your narrative.
There’s No Substitute for an Actual Statement of Purpose Graduate School Example
All the guidelines and instructions in the world aren’t as helpful as actually having a statement of purpose graduate school example to go by. Use these so you know how it should look and read when you’re done writing your own. Names and specific details have been redacted, but they are largely based on real-world examples of applicants who successfully entered graduate schools and programs they applied to.
Statement of Purpose Graduate School Example #1
Prompt: So far, what role in your life has music played? How has music in your previous experiences impacted your plans and goals for the future?
I first started composing when I learned the fundamentals of music theory in a middle school class about music technology. For five years, I studied music composition and theory at a music school under a Ph.D. on the faculty there. I continued compositional studies in college, focusing on 20th-century electronic music and compositional techniques before doing a senior honors thesis. I also had courses in atonal/”Uptown music, modern opera, ethnomusicology, music history, music theory, medieval cantors, and the intersection of music, psychology, and neuroscience. I was able to study in Scotland for my junior year, where I learned even more about music theory, such as orchestration techniques, composition, and fugal theory. When it came to time to do a senior honors thesis, I composed a song cycle of 13 movements utilizing a transposable mode that I formulated based on an augmented triad and fully diminished event. This composition was scored for electronics, chamber ensemble, and two sopranos. It was performed and also recorded before I consequently defended it with success to get my music honors major.
On top of academic musical experience, I have considerable experience in both music-related employment and music performance. As an undergraduate, I studied viola with two masters. I’ve also been able to study the viola da gamba with a renowned performance artist. I even taught myself the fundamentals of the theremin to include in the recital for my senior thesis. I have performed in numerous ensembles, and I held the treasurer, librarian, and co-president positions in my college’s orchestra and chamber music societal organizations. In terms of musical employment, I have been an assistant for a summer arts program for multiple years. I’ve also worked at a composers conference center for several summers. Even though I chose a liberal arts college over a conservatory to get my undergraduate degree, my life so far has very much revolved around music.
The primary goal I want to attain while getting a musical composition degree from your graduate school is to expand both my abilities and compositional knowledge. I hope to learn about many instruments that I do not currently play to such a level of detail that I would be comfortable writing anything for them. I also hope to first explore and then also develop my interests in music for dance and film to make music a collaborative part of larger works of art. As a student in your prestigious institution, I would hope to study with members of your faculty to improve my own skills regarding electroacoustic and computer music.
One other goal I hold dear to me for my graduate studies is being involved in performing new music, whether it’s my personal compositions or works from others. When studying in Scotland, I was fortunate enough to participate in the composer’s orchestra of that school. This musical group was dedicated to the performance of works by composers who are still alive. Whenever possible, they picked works from among students. When a senior in college, I got to play viola during the senior thesis performance of a friend. These experiences fulfilled me in ways that other concerts I participated in did not because they let me play music I’d never experienced before. I also got to see just how rewarding things were for the composers to hear their music actually performed and recorded. When I started my personal senior thesis, it wound up involving the compositional demands of managing a 13-movement song cycle that was written for the various combinations of instruments I could procure. In reality, getting that particular piece into an actual concert was considerably more exhilarating and difficult than I ever imagined. It meant recruiting students who had an interest in the project to surrender valuable midterm study time, organizing the rehearsals, and managing last-minute changes and drop-outs among the performers. I sustained serious growth both as a musician and a composer, and that experience left me with a desire to find more performance opportunities for my music. Given your institution’s reputation for performance excellence across all aspects involved with music, it is my sincere hope to identify fellow students who might have an interest in my composition performances. I would love the chance to return the favor and play the compositions that my fellow students come up with.
Another goal I want to achieve during my compositional studies in your esteemed program is to connect my background in liberal arts with my musical passion in exploring methods of utilizing my personal extramusical knowledge throughout my compositions. My final music seminar in college dived into the relationship intricacies between the material and the performer. I have a background based in social psychology and an interest in aleatoric compositional techniques. This intersection of knowledge has made me wonder what the relationships are between musical material, audience, and performer? How do the experiences of listening differ based on various circumstances? Can the composer do anything to influence or even control said experiences? In my graduate school time, I intend to apply for music assistant job positions that present themselves. In a perfect world, once I get my composition degree, I would hope to orchestrate and compose music for movies. I would like to freelance for several years before attempting the pursuit of more degrees. I’m also aware that upon my graduation, the job market at the time might make it sensible to return to school to get more graduate studies done. Irrespective of the career paths I explore, I am sure that composition is a crucial component of my path ahead in professional and academic life. For that to occur, I have to keep developing my individual abilities as both a musician and composer. I also need to grow my experience in terms of my own music being performed. I truly believe that a composition degree in your institution is the best chance for me to meet these dreams and goals.
Statement of Purpose Graduate School Example #2
In my early teenage years, my sister went through a very traumatic car accident. While she survived physically, she was left with serious anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Unfortunately, our parents didn’t really know just how deeply impacted she was with it. As a collective family, it wasn’t something that we discussed much, despite her obvious pain. My teenage years were a time of seeing someone I loved struggle with mental health. I did what I could to offer her support when things were bad, and she did get some professional help. Still, there were many times that I had no idea what I could do about her suffering. These times of feeling powerless put me in the direction of clinical psychology for my career. The mystery behind this phenomenon was something that I wanted to study, dive into, and look at critically. It’s my hope to eventually understand it. Between my personal experiences with the PTSD of a family member and my own academic studies in psychology, I’ve discovered that I’m especially interested in the specialty of clinical psychology as it relates to adolescent populations.
For five years, I served as a volunteer in a care program for after-school students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was during these years that I met a lot of young individuals who had faced situations as diverse as violence, abuse, neglect, and starvation from very early in life. They needed ways to cope with the chronic effects of such early experiences in life. Working with such kids and teens and helping them through things that many adults might find unimaginable gave me, even more, focus on how trauma can impact how generalized anxiety and panic disorders might develop in young people. To that point, underlying risk factors and pre-existing conditions can lead adolescents with depression, anxiety, and PTSD to unfortunate endings, such as suicide. This is one topic I’d like to keep exploring as a clinical psychology student in your university’s master’s program. Given my individual experiences with how trauma impacts people, I believe I offer a distinct perspective into the research of chronic PTSD among adolescents.
Even though my main focus in clinical psychology and trauma effects has roots in my personal background, I’ve also had an intellectual curiosity about this academic subject for many years. During my high school years, I attended a community college for introduction to psychology courses. I also finished a certificate course for peer youth counseling. My academic explorations have validated my dream of studying psychology at all levels. My undergraduate coursework emphasized creating a comprehensive portfolio across several areas of psychology. These included abnormal psychology, industrial psychology, clinical psychology, and cognitive-behavioral science, and psychology. My coursework also covered neuroscience, physiology, and biology so I could get a better grasp on how adolescent trauma resulted in physical pathologies. I think that my broad basis in biological factors of developmental psychopathology can help me deal with the badly needed cross-disciplinary research for providing effective treatment regimens to survivors of trauma.
In my own undergraduate academic endeavors, I have attained research experience that has helped me formulate the knowledge and skills I require for graduate studies in clinical psychology. I worked with several faculty members at a university level with their research into PTSD adolescents who developed substance abuse. I was a research assistant, and my academic responsibilities included data collection, supervising study participants, drafting assessment packets for participants, preparing research documents, data entry, and literature searches. This experience helped me develop data analysis and observational skills that should prove valuable. I also learned a lot about the critical facets of clinical research, including participant supervision, hypothesis formulation, the investigation of study measures, and how to program computer tests. During a senior-level research class, I published four different research papers covering various topics in clinical psychology.
What draws me to the master’s program in clinical psychology at your educational institution is how much you emphasize diversity in both cultural context and the classroom. This aligns well with my own personal goals of understanding how trauma manifests in disadvantaged populations in a holistic and socially conscious way. On top of that, your program gives me the chance as a student to do research endeavors in your world-class facilities, letting me enhance my research skills in a very appropriate environment. Two of your current faculty members are widely recognized as the most visionary voices in current trauma research, and I hope to study under both. The work they have already done on abnormal psychology development in survivors of CSA and what endocrinological risks adolescents face in the development of anxiety is highly relevant to my own interests in research. Given my personal experience with how trauma can impact someone and my academic clinical research background, I think my devotion to comprehending the various pathological effects of PTSD in teens means I can offer your master’s cohort quite a bit.
Given all the academic knowledge and clinical experiences I’ve picked up over the years, my interest in depression, anxiety, and trauma remains a truly personal passion. Even though my sister physically survived the teenage years, she keeps living with PTSD symptoms and anxiety that she can’t fully grasp. Human psychology has a lot left for us to learn, and I would like to narrow that gap some by utilizing my own education and training with what I learn at your university. It’s only by seeking answers to trauma questions that we can figure out how it warps adolescent brains and what we might do to manage it. This is one area of psychology that badly needs attention and answers.
Statement of Purpose Graduate School Example #3
My parents gave me many things. Perhaps the greatest of those gifts was a strong sense of how very distinct my childhood actually was. My mother was a clerk in the American consulate in the Egyptian city of Cairo. This was certainly not a position of great prestige, and yet it gave my family many benefits. The ones that had a tremendous impact on me were the many cultural institutions within walking distance of our home. Every afternoon, the first thing I would like to do after finishing school was to enter a museum and its cool air. Even while young, I understood how complicated it was to be an American child of light-color skin drifting through these halls, looking over artifacts from a civilization that had been around long before what I knew to be civilizations of the “West”. Just how did I wind up here? What relationship did I have with this rich and deep culture that simultaneously fascinated me but also agitated my feelings of being a bit alien here? This was an intersection of both political and cultural analysis that grew in scope and complexity as I lived longer. I started to decipher the sophisticated colonial forces that played roles in Egyptology, both early on and in the contemporary era. As I became a more mature student, I was able to start formulating questions that had previously resided only as an abstract unease within my mind. I was very curious about how pervasive North American and English archaeologists had been during the antiquarian boom of the 19th century. Guides and curators alike at many of these museums in Egypt weren’t keen to converse too much about this, either. Over time, I did develop relationships with quite a few officials, both based on the careers of my patients and via my own afternoon wanderings.
As I started to get more pointed with my questions, and especially when I could explore the museum records all by myself, I started getting overwhelmed by just how vastly the “industry” of Egyptian archaeology was formed by British colonialism. The result was lingering tension between the ideas of international exhibition versus indigenous or local preservation of their civilization’s artifacts. My own undergraduate work in the field of anthropology has been an effort to develop several theses regarding this, in particular an emphasis on how necessary it is to repatriate and return artifacts from the actual British Museum to Egypt as a means of more thorough reconciliation following centuries of artifact extraction.
During my undergraduate research with a professor at my undergraduate university, my attention was to using mindful historiographical analysis in order to support improved repatriation efforts made popular by a former minister of Egyptian antiquities. These efforts actually helped motivate a Boston museum to arrange the return of a priceless bust featuring Prince Ankhhaf. This was a high point in my academic career. It was honestly one of the more satisfying moments in my entire life to date.
On top of my work’s historiographic focus, I’m also interested in the contemporary politics surrounding both artifact repatriation and the reclamation of physical heritage, particularly in how modern political struggles in North Africa use both anthropological and cultural discourses. One of your own professors’ work in this area has been a tremendous source of influence and inspiration to me. Should I enjoy admission into your graduate school, I would be very honored to assist her in continuing research into the current cultural discourse in both Islamic and Egyptian political movements.
Just after my graduation, I was fortunate to enjoy selection to the Presidential Internship program at the American University in Cairo. Going back to Cairo after having left at the age of 13 was an incredible experience but also rather bittersweet in a few ways. There were still the institutions I’d mythologized while a child, but now I viewed them more critically. I came to the understanding that my own graduate work would be impacted by this new layer of disillusionment and sophistication. If you admit me to your anthropology program, I would hope to make the most of my personal experience. I was unwittingly added to the long-running “Western” colonial presence across North Africa, and I think people such as myself who live in anthropological intersections have a duty to generate academic work highlighting the cultural and political tensions we experience in a phenomenon that is very complex and subjective.
Given that, I suggest using modeling techniques frequently employed in digital-archaeological projects through Egyptological studies in order to provide analysis more focused on the culture surrounding the expropriative flow at its colonial extraction peak in the early decades of the 20th century. I posit that object-focused models of provenance are something to utilize in supporting the analysis of continuing repatriation discourse. This would expand on the aforementioned work of one of my professors, offering concrete insights into the emancipatory movements, both nationalist and also post-nationalist, in modern Egypt and across the broader region of North Africa.
If admitted into your graduate program, my goals would be to contribute to your program’s continuing scholarship as one of your students but also to keep working in collaboration with your department after I move into teaching and independent scholarship following my graduation. I feel particularly strongly about making long-term connections with the faculty given how few nuanced pieces of scholarship there are emphasizing the crossroads of political science, archaeology, and anthropology in Egyptological studies. Research and teaching have provided serious guidance to each step in my journey to this date. I know with confidence that this is to be my path into the future as well. Given that, I would like not only to be a paragon of your intellectual and interdisciplinary exemplary to my own students in the future but also to keep being an eminent cohort of your faculty research regardless of where my teaching takes me.
Statement of Purpose Graduate School Example #4
I was a child of refugees from Bangladesh who ran from death, famine, war, and many other horrors I never faced personally. Yet, I found the hidden truth behind history’s grand narratives to be compelling. For instance, I love the small stories of individuals who don’t leave a lasting impact on big world affairs and yet live in this world anyway. When my parents left Bangladesh, they left everything behind, including family, friends, papers, and property. They didn’t just erase their own personal history but the past of generations before them. As I continued to grow up, I got quite passionate about this history, especially my own ancestors. It might have been my way of trying to contextualize my own personal experiences as I was a second-generation immigrant. I remember once in school when we were assigned a project to make a family tree of the photos and names of parents, their parents, and the like. My mother began crying when I inquired about these pictures and details. This traumatically reminded her of everything that she had lost. This genealogical tree wound up being my first history project. I did what I could online with the little information my own mother could give me to fill out a project board with scant details. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much. However, it did spark a fire in me to learn what I could about my past. This resulted in an interest about the specific history of Southeastern Asia, socially, economically, culturally, and even militarily.
This interest was something I pursued even into college, where I majored in history while getting a minor in the field of anthropology. During my undergraduate years, my relatively general interest in Southeast Asian history morphed into a passion for the politics surrounding historical interpretation. Specifically, I was fascinated by the topic of women in Southeast Asia before modern times. I’m fascinated by the history of specific women’s spaces, particularly under patriarchal regimes. Oral traditions were developed as a means of dealing with the lack of literacy. The social roles of women also shifted and changed when economic and military conditions developed. These historical changes created much of the present. My own interest in women’s spaces focuses on how colonial influences impacted them from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
My own intellect and desire for discovery have resulted in my deliberately choosing challenging courses. I’ve built a robust academic foundation with the intention of doing historical research. I’ve done coursework relating to Asian history studies, but I’ve also done coursework in women’s studies, philosophy, anthropology, postcolonialism, and British history to round out my field of interest. I’ve also done research projects and independent studies into the history behind Hebrew scriptures and Canada’s African-Americans. This diverse dive into many different historical topics has given me a broader context for my primary focus as I have discovered fascinating parallels between what experiences oppressed populations have in different corners of the world. My university’s academic magazine published three of my papers, and I even presented on at a national history symposium.
I hope your university’s master’s program lets me continue exploring previously undiscovered areas of the history of women throughout Southeast Asia. My proficiency in academia, historical interest focus, and personal background make me an ideal applicant for your program. I am enthusiastic about working in an academic environment that cherishes investigative techniques that look ahead and diversity among its students and educators. Your curriculum is rigorous enough to help me sharpen my own methods of historical investigation while growing my awareness of socio-economic and cross-cultural influences from women’s spaces before modern times. I’ve already been in communication with one member of your faculty and would like to personally help them with their own research. It is my eventual goal to be a professor in my own right at a prestigious educational institution, such as your own. I would love the chance to share my passion for certain chapters of human history with future generations of students who could continue the work that has already been done or is currently ongoing.
When you apply for graduate school, your application is likely to require a personal statement talking about your purpose for pursuing higher education.
- These statements usually run from 500 up to 1,000 words.
- Give the admissions committee a narrative they find compelling.
- Write the story of you behind the academic transcripts and referral letters they already have.
- Be sure to write your statement several times, have others give you feedback, and proofread it repeatedly.
- Use examples of successful students before you to know what works and doesn’t.
Put all this information to use, and you should get into the educational institution of your choice. Good luck!