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Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.
Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program. You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.
A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.
While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.
Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.
However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.
When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.
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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?
A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:
A Clear Narrative
Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).
You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.
A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.
Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.
A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.
Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.
Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.
While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.
You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.
Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1
PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies
For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.
Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:
- An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
- A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
- Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.
Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition
This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.
Here’s what works well in this statement:
- The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
- The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
- The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.
This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important. However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:
- I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
- I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.
Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3
PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health
This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:
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- This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
- This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
- In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.
Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive
Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.
Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.
This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.
It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.
Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.
Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.
If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.
Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.
In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.
Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.
In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.
Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.
This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.
Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.
This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.
I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.
The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.
This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.
Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online
So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.
Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.
Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School
This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.
The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.
Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements
These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.
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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).
University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples
These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.
Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10
This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.
Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1
Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled
It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.
Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples
In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)
We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:
- A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
- Specific examples to support that narrative.
- Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
- Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
- Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.
Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.
Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.
Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.
Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .
If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .
Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.
See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .
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Author: Ellen McCammon
Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon
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Postgraduate Personal Statement Examples
Our postgraduate personal statement examples for Masters and PhD courses will inspire you to write your own unique statement, and help you understand how students have successfully applied for this type of course in the past.
How to write a masters statement.
Find out more
Masters Personal Statement Tips
Should I Do A Masters?
Types Of Postgraduate Degree
Research Vs Taught Masters
Choosing A Postgrad University
Postgraduate Entry Requirements
7 Ways To Fail A Graduate Interview
Uni Open Day Tips
What is a postgraduate personal statement?
A postgraduate personal statement is a piece of creative writing that should tell the universities you are applying to all about your strengths and where you see yourself in the future.
It should give admissions tutors a good idea of who you are and why you would make a valuable candidate for their course.
Remember that a postgraduate course is a higher level of study than an undergraduate degree, so be prepared to share your knowledge and expertise in your chosen subject.
How do I write a postgraduate personal statement?
We always recommend starting your postgraduate personal statement by brainstorming ideas. Your notes should cover the following:
- academic results
- part-time or Saturday jobs
- wider reading
- extracurricular activities
as well as anything else you can think of that is relevant to the course you are applying for.
Take a look through our collection of postgraduate personal statement examples above to give yourself an idea of what a successful statement looks like.
Once you have put together an initial draft, it's a good idea to ask for feedback from family, friends and tutors. They will be able to look at your statement objectively and suggest ways it could be improved.
Incorporate their comments, and ask for further feedback. Don't worry if you have to do this three or four times - it's important you get your statement as perfect as possible before sending it off on your UCAS form.
What should I include in my postgraduate personal statement?
- Look at the content of the course and make sure your statement addresses the specific apect(s) you are interested in.
- Talk about your motivations for wanting to study the course and mention any projects you've completed, awards you've received or other achievements.
- Demonstrate important skillls that are required for a postgraduate course, e.g. problem-solving, teamwork, analytical, communication etc. Talk about how you have developed these, either at school/college, at your job or during hobbies or other activities.
- Most applicants spend the opening of their statement talking about why they want to study a postgraduate course in their subject, e.g. to improve their career prospects, or as a stepping stone to a PhD.
- Don’t include any over-used phrases or quotes in your statement that university admissions tutors will have seen and heard before.
- Now is also not the time for jokes or humour - it often doesn't work well and admissions tutors might not be impressed!
- Pay attention to detail and use good vocabulary and grammar throughout.
- Try to keep the tone positive and enthusiastic - tutors want to see passionate students that will be a valuable asset to their department.
- Start writing your personal statement as soon as you know which course you want to apply for and which universities you want to approach.
For more help and advice on what to write in your postgraduate personal statement, please see:
- Personal Statement Editing Services
- Personal Statement Tips From A Teacher
- Analysis Of A Personal Statement
- The 15th January UCAS Deadline: 4 Ways To Avoid Missing It
- Personal Statement FAQs
- Personal Statement Timeline
- 10 Top Personal Statement Writing Tips
- What To Do If You Miss The 15th January UCAS Deadline.
How long is a postgraduate personal statement?
A postgraduate personal statement is normally around 500 words long, which is roughly one side of A4. Some universities may require more, such as up two sides. Other institutions also set a character limit instead of a specific word count, so check the guidelines before you start writing.
Postgraduate personal statements shouldn't include personal information that is already elsewhere on your UCAS form. Instead, focus on why you want to study a particular postgraduate course and your potential to successfully complete your studies.
How do I structure my postgraduate personal statement?
Your Masters personal statement should have a clear, logical structure, where the paragraphs flow coherently from one to the next.
For the opening paragraph, you should try to grab the admission tutor's attention with an positive and passionate introduction that tells admission tutors why you want to study this course.
Your middle paragraphs should tell the reader all about your knowledge and skills and demonstrate why this course is the next step for you.
Around half of the main body should focus on you and your interests, and the other half about the course content and where you hope it will take you in the future.
Your conclusion should round off your statement by explaining why you are a great candidate. Most students aim to write between four and six paragraphs in total, although remember not to waffle - every word needs to count!
It's a good idea to mention any potential red flags, such as a gap in your education history, or low grades at school or college, and explain the reasons why as positively as possible.
For example, talk about how you plan to increase your wider reading to make up for your lower than expected exam results, or how you spent a year out from education volunteering at a local animal centre.
Most postgraduate applications are submitted online via the UCAS Postgraduate service or directly through the university's website. If you are doing the latter, make sure it is formatted correctly before submitting it.
How do I begin my postgraduate personal statement?
The first rule here is not to include any typically over-used phrases such as "since a young age" or "I have always wanted to be a...".
Remember that admission tutors read hundreds of statements every week, so you need to cut to the chase and grab their attention straight away.
Looking through some of our postgraduate personal staetment examples will inspire you, and help give you an idea of what makes a good opening sentence.
How do I conclude my postgraduate personal statement?
Your conclusion is just as important as your opening, so it's worth spending as much time as you can rounding your statement off with something memorable.
Talk about your ambitions and how you hope your postgraduate course will allow you to achive your career ambitions.
The end of your statement should also include a concise summary of why you are a good fit for the course.
Keep it succinct and on point, and think about why you will be a valuable asset to the university. After all, you are up against many other candidates, so why should the tutors offer you a place over them?
Once you've completed an initial draft, including an opening, middle and end, make sure you pass it on to family, friends or anyone else that can provide feedback.
You can then incorporate any suggestions or comments to try and improve it.
Be aware that it will probably take at least three or four rounds of revisions before you have a final, polished draft.
If you follow these tips your personal statement should leave a lasting impression.
Where can I find more information about postgraduate personal statements and applying for a course?
There are lots of great resources out there with tips and advice on postgraduate university personal statements and UCAS applications, including:
- Should I apply for a postgraduate course?
- Types of postgraduate course
- Writing a postgraduate personal statement
- Benefits of postgraduate study
- Postgraduate entry requirements
- Research vs Taught Masters
- Taught Masters
- Research Masters
- UCAS Postgraduate Applications
Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: Climate Change Management
Studying personal statement examples written by other successful applicants can teach you how to write and structure your application, and you can quickly learn how to write a personal statement by examining others.
After all, reading examples of personal statements can be valuable when applying to a university or college course.
But with so many university personal statement examples available, how do you know if you’re reading a good one?
Postgraduate personal statements should highlight relevant academic and practical experience, research skills and ambitions and their suitability for the course. This postgraduate personal statement example for Climate Change Management clearly illustrates these three critical elements.
Studying master’s degree personal statement examples can be especially valuable. They’re sometimes referred to as personal mission statements or statements of purpose , so if you’re tasked with writing a personal mission statement, the following example will work for you.
I’ve broken down this personal statement example section by section, with a commentary on each element.
That way, you’ll see its strengths and weaknesses and get some inspiration for your own personal statement .
Once you’ve read the personal statement example and analysis, you can download a pdf of the whole document to use as inspiration for your own!
Personal Statement Example: Introduction
“The purpose of business is to produce profitable solutions to the problems of people and the planet, not to profit from producing problems.”
“I quote Colin Mayer to illustrate a personal and professional ideology: the goal of a great enterprise is not only to make a profit but to generate social prosperity. Consequently, I firmly believe that the aspiration to common development is the responsibility of enterprises across the globe. Commerce and industry have undergone many changes over the years, and each change has reshaped the value expression behind business practice. The previous brutal growth model enjoyed by emerging and established businesses has caused huge problems at the social level and caused vicious, irreversible damage to cultural and ecological environments. However, the advent of global citizenship and instant communication has made many companies reevaluate their positioning. Many now view profitability from the perspective of engaging with social problems and developing longer-term corporate strategies in the context of complex and changing social trends.
I am dedicated to exploring a sustainable development path that balances business value and social responsibility. I am confident that the MSc in Climate Change, Management & Finance at Buckley will facilitate this goal.”
My Commentary and Analysis
This is a strong opening statement that demonstrates the applicant’s personal and professional ideology clearly and with purpose. Opening a personal statement example with a quote is a common strategy, and in this case, it works effectively. The quote is not over-used, and it is relevant to the content that the writer goes on to develop, which is ideal.
The writer then develops their ideas to outline their understanding of the value expression behind business practice and the importance of business in a global context. This works well as it lays a foundation of knowledge and awareness in business and finance, and although not relating directly to climate change, it establishes a welcome sense of authority and purpose.
The writer also provides context for the changes that have occurred in commerce and industry over time and demonstrates their commitment to social responsibility and engagement with social problems. They then link this commitment to successful admittance to the course they are applying for, which is an excellent tactic. It shows the reader that the applicant has a clear strategy for progress and that the course is part of a wider set of goals.
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Personal Statement Example: Academic Background
“As an undergraduate reading for an Accounting and Finance degree, courses such as Financial Modelling, Operations Management and Probability Theory & Mathematics Statistics gave me a rigorous training in finance, mathematics and management. My First-Class Honours (82.75/100) have given me the academic and economic skills to flourish as a graduate student. Mastering a wide range of programming skills, such as Python, R and Latex, I have developed my financial and analytical abilities, equipping myself with the knowledge needed to immerse myself in interdisciplinary studies and make informed inferences regarding the real world.”
My Commentary and Analysis
The applicant’s academic and economic skills are well-referenced here, and the range of courses taken as an undergraduate provides evidence of rigorous training in finance, mathematics, and management.
These are all necessary prerequisites for the course being applied for, although this personal statement would have been strengthened if the writer had outlined specific skills gained and linked these to particular aspects of the course being applied for. That way, the reader would be able to judge not only suitability but also potential.
The writer’s proficiency in programming skills is highlighted, but again, further value could have been added by indicating how these skills would be of value on the course. What would these skills allow the writer to accomplish? How would they like to develop and apply these as a postgraduate student?
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Personal Statement Example: Practical Experience 1
“In addition to this high level of theoretical knowledge, I have developed the experience and skills needed to engage with the climate and finance-related issues inherent in real-world applications. My research experience in the Technical Group of Global Health at Marshall University was exceptionally valuable, as it gave me an opportunity to witness the power and value of multidisciplinary collaboration. It was the dynamic combination of finance, policy, law and quantitative analysis that made success possible. Inspired by this experience, I participated in the Jones & Lyle Limited Liability Partnership. This allowed me to examine further how a combination of various skill sets can be effective when addressing challenges and taught me how to incorporate policy analysis methodology into a business case.”
Commentary and Analysis
This is the first direct mention of climate issues in this personal statement, and I would suggest that, whilst the application has been positive and engaging so far, it would have been sensible to have made reference to this earlier on, given the focus of the course being applied for.
The section above demonstrates the applicant’s experience and skill in engaging with climate and finance-related issues in real-world applications. This is particularly important, as applicants at this level are expected to be able to demonstrate engagement in real-world scenarios.
Research experience is also considered, as is the applicant’s interest in multidisciplinary collaboration. Transferable skills like this are critical in this kind of personal statement example, but again, I would like to see clarity regarding how these experiences would be of direct value to the writer’s postgraduate studies.
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Personal Statement Example: Practical Experience 2
“Gaining a place on the highly competitive Government and Public Services Assurance & Climate Change and Sustainability Services intern programme at Jones & Lyle, I contributed to the Government and Public Services group. Demonstrating a high degree of data interpretation and analysis ability, I researched climate and sustainability-related disclosure standards. I conducted scenario analyses and qualitative physical and transition risk assessments for both public sectors and corporate levels. To prepare further for this course and my subsequent career, I obtained a certificate in Environmental, Social and Governance Investing from the CFA Institute, recognised by the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. This experience developed my practical application and technical knowledge in the fast-growing field of ESG investing.”
My Commentary and Analysis:
This is probably the most critically important section in this personal statement so far, as it is rich with examples of ways in which the writer has engaged with climate change and sustainability in an increasingly impressive range of ways.
Aside from listing the several key ways in which the writer has built up expertise, this section also allows the reader to see an ongoing and developing interest in the subject. They can also recognise the value of this experience to the student’s cohort, and this sense of value to the learning community can’t be underestimated.
Once more, my criticism is that clear links aren’t made between these experiences, the skills or knowledge gained, and the ways in which these relate to the demands of the course. Had the applicant done this, they would have demonstrated an excellent understanding of the programme they were applying for.
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Personal Statement Example: Conclusion
“Buckley is an ideal starting point for my future career journey, and I find the content and ethos of this programme exceptionally engaging, relevant and attractive. I look forward to examining the formation of climate change legislation and analysing the extent of the critical role played by governance in the Climate Change and Governance course. This master’s course will also allow me to broaden my global vision, enhance my knowledge and skills and improve my competency within a competitive employment market. I firmly believe that this MSc in Climate Change, Management & Finance will fill educational gaps in my understanding of climate change, broaden my strategies for managing employee and economic growth and strengthen my capacity for wisdom and optimism.
Coming from China, I also aim to add diversity of heritage and opinion to class discussions, learning opportunities and social interactions. Additionally, I intend to use my prior knowledge, skills and experiences related to investment and sustainability to support my peers’ progress and advance the faculty’s collective knowledge. Calligraphy is a popular art form in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Hong Kong. As a result, I have passed graded examinations to level 10 and exhibited my work to over 2000 viewers. In addition, I am a member of the university roller skating club and have strong skills in badminton and sudoku. I intend to continue to engage with these activities, seek new growth opportunities and involve myself as fully as possible in all aspects of the Imperial community. After graduation, I aim to become an ESG analyst and consultant, combining my management and finance expertise with the analytical methodology needed to complete effective climate change and sustainability auditing projects successfully. My long-term goal is to establish a green investment company to improve living conditions for people in environmentally contaminated regions. I look forward to taking the next step in my learning journey as a positive and engaged Buckley student.”
The first paragraph of this personal statement conclusion demonstrates the applicant’s interest in and engagement with the content and ethos of the MSc. It also provides evidence of the applicant’s desire to broaden their global vision, enhance their knowledge and skills, and improve their competency within a competitive employment market.
These are all positive elements to include in a conclusion, as is evidence of their commitment to using their prior knowledge, skills, and experiences to support their peers’ progress and advance the faculty’s collective knowledge.
Again, making a clearer link between these goals and specific aspects of the course being applied for would have made the content more compelling.
The applicant’s diversity of heritage and opinion is a valuable inclusion, as it aligns with the university ethos. I’m not sure that, at this level, evidence of the writer’s proficiency in calligraphy and involvement in extracurricular activities is quite as valuable as for an undergraduate application.
Importantly, this personal statement example ends with an analysis of future goals and demonstrates the applicant’s long-term aim to establish a green investment company to improve living conditions for people in environmentally contaminated regions. This ambition is directly supported by the course being applied for and provides a convincing, engaging conclusion.
In summary, this is a well-written and effective personal statement. Well structured (although the conclusion is, perhaps, a little unbalanced) and relevant, it just needs to connect more fully with the course content to be effective.
For more great advice, check out my article on writing an excellent final personal statement paragraph here .
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I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...
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