Grad School Statement of Purpose / Personal Statement

Your admissions essay tells the story of why you are applying to a particular program and are a strong candidate. A statement of purpose should present your professional goals, academic interests and research experience. The tone will resemble a cover letter more than a narrative essay for undergraduate admissions.  Schools will be interested in your potential as scholar. It is critical to read the question or prompt carefully as some programs are very specific about what you should write.

Your statement of purpose should address three issues:

  • What you have done in the field and how it has prepared you for graduate study
  • What you want to study and why, including your career goals
  • Why a particular program is a good fit for you

Avoid generalities and try to be a specific as possible in conveying your interests and experience.

Some schools will ask for a personal or diversity statement as well.  These may be more focused on your personal background and motivations.  Business schools tend to have relatively brief, open prompts that invite you tell your story as you choose.

If you would like a critique of your statement of purpose, you can make an appointment in Handshake:

  • Dr. Carol Hagan provides feedback on essays for Public Health, Humanities, and Social Science programs.
  • Dr. Doris Tabassum provides feedback on documents for STEM programs.
  • Drs. Sharon Fleshman, Esther Ra, and Patty Greenfield provide feedback on application documents for Nursing, Education, Counseling/Psychology and Social Work/Social Policy/Social Welfare programs.
  • MBA applicants seeking feedback should email Dr. Hagan at