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How to write personal statement for PhD application?

21st November 2018 by Varada A | SOP For PhD

How to write a personal statement for PhD application? It is very daunting and challenging to write a personal statement for PhD application. We can help you out.

While applying for PhD program, universities generally request the applicant to submit a personal statement, which is actually a vital element of one’s PG application. Although you will be issuing your research documents, the personal statement sums your eligibility to attain a doctorate. It is a very daunting and challenging to write a personal statement for phd application. But let we tell you, it is a great chance to convey your worth and prove your eligibility as a prospective PhD candidate to the admission committee.

Through this article we will elaborate to you as to what needs to go within a PhD personal statement, guidelines about its content structure as well as tips to impress your way up.

Why a personal statement for PhD?

A personal statement is given to share additional details of a PhD applicant’s education background, experiences and aspirations for pursuing postgraduate research. However unlike a PhD proposal, a personal statement doesn’t focus on a specific research topic, describing its objectives and procedures. Since PhD is done individually, the personal statement will reflect one’s uniqueness and worth.

The personal statement for PhD format may vary from university to university. Such that, some may provide application forms that have separate space for writing personal statement. While some colleges might request the applicant to provide it separately as a document. Hence, it is essential to ask about this to the respective college you are applying for, before writing personal statement for PhD.

Is it necessary to write a personal statement for PhD?

Unless you are not submitting your PhD proposal, it is not mandatory to write a personal statement. Some college do not insist on providing separate personal statement for phd application, probably because they rather expect to see a strong research proposal from the applicants. In such cases, they are likely to ask about the personal information during one-to-one interview process instead.

To whom it is addressed for?

An applicant’s personal statement will change hands at several levels of the admission process – for, it will be assessed by different academicians. Like, there will be professors who will check an applicant’s qualifications and experiences are relevant to this particular course and whether they are up to the mark, eligible for a PhD. Some may be interested in specific educational background and applicant’s motivations for working within a research group or particular department. Interview committee will base one’s personal statement to form questions for the applicant. While their tastes maybe different, one can impress them altogether by writing an impactful personal statement.

What to include in a personal statement?

The content of one’s PhD personal statement depends on the type of project one is applying for and according to the university’s requirements. It is strongly advisable to check carefully what the university needs beforehand and see what specific information they are looking for – such as career plans, interests, motivations, etc.

Now let’s get elaborate about the important things that one should put in a personal statement for phd application….

  • Background

Make this brief, concise and relevant. Admission panel are keen to know what made you to choose a PhD and not your actual “personal” life details. Although, it is fine to share that you developed interest in a particular subject from childhood.

  • Reason to do PhD

A personal statement for phd application should convey your reason and motivation behind taking a particular PhD. However, what you include in this, depends mainly on the field of PhD you have chosen. If one is attaching research proposal along with the statement, then focus more on writing why you want to do a PhD rather than the particular topic which you would have already written in the proposal.

  • Academic Achievements

Personal statement is way different from a CV. Avoid putting down the usual chronological order of educational qualifications within your personal statement for phd application. Instead, explain the importance of those qualifications and how instrumental they are to support your PhD course.

  • Extracurricular Activities

Don’t consider this space to share about your personal interests like singing, painting or reading. Always remember, whatever you write in your statement should be in relevance or sync with the prospective program. Include skills that you developed through extracurricular activities which will support your PhD.

  • Goals & Motivation

This is very and very crucial elements within your personal statement for phd application. Explain to the selection committee how this program fits into your future and career aspirations. Although your plans post this doctorate will not be beneficial for the readers, it will mainly make them understand that you have serious goals set to which you are quite committed to.

  • Fill what is missed by CV

A personal statement essentially fills in all the information and details that one couldn’t accommodate within a CV. For instance, you might have included two irrelevant graduate courses within you CV but do not have enough space to give reason. Whereas, in personal statement for phd application you can tell why you changed your decision and what made you take diversion in your career journey.

More Tips for PhD Statement

As we said earlier, the format of PhD statement may differ from applicant to applicant and college to college, there are few key points that will remain consistent. For example, the phd personal statement biology will vary from that of engineering.

  • Never copy – Both, your research proposal and personal statement should show relevance style and content. However take care they do not have same details and information. Both these documents are meant for different purposes.
  • Honesty counts – Mostly what you write in personal statement will come back to you in form of questions during interview. So make sure what you write is correct and authentic, so you do not embarrass yourself in front of the panel.
  • Do not beg – This personal statement for phd application is aimed to show your eligibility and value for the PhD. So it is not a good idea to ask or beg the reader to give you the chance to associate with them.
  • Maintain Confidence – Write about your skills and achievements with an honest approach and show your pride on having earned them.

Finally, let someone qualified and experienced go through your personal statement for phd application. They will help you to find out the missing things within your letter and also share their feedbacks as to how you can make it better.

On an alternate note, you can also approach us for writing or editing your personal statement for phd application in best manner.

Admission for doctoral and research disciplines ask for a phd personal statement besides other vital documents like a research proposal. Basically, you have to explain about the details of your project in the research proposal whereas you will be describing how you are suitable candidate for the doctoral course from personal perspective.

Mostly the applicants think it quite challenging to compose a good personal statement for phd yet it is a great chance for them to showcase their worth and sell them.

Purpose of a Ph.D. Personal Statement

If you have a unique research idea to offer the university, make it clear through your Ph.D. proposal, and you must also have some exceptional qualities to be appropriate, to carry out the work. Write it in your phd personal statement. A personal statement can be seen to as a supplementary document highlighting more about your academics, relevant work experience and inspirations for deciding to pursue a research in a particular area.

The format varies with the university to which you seek admission to. Many a times, the candidate is provided with an additional space in the application form itself to include his personal statement or some may need you to write it separately as a covering letter. So it’s necessary to check with the university norms before writing the phd personal statement.

Is personal statement a mandatory document?

This is purely under the discretion the university.  Some research programs don’t need you to submit a phd personal statement, where they intend to explore about those details in the personal interview and wanted to merely know about your project proposal.

However, some vital projects which are advertised with definite aims and objectives, where you don’t need to submit a research proposal, request for a personal statement. Because the university wants to know whether you are a good candidature for their pre-defined project work.

Who will be reading these personal statements?

It’s better to understand the audience before writing something for them. Because you can draft the essay in a convincing manner and satisfying the audience base.

The phd personal statement will be considered and read by several experienced professionals like

  1. Admissions officers – they are keen to know about the candidate’s qualifications and relevant work experience and check whether these qualities meet the standard requirements needed for the program as well as for the University.
  2. Potential administrators – mostly they observe about the applicant’s academic background and inspirations to pursue the research work in the selected area.
  3. Interview panellists – use it for preparing questions for the one-to-one interview.

Even though they are evaluating from different perspectives, you need not have to be well prepared. Knowing about the phd personal statement correctly and writing an appealing one is what needed.

What a personal statement should comprise of?

Two things are to be considered here.

  1. What project you are proposing to do?
  2. Is there any specific requirements given by the University?

The second one is more important. So get it checked before drafting your personal statement. Or else here below are some areas to cover in a personal statement for phd.

  • Academic background – Only give a brief description as to make the review officers know what you studied till now.
  • Why you are interested to carry out a research work – Talk about your motivating instances or elements. If you are submitting a separate personal letter, address more about your qualities as a Ph.D. candidate than emphasising more about the research topic. Or else, if you are applying for an advertised research program, mention about your research areas of interests and how this project proposal is of interesting to you.
  • Work experience – All these are stated clearly in your resume. But, to make your qualifications match with the requirements needed to be eligible for the research program, you have to mention about your most relevant and noticed work related experiences in your phd personal statement.
  • Extra-curricular accomplishments – Here you have to be more careful to include only the relevant skills and capabilities that you think are right in bagging you an image of a suitable candidate.
  • Short term and Long term career goals – If you can show yourself as a future visionary with definite goals the admission officers are more likely to be convinced to give you a positive affirmation.
  • Clarifications to your details in resume – The shortcomings or any gaps in your academic years in your CV can be explained with the valid and genuine reasons in your phd personal statement.

What is a personal statement’s structure?

Knowing what to include and exclude is the crucial step in writing a good personal statement. You have to plan and prepare the document. You needs to reject many irrelevant instances and facts. So it’s better to start with a rough draft.

Normally, a phd personal statement is not more than one side of an A4 paper, means nearly a length of 400-500 words. Check this with the university requisites. It’s always better to be short and precise because the readers have to finish evaluating a hundreds of personal statements in a single day and thus you have to be more careful in presenting your essay as readable and likeable.

Also, it’s advised to write the whole essay in small and concise paragraphs which are logically linked. Begin with a good introduction and conclude politely and professionally.

Use a formal language and tone and exhibit professionalism in your writing style. Standard font sixe and type are preferred by most of the international universities. Also try not to imitate someone else’s personal statement. Check online and read some sample personal statements to get a good picture about this.

Getting your final draft proof-read and edited is more important among the entire writing process. Submit an error free personal statement always. Keep sentences short and use vocabulary which is not too common and not too hard to find the meaning.

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