Published: Nov. 16, 2017

Photo of a student typing on her computer

Most programs require a personal statement or statement of purpose. This is a narrative about who you are and why you’re interested in graduate school. Use the following guidelines to help you prepare your statement.

  1. Read the directions.
    Carefully follow the instructions for the statements. Some are very structured and others are open-ended. It is important to follow all directions and to follow page-length guidelines.
  2. Brainstorm.
    Begin by brainstorming ideas and reflecting on your experiences. Consider how your experiences have prepared you for graduate school, and what you hope to gain. Many students find it helpful to create an outline at this point to highlight some of their key thoughts.
  3. Story.
    Great statements read as stories, capturing the reader, providing examples, stating clearly the intent and purpose. The committee will have your transcript and your resume; you don’t need to detail your complete biography in your statement. Provide a few concrete examples.
  4. Customize.
    Be sure to include why are you interested in the school you are applying to. What is it about the program, faculty, classes or philosophy that you think would make you a good fit.
  5. Examples.
    What makes a good personal statement? There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, look at a variety of samples to explore different ways to write an effective statement. The CU Boulder Library has a number of books and resources.
  6. Feedback, Edit, Refine.
    Seek feedback from multiple sources about your essay. Professors, advisors, friends, and family can all provide good insight into your essay. Visit The Writing Center for feedback on grammar and sentence structure. Schedule an appointment at Career Services with a career advisor for individualized feedback on your essay.