The personal statement is one of the essential parts of your application for a Ph.D. program. It’s also one of the hardest to write, as it needs to engage the reader from the beginning and make them eager to learn more about you.
Writing Your Personal Statement.
Your personal statement is one of the essential pieces of your application, and it should be written and formatted to reflect your unique strengths and experiences. Here are a few tips to help you create a statement that will impress admissions committees:
- Be sure to highlight research projects or papers you have published or submitted for publication. This will show that you are not only interested in pursuing a doctoral study but also have a track record of successful academic work. I think I highlighted the research paper I wrote and presented during my master’s education.
- Be honest about your qualifications and experience. Your statement should reflect your academic strengths and weaknesses and any unique experiences or perspectives you can bring to the program.
- Make sure your statement is well-written and error-free. Try to use clear, concise language in explaining why you are an ideal candidate for the doctoral program you are applying to.
- Finally, highlight why you want to pursue the specific doctoral degree (e.g., information systems, marketing, finance) at this particular institution. The highlights can be anything from the program’s strengths (e.g., its faculty, facilities, etc.) to your personal goals (e.g., becoming an expert in a specific field, developing new research ideas, etc.). In my case, I highlighted my decades long interest in data and data analysis, how I became interested in it in the first place, and what I would do with the advanced knowledge I gain with the Ph.D.
The Content of Your Personal Statement.
One of the most interesting aspects of the personal statement is whether you’ve done research or systematically written and presented a subject matter in the past and what research you are interested in. That’s essentially what the admission committee is looking for in your statement. So the content of your personal statement needs to include the following:
- A description of your interest in research and in what areas.
- A description of the research you’ve done in the past and why you did it (what problem did it solve).
- A description of why you want to pursue a Ph.D. in the subject area.
- A description of why you want to pursue a Ph.D. in the specific program and school?
What Makes a Good Personal Statement?
There’s no single right or wrong way to write a personal statement, but there are some key elements that should be included. A good personal statement should be personal, informative, and engaging. It should explain why you want to get a Ph.D. and what makes you unique compared to other candidates. It should also highlight any unique experiences or skills you have that make you a desirable candidate for the specific Ph.D. program. Finally, your statement should be concise and to the point.
What to Avoid in a Personal Statement.
Here are some common mistakes that applicants make with their personal statements:
- Bragging about accomplishments that aren’t relevant to the Ph.D. program. Your Ph.D. program is looking for candidates interested in pursuing research and teaching, and not just accolades from previous employers or when you were in high school. You could describe your research interests and why they’re relevant to the Ph.D. program instead.
- Focusing on your skills rather than your strengths and learning curiosity. A personal statement isn’t a job application, so don’t try to sell yourself as a perfect candidate. Instead, focus on what makes you unique and why the Ph.D. program would be a good fit for you.
- Making assumptions about what the admissions committee wants to hear. Don’t assume that your experience or education will automatically qualify you for admission into a Ph.D. program. Instead, explain how your experiences and education will contribute to your research goals and potential future career opportunities in academia.
Overall, take the time to craft a personalized statement that reflects your interests and experiences. You will stand out among other applicants and increase your chances of being accepted into the program of your choice.