Make a Statement

Most graduate programs require a graduate school essay or statement of professional objectives as a requirement for admission. This is an important step in the process and a great opportunity to showcase who you are and what you have to offer beyond what is listed on your resume. Faculty and academic advisors who review the grad school essay are genuinely interested in learning more about your personal story, including:

  • What attracted you to the program
  • What your goals and motivation are for completing the program
  • What talents, skills, and experiences you will bring to make the program stronger
  • What you expect to accomplish as a result of completing the program 

Unless specific parameters are stated, the statement of professional objectives is typically between 500-1,000 words or one to two typewritten pages. Keep in mind, writing is important for graduate-level programs, so be sure your final document is well-written and grammatically correct. 

Before you get started, here's a list of dos and don’ts to help you put forth a personal statement that gets noticed:

  1. Do explain what makes you different.
    Think about what sets you apart from others. What skills, experiences, hobbies, or characteristics set you up for success. What perspective can you bring to the program that will add to the diversity of the group and expand the conversation?

  2. Do describe your career goals.
    As part of your own career planning process, it’s important to have a set of short- and long-term goals. Even if you don’t have a specific job title in mind, you should have an idea about how you would like to grow professionally and be able to explain how graduate education can help get you closer to your goal.

  3. Do explain what you plan to get out of the program.
    Do some research about the school and the program. Make your explanation specific to where you are applying instead of making a generic statement that can be inserted anywhere.

  4. Do explain what you will give to the program.
    The strongest candidates are the ones who demonstrate how they can make the program stronger because they are in it and can show how they will make an impact as an alumnus.

  5. Don’t restate your resume.
    You can assume that the person reading your essay has already read your resume. If there are a few exceptional accomplishments you would like to elaborate upon, be sure to complement what is stated on the resume with supporting details. 

  6. Don’t write your essay in one sitting.
    Allow two to three weeks to write your essay. This isn’t something to be rushed or put off until the last minute. It’s ok to walk away from it for a day or two. This will help clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective. If you have writer’s block, take a break, take a walk, or talk it out with a friend. 

  7. Don’t forget to proofread.
    Recruit a friend, family member, or colleague to thoroughly proofread your essay for typos, grammatical and punctual errors, and give constructive feedback regarding the content. The person should be someone you trust to be honest and supportive and who knows you well.

  8. Don’t let a lack of professional experience deter you.
    Even if you do not have a lot of professional experience, you can focus on transferable skills, internship experience, extracurricular activities, or community service.

Are you interested in pursuing an advanced degree? Request information for a specific program, attend an info session, or start your application.

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