What is a Personal Statement?
A Personal Statement is a professional essay that outlines your interest for the field, relevant experiences, career goals, and fit to the program and or faculty member in which you are applying. Psychology and Psychological Sciences majors apply for a myriad of applied-masters, doctoral, and professional programs. The following tips will help you get started in addition to the supplemental articles from the APA. Students who are looking for a course that breaks down all of the steps in applying to graduate school (including writing your Personal Statement) should consider taking PSY 396C, Preparation for Graduate Programs in the Field of Psychology. This course is recommended Fall of junior year.
General Tips for any Personal Statement
- Follow the directions and answer any questions or prompts provided by your programs.
- Your Introductory Paragraph should share what ignited your passion or interest for the field (NOT TOO PERSONAL).
- The body paragraphs need to go into depth on the relevant hands-on experiences (research, internship, volunteer, work, etc.).
- Give details, include names of agencies, labs, and or faculty to help paint the picture of what you did.
- Share not only your duties but also what you learned from the experience and how that has solidified the work you want to do.
- The conclusion needs to show fit to the school/program/faculty member. (PhD programs you need to name who you are applying to specifically).
- Ensure your statement flows. Paragraphs need to have transition sentences to connect the ideas. Telling your professional story chronologically helps.
- Edit, edit, and edit again. Ask many people to read and edit your statement before submitting it to your programs.
Personal Statements for Applied Masters Programs
An applied master's program is a program that is hands-on and provides coursework and experiences such as internships and field placements to train you to do the work in your chosen field. Some examples are Social Work, Mental Health Counseling, and School Counseling. There are many others. These statements aim to convey your interest for the field, share your relevant hands-on experiences as evidence of your preparation, and demonstrate how you are a good match for the program.
Personal Statements for PhD Programs
Ph.D. programs are primarily research-based programs. Even if they provide Clinical Training (e.g. Clinical and Counseling Psychology), they are still fundamentally rooted in producing scientific research. Your personal statement is an opportunity to sell yourself in terms of your research interests, previous research experience, and research goals. Your writing should be clear, concise, grammatically correct, and professional in tone.
Personal Statement Editing
Are you in the process of writing your personal statement for graduate or professional programs and need tutoring/editing services? The University of Arizona Writing Skills Improvement Program is your answer! They offer free and fee-based services. Students can schedule appointments or attend drop-in tutoring. Check it out!
Advice from the American Psychological Association
Applying to Grad School: What should I say in my Personal Statement
Preparing your Personal Statement for Graduate applications