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Graduate School Application Essays

Erick Widman - Friday, January 08, 2010

Applications to graduate school are quite different from those to college, as applicants are expected to have clearly delineated research interests and career goals. Furthermore, simply because they are much smaller in size, graduate programs are generally quite selective.

While college application essays are often termed personal statements, graduate schools often call such essays the “statement of intent” or “statement of purpose.” This is significant, as you must be sure to demonstrate that you are prepared for and committed to undertaking a graduate course of study.

Connect your academic background and qualifications to your reasons for applying. You should be able to relate your undergraduate experiences to your desire to pursue a graduate degree. What academic factors led you to this decision? How have your previous academic experiences prepared you for graduate study?

Describe your specific research interests. Most graduate programs expect that you already have some idea of the research area you intend to pursue.  To be sure, this focus may change once you actually enter the program. Beforehand, however, they want to be sure that you are knowledgeable and focused, and that you have a solid and sustainable research plan.

Outline your professional goals. Are you interested in teaching, conducting research, etc.? You should be able to describe your longer term career goals and explain why earning a graduate degree is relevant to such goals. Enrolling in a graduate course of study is a serious undertaking, and admissions officers and program directors want to be sure that you are genuinely committed to completing the degree.

If you are unsure of the quality and strength of your statement of purpose, contact Sibia Admissions to receive customized assistance!

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