PhD personal statement questions and answers

Phd personal statement

Universities usually ask potential students to submit theirpersonal statement for PhD studies because it’s a key part oftheir postgraduate applications. Whereas a research proposal iswritten to explain the potential of your important project, yourPhD personal statement demonstrates the suitability for generaldoctoral work. Writing this paper can be challenging, but itprovides you with a great opportunity to sell yourself as aperfect candidate and state everything you have to offer. To makeit easier, determine what your statement must cover, choose itscorrect structure, and use extra tips for your success. There arespecific questions that should be answered to write a winningpaper.

What is your personal statement for PhD studies for?

This essay provides the committee with extra information aboutyour:

  • Relevant experiences;
  • Academic backgrounds;
  • Personal motivations for undertaking your postgraduateresearch.

However, a personal statement is different from PhD proposalsthat outline a specific research subject and explains its goals,scientific or scholarly value, and methodology. It’s a uniquepaper that shows that you’re a unique student with the necessaryskills. Its form may vary according to universities and theirunique requirements. Some of them include enough space for apersonal statement in application materials, while others askcandidates to submit it as a covering letter or a separatedocument. Before you start writing, check particular writingrequirements.

Will you have to write your personal statement?

Nowadays, some applicants aren’t asked to write any separate PhDpersonal statement because admissions officers want them to focuson a research proposal and leave other important details forinterview questions. This paper is quite likely to be requestedwhen applying for any popular project with pre-defined objectivesand aims. Use it as the main chance to tell readers why you’rethe best candidate for the chosen position.

Who will read your personal statement?

It can be read and considered by different people, including thefollowing:

  • Potential supervisors interested in your specific academicbackgrounds and motivations to work in their research group ordepartment;
  • Admissions tutors who check whether you have relevantqualifications and experiences for their program;
  • Interviewers who include both supervisors and tutors (theyconsult a personal statement when preparing interview questionsfor you).

They all are interested in a bit different things, but a strongpersonal statement will satisfy all of their needs.

What should this paper cover?

Phd personal statement

The exact content of personal statements for PhD studies dependson a particular project and university requirements. Check themcarefully because they all must be met. For example, if you’reasked to refer to specific details, such as career goals,motivations, and others, cover them all in your personalstatement. In general, applicants are asked to tell the audienceabout the following things.

Basic backgrounds

Keep your background brief and relevant because supervisors andadmissions tutors are interested in your reasoning, but theydon’t want to learn your whole life story. For instance, if youmake your choice based on childhood experiences, focus on yourinterests and inspirations, bot your childhood.

Why you want to become enrolled in the chosen program

A PhD personal statement should explain your motivation, buteverything that you include depends on the type of program youwant to become enrolled in. When submitting a separate researchproposals, focus more on your reasoning to research a PhD than aparticular subject that you propose to research. When applyingfor any advertised project, say something important about yourinterest and what you want to bring to it.

Academic experiences

A personal statement isn’t a standard CV, so you shouldn’t listthe qualifications stated in other parts of your application. Useit as a great chance to comment on a CV and explain theimportance of your qualifications because it’s crucial to standout. Don’t forget that many PhD applicants are excellentacademically, so be proud of your personal results. Explain whatyour academic experiences taught you about the chosen subject.

Extra-curricular activities

Including other experiences and details that demonstrate relevantskills is another effective method to build upon importantacademic qualifications. Relevance is essential, so ensure thatthe main focus is on your sustainability to specific PhD studieswhen including any examples of your achievements and experiences.Stick to such relevant skills as:

  • Independent project management;
  • Organization;
  • Self-motivation and others.

Broader motivations and goals

Tell readers something about how the chosen PhD program fits intoyour broader career goas and aims. The details of what you wantto do after earning a doctorate degree may not matter to thecommittee, but readers are interested in the fact that you havebroader plans and you can demonstrate that a PhD fits themperfectly. This is how you prove that you put a lot of thinkingand you’re committed to overcoming possible challenges.

Other matters arising from a CV

Use your PhD personal statement as a unique chance to expand upona CV. Provide more details about your academic degrees, explainany irregularities and gaps, and anticipate possible questions.If there are any gaps in your CV, explain them instead of leavingquestions, especially if there is a good reason why you didn’tstudy or work at that point. Get more information about PhDapplications and their unique requirements to meet them in yourpersonal statement.

How should you write your PhD statement?

Phd personal statement

Writing a strong personal statement requires enough planning anddiscipline. Writing about yourself isn’t really hard, butsequencing, choosing, and organizing important facts can be moredifficult than it seems. Of course, you know everything aboutyourself, but you have a limited space and time.

How long should it be?

Your personal statement for PhD studies should fit one A4 page,which means that it must be about 400-500 words. Someuniversities set their specific limits either by providingstudents the required word count or limited space within theirapplication form. Be concise and disciplined when writing itbecause your ability to express yourself and think logically isan important PhD skill in any subject area. Besides, supervisorsand admissions tutors are people who read many personalstatements, so don’t give them any long paper to read.

How should your personal statement be structured?

To structure your PhD statement correctly, start with a briefintroduction to explain your backgrounds and personality.Progress this section naturally into specific research interestsand your chosen program. Move logically to expanding yourexperiences and skills and how they make you a perfect candidate.If you want to comment on other details from your CV, do that atappropriate points. Conclude with telling readers about youraspirations and long-term goals.

What writing style do you need to use?

The personal aspect of a PhD personal statement should beextended to its content, but not its style or tone because it’sstill a professional paper and a part of your application.However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t express yourselfbecause readers want to be sure that you’re enthusiastic andpassionate about your research project. Try to keep things bothrelevant and passionate. Stick to brief and logical sentenceswhen expressing yourself with precision and clarity. After all,if your personal statement is hard to read, your chances may beruined.

Are there any additional writing tips that you can use?

Some ingredients for a strong statement may vary from oneresearch project to another. Use the following general tips towrite a strong one:

  • Keep everything relevant because it’s a statement about whyyou’re a great PhD applicant, but a statement about your wholelife;
  • Stay honest and don’t let any inaccuracies and embellishmentsbe turned into awkward interview questions;
  • Avoid duplicating a research proposal because it’s differentfrom a personal statement and they should cover differentgrounds;
  • Look for basic guidelines and requirements becauseuniversities may ask candidates to cover something specific inthis paper or have unique word counts and space limits;
  • Address possible questions that may arise from elsewhere (forexample, if there are any gaps in your CV or problems withreferences, use a personal statement as a great chance to explainthem briefly;
  • Consider it as a beginning, resist your temptation to includeeverything that is in your mind, and focus only on the mainelements to improve the clarity and increase your chances tocover other details during an interview;
  • Stay confident, don’t be afraid to demonstrate yourself-belief, express your personal achievements and skillshonesty, and be proud of everything they represent;
  • State instead of pleading because you’re writing a statementto show why you’re a good PhD candidate.

Finally, before submitting your personal statement, ask otherpeople to read it, including current tutors and friends, as theycan provide you with a fresh perspective.

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