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Personal Statements

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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).
  • 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

Finding Fit: Personal Statements

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Personal Statement

All applicants must include a personal statement that addresses the following question:

Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within  your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

The personal statement helps us evaluate the fit between your interests and skills and the Penn Psychology program. It should describe why you want to pursue a PhD in Psychology, why Penn is the right place for you to do it, what sorts of skills and experiences make you qualified to pursue a PhD in a research-intensive Psychology program like Penn’s, what kinds of questions you are interested in studying, and who on the faculty you would like to work with. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors in advance of writing the personal statement, to ensure that the research questions the applicant hopes to pursue are a good fit with research topics Penn faculty are working on. If you hope to study a question that members of our Psychology Graduate Group are not interested in pursuing, then Penn would not be a good fit for you. Please also look at the websites of faculty members whose labs you would like to join; they might have additional instructions for information they would like you to include in the personal statement. The personal statement is typically around two pages, single-spaced.

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How to Write a Personal Statement for a PhD Program Application

Personal statement guidelines, general guidelines to keep in mind:.

  • One size does not fit all : Tailor your personal statement to each program and department you are applying to. Do your research to learn what is unique about each of your choices and highlight how this particular program stands out.
  • Yes, it’s personal : Showcase your unique strengths and accomplishments. Explain what influenced your personal decisions to pursue the program. Ask yourself, could this be applied to your friend or neighbor? If so, you need to be more specific and provide examples. Saying that you are a “good scientist” isn’t enough. Provide examples of your previous research experience, projects you’ve completed, and what technical skills you learned. Explain how you overcame any challenges along the way.
  • Set aside enough time :  Although personal statements are generally short in length (approx. 700 words; 1-2 pages), give yourself ample time to write a strong, well-written statement. It takes more time than you think to develop a final draft for submission.
  • Focus on your spelling, grammar, and vocabulary :  It’s important to present a well-written statement with good grammar and vocabulary. Write concrete, succinct sentences that flow well. Avoid flowery language. Visit the  Writing Center  for additional review and feedback.
  • Proofread one more time:  Check your grammar and spelling again before submitting your final draft. Ask a friend, professor, or advisor to proofread your final draft one more time before sending it in. 

YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT SHOULD ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

  • Why do you want to complete further research in this field?  Write down a list of reasons as to why you are interested in pursuing further study in the field. When did you become interested in the field and what knowledge have you gained so far? Describe how your previous work provided the foundation and for further study.
  • Why  have you  chosen to apply to this particular university ? Does the institution have a particular curriculum, special research facilities/equipment, or interesting research that appeal to you?
  • What are your strengths ? Demonstrate how you stand out from other candidates. Highlight relevant projects, dissertations thesis or essays that demonstrate your academic skills and creativity. Include IT skills, research techniques, awards, or relevant traveling/ study abroad experience.
  • What are your transferable skills?  Be sure to emphasize transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management skills. Give examples of how you have demonstrated each of these with specific examples.
  • How does this program align with your career goals?  It’s okay if you don’t know the exact career path you plan to take after completing your PhD. Provide an idea of the direction you would like to take. This demonstrates commitment and dedication to the program.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For examples of successful personal statements, visit the  Online Writing Lab (OWL) .

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Applying to Graduate Programs

  • Writing Statements of Purpose and Other Application Essays

As noted in the application qualifications and admissions criteria section of this website, the statement of purpose (in other words, the primary application essay; sometimes also called personal statement , background statement , and other names) can play a major role in determining whether an applicant is invited to interview and in final selection decisions.  Specifically, the statement can be used to assess the applicant’s fit with the program, match with faculty members, writing ability, and more.  Thus, spending the time to craft a well-written statement of purpose or other types of application essays is necessary in order for your application to have a chance of succeeding.  To help with this process, here we provide an overview of the process of writing such statements and other application essays. 

Types of Statements of Purpose and Other Application Essays

Depending on the program, you may be required to provide a statement of purpose , application essay , autobiographical essay , personal statement , career goal statement, background statement , or other similarly named piece of writing.  Each of these commonly is your opportunity to provide information about yourself beyond that communicated in the rest of your application materials.  You may also be asked to provide supplementary essays such as a diversity statement. 

Typically, graduate applications provide an essay prompt which includes specific questions or themes that you should address in the essay.  Common themes include: 1,2

  • Your long-term career plans
  • Your research interests or areas of interest in psychology
  • Your reasons for choosing the program that you are applying to
  • Your prior research experiences
  • Your academic background or objectives
  • Your motivation for pursuing your field of study

It is common for programs to specify how the essay should be formatted, or at a minimum, its maximum length.  For instance, an application essay may be stated to be “no longer than 2 double-spaced pages” or no more than 500 words.  It is important to follow all directions and not exceed that limit.

Using the same exact essay for each application is not advised . 1,3   Each program typically has specific information that they are seeking, and if you do not directly address those details in your essay, your application will suffer.  You may be able to reuse different parts of your application essays, but you should expect to have to write new material for each application.

Are there example statements of purpose that I should examine?  A variety of online sources do contain example statements, and you can find links to example statements at the bottom of this page.  However, application essays in general are unique to each individual – each person has a different set of experiences and different aspects that they may wish to emphasize.  Moreover, writing an application essay that resembles someone else’s can result in that essay appearing derivative – and given the highly competitive application process, that is something you should avoid.  Thus, examples are for reference only.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose and Other Application Essays

When writing an application essay, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps.  Please note that these procedures represent a common approach for writing application essays; you may wish to adapt some of the steps, or use/add others, for best results. 1,3

1. Brainstorming/clustering

At this first stage, jot down your thoughts as you think of answers to the essay prompt.  Try to think of themes that you wish to emphasize, as well as concrete examples that you may wish to describe in the essay.  You can organize them into clusters (for example, write ideas in circles and draw connecting lines).  Remember that the overall goal of the essay is to convince the admissions committee that you are an attractive candidate and a good fit for their program.

2. Outlining

This is an optional step.  Take your brainstorming/clustering notes and organize them into an outline of how the essay will be structured.  You might have a chronological structure that begins with your earlier experiences and advances towards your more recent activities.  Alternatively, you may organize your essay around themes (for example, research topics).  A common outline involves an opening paragraph, then discussion of academic accomplishments, research experience, other experiences, future plans and suitability for the program of interest, and a concluding paragraph. 4

3. Freewriting/initial draft

Often one of the biggest hurdles is just getting words on the page.  The key here is to not worry about having your words sound perfectly the first time around.  Try drafting several sentences, a paragraph or two, and see whether your thoughts translate well into prose.  It is common at this stage to discard whole sections of text in favor of new material.  At this conclusion of this process, you should aim to have a completed first draft.

4. Revising

It is easy to get burned out on writing, so after you have completed that first draft, set it aside for a while.  Then, return with fresh eyes and read through it carefully.  You are likely to find areas that need improvement – be sure to take notes or highlight them.  It can help to read the essay out loud; a general rule is that if it sounds unusual when spoken aloud, it should be rewritten.  Then, revise the essay.

5. Solicit feedback

Have another individual or individuals read your essays critically and provide feedback.  Your mentor can be an ideal person to provide that feedback; alternatively, you might try a university writing center or your peers. 

6. Revise and finalize your essay

Using the feedback and your own thoughts while reading the essay, edit it further until it is a polished product.  Be sure to proofread, check formatting, and make sure that all aspects of the essay prompt are clearly and thoroughly addressed.

Statement of Purpose Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some recommended elements to include, strategies to try, and recommended elements or strategies to avoid. 1,3

  • Do emphasize your individual strengths
  • Do customize each statement to the program that you are submitting it to
  • Do provide specific examples of relevant experiences (such as research, coursework, etc.)
  • Do thoroughly address all aspects of the essay prompt
  • Do use clear topic sentences, connective words or phrases, and paragraph transitions (for more information, please see the improving scientific writing section of this website)
  • Do consider emphasizing your fit to the program that you are applying to
  • Do consider discussing faculty mentors of interest

Dont’s

  • Don’t use jokes, humor, or try to be funny
  • Don’t excessively self-disclose personal problems
  • Don’t be very general or vague in your research interests
  • Don’t include complaints and criticisms
  • Don’t use clichés such as “since my childhood I have always been interested in” or “I just want to help everyone”, unless you can genuinely and convincingly use them

Financial Aid, Fellowships, and Scholarship Application Essays

As you complete your graduate applications, you might also consider applying for financial aid or some sort of graduate research fellowship such as the Ford Foundation Fellowship or the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship .  Such fellowships typically require a background statement that is similar in some aspects to the statement of purpose. 

Workshops and Downloadable Resources

  • For in-person discussion of the process of applying to graduate programs in psychology, neuroscience, and related fields, please consider attending this department’s “Paths to PhDs” workshop and other related events (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).
  • Tips for Applying to Graduate Programs in Psychology (a brief summary) [ PDF ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • Applying to Grad School Videos

Recommended Reading

  • American Psychological Association (2007). Getting in: a step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology .  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Keith-Spiegel, P., & Wiederman, M. W. (2000). The complete guide to graduate school admission: psychology, counseling, and related professions . Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Slideshow guide to writing winning statements of purpose from UCLA
  • Guide to writing statements of purpose from Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • Tips for writing the statement of purpose from UC Berkeley
  • 10 tips for writing statements of purpose from USC
  • 11 tips for writing powerful statements of purpose from CrunchPrep.com
  • Choosing a graduate program from the Association for Psychological Science
  • Smart shopping for psychology doctoral programs [PDF]

APA Videos on Graduate Applications

  • Preparing and applying for graduate school in psychology [12-part video series]
  • Preparing and applying for graduate school in psychology [video slides in PDF format]
  • UCSD Graduate Division Statement of Purpose Prompt
  • UCSD Career Center Graduate Application Process
  • UCSD OASIS Language and Writing Program
  • UCSD Writing Programs and Resources
  • UCSD Muir College Writing Hub
  • UCSD Writing Hub

1  American Psychological Association (2007).  Getting in: a step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology . 

2  norcross, j. c., & hogan, t. p. (2016).  preparing and applying for graduate school in psychology: 12 modules. american psychological association [video workshop]., 3  keith-spiegel, p., & wiederman, m. w. (2000). the complete guide to graduate school admission: psychology, counseling, and related professions . psychology press., 4  rutgers university camden college of arts and sciences.  writing a personal statement ., prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology, graphic adapted with permission from leoncastro under creative commons attribution-share alike 4.0 international license..

  • Finding and Choosing Graduate Programs of Interest
  • Timelines for the Graduate Application Process
  • Applicant Qualifications, Admissions Criteria, and Acceptance Rates
  • Requesting Letters of Recommendation
  • Preparing for the Graduate Record Examination
  • Graduate Admissions Interviews
  • Applying to Clinical Psychology Programs
  • Applying to Medical School and Professional Health Programs
  • Accepting Graduate Admissions Offers

Dr. Joseph H. Hammer

Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology

Personal Statement of Purpose for Counseling Psychology PhD and PsyD Applications

All counseling psychology doctoral (PhD or PsyD) programs require applicants to submit one or more written essays about why the applicant is interested in and qualified to enter that graduate program.

Each program calls these essays by different names, including “Personal Statement”, “Statement of Interest”, “Statement of Purpose”, “Statement of Professional Goals”, “Career Goals Statement”, “Personal Essay”, and various combinations of those terms. Programs may have you write a single statement or multiple statements (e.g., Personal Statement plus a Diversity Statement).

Writing a good statement is one of the hardest parts of applying to counseling or clinical psychology graduate programs.

One of the things that makes it hard to apply is the ambiguity and mystery that surrounds statements: what should I talk about? How long should it be? Do I talk about my experiences and interests in research, applied psychology (e.g., helping others by being a supportive listener), working with diverse groups of people, or what?

To help prospective applicants to counseling psychology doctoral programs, members of the HAMMER Lab analyzed what programs told applicants they should write about in their statement.

Check out our Counseling Psychology PhD and PsyD Personal Statement of Purpose Questions google spreadsheet to see the detailed analysis. See the bottom of this page for how we went about collecting data.

Before we review the take-home points of our analysis below, a brief reminder: be sure to check out my other  Psych Grad School  resources using the menu above, such as  Graduate School Advice ,  Counseling Psychology Faculty Research Interests List ,  Best Doctoral Programs in Counseling Psychology , and  What the Ideal Graduate School Applicant Looks Like .  I also recommend completing the  Mental Health Professions Career Test , which will give you interest scores on 21 different mental health occupations, including counseling psychology and clinical psychology.

Take-Home Points

Below are the key results from our analysis, the take-home points that every applicant should keep in mind:

  • Most programs provide provide a suggested or required statement page or word length in their instructions. The most common request is 2-3 single-spaced pages . On the shorter end, some programs restrict applicants to 500 words maximum.
  • 90% of the counseling psychology doctoral programs we sampled (N=50) instruct applicants to talk about their professional goals and career aspirations. In other words, no matter what programs you apply to, you should discuss this in your statement. Specifically, you should talk about your professional goals and how getting the specific doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) at that specific program (given the unique strengths and opportunities afforded by that program) will facilitate these goals.
  • 52% instruct applicants to talk about their background and relevant experiences but may not clearly specify the type of experiences the applicants should discuss. (Many programs do specify the type of experience to talk about; see bullet points below.) As a rule of thumb, when applying to PhD programs, you should be ready to discuss research, applied (i.e., helping, listening, counseling, clinical), and multicultural experiences. When applying to PsyD programs, you should prioritize discussing applied and multicultural experiences (you can mention research too, especially if that program specifically requests it).
  • 52% instruct applicants to clearly indicate why they want a counseling psychology doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) specifically. In other words, why not a clinical psychology degree, counseling psychology master’s degree, or a master’s in social work degree instead? Some PhD programs often want to know why you are specifically interested in the PhD instead of a PsyD (and vice versa). Even when a program does not ask you to address this specifically, I recommend always discussing how that particular degree will help you work toward your career goals.
  • 59% of PhD programs (13% of PsyD program) instruct applicants to talk about why they are interested in that program specifically (versus similar programs at other institutions across the country). As a faculty member at University of Kentucky’s counseling psychology PhD program, I understand that people who apply to our program are also applying to other programs. (I always advise students to apply to 7 to 10 programs across the country that fit their professional goals, since getting into a given doctoral program is hard and you need to apply to multiple programs to maximize your chances of being offered admission.) However, even if an applicants is applying elsewhere, I still want to know “why us?”. I want to know that the applicant has carefully considered the strengths and opportunities that our program has to offer and has applied because of those unique attributes. If an applicant does not mention specific aspects of our program, then I don’t know if they are truly interested in our program or are just treating us as a “safety school” or “backup plan”. Since finding the right graduate program is more about “fit” between applicant and program rather than “being the best applicant”, I want to hear how the applicant sees themselves uniquely fitting with our program. Thus, even when not asked explicitly to address this, I recommend always discussing what attracts you to that particular program.
  • 41% of PhD programs (13% of PsyD programs) instruct applicants to talk about their research interests. This serves two purposes. First, because PhD programs train students to be both scientists and practitioners (and some also train people to be advocates), the doctoral admissions committee want to see that a student has thoughtful research interests (not too broad, not too specific, and sufficiently flexible given that students are still early in their professional development) and is serious about wanting to get additional research training as a doctoral student. Second, some PhD programs prefer to admit students whose research interests overlap with the research interests of one or more program faculty members. More on that in the next bullet point. I recommend always discussing your research interests when applying to PhD programs even if not explicitly asked to do so by the program’s application instructions.
  • 27% of PhD programs (0% of PsyD programs) instruct applicants to talk about how their research interests fit with the research interests of specific program faculty members. These programs tend to use an “apprenticeship model of research mentorship”, meaning that doctoral students apply to work under a specific core faculty member in that program, who will work closely with them to train them in the theories and techniques used to do research on the topics of interest to that faculty member. The expectation usually is that the student will help that professor out with the professor’s program of research while the student is enrolled in the program (and that the professor will help the student start to build the student’s own line of research, which will usually be topically related to the professor’s line of research). Therefore, programs that use this apprenticeship model often value selecting an applicant for admission based, not only on that student’s fit with the wider program, but on how well that student fits with a particular professor’s research team. Our counseling psychology PhD program at the University of Kentucky uses this apprenticeship model and this is why we explicitly ask all applicants to pick one (two at the most) professors with whom they could fit research-interest-wise. However, while only 24% of programs explicitly instructed applicants to address research fit with a professor, some programs implicitly expect you to address this . This is part of the “hidden curriculum” of graduate school–sometimes people expect you to know certain things, but you won’t unless you have a mentor who clues you in to this insider knowledge (or you happened to read it on the internet or a how-to guide). The tricky part is that you won’t always know if a given program wants you to talk about research fit with a professor. When the program’s website or application instructions does not provide clear guidance, I recommend that you make a case in your statement for how your research interests fit well with the research interests of one (maybe 2) of the professors in that program. Bear in mind that some programs do not use an apprenticeship model and instead select students based on overall fit with the program rather than research fit (they will often make this clear on their website/instructions), in which case you don’t have to spend time in your statement articulating research fit.
  • 24% of PhD programs (13% of PsyD programs) instruct applicants to talk about their research experiences and qualifications. Even if a given PhD program does not explicitly request this information, you should always talk about this, as it’s an implicit expectation. However, make sure you are not just restating the information you listed under the “research experiences” section of your CV.
  • 16% instruct applicants to talk about their past experiences with diverse people or cultures. However, even when a program does not explicit ask for this, I do recommend that you talk about this when discussing past research/applied/professional experiences. My anecdotal experience suggests that most programs like to see evidence in your application that you have experience working and/or living alongside people who share both cultural similarities and differences from you in terms of race/ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, (dis)ability, religion, etc. However, because some people grew up in culturally homogeneous places (surrounded by people with similar cultural identities), what’s even more important than past experience with diversity is a genuine desire moving forward to (1) learn about yourself as a cultural being with multiple identities that may carry privilege and marginalization, (2) learn to work productively with colleagues and clients who are both similar and different from yourself, and (3) learn about how interlocking systems of power influence your life and the lives of others (e.g., racism, sexism).
  • 16% instruct applicants to talk about their interests, beliefs, aspirations, and/or contributions to social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, etc. This is related but different from the “past experiences with diversity” aspect mentioned above. These pieces go beyond past experience and capture what you value and how you (plan to) contribute to making the world a more just place. This is increasingly at the heart of counseling psychology as a specialty. As with the prior bullet point, even though a minority of programs explicitly instruct applicants to address this in their statement, my anecdotal experience is that most programs want to see you incorporate this into how you talk about your experiences and goals related to both research and practice.
  • 26% instruct applicants to talk about their past applied (i.e., helping, listening, counseling, clinical) experience. All counseling psychology doctoral programs train their graduate students to be talk therapists, which requires being a good listener, showing empathy, problem solving abilities, a willingness to tolerate ambiguity, an openness to both positive and constructive feedback, and demonstrating cultural humility and sensitivity. To determine which applicants show promise as future psychotherapists and would therefore be suitable for admission into the doctoral program, one thing we consider is your past applied experience. Faculty want to see that you have (1) some practice with basic helping skills, (2) at least one letter of recommendation from a supervisor of one of your helping experiences that states that your helping skills are good and that you show promise as a future talk therapist, and (3) a clear track record of wanting to further develop your helping skills by seeking out relevant opportunities. Talking about your past applied experience in your statement is one way we can gather evidence about #1 and #3.
  • 25% of PsyD programs (6% of PhD programs) instruct applicants to talk about their theoretical orientation, their understanding of mental illness, and/or their understanding of how people heal and change. An applicant’s answer to these questions can provide hints to faculty about how sophisticated that applicant’s clinical abilities may be. These are hard questions to answer well without having taken graduate-level therapy coursework, and more sophistication will be expected of applicants who would be joining the doctoral program after having completed a talk-therapy-related master’s degree than would be expected of applicants who joined the doctoral program after having completed only a bachelor’s degree. Most programs do not ask about this topic and there is not an implicit expectation on behalf of programs that you address this in your statement.
  • 16% instruct applicants to talk about their professional strengths and/or weaknesses. Most programs do not ask about this topic and there is not an implicit expectation on behalf of programs that you address this in your statement. For those programs that do, remember that you need to strike a balance between “selling yourself” appropriately in terms of strengths and not sounding arrogant when doing so. Likewise, some weaknesses are going to be socially acceptable (e.g., typical areas of growth for new graduate students like managing mild perfectionism) whereas others will cast a shadow on your application (e.g., poor interpersonal skills, cultural insensitivity, difficulty with time management, difficult with autonomous functioning), even if they are true. While you might not need to talk about strengths and weaknesses in your statement, it’s likely you’ll have to talk about this during interviews, so make sure to put some thought into this before going on interviews.
  • 38% of PsyD programs (10% of PhD programs) instruct applicants to address how the program will benefit them. This question is a combined way of asking the 3 questions of “What are your professional goals?” and “Why do you want a _____ degree specifically” and “Why are you interested in our program specifically?”. Regardless of whether a program explicitly asks this or not, there is an implicit expectation that your statement always address how your completing this chosen program will bring you closer to achieving your career goals.

In regard to our data collection strategy, our team used APA’s list of accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs (both PhD and PsyD, both counseling psychology and “combined” programs, N=84 at the time of data collection in September of 2019). We navigated to each program’s “how to apply” page to look at what instructions they provided regarding what the student should talk about in their statement(s). We copied and pasted this information into in the Counseling Psychology PhD and PsyD Personal Statement of Purpose Questions google spreadsheet. You’ll notice that we de-identified what instructions come from which program, as the point of this analysis is to get an overall snapshot, rather than to learn about a specific program (you’ll want to see the program website for that info). Some programs did not provide this information on their website but required applicants to create an account in the application portal in order to access the instructions; for our purposes, we did not include these programs in the analysis. Thus, readers should bear in mind that our analysis is based on a subset of programs that is not guaranteed to be representative of all programs. Our final sample was N=50, of which n=42 were PhDs and n=8 were PsyDs. We analyzed the set of instructions to look for topical themes (e.g., career goals), which we then coded for across programs so that counts and percentages could be created. We also calculated descriptive statistics broken down by program type (PhD vs PsyD).

How to Create your Personal Statement for Psychology

Sponsored school(s).

Odds are, if you are at the stage of writing a personal statement, then you are more than likely preparing applications for graduate schools in psychology. Below find out what it is, why you need one, and get some pointers on crafting a personal statement that will put your best foot forward with the admissions committees.

What is a Personal Statement?

Commonly referred to as a “statement of purpose”, and by some as an “application essay”, a personal statement is your opportunity to introduce and  sell yourself to a desired graduate program or college . In most cases, the personal statement can serve as the defining factor that allows students to stand out in a pool of applicants with equally high GPAs and test scores. Plus, a stellar statement of purpose could also help the applications of students who have unfavorable scores and grades.

Before You Begin…

Consider the type of personal statement required of you:.

Personal statements can range from  a few paragraphs to several one-page essays  that address different topics. They will vary widely between programs and schools, which means that you might craft quite a few of these application essays if you seek admission into various programs.

The objective of these statements all share a common thread: for the graduate committee to get a clear understanding of your career and academic aspirations as well as a sample of your writing abilities (a skill of utmost importance for comprehensive graduate study).

If Topics Are Chosen By You

The specific expectations of a statement of purpose might vary. Some schools might leave the direction and objective of the essay up to the applicant. In cases, you have the freedom to choose what you write about although, as a rule of thumb,  essays should take on a professional/ academic focus  rather than be personal or autobiographical. Don’t confuse personal statement with a long essay about your life growing up.

Instead, demonstrate your best attributes by outlining your fit, interests, previous experiences, servant leadership, research and courses you have taken that affirmed your dedication to the field of study. If you were not given specific questions, then be sure to touch bases with all of these that are relevant to your background in a logical and consistent manner.

If Topics Are Chosen By the Program

Other schools may provide you with a list of specific questions to answer pertaining to your career objectives and how obtaining an education with the particular program may advance you towards your goals.

Examples of specific topics outlined by graduate schools in psychology include:

Explain any previous work experience or teaching experiences you have in the field of psychology and why those experiences make you a strong candidate for our program.

Explain your long-term career goals.

Why do you think this program is a good fit for you?

How do you think this program can help you further your career objectives?

How has your previous education prepared you to take on study at the graduate or professional level?

What experience do you have conducting research? Rate your interest in conducting research.

What practitioners, researchers, or authors in the field of psychology have influenced your interest in this area of study?

Reflect on these questions or topic areas for a while before starting the writing process. Review your resume for direction about skills, experiences, or even lack of experience that you’ll want to identify and elaborate on in your paper. Write a list of attributes that you think describe you and consider how they are relevant to your interest in pursuing higher education.

During and After Writing…

Express your motivation.

When developing a statement of purpose for graduate schools in psychology, you will want to write at length about your particular interests, motivation, and passion for the field of study. Consider what experiences or traits you have that make you a better candidate than the hundreds of other applicants vying to gain admission.

Back up your expression of motivation with hard facts. The admissions committee wants a well-rounded candidate with a number of professional experiences that have helped clarify their ability to handle graduate study. Simply going on and on about how bad you want to be in the program with no relevant experiences that support that claim may not win you any favor.

Be Honest and Clear

When preparing a document that is virtually serving as a personal advertisement, you will write at length about the skills you possess that strengthen your application: academic curiosity, flexibility, maturity, persistence, and professionalism among others. When elaborating on your strengths, be sure to do so with respect to their relevance and importance. Do not go on about a characteristic that could be considered minor or irrelevant.

Also, be mindful of stating your goals and interests clearly and honestly. If you are not interested in a particular area, then leave out that information. Do not express an interest or ability that you do not have. It’s significant to discuss your weaknesses as well. If you have low test scores or a less-than-spectacular GPA, point that out in advance. Explain, if appropriate, why these aspects of your application are weak and follow up with a plan to rectify those aspects if you are accepted into graduate school.

Summary Points to Remember

  • At this point, you can’t change your college or graduate school entrance test scores or your grade point average. You can, however, make a significant impact during the applications process by developing a well-written statement of purpose.
  • Avoid writing at length about your personal history. Stick to the qualities and experiences that are relevant to your growth and abilities in the field of psychology.
  • Answer all questions from the application and be sure to meet the page or word count requirements.
  • Be sure to clearly and honestly relate your experiences and interests, also taking time to point out both strengths and weaknesses. Share how you plan to overcome those weaknesses or use them to your advantage.
  • Ask someone else to look over your statement of purpose–an advisor or professor in your department–who can give you straightforward feedback on its content.
  • Customize each personal statement to the program or school you are applying. Elaborate on how that particular program can assist you in reaching your goals.
  • During revisions, pay attention to the strength and dynamism of your opening paragraph. Your goal is to hook the readers and give them the desire to keep reading.

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personal statement for phd in psychology

Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.

Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program.  You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.

A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.

While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.

Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.

However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.

When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.

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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?

A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:

A Clear Narrative

Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).

You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.

Specific Examples

A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.

Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.

A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.

Strong Writing

Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.

Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.

Appropriate Boundaries

While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.

You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.

Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.

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Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.

Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1

PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies

For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.

Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:

  • An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
  • A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
  • Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.

Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.

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Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition

This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.

Here’s what works well in this statement:

  • The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
  • The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
  • The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.

This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important.  However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:

  • I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
  • I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.

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Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health

This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:

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  • This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
  • This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
  • In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.

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Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive

Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.

Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.

This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.

It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.

Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.

Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.

If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.

Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.

In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.

Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.

In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.

Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.

This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.

Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.

This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.

I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.

The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.

This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.

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Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online

So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.

Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.

Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School

This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.

The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.

Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements

These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.

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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).

University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples

These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.

Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10

This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1

Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled

It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.

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Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)

We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:

  • A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
  • Specific examples to support that narrative.
  • Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
  • Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
  • Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.

Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.

Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.

What’s Next?

Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.

Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples  and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .

If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .

Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.

See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

personal statement for phd in psychology

Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

personal statement for phd in psychology

  • Graduate School

Harvard Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

Harvard Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

Reading Harvard graduate school personal statement examples can help organize your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge to craft your own above-average personal statement. Different from statement of purpose examples for graduate school , the personal statement should tell your story and describe what brought you to this moment when you’re applying to one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Your personal statement can contain anything about your past (stories, experiences, trials, obstacles, etc.), but you must find a way to connect them to your present goals.

This article will provide different personal statement examples, explain more about the nuances of applying to Harvard Graduate School and show you how to write a compelling introduction and opening sentence for your Harvard graduate school personal statement.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 12 min read

Applying to harvard graduate school.

The Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers master’s and PhD degrees in various areas of study, ranging from the arts and humanities to business administration and physics. As such, each program has different entrance requirements, although some general requirements include applicants taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Non-native-English-speaking students also need to take an English proficiency test to show they have the necessary language skills. Specialized programs in a specific field like Greek Studies or art history may require language proficiency in other languages like Latin, Greek or Italian, so you should carefully review all the requirements of your chosen program.

The personal statement requirement is also not universal. Some programs may ask for a statement of purpose (similar to a letter of intent), which is more focused on your academic background and ambitions, and not the same as a personal statement. Other programs ask for a portfolio or other work.

You should research all about the program you want to enter before you apply, and if you have any doubts or questions, reach out to them directly. All university graduate programs are eager to accept exceptional and qualified candidates and will be more than happy to clarify anything that is confusing.

I have always had a hard time defining myself. Other than my gender identity, I’ve always felt parts of me are too fluid to define. I never felt any particular affinity or pride toward the country of my birth, but neither do I identify with my parent’s countries of origin, although elements of their culture (language, music) do resonate with me.

I went to a very diverse, multicultural high school and it was my first brush with not belonging. I don’t remember thinking about my identity before. I grew up in a community based around my neighborhood and we didn’t differentiate people according to race, language, religion, or things like that. They were just my neighbors and friends.

In high school, though, everyone had their cliques and groups. Sometimes, they were centered on shared cultural, national, and racial ties, which meant that I, a biracial, native-born kid with parents from South America and Europe found it hard to fit in. I became aware of what life was like outside the paradise of my neighborhood when I was bullied in high school for being biracial. And it came from all the students; for some, I was too light-skinned; for others, I was too dark.

It was a hard thing for me to understand. Being judged for my skin color was something that had never happened to me before, and I took it to heart. As the bullying continued, I became depressed and angry. I lashed out at my parents for no reason. My grades began to suffer. My worried parents sent me to the family doctor to explain my problems, but he only suggested anti-depressants, which I did not want to take.

It was my high school guidance counselor, Ms. Olivia Nuzzi, who gave me what I most needed at the time: someone to talk to, someone to listen. I can’t remember the exact circumstances that brought us together – I think my mother reached out to her – but by the time of our first meeting, I was not doing well. My depression had intensified. I was experiencing suicidal ideation. I felt like I would never belong or be accepted by anyone.

The first time I met Ms. Nuzzi, she placed her hand on mine, and that simple act of tenderness made me burst out sobbing. It was the first time anyone, other than bullies, had tried to get close to me in months. In our first session, I talked openly about what was going on with the bullying and how it made me question my identity. I began to see Ms. Nuzzi regularly after that. Going to see her was often the only highlight of my week, and we became very close.

I went to her on one of the worst days of my life. I was in class, and someone made an insulting comment about me. I didn’t react at all, but inside I was furious. Soon, that fury turned to panic, and I started to feel short of breath, dizzy. I asked to be excused and made my way to Ms. Nuzzi’s office. She calmed me down and asked what had happened.

What she said next has always stayed with me. She said, “Not knowing who you are now doesn’t mean you’ll never know, and it doesn’t mean you’re empty. It only means you have a lot of work to do.” Her saying that made me realize that identity is something we are always constructing.

Ms. Nuzzi lost touch after I graduated, but her words never left me. I thought of her when I decided what my career should look like, in childhood psychology, and applied to the Psychology program at Cornell. Despite all the care and tenderness Ms. Nuzzi had shown me, I wanted to offer more to children grappling with identity and identity formation within the context of education.

During my undergrad, I focused on classes related to preadolescent development and the important role of socialization in how young people define themselves. I also took courses in sociology and social work to better understand how to create actionable plans to treat childhood depression, anxiety, and mental illness.

During my master’s, I focused on approaches to child psychology that helped me gain a better understanding of how to assess and interpret a child’s distress. It became clear to me that I needed to study more about the social basis for the way a child forms their identity and how they respond to external factors.

Among the many reasons I am applying to the Harvard Graduate School Psychology program is the opportunity to study under the supervision of Dr. Henry Blackthorn, a pioneer in the field of childhood anxiety disorders. I have admired Dr. Blackthorn’s work for many years, and I think his outline for developmental risk factors is the most precise diagnostic retuning in ages.

It’s ironic that my search for an identity led me to finding my career, even though I am wary of defining myself by my profession. I am a dedicated student and researcher, and I feel like I can contribute effectively to this graduate program, but one thing I have learned in trying to shape my own identity is that the work of creating yourself is never over.

One of the things I remember most about my father is his bookcase. My father never finished grade school, and he had worked most of his life. He had as many jobs as anyone I ever knew, and he took pride in listing off the jobs he had held in his time, ranging from janitor, factory worker, and line supervisor to line cook, hospital attendant, and general contractor.

Wearing as many hats as he did, he knew a lot about different subjects. He knew how to take apart a carburetor and cook a French omelet. He knew the best wood to build a house (spruce or Douglas fir) and the best way to get out chocolate stains. But he was always insecure about not having a formal education.

He made up for it by learning as much practical knowledge as he could from the jobs that he had, but inside I think it wasn’t enough. He could never fill that void that wanted to be filled with a college- or university-level education. I would tell him that he could take a night course or something else that interested him, but he always said “no” and made up some excuse.

He had his own plan. He built a ramshackle bookcase out of old, repurposed wood and stuck it in the basement. He slowly filled the shelves with whatever he could find – books he bought at garage sales, books the library gave away, books our neighbors gave him – but mainly a lot of repair and how-to books and manuals. After a year, the bookcase was almost full.

His other plan involved me. If he couldn’t go to university, then I would be the one to go. He made clear to me at a young age that I was headed to university and that education was one of the most important things in life. It was one of the few things that we agreed on: education. We didn’t have much else in common other than an appreciation for learning.

As his book collection grew, so did I. Since my dad was so hands-on, one day, when I was in high school, I was surprised to find a book on the bookcase that actually interested me: a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I didn’t know where he got the book or who gave it to him – it was such a rare thing to see on my father’s bookcase – but finding that book would shape the rest of my life and bring me here to apply to the PhD in Ancient History program at Harvard.

I have an innate love for stories, but Ovid’s poetry was such a departure from the storytelling structure I had grown up with. An epic poem was a genre I never knew existed, let alone one that was thousands of years old. While I was reading the second book, I was drawn in by the story of Phaeton, the demi-god who believes Helios is his true father and is desperate to prove it.

The lines Helios speaks to Phaeton to dissuade him from riding the sun chariot, “Your lot is mortal, it is not mortal what you ask,” made me think of my father, wanting to know more than what life had taught him. Helios spoke those words to Phaeton to keep him from danger, but my father told me the opposite. My father taught me that knowledge was a way to achieve greatness. He did not want me to be content with what I had or who I was. He wanted me to strive to be more than he could ever be.

Reading those lines from Ovid put everything into perspective and made me realize my future would be among the Classics. I wanted to reach back to the beginning of recorded knowledge, where the first poets, philosophers, historians, mathematicians, and engineers tried to interpret the living world in a way that had never been done before. I started taking Latin classes with my local priest who had learned the language while studying at the Vatican.

When I graduated from high school, I decided on Northwestern because its Classics program is one of the best in the country and because it was not far from home. I wanted my father to visit me on campus to give him a taste of the college life.

While at Northwestern, I participated in an exchange program during my third year and took two semesters in Hellenic Studies at the University of Athens. I started learning Greek in my first year, and by the time I arrived in Athens, I was semi-fluent. Unfortunately, my academic dreams came close to crashing in my last years, as that was when my father passed away from prostate cancer. His loss is something I still struggle with, but his love for learning and knowledge is something that has stayed with me and continues to motivate me. His plan for retirement was to read a book a day from his bookcase, but he never got there. I dedicated my personal statement for my master’s degree in Anthropology to my father.

During that degree, I participated in a field expedition to the hills of Thessaloniki to explore a cache of pottery and other artifacts uncovered by recent construction. It was during this time when I also co-published my first academic paper, “The Enchantment of Ovid: Love, Desire and Consent in Mythological Context,” with Dimitrios Alexopoulos, now co-chair of the Hellenic Studies program at Dartmouth.

My plans for the rest of my career include opening new methods of analysis in understanding classical literature. I have a strong interest in dissecting the ways that classical arts continue to influence modern artists and thinking, especially as seen through a gendered and racialized prism.

I would also like to follow in my father’s example and pass on his love of learning to a new generation of students. I want my students to be imbued with the desire to learn as much as Phaeton desired to ride the sun chariot, which to my father, would not have been as exciting as getting an education.

I always wanted to open my own business. To me, having your own business, being your own boss was the best thing in the world. I came to this country from Nigeria wanting to be a success, even though I wasn’t sure of what I would do. I started washing cars and picking up shifts as an Uber driver to earn money, but my end goals were not clear yet.

I thought the answer would come to me and then I would know what to do, but regardless, I started saving money, knowing that whatever it was that interested me, it would take money and resources to follow through. Luckily, the answer I was waiting for arrived in the back of my Uber one night.

I picked up my fare, an older gentleman who had come from a restaurant where he had been celebrating closing a business deal, he told me later. Normally, I didn’t speak with my customers, unless they wanted to, but this gentleman, I’ll call him Jerry, was in a talking mood. He told me about how he had started his business a long time ago and now he had enough money to retire.

I told him I was interested in opening a business, but I wasn’t sure in what. Jerry told me that didn’t matter. The idea wasn’t as important as the work that you put into making it real. Everyone has ideas, he said, but only a few ever become more than ideas in someone’s head.

Jerry told me that enrolling in a business program would give me the fundamentals to create any business I wanted. He said that businesses fail not because they’re bad ideas, but because the people behind them don’t know how to keep them alive. But Jerry also said that I should never underestimate the power of luck. Sometimes the underdog makes it, sometimes they do not.

I drove Jerry home, and he gave me his card, in case I wanted any more advice. I did take his advice and started looking into Business Administration programs near me that would suit my schedule and let me continue working. I enrolled in the one at the SUNY Buffalo School of Management and took courses in accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

The more I studied business theories and how to analyze data to extract a favorable business strategy, the more I became convinced that Jerry was right. It was knowledge and know-how that mattered more than just an idea. Learning more about business administration also refocused my goals. I started to see that running my own business was not as interesting to me as expanding or growing an established business.

I also realized that running a successful business is about a lot more than big ideas. If recent history has shown us anything, it’s that people with grand ideas are more interested in making people believe their idea works, even if it doesn’t. They ignore the social responsibility aspect of any business only to justify their greatness.

I realize that I don’t have the lofty goals of some modern business titans. My goals are humbler and more realistic. I feel like my emphasis on collecting and analyzing data is more important to any business than my leadership abilities, which is why I’m applying to the Harvard Graduate School PhD in Business Administration. If I am admitted to your program, I hope to effectively merge my analytical and business skills to further research on human resource management and information technology.

If Harvard graduate school is your dream school, then you should know how to get accepted and what it takes to write an outstanding personal statement. Along with college essay examples , the Harvard graduate school personal statement examples found here should only be used as a template to create your own statement.

The format of a personal statement is usually open-ended, but each graduate program has its own requirements, so make sure you check what they are before you start formulating an answer. You can write about any personal story that is significantly related to your educational and academic path, but make sure you connect it to why you are an ideal candidate for the program.

A personal statement is a guided essay that aims to explain a little more about your personal motivations to enter a specific school, graduate program, or profession. 

Not all schools or graduate programs will ask for a personal statement, but it depends on what school or program you apply to. You should check the admissions requirements for any program you want to enter before you apply. 

A personal statement can be a supplemental essay, but the latter is often based on specific prompts or questions asked by the admissions committee. Read these Harvard supplemental essay examples or these Harvard MBA personal statement examples to get a better idea of how they differ.

You can start your personal statement by thinking about why you wanted to enter the profession you are entering and explain in detail the steps you took to achieve that goal. 

A letter of intent is a document outlining your specific academic and professional goals, along with past achievements in your field. It is strictly an academic resume. But a personal statement is something that reveals what attracted you to your field and what motivates you to pursue this advanced degree. 

You can talk about a time when you identified your career goals and ambitions, whether it was during childhood or adolescence, as long as you relate how your story helped you choose the program you are applying to. 

You should NOT talk about personal issues or difficulties that are unrelated to your degree or education. You should NOT talk about vague characteristics (hard-working, organized) without providing concrete examples from your past. 

The length, word count, and other format details are decided by the program you want to enter, but if there are no stated requirements, you want to keep your statement to two pages, double-spaced.

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December 22, 2023

Five Tips for Writing Compelling PsyD Personal Statements

personal statement for phd in psychology

“What should I include?” “How do I start?” “What will impress the admissions committee?” These are the most common questions PsyD applicants ask about their application essay. What makes this task even more confusing is that different programs refer to this same essay as a “personal statement,” a “statement of purpose,” a “graduate essay,” a “statement of goals,” a “personal history,” and even a “letter of intent.” Some programs might request two or three essays: one that is biographical,  one that addresses the issue of diversity , and perhaps one that serves as a more formal research proposal. As applicants prepare to write their essays, they’re often confounded by questions.

Making your personal statements more dynamic

As you prepare to write your PsyD personal statement, here are five tips to help you make it as persuasive and memorable as possible.

Tip #1: Understand the importance of the personal statement in admissions decisions.

Although your transcript(s), recommendations, and GRE scores (if required) all factor into your target program’s admissions decision, your personal statement is what can really “close” the deal. Adcoms read candidates’ statements very carefully. They use this submission to learn more about your disposition for studying clinical psychology; your educational background; your clinical, academic, and research experience; and your short- and long-term career aspirations. Here is where you have the opportunity to  highlight the strengths  and qualifications you possess that will set you apart from other qualified applicants. These might include the following:

  • Your fit with the program
  • Desirable qualities and qualifications
  • Your ability to articulate your ideas in a clear and engaging way
  • How your academic studies, human services experience, field research, and long-term goals have sparked your determination to pursue PsyD graduate studies
  • Any influences that have inspired your decision to apply to a PsyD program, if applicable, such as an internship, job, community service experience, acquaintance who works in the field, or a research experience (Make sure you  provide short narratives  about the experience[s] or person[s], which will make you more memorable to the faculty committee.)

Many PsyD personal statement prompts will ask you to share personal experiences. As you relate these experiences, you want to demonstrate your self-reflection skills and that you understand the importance of clear boundaries. Remember that the purpose of this essay to is provide information to the adcom that will help in assessing your qualifications for the program.

Tip #2: Read the prompts carefully, and customize your personal statement for each PsyD program.

Programs can easily spot a template or generic personal statement and will, most likely, place such essays in the “no” pile. It is therefore important to  customize your personal statement for each program  to which you apply.

Each school provides a brief description of the information it is seeking in the personal statement. One program might limit this essay to 1,000 words, in which you must address multiple questions or topics. Another might specify two or three single- or double-spaced pages, while others might limit the number of characters (with or without spaces) with which you can cover certain topics. Pay special attention to each school’s directions. Not following the stated directives will, at the least, irritate the adcom and might even result in your application being placed in the “no” pile. PsyD programs are highly selective and competitive, and if you cannot follow clearly stated directions, it calls into question your ability to manage the academic rigor of the program. Carefully read the entire prompt, and be sure to respond to each part of it.

We suggest creating a spreadsheet that lists each program’s personal statement questions/requirements. This cross-checking tool will help you identify common topics among the programs you’re targeting, which might include the following:

  • Academic objectives related to the curriculum 
  • Prior research experience and graduate-level research interests (Some schools request a graduate research proposal.)
  • Relevant community service, job, or internship experiences
  • Short- and long-term professional/career goals

Tip #3: Identify the specific faculty member(s) with whom you wish to work.

Some PsyD programs ask applicants to note in the application the name or names of faculty members with whom they wish to work if they are admitted. Whether or not your target program requests this information, include it in your personal statement, naming the specific faculty members you have pinpointed. To identify these individuals, look at the faculty profiles on the program’s website to see whose work connects with your interests. Read journal articles that match your research and/or clinical interests. In your explanation of why you would like to work with a particular faculty member, clearly present your precise reason(s) (e.g., they focus on a certain population or clinical issue).

Tip #4: Check out the program’s website for special opportunities you could highlight in the “Why this school/program?” portion of your personal statement.

To make a convincing argument for why you are targeting a particular PsyD program, you need to identify aspects of the experience that relate directly to your needs and interests and then name them in your personal statement. These items could include the following:

  • Clinical sites, including practica and internships
  • Courses, specializations, and/or concentrations that you find appealing 
  • Participation/presentations at professional conferences, including APA regional conventions
  • On-site and/or off-site research centers
  • Graduate student groups of interest
  • Theoretical perspective or orientation of the program (e.g., a focus on social justice)

Avoid generic statements about the program’s “excellent faculty” or “strong academic reputation.” The adcom will likely view such statements as cliches or basic pandering. 

#5: Being detailed can help you stand out.

Faculty adcoms work hard to fairly review each candidate before making their admissions decision. As a result, they are seeking. They don’t need to “dig” through the application to find it. Avoid making overarching statements, such as “I did some research.” Provide the details: What was the research? With whom did you work? When did you do it? What did you learn? Was it published? Was it presented at a scholarly event or conference? If you are sharing information on a course you enjoyed, include the “whys,” “whats,” and “hows.” For example, explain why the professor was particularly inspiring,  what  specific course content added to your knowledge base, and/or how the course content reinforced your determination to pursue graduate studies and/or research in this field.

Are there particular populations or clinical issues that you are drawn to? If so, include an explanation of why these are of interest.

After completing your specificity check and before you submit your application, be sure to do the following:

  • Conduct a spell/grammar check. Although it might not catch everything, running a simple spell/grammar check is an excellent first step.
  • Read your entire personal statement aloud to yourself. You might be surprised by the number of errors and omissions you will notice that the computer-generated spell/grammar check missed.
  • Check the word/character/page count to ensure that it conforms to the school’s requirements.
  • Ask an unbiased person to read for grammar and spelling errors. A “fresh set of eyes” could notice issues you might have overlooked.
  • Review your statement to ensure that its content complements – without duplicating or repeating — information found elsewhere in your application.
  • Proofread your statement multiple times.

personal statement for phd in psychology

By Alice Diamond , former associate dean for career and community service at Lesley University. Alice has a BA from Colgate University, an MA from Bryn Mawr College, and an MS from Cornell University. She has more than 35 years of experience in career and admissions advising for undergraduate and graduate candidates. Alice’s clients have been accepted to top programs in a wide range of fields. Want to work with Alice? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources

  • Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement of Purpose , a free guide
  • Graduate School in Psychology: PsyD or PhD, Which Is Right for You?
  • Acing the PsyD Interview: The 3-P Plan

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Personal Statement for PhD in Clinical Psychology

Are you struggling to find the right words and expressions to write a personal statement for PhD in clinical psychology? Not confident that your current personal statement for PhD in clinical psychology can compete with that of other international students? Do you need some help with writing a personal statement for PhD in clinical psychology?

In that case, you have come to the right place. We are an experienced and skilled team of professionals working in the field for a decade. We know how to write a  personal statement for PhD  in clinical psychology to win admission.

For a decade, we have worked with numerous students who wanted to craft the most compelling statements for their admission. Hence, we know what the students expect and the universities need when it comes to a personal statement for PhD in clinical psychology. With the right pitch, focus, and tone, we can write impeccable statements.

Writing a personal statement for PhD in clinical psychology is not an easy task. Hire our experienced professional writers

How to Write a Personal Statement for PhD in Clinical Psychology?

Despite knowing the importance of a personal statement for admission, most students do not know how to write, format, and structure a personal statement. This becomes a huge area of concern for most students as every university requires one.However, one needs to understand that writing a clinical psychology doctorate personal statement is not an impossible task. But, it is not a walk in the park either. One needs to have the right attitude and willingness to work hard to create an impressive and resonating personal statement for a doctorate in clinical psychology. And there are students who write their own personal statements. If you want to write one like that, here is a list of tips to use:

The tips will pave the right path for you to amble on:

  • Firstly, learn the requirements of the university for statement
  • Secondly, create a strategy to write the statement to make it unique
  • Thirdly, gather all the details you need to start writing the statement
  • Fourthly, use a friendly tone of voice with optimism and confident
  • Fifthly, explain what makes you suitable for the course and the college
  • Lastly, ensure that you talk about your career goals and aspirations

No matter what type of personal statement that you write, you need to take care of these elements. Once you do that, you need not look for personal statements for PhD in clinical psychology samples online in PDF.

What Makes Us the Best to Write Personal Statement for PhD in Clinical Psychology?

Every student wants the best of personal statements to submit with their admission applications. However, the catch is that they have trouble writing them. Hence, they seek the help of professional and experienced personal statement writers. One needs to be extremely careful while choosing a service provider.

There is a range of desired qualities that a student must be able to see in a personal statement writer for PhD in clinical psychology. These qualities play a huge role in deciding the quality of the statement itself.

When you choose us, you are guaranteed to get all of these service qualities from us as we have been in the field for more than a decade.

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When our students come to us to write clinical psychology doctorate personal statements, we know that they need more than that. Hence, we have a dedicated customer care line that our students can contact us on. They will get all the help and support from the customer care when they require them.

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Getting admission for PhD in clinical psychology in a coveted university can launch a student’s career to the stratosphere. The research opportunities and industry exposure that the student can get will certainly be impeccable. However, you need the best personal statement for the PhD in clinical psychology to start dreaming about that.

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We have a team of expert personal statement writers who can write personal statements for PhD in clinical psychology even better than the examples online. We work extremely close with our clients to learn everything about them to use the same in the statement. We deliver them in any format such as PDF and Doc as they need.

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What is a personal statement for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology?

A personal statement is a written document that provides insights into your academic background, experiences, motivations, and aspirations for pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. It helps the admissions committee understand your suitability for the program.

How long should my personal statement be?

Most institutions specify a word or character limit for personal statements. Generally, they range from 500 to 1,000 words. It’s essential to adhere to these limits to demonstrate your ability to convey information concisely.

What should I include in my personal statement?

You should include information about your academic background, relevant research experience, clinical work, interests within clinical psychology, career goals, and reasons for choosing that particular program.

How should I structure my personal statement?

Start with an engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention. Then, discuss your academic and professional journey, followed by your research interests, clinical experiences, and how the program aligns with your goals. End with a conclusion summarizing your commitment.

Can I mention personal struggles or challenges?

Yes, you can briefly mention challenges you’ve faced if they are relevant to your motivation for pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Focus on how you’ve overcome these challenges and how they’ve shaped your desire to contribute to the field.

Should I focus more on research or clinical experience?

Balance is key. Highlight both your research and clinical experiences, emphasizing how they’ve influenced your decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Showcase how these experiences complement each other.

How can I make my personal statement stand out?

Focus on your unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives. Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Avoid generic statements and clichés. Show a deep understanding of the program’s strengths and align your goals with them.

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Postgraduate Clinical Psychology Personal Statement Example

My initial decision to major in psychology was rationalised with the idea that I could use my degree to help people.

Everyone struggles at one point in their lives and being able to help someone is a great opportunity. Furthermore, studying psychology provided something for me that the other subjects didn’t, such as a deeper understanding of my mind and behaviour.

After finishing my high school, I joined Bachelor of Arts program as I wished to explore which subject I would have a special interest in and the course consisted of several subjects including Geography, Political Science, Psychology, English, Economics and French.

By the end of my first year, I had a fondness towards psychology as it was interesting and chose to learn further about it. 

During my second and third year, I studied about Social Psychology, Abnormal Behaviour as well as Statistics.

I was fascinated by how the human mind works and how it affects a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. I enjoyed learning about the psychological disorders and the models of abnormality.

As I didn’t have an honours in psychology at my college, I decided to take a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology.

My master’s program was a 2 year course where I gained extensive knowledge about the different fields in psychology. During my First Semester, I had courses on educational psychology, cognitive psychology, Research Methodology and Statistics.

I enjoyed research methodology as I gained a deeper understanding of how to conduct research, the different methods in research and the importance it plays in psychology as it gives scientific evidence on the new perspectives of psychology, psychological theories and factors affecting mental health.

In addition to the courses, I did an internship at Agnes Special School where I worked as a special educator for children with Learning Disability, Cerebral Palsy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism and Mental Retardation.

Through this internship, I got to know more about childhood disorders and the obstacles they face in their everyday lives. It was extremely challenging

During, my second semester I had courses such as physiological psychology, personality theories, psychological testing and positive psychology.

I enjoyed reading about personality theories especially, Alfred Adler’s Individual psychology where he describes inferiority and superiority complexes and also about the birth order and how it influences the style of life.

By learning the theories, I gained insight on how personality influences human behaviour. I also had a practical paper on Assessment of Personality where, I was exposed to the various types of personality tests such as Draw a person test, Eysenck personality questionnaire, locus of control, Neo five-factor inventory and many more.  

During the third semester, I learned about counselling psychology, psychological intervention and psychopathology.

I found psychopathology very interesting as it taught me about the different psychological disorders, their aetiology, diagnosis and the signs and symptoms that make up the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder.

I became interested in relationships between various biological and environmental factors which can induce disorders.

By the end of my third semester, I worked as an intern for two months at two hospitals. My first clinical internship was at XXX for 3 weeks under Dr. XXX. During my time there, I learned how to collect case histories and conduct Mental Status Examinations (MSE).

I conducted various psychometric tests such as Standard and Coloured Progressive Matrices, Seguin Form Board and LD checklist, and also observed various behaviour therapies, parent guidance and counselling, sessions for home training for children with special needs on conditions like mental retardation, learning disability, autism, hearing impairments, cerebral palsy and multiple handicaps.

I also presented a poster on Learning Disability as a part of the academic presentation, defining Learning Disability, the problems children with LD face, the management of LD and the rights these children have.

My second clinical internship was at XXX for four weeks where I worked under the supervision of XXX at the Psychiatric Department. The hospital had in-patient care as well as outpatient care where I could collect case histories and conduct Mental Status Examinations.

I got insights into the numerous disorders. I gained an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a clinical psychologist. I also attended several therapies that the psychologist conducted such as Group Therapy for de-addiction patients, Stress Management and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and various psychometric tests such as Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and Rorschach inkblot test.

I also conducted psychometric tests such as Wechsler’s Intelligence Scale for Children, CAGE questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory, Binet Kamat Test etc.

In the fourth semester, I had courses on behaviour modification and counselling children, adolescents and adults. I was trained in numerous psychotherapy techniques such as Jacobsons Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Autogenic Training, Systematic Desensitisation, and Yoga.

I also had to present several case studies that I collected during my internships. I had a 5 days internship at XXX Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts which was aimed at preventing and management of Substance abuse with the focus soon early intervention , community based holistic approach and people’s participation.

During my time here, I interacted with several patients who has problems with substance abuse where I was able to take a session on assertiveness training for the patients and also conducted several relaxation techniques such as JPMR and Autogenic training.

Further, I got to know how the rehab centre worked and the different treatment methods used for the patients. I had another 5 days internship at XXX Palliative care, where I counselled with patients who were terminally ill by giving psychological snd social support to the patients and their caregivers.

Another internship I had was at Riya Hope Farm which was a residential centre for children with special needs. I was assigned to a child who had autism and conducted behavioural assessment of the child. Once the assessment was over, behaviour modification process was started as the child had difficulty in following the instruction that were given to him.

I also had to submit a dissertation as a part of the master’s programme where I presented a research study on “ Marital Adjustment in relation to Life Satisfaction and Gender among Young Adult Married Couples.”

I was interested in this topic due to the increasing divorce rates in India notably among the Young - Adult population and to find out whether life satisfaction influences the marital adjustment between couples.

In addition to my courses, I have attended several workshops on counselling and psychotherapy, basic and advanced hypnosis, “Dementia - Remember me” and Paranormality.

After finishing my master’s in psychology, I am currently interning at a psychiatric clinic for where I am working as an assistant counselling psychologist under the guidance of Dr XXXp. 

During my time here, I have met patients with a wide range of mental health problems that may occur such as mental health disorders including depression, psychosis, personality disorder, negative life events, bereavement, domestic violence, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, traumas and relationship issues.

I have witnessed counselling of both clients and their families, and I have learned to administer and score several psychological tests used in clinical assessment.

I have enjoyed working in the clinic and found it very rewarding, not only because of the idea of helping but also because the work was interesting and challenging, as every patient is different and different approaches of counselling are needed.

As an assistant counselling psychologist, I was able to learn the different counselling techniques and how to guide patients through empathy and unconditional positive regard.

Upon completion of this masters programme, I intend join a Doctoral programme in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) and to practice as a clinical psychologist, where I can provide a positive influence in the lives of people struggling with psychiatric disorders.

My personal characteristics are perfectly adaptable to this profession and I’m highly interested in this field. Moreover, my academic achievements signify my capability to reach the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.

I’m also interested in research work and understanding the various mental illness, their treatment as well as their effectiveness. My work experience has proven to me how much more I need to learn before I can attain my goal of becoming an accomplished clinical psychologist.

I am interested to join Goldsmith’s University of London for the Masters course in Foundation in Clinical Psychology and Health Services by the strong emphasis on clinical practice and research methodology as it goes particularly well with what I am looking for in a program.

I would be very excited to join the upcoming class for 2018. I feel I am well prepared to enter graduate study, and my strong motivation and career goals are a good match for what the university has to offer.

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  22. Personal Statement For PhD In Clinical Psychology

    However, you need the best personal statement for the PhD in clinical psychology to start dreaming about that. While even the most creative clinical psychology PhD personal statement cannot win you the admission, it can certainly give you much better chances of admission. And with us, that is even more likely as we can create statements that are:

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