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Writing the Perfect Personal Statement for your PhD Application

A Ph.D. personal statement is vital to your application, giving admissions committees insight into your character and background. It can make or break your chances of getting accepted.

Mar 21, 2023
  • Education

What is a personal statement for a Ph.D.?

It's a letter outlining your personal and professional qualities and research interests. Through this statement, you can explain why you're the ideal candidate for the Ph.D. program.

Why do you need a personal statement for a Ph.D. application?

A Ph.D. personal statement is an essential requirement in the admissions process. It's your chance to show why you're an excellent fit for the program and stand out from other applicants. The admissions team will use your statement to gauge your qualifications, motivations, research interests, and potential for success in the Ph.D. program.

How to start a personal statement letter?

It's essential to address the admissions officer from the start and explain why you are interested in completing the doctorate program in question. Personalize your letter to each department and program you are applying to. Research and learn what is unique about your chosen programs and share why it appeals to you.

Your statement should answer the following questions:

Why do you want to research this Ph.D.?

Explain why you want to pursue further study in your chosen field. What knowledge do you have already, and when did you first become interested in this area? Share how previous work or studies have provided a good foundation for your interest in studying for your Ph.D.

Why have you chosen a particular university for your Ph.D.?

Were you attracted to the university's research facilities, or does it have an excellent curriculum to suit your learning style? Do you like the campus or professors leading the program? The website of most university departments includes details of the professors who are experts and what they publish. Use this info fin your reasons for choosing the university.

Outline your strengths and transferable skills.

Share relevant essays, dissertations, or projects which reflect your academic background and skills. Pinpoint what makes you unique from other candidates. Specify any awards, IT skills, or research and teamwork qualities you have.

Explain how the Ph.D. program lines up with your career goals.

Share ideas of the direction you would like to take after your Ph.D. to demonstrate your commitment and dedication to the program. However, don't worry. It's ok not to be sure about your future plans and see where the Ph.D. takes you.

How long should a Ph.D. personal statement be?

A Ph.D. personal statement must contain 400-50 words that fit on an A4 page. Your university may have a specific number and length of words, so check your application.

Academic experience

Your Personal Statement will help you explain why these qualifications are necessary for your Ph.D. application. It's essential to stand out. Many of the candidates have excellent academic credentials. Be proud of your accomplishments, and explain what the course of study has taught you to do the work you want to investigate.

Other areas or issues arising from your CV

Your statement will help expand your CV and reveal detailed information regarding academic qualifications. That often means explaining gaps in knowledge and planning for what they may pose. Maybe your master's degree didn't go how you envisioned for your Ph.D. application; explain this if your doctorate is very closely connected.

Tell your life story only if it adds to the statement.

Don't talk about stories and experiences irrelevant to the Ph.D. program you are applying to. In the case of an aspiring Ph.D. in American Literature, you may leave out the ''From my first time learning reading'' part. It is likely true for most applicants and will not distinguish you from your peers in any way.

Use these tips to write the perfect personal statement for your Ph.D. application. Best of luck.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.

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