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Applying to Grad School: What should I say in my Personal Statement?

philosophy masters personal statement example

As the graduate adviser for my department’s terminal MA program at NIU, I answer a lot of questions about applying to PhD programs in philosophy. I feel pretty confident about my answers to most of them. But there is one question about which I don’t feel confident at all:

What should I say in my personal statement?

Departmental websites tend to be pretty vague about what they’re looking for in this part of the application. “[I]f you can tell us a bit more about your background and interests, this information might be helpful,” Yale advises. Rutgers asks for “a short essay on why you are interested in applying to your program.” These instructions are pretty representative.

Since now is the time of year when prospective applicants start to worry about these things, I thought it would be useful to share the general advice I give in response to this question, and find out how it squares with the expectations and experiences of the people reading them. If it’s terrible advice, I’d like to know! And if it’s good advice, it seems worth sharing with others. So, here goes:

This should be your guiding principle. A great personal statement is unlikely to make the difference between your application being accepted and being rejected, but a terrible personal statement might result in a borderline application being moved to the reject pile. People on admissions committees will pay significantly closer attention to your writing sample, grades, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Taking risks in your writing sample can pay off; taking risks in your personal statement is unlikely to help and may very well hurt.

Be concise and substantive

Less than one double-spaced page is probably too short; anything more than three full double-spaced pages is probably too long. Don’t waste time on platitudes about how much you love philosophy, how deeply you cherish the life of the mind, what a privilege it would be to join the department at X, etc. Everybody reading your statement already assumes those things are true. Why else would you be applying to their program? Make each sentence count; don’t make your reader feel like she has to work to get to the point.

Be specific, but non-committal, about your interests

Describe your philosophical interests honestly, intelligently, and in specific terms. Don’t just say you’re interested in epistemology (for example); say what problems or topics in epistemology interest you and why. If you can, show you know something about what is going on in the field, talk about your best paper or conference presentation on relevant questions, and describe some issues and arguments you’d like to work on further. If you wrote a thesis that lays a groundwork for future research, it can be good to describe it. But don’t give the impression that you already know what you’re going to argue in your dissertation. You’ll have two years of coursework and probably another year or two of guided research before your dissertation topic is even settled. Departments aren’t interested in applicants who don’t think they have anything to learn .

Show you’ve done your homework, but only if you really have

If there is a particular researcher or group you’re excited about at the department, talk about this. But only do this if your excitement is based on real knowledge of what those folks are actually doing — ideally knowledge acquired by reading their work, seeing them give talks, having conversations with them, talking with your own professors, etc. Do not just copypaste the names of all the people who work in your areas from the department website and proclaim your excitement about working with them. This makes you look like a bullshitter.  In my experience, students invest the most time and energy into trying to sell their interests as a good fit to the most prestigious, competitive departments to which they’re applying. This is not an unreasonable strategy, but I think you can expect more bang for your homework buck by researching the departments that may not be your top choices. Just about everybody applying to NYU with an interest in metaphysics is going to talk about Kit Fine; you won’t stand out by showing off what you know about his work on vagueness or grounding. There are brilliant philosophers doing fascinating, exciting work at all of the departments you’re likely to consider, even the places you might think of as your “safety” schools. You can make a great impression by showing that you’re familiar with what’s going on at somewhat lower-prestige programs, and evincing genuine enthusiasm about them.

If you have a compelling history or relevant personal background, mention it, but don’t disclose too much

If you’ve had to overcome significant hurdles to make it where you are today, it can be helpful to tell your story (briefly). If there is some cool, interesting, memorable element of your personal history, feel free to work it into the statement. (I still remember the applicant who grew up in a travelling circus!) If you have a non-standard background — you’re in the midst of changing careers or fields, you aren’t currently enrolled in a philosophy degree program, or you didn’t graduate from one within the last few years — say what led you to philosophy and how your background prepares you to succeed in graduate school.

However, be cautious about disclosing too much personal information. I’ve read statements from applicants describing their struggles with addiction, eating disorders, mental health problems, appearances before disciplinary boards, family troubles, and run-ins with the law. Personally, I am drawn to people who have dealt with these kinds of struggles, so these stories tend to make me like the applicants more. But that attitude is not universally shared! There are some tricky moral and legal issues here, but you should avoid giving the admissions committee reason to worry that you are going to have trouble completing the program, or become a “problem” student.

On the other hand, if your personal situation is directly relevant to the academic work you want to do, it would probably be helpful to talk about it. So, for example, if you want to work on the philosophy of disability, and you have a disability, it would probably be helpful to discuss how your own experience as a person with a disability has shaped this interest, if it has. But even in a case like this, you would do well to talk with a trusted advisor, preferably someone who is also writing one of your recommendation letters, when thinking about how to frame your personal story. Unless they are directly relevant to your interests, avoid discussion of your political views or religious beliefs (and even if they are, err on the side of caution).

Unless it’s major, avoid the temptation to explain any weaknesses in your application

Perhaps your Verbal GRE score is low. Though many philosophers say that they do not care about GRE scores, my inductive evidence strongly suggests that many do. A poor GRE score is likely to hurt your chances, at least at some programs. But attempting to explain this problem away in your personal statement (“I have always struggled with standardized tests…”) is almost certainly not going to help. Moreover, it may hurt by calling attention to something the people reading your application may not have been worried about before. One exception to this piece of advice is when there is a major problem with your academic record; e.g., if you got terrible grades in most of your classes one semester because of a medical emergency or family tragedy. Then it is worth explaining the situation briefly, again keeping in mind the advice above about not disclosing too much. If you can, you should discuss how to discuss major issues like this with your recommendation letter writers. The assurances they can provide in their letters that the issue does not reflect your abilities or current situation may be more valuable than your own.

Miscellania: be professional but humble; be polished; don’t be cutesy

You should come across as an early career academic, a self-driven grown-up who can be expected to meet the demands of an exacting program. You should not come across as someone who thinks they are the next Wittgenstein, or as someone who regards themselves as an academic peer with the people reading your application. Don’t refer to your professors or those at the program by their first names, even if you know them and would do so in person; be deferential and respectful. Keep in mind that whatever else it does, your personal statement provides further evidence about your writing skills, so ask at least one person who is a good writer to carefully proofread your statement. Don’t be jokey, self-deprecating, or overly clever. Remember the guiding principle: do no harm.

Don’t mention your two-or-more-body problem

It’s best not to call attention to the fact that your ultimate decision about where to attend graduate school will depend in part upon your significant other’s (or others’) decisions, even if this is true. (This is the piece of advice I am least confident about.)

These are only meant as general guidelines. I am certain that some applicants have been helped by personal statements that violate all of them! And as I said before, I’m not especially confident in them: they seem plausible, and the people I’ve asked about them tend to agree, but it is hard to know. I’m quite interested to hear what others think.

Let us know in the comments section below!

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Geoff Pynn is associate professor of philosophy at Northern Illinois University, where he has been the graduate adviser for the department’s terminal MA program since 2011.

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Having served on grad admissions at two places, this seems to me to be excellent advice. I agree with every bit of it. One small thing, just strengthening one of the points you make: be very careful about how/if you “name names” regarding who you might be interested in working with.

There are errors on the side of over-inclusion: you mention people who (a) are never around or are not taking on new students or are leaving, or (b) are not really working on the topics you are in interested in any more. Knowing either (a) or (b) can require a lot of very current local knowledge, and while you can’t be blamed for not having it, it can make us worry about your interest/fit in the program if it turns out (a) or (b) is the situation.

And there are errors on the side of under-inclusion: you don’t mention people who (c) are working in the area and (d) might be offended (we all have our frail egos…) not to be mentioned and who might be reading your file. You can sometimes be blamed for not knowing (c), but not always, if people’s interests don’t align perfectly with what they have already published, etc.

All of this makes it kind of dicey to name people, rather than areas. And I don’t see much upside to “naming names,” given that you shouldn’t get so much credit for being able to identify who works on what topics…

Programs want people who are likely to succeed in completing their graduate work on time and getting hired in the profession. But if you eat, drink and sleep philosophy you’ll come across as someone who is not well-rounded, or, worse, as someone who is unbalanced! So, mention (one sentence will do) other interests: from cooking to camping to children–DO mention that you compete in chili cook-offs, or go camping and forage for wild edibles, or volunteer at the local library to read books at storytime on Saturday mornings. Hobbies and non-academic interests show that you are a well-rounded human being, not some nut case who is seeking nirvana through the study of Nietzsche.

Dr. Pynn, thank you for the thoughtful comments on preparing a statement of purpose. As you are in the position of interacting with students both applying to enter MA programs as well as students moving on to PhD programs, I’m curious: Would your advice remain the same for students writing statements of purpose directed at MA programs, or would you tweak any of your emphases above?

Hi Connor, good question. I would say in general for MA applicants it is less important to have a detailed and specific statement describing your interests than it is for a doctoral program, but that may vary from program to program (some departments, eg Georgia State, have fellowships reserved for people working in specific areas, and if I were applying to such a program and had the relevant interests, I would definitely play that up in my statement). But speaking just about us, everyone will be required to take a broad range of courses, which we expect them to approach with equal gusto across the board, and there is no thesis requirement, so you aren’t going to develop any long term research relationships with your professors here. So while evincing some familiarity with the general thrust of our department (contemporary “analytic” philosophy, faculty who work in epistemology, ethics, language, metaphysics, and philosophy of science) and expressing an interest in stuff within that broad purview is good, we aren’t worried about whether your interests align with the research interests of our faculty. Hence concerns about “fit” are somewhat less important for us.

On all the other points I would say yes, my advice remains the same.

What a great article I have found finally, dear author, thank you very much for it! And I would like to add that not so long ago I was looking for some im personal statement for graduate school, but unfortunately I have not found it in the internet at all. And that is why I am really very happy that now I have seen your very helpful and well structured article. And please do not stop to write them, because I am completely sure that they can help to many of other people who are looking for some help as well as me!

The best of your ideas can come to your mind when you are not sitting in front of your computer and that is very much required to make your mind fresh at times because if you pay someone to write personal statements so you need to know that what is inside if that content and how that content is going to content is going to help you.

Dear author, I want to apply to grad school in a year’s time for a doctorates in Psychology. In many cases, the universities I am considering mention a personal statement – one of them even has a topic for an essay in the application that is about your personal background. I have experienced (personally) the speciality I want to go into – it is quite personal, therefore I shall not name it, but I think you can guess in what direction I am going. Should I mention it in my statement? It is very personal information and I am afraid that it would make a less attractive applicant. What do you think?

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Gre prep online guides and tips, 3 successful graduate school personal statement examples.

philosophy masters personal statement example

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

philosophy masters personal statement example

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

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Successful Personal Statement For Philosophy At Cambridge

Last Updated: 6th April 2022

Author: Rob Needleman

Table of Contents

Welcome to our popular Personal Statement series where we present a successful Personal Statement, and our Oxbridge Tutors provide their feedback on it. 

Today, we are looking through a Philosophy applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Cambridge University. The Philosophy Course at Cambridge explores human thought, the basis of knowledge, the nature of reason, consciousness and cognition, as well as the foundations of value and political theory.

Read on to see how this candidate managed to navigate philosophical thinking to successfully receive a Cambridge offer.   

Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement:


The universities this candidate applied to were the following:

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Philosophy Personal Statement

“And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not fooled you. / Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, / You will have understood by then, what these Ithakas mean.”

Cavafy was right, indeed. Like any other reflective person, I am essentially a philosophical entity. While most people, perhaps those outside academic philosophy, would consider it a prime example, maybe along with Mathematics, of an established body of a priori truths, of some kind of Ithaka (thus excluding themselves from the possibility of realizing their philosophical essence), I beg to differ. For years, though, unwise as I was according to Cavafy, I was looking for Ithakas like most men, misled by this major misconception. For years, I have been reading Plato and Aristotle, Descartes and Nietzsche always, hastily and impatiently, heading towards truth; towards my rich Ithaka, and always falling on reefs and mythical objections raised by one philosopher against the truths of the other. Always, en route.

When, “wise as I had become” on the road, like old Ulysses, I realized that philosophy is much more than just a truth per se. Instead, philosophy is the pursuit of truth, irrespective of whether that truth is ever achieved; in fact, if and when something ever counts as truth, it does not belong to the realm of philosophy any more. Not until I read Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, had I realized that the aim of philosophy is to designate what can be said and what not, what is non-sense or what might be senseless. This very sub specie aeternitatis realization of philosophy as an activity, a method of approaching truth and reflecting on reality rather than as an established body of justified true belief, was crucial in my selection of philosophy as the subject of my academic study. Since this realization, my chief preoccupation has been to learn as much as possible from the journey to Ithaka, to hone this ability to philosophize effectively, to exercise and engage philosophy as much as possible, whenever and wherever possible.

A culmination of this constant struggle to sharpen my philosophical essence happened this summer in the Epic Questions Summer Institute of U of Va, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. In this intensive, three-week seminar for high-school teachers, I was the official note-taker and the only high-school student to be accepted among the scholars as an intern of Dr. Mitchell S. Green. Courses in Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Formal Logic, Philosophy of Language, Ethics, Political Philosophy and Bioethics unprecedentedly furthered this philosophical activity and I made the acquaintance of contemporary philosophical thought, reading, such as T. Nagel, R. Chisholm, D. Papineau, B. Williams, along with classical readings.

Hence, to my readings of Plato’s Five Dialogues, Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy and Nietzsche’s Übermensch, were added those of the British Empiricists, esp. some of Hume’s Enquiries, Kant, B. Rusell’s The Problems of Philosophy and Mill’s Utilitarianism.

I must admit that I have been uncritically assuming a certain account of human nature (as inherently philosophical), which many may find controversial. And this, itself, thus, turns into a philosophical question. And so on and so forth.

This is exactly the philosophical beauty I live for.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement a nalysis articles:

Successful Personal Statement For Natural Science (Physical) At Cambridge

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Download our Free Personal Statement Starter Guide 

Good Points Of The Personal Statement

The statement is well written, and the student clearly demonstrates their passion for philosophy, as well as their motivation for pursuing further study of it, and something of a personal journey through which their philosophical thinking has developed. The discussion of the nature of philosophical thought ties nicely into their own motivation to study philosophy. The statement shows their broad philosophical education, as well as indicating a strong self-motivating passion for learning (in a much more subtle manner than simply stating that they are self-motivated), as much of this education is in the form of private study. Acceptance to the prestigious seminar is an impressive achievement, and the student is right to stress this, and the ‘unprecedented’ effect it had on their philosophical activity.

Bad Points Of The Personal Statement

The statement is vague in what it terms ‘philosophy’; though the student clearly has an interest in some vague notion of ‘human nature’, they don’t narrow down exactly what they wish to study at university (philosophy being such a broad subject that quite a bit of specialisation is necessary). The time spent listing impressive works that they had read would have been better invested in mentioning just one (or even just one subject that they had read around) that had particularly affected them and expanding on it. Similarly, they could have expanded further on the experience of the seminar (how it affected their philosophical thinking, new ideas encountered while there, etc.), rather than listing the respected philosophers they had met. The grammar is, at points, questionable, indicating the statement required closer proofreading prior to being submitted.

UniAdmissions Overall Score:

This statement is very strong; it conveys a rare passion for the subject and, more importantly, a passion that has been actively pursued in the student’s own time. It could, however, benefit from a little more specificity regarding their thoughts on specific readings, and from reading less like a list of books and philosophers. Overall, the statement reads like an intriguing personal philosophical work.

This Personal Statement for Philosophy is a great example of demonstrating passion which is vital to Admissions Tutors.

Remember, at Cambridge, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal directly to them.

There are plenty more successful personal statements and expert guides on our Free Personal Statement Resources page.

Our expert tutors are on hand to help you craft the perfect Personal Statement for your Cambridge Philosophy application.

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Top Tips for a Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

Cambridge philosophy personal statement – top 10 tips: dos and don’ts  .

The Cambridge Personal Statement is a crucial component of your university application. It presents a unique opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from other applicants. You would be able to articulate your story and explain your interests beyond that of numbers on an admissions test. Furthermore, it gives the interviewer a chance to understand who you are, providing a platform to bounce off questions during your interview. 

They can tailor questions to your personality, interests, and commitment to who you are as a person and your amalgamation of experiences before you. To guide you through the arduous university application process, our Oxbridge application experts have compiled a list of top 10 Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement tips– do’s and don’ts– for your Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement for the 2024/25 application cycle. 

philosophy masters personal statement example

General Philosophy Personal Statement Advice

Philosophy is a course that would be exciting for students who enjoy arguments on the benefits and disadvantages of a wide-reaching range of issues. Ideal candidates would be students who enjoy rigorous thought and are interested in the basis of knowledge, the foundation of value and political theory, as well as the nature of cognition, consciousness, and reason. 

In your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge tutors are looking for you to clearly demonstrate your interest in academic rigour and thought, as well as the fields outlined above. Furthermore, when planning out your personal statement, make sure you research Cambridge’s achievements in Philosophy and include it in your writing to illustrate your interest in Philosophy. 

Additionally, When creating your Cambridge personal statement, understandably you’ll be applying to four other University courses which may result in your statement being vaguer. The University of Cambridge is aware of such. It will require you to fill out an ‘Online Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ)’ shortly after submitting the UCAS application, so make sure you’ve created another condensed version of your Philosophy personal statement that you can submit to Cambridge.

Top 5 Tips for Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

1. demonstrate why you are a good match for philosophy.

The traits that would make up a good philosophy student would be vastly different from the desirable traits of students from other courses. For example, some unique traits that they would be looking out for students who are capable of critical thinking, and those who enjoy rigorous analysis. Being open-minded is also crucial and in your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge is looking out for students who are able to consider new perspectives. Try and demonstrate how you display these traits in your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement. You can do so by explaining a specific experience that you had in the past and reflecting on how it has equipped with these desirable qualities.

2. Be well-read in philosophy or related fields

Philosophy is a subject that heavily focuses on human thought and the basis of knowledge. Hence, an ideal philosophy student would be well-read, both because they have a natural thirst for knowledge, and also because being well-informed or deeply versed would equip you with unique perspectives when pursuing your degree. Also, remember when writing your philosophy personal statement, Cambridge is definitely looking out for students who are well-read, and this is evident even on their page outlining the course. You definitely don’t need to be an expert (after all, you are going to university to study philosophy), but you should definitely do some preliminary reading. You can access their recommended reading list through their webpage: Cambridge Philosophy . Beyond that of reading, podcasts, documentaries, or even short news articles are a great way to kickstart your journey in being more deeply versed in literature and a wide range of perspectives. You can incorporate these various forms of mediums into your everyday lifestyle, such as watching a documentary instead of your usual TV series or listening to a podcast instead of your usual playlist on your way home from school.

3. Hone your ability to think outside the box

Once you’re happy with the content of your draft, check it, check it and check it again! Any mistakes in your Philosophy personal statement could count against your application. Spelling and grammar checking software will do most of the work but don’t rely on it completely, as it doesn’t pick up everything. These kinds of mistakes are really common, so don’t assume you won’t make them.

4. Structure your Philosophy personal statement well to enhance readability

Especially when you are trying to convey a huge range of ideas in your Cambridge personal statement, or to explain your story and why you are a good fit for philosophy at Cambridge, it can be difficult to communicate it in the way you intended. Hence, sticking to a good structure would help you convey your thoughts better. For example, in your personal statement, you should explore your philosophy interests. Do you have a topic that deeply intrigues you and is the beginning of your exposure to this field? You can then spend later paragraphs explaining how you explored this interest, through concrete experiences and actions, such as that of reading or participating in conferences and competitions. You can then conclude by summarising your points and ending them with an impactful statement.

5. Starting early and getting people around you or seniors to proofread your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement

Especially when we are explaining our personal story or beliefs, we might not be the best judge of our own work as we might not be objective about it. Hence, it would be good to get seniors you know who are currently pursuing philosophy at Cambridge to proofread your work and provide feedback. Even if you do not know of such seniors, getting friends or family to proofread your work can also provide valuable feedback on readability! Don’t share your Philosophy personal statement in case it gets plagiarised by someone else. Furthermore, starting early would be extremely helpful and you would be thankful when completing your applications. If you are finding yourself to be in a slump or having writer’s block, start by listing out all your experiences and interests, then create a separate list of good qualities of philosophy students, and finally a list of what the philosophy course at Cambridge is about. You can match your experiences and interests to the qualities and details of the course, and slowly flesh out paragraphs to start. Once you complete your draft, it would also be good to leave and come back to it a week later with a fresh mind.

Top 5 things to AVOID for your Cambridge Philosophy Personal Statement

1. sacrificing readability over conciseness.

It can be tempting, predominantly for a course such as Philosophy, to fill and embellish your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement with difficult vocabulary or unconventional words. However, if you are not used to such language, do not feel pressured to decorate your Cambridge personal statement with a fancy vocabulary. This is because when reading your personal statement, philosophy tutors may find it difficult to understand what you’re really trying to say. Imagine this– tutors would get through hundreds of applicants per day. Similarly to getting through articles or academic journals full of jargon you are unfamiliar with, it would be tough for tutors to focus on what you are trying to communicate if you use too difficult vocabulary. The first and foremost aim of your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement is for the reader to understand what you are trying to convey, and sometimes fancy vocabulary gets in the way of that. Prioritise conciseness and readability, and sometimes simple language, especially when you are trying to describe complex topics, is best for that!

2. Be afraid to admit that you don’t know something

You are going to university to learn and to study for the degree after all. Although it is a plus point for you to be well-read and thoughtful, Cambridge tutors definitely don’t expect 18 or 19 years old to know everything there is to know. In fact, admitting that you don’t know something, but still being able to apply first principles and logic to a foreign topic, could be advantageous to you. Tutors consider it impressive when they encounter a student who recognises the complexity and difficulty of philosophical issues.

3. Think that there is a right answer or a fixed answer to any problem

Especially in a course like philosophy, Cambridge tutors are looking for students who are able to have an open-minded view on things. For example, students who are able to challenge a well-respected or widely accepted view whilst displaying sound logic, or being able to defend a view in exceptional circumstances and grey areas, would be ideal candidates for the course. Try not to be fixed in your views, even if you strongly believe in something– you can have an opinion or belief in a topic or idea, but that also still leaves space for the understanding and acceptance of other views.

4. Writing an essay on a school of thought instead of a Cambridge personal statement

Especially for a course such as philosophy, when explaining a particular school of thought, you could end up writing a personal statement that looks like an argumentative essay instead. Remember to keep the focus of the Cambridge Philosophy personal statement– explaining why YOU are a good fit for the philosophy course at Cambridge. Cambridge admissions tutors would be familiar with any philosophy you are trying to explain, and they are not reading a textbook or to learn a new perspective on it– they are looking to learn about you.

5. Only expect to have one draft of your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement

Your first draft will never be your best draft. When planning your timeline for your Cambridge Philosophy personal statement, always factor in time to allow multiple drafts to be completed. It is also important to not leave it to the last minute. This is because it would show in the quality of your work, and tutors would be able to tell if it is rushed. Furthermore, you might miss out on relevant experiences because you were not able to remember them in time.

→What is a Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

A Cambridge Philosophy personal statement is a document that applicants to the University of Cambridge’s Philosophy program submit as part of their application. The personal statement allows applicants to showcase their academic background, relevant experiences, and motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge.

→What should I include in my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

Your personal statement should highlight your academic background and relevant experiences, as well as your motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. You should also demonstrate your critical thinking skills, ability to analyze complex issues, and passion for philosophical inquiry.

→What kind of experiences should I include in my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement?

You should include experiences that demonstrate your interest in and preparation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. This can include relevant coursework, research projects, internships, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities that showcase your passion for philosophical inquiry.

→How long should my Cambridge Philosophy personal statement be?

Cambridge University recommends that your personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters, or about 500 words. It is important to be concise and focus on the most relevant and compelling aspects of your experience and qualifications.

→What qualities are Cambridge Philosophy admissions looking for in applicants?

Cambridge Philosophy admissions are looking for applicants who demonstrate a strong academic record, critical thinking skills, creativity, and a genuine interest in philosophical inquiry. They also value experiences that demonstrate leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

→What is the interview process like for Cambridge Philosophy?

The interview process for Cambridge Philosophy typically involves a one-on-one interview with a faculty member or admissions officer. The interview will focus on your academic background, personal statement, and motivation for studying Philosophy at Cambridge. It may also include questions about your understanding of the field and your interest in specific areas of study.

→How important is the personal statement in the Cambridge Philosophy admissions process?

The personal statement is an important part of the Cambridge Philosophy admissions process, as it provides admissions officers with insights into your academic background, experiences, and motivation for studying Philosophy. It is an opportunity to showcase your unique perspective and strengths as an applicant.

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Philosophy Personal Statement Example

Sample statement.

Philosophy is one of the oldest, some might say the oldest, subjects in the world and studying it will give you the chance to ask some of life’s most important questions. If you’re applying to study Philosophy at university and you’re struggling with your personal statement, here is our example to give you a helping hand:

The world, and life, brings many important questions into our minds and I hope that studying Philosophy at a higher level will enable me to answer these questions clearly and logically.

From a young age I always asked a lot of “Why” questions and was very interested in how society works and why humans form certain belief systems and understandings about the world.

At A Level I was able to pick up the study of Psychology and Sociology which helped me to start to answer some of these questions and I hope that studying Philosophy at university will give me further insight into life’s many questions.

As well as achieving high academic standards I also felt it was important to have a good work ethic and learn more about society from a working person’s point of view. During my final years at school and throughout college I worked part time in a busy local restaurant.

Not only did this teach me valuable communication and teamwork skills but it also gave me a valuable insight into how people interact with each other. My part time work also gave me a sense of responsibility and taught me to use my own initiative when faced with challenging situations.

During the holidays I spent some time volunteering as a coach for my local under-10 football team, a sport that I have been passionate about since childhood. I thoroughly enjoy it and hope to volunteer with more youth organisations whilst studying at university.

After completing my degree in Philosophy I am considering a career in teaching. I look forward to the new challenges that life at university will bring and hope that studying will help me make concrete plans for the future.

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Writing Personal Statements for Graduate School

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Personal Statements

Preparing a well-written and effective personal statement (sometimes referred to as statements of purpose or personal essays) that clearly articulates your preparation, goals, and motivation for pursuing that specific graduate degree is critically important. You will need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in crafting these statements. The focus, structure, and length of personal statements vary from program to program. Some will have prompts or questions you need to answer, while others will leave the topic open-ended. The length varies widely as well. Read instructions carefully and make sure to adhere to all parameters laid out in the application guidelines.

Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. The first and most important task is to decide on a message. Consider carefully which two or three points you wish to impress upon the reader, remembering that your audience is composed of academics who are experts in their fields. Your statement should show that you are able to think logically and express your thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Remember that the reader already has a record of your activities and your transcript; avoid simply restating your resume and transcript. Writing your statement will take time; start early and give yourself more than enough time for revisions. If no prompts are given, you can use the questions below to begin brainstorming content to include in your statement; for more information, see our Writing Personal Statement presentation Prezi  and our three-minute video on Writing Personal Statements .

  • What experiences and academic preparation do you have that are relevant to the degree you’re seeking?
  • Why are you choosing to pursue a graduate degree at this time?
  • Why do you want to pursue this particular degree and how will this degree and the specific program fit into your career plans and your long-term goals?
  • What specific topics are you aiming to explore and what does the current literature say about those topics?

After you’ve written a first draft, start the work of editing, refining, simplifying, and polishing. Provide specific examples that will help illustrate your points and convey your interests, intentions, and motivations. Is any section, sentence, or word superfluous, ambiguous, apologetic, or awkward? Are your verbs strong and active? Have you removed most of the qualifiers? Are you sure that each activity or interest you mention supports one of your main ideas? Spelling and grammatical errors are inexcusable. Don’t rely on spell-check to catch all errors; read your statement aloud and have it reviewed by multiple people whose opinion you trust. If possible, have your statement reviewed by a writing tutor. For individual assistance with writing your personal statement, consult with the writing tutor in your residential college  or the Writing Center within the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning .

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How To Write A Personal Statement For Masters (17 PDF Sample Examples)

Published: 14 Mar 2022 Study Abroad 102,649 views

How To Write A Personal Statement For Masters (17 PDF Sample Examples)

A personal statement for masters program is one of the most important parts of your college application and writing a good one is what’s the exception between receiving an offer and being rejected.

If you’ve been tasked with presenting a personal statement, you should keep in mind that whatever you submit must put you forward as the right candidate for the course. Additionally, it should convince the admissions officers that you deserve a place on your program of study.

Achieving the above, is a skill most postgraduate students are yet to acquire but thankfully this article on How To Write A Personal Statement For Masters covers everything you need to know on doing this.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What is a personal statement?
  • Tips for making your personal statement for masters stand out
  • How to write a personal statement for masters
  • Personal statement for masters sample
  • Examples of personal statement for masters
  • Conclusion – things to avoid when writing a personal statement for masters

Read:  Admission Interview Tips .

What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement AKA admissions or application essay or statement of purpose is a type of essay or written statement a candidate presents to a college, university, or graduate school they are applying to, explaining why they want to attend that school, study a particular course, and why they would be a perfect fit for these things.

A personal statement for masters is an essay you submit specifically for your postgraduate application. Writing one presents the opportunity for you to promote yourself to a school and show the admissions teachers that you are the perfect candidate for a course.

Tips For Making Your Personal Statement For Masters Stand Out

Before we get into how you should write a statement of purpose for masters, we would first like to share with you certain tips to include in your essay to make it stand out from that of other applicants and be convincing enough to any admissions officer that reads it. The tips we have mentioned here, cover general things like starting and ending your personal statement, timing, length, and what to include and what not to include in the essay, etc.

1. Starting And Ending A Personal Statement

When starting a personal statement, you would want to right off the bat grab the reader’s attention. To do this, start the statement by writing about your degree of choice, next why you want to study it and then how you got interested in it.

The next 2 sentences after that should cover a summary of your background in the chosen field, and you conclude by saying what you plan to do once you acquire your graduate degree.

Also start with that the evaluators reading want to hear first, then every other information should come second. You will notice we’ve used in the sop examples for masters we will share with you later in this article.

2. Plan Ahead

A personal statement is not something you rush while writing, which means if you want to get something good before you application then you must start to decide things like the length and how long it should take to complete.

Let us throw more light on this…

For length, a personal statement should be brief ranging somewhere between 500 -700 words, although schools often detect how long it should be. So, this is dependent on the institution you are applying to.

In terms of what to say in a statement, you could include personal experiences like why you were driven to apply for the program, an experience you had with a scholar in your chosen discipline, a course you took that inspired you to pursue masters, or a key moment during your studies which further motivated you.

No matter what you decide to write, just keep in mind that you need to take your time to craft something good even if it means creating several drafts before the real thing and do not forget to proofread the statement for errors.

3. Research Your Program Of Study

Researching your program of study is one way to establish that you truly understand the discipline you’re getting into and prove to the admissions officer that you thoroughly thought about it before applying.

And because you want to put yourself forward as a serious candidate, one way to make you research easier is for you to visit the website of the department you are applying to. This page will contain information about faculty members, their specialisation, and publications.

From the intel, you gathered there you can now identify which professors match your interests and which ones you will benefit the most from learning under. After you’ve found this out, relate the same in a sentence or two in your statement of purpose for masters.

Example: “I would be honoured to study under the tutelage of Professor Nadia whose work I found resonated strongly with my beliefs and intended projects in this course”.

4. Avoid Clichés, Junks, And Many Details

When writing a statement of purpose for master degree try to avoid clichés, junks, and unnecessary details so that you don’t lose or bore your readers in between. Be as concise as possible, even if it’s your chance to express yourself.

A personal statement is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get information that tells the that you are suitable for the course. So, when you overpower your statement with too many words, stories, and useless details, you come off as someone who is just trying to meet the word count.

5. Include Your Personal History Only If It Adds To The Statement

Do not include your personal history in your statement of intent for masters if it is not relevant to your purpose of study. This means no need for you to tell that story about that time you helped someone treat a cut and immediately realised that you wanted to be a doctor or nurse or how you developed a taste for reading at a very young age.

We can guarantee you that the hundreds of other applications competing for the same spot you are felt the same way, so saying those things really doesn’t make you unique.

On the other hand, if you are going to add personal history to your statement, you can put in things like an internship you did and the experience you got from the job, a major research project you ran by yourself, publications you’ve read or published, conferences you’ve attended or presentations you’ve done. These experiences are more concrete and are directly related to your program of study. They also set you apart from other applicants.

6. Don't Use The Same Personal Statement For All Your Applications

One common mistake applicant make that you shouldn’t is using the same statement of purpose for master degree for all your applications. Using the same information repeatedly even if you are going to change the university names is risky and could land you in a big mistake on a day you forget to be thorough.

All programmes have their own unique set of questions they want to see answered and information they need in your personal statement.

And even if some of them like extracurricular activities, proposal for project, why you are applying to the school, your unique qualities, and research works you’re doing might appear the same, do not use one statement to respond to all of them.

Write a new unique personal statement every time you want to apply.

Check out:  How to Write a Good CV for Students - Resume Examples for Students (PDF).

How To Write A Personal Statement for Masters

When writing a personal statement for masters there are several steps and ground rules you need to follow to ensure that it comes out good enough to impress the admissions team of a school, and ultimately convince them to give you a spot on your program of study.

If writing one is something you are currently struggling with and can’t seem to get down the process of it right no matter what, this section on how to write a personal statement for masters, discusses in detail everything you need to get help with yours.

There are 4 parts to consider when writing your personal statement and we have listed them below:

1. Planning A Personal Statement

A personal statement is a piece of writing showing your academic interests and is only for application purposes which means there is no room for any autobiographical information in it about your personal life. Be as to-the-point as possible when writing it and stick to telling the school why you are the right person for the course, plus any other extra information detailing your achievements.

Before You Start:

Allot plenty of time to write your msc personal statement so that you don’t rush it. Remember, this simple piece of writing is your one shot at convincing a school that you are the best applicant they’ve seen and as such can either make or break your application.

Read the information expected of you from the university, rules and guidelines given, selection criteria and understand what they mean. Also research the institution.

Do a thorough research on the course you are applying for; this will help you explain better why you want to study it. The tutors interviewing you can tell when you are lying and presenting yourself as uninformed can cost you the admission.

Ensure that you don’t use the same personal statement for all your applications.

When Writing:

When writing the statement there are some questions to ask yourself that can help you plan it better. Those questions are:

  • Why you want to study a master’s and how does it benefit you in future?
  • How does the course you have chosen fit into your pre-existing skill set?
  • How do you stand out from the crowd as an applicant - e.g., work experiences you’ve had in the same field you are applying for?
  • What do you aspire to do or be as a future career and how will the course help you achieve that?
  • How can your work or skillsets contribute positively to the department/ university you are applying to, or society at large?

On the other hand, if you are applying for the masters to change from the field you studied in your undergraduate to another field, you should tell the school why you decided to take a different path in your studies.

Questions to ask yourself for this include:

  • Your reason for deciding to change your discipline.
  • How your undergraduate degree will be material for bringing fresh insights into your masters course.
  • How changing your study path will help you attain your future career.

2. Structuring A Personal Statement

Having good structure for your personal statement for master degree is important because it ensures that everything from the beginning, middle, and ending of the statement is written and equally falls in place perfectly.

We’ve left some tips for you below to help you:

Start your personal statement with an attention-grabbing introduction that is not dramatic or cliché. That means you should not begin with any of these over-used phrases we’ve listed out below:

For as long as I remember…

Since my childhood…

I want to apply to this course because I’ve always felt a strong connection to it…

All my life, I have always loved…

My interest in (course) always ran deeper than…

I’ve always been zealous about…

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in…

My past educational experiences have always…

You would want to be as snappy as possible with your opening because the admission officer has over a hundred applications to read and can’t waste all their time on yours. This means you should avoid overpowering it with unnecessary facts, quotes, and stories from your life.

The middle part of your ma personal statement is where the main content of the write-up should be. This is where you show your dedication to the course you’ve chosen, what motivated you to choose it, and why you are the right candidate for it.

When writing the middle part of a graduate personal statement, you should:  

  • Give concrete reasons why you want to study a course at the University. The reason could be because of how the course is aligned to your future career or the University’s reputation in teaching that program.
  • Mention relevant things like projects, dissertations, or essays you’ve done, and any work experience you have.
  • Show proof of your core skills like and how they can contribute to the department.
  • Prove what makes you a unique candidate.
  • Discuss who your main influences for wanting to study the course are and why.
  • Add experiences like memberships to clubs that are related to your field, papers you’ve written before, awards, scholarships, or prizes.
  • Draw focus to how the course links to your past and future.
  • Mention your academic and non-academic skills and how they fit the course.

For Formatting:

  • Keep the statement length between 250 -500 words or as directed by the school.
  • Sentences should be no more than 25-30 words.
  • Use headings to break up the content – Why this university? Why this subject? Etc.
  • Make claims and provide evidence to back each of them up. This can be done by discussing your work experience and academic interests.

Language and tone to use:     

  • The tone for your masters application personal statement should be positive and enthusiastic, to show you eagerness to learn and so that you convince the evaluators that you have what it takes to succeed.
  • Use exciting and refreshing language, and an engaging opening line.
  • Ensure you grammar, punctuations, and spellings are accurate.
  • Avoid exaggerated claims you cannot backup.
  • Don’t use cliché generic terms and keep your focus on the course.

Keep the ending of your essay for master degree application concise and memorable, leaving no doubt in the admission officers mind that you deserve a spot on the program.

To create the best ending summarise all your key points without dragging it our or repeating yourself. The ending should be simple, end on a positive note and make it clear that the school will be lucky to have you on their program.

Personal Statement for Masters Sample

In this section, we have left a masters personal statement example for you, which you can use as material to write yours for any course of study you are applying to a school for.

Personal Statement PDF

You can also download this statement of purpose sample for masters degree pdf here and take your time to read it later – Personal Statement For Masters Sample .

See Also:  Student CV Template .

Examples of Personal Statement for Masters

We have taken the time to source for some of the best postgraduate personal statement examples, which you can use in addition to the personal statement for masters program example as a template to write yours.

While you scroll through our list, you will find the perfect masters essay example for any field you wish to apply for, from business administration, to Psychology, to information technology, and lots more.

1. msw personal statement

We have found one of the best msw personal statement examples out there for you.

social work masters personal statement .  

2. personal statement for masters in public health

mph personal statement examples

3. personal statement for masters in management

Personal statement for master degree sample for masters in management .  , 4. personal statement for masters in education example.

personal statement for masters in education example

5. psychology masters personal statement

psychology masters personal statement example

6. sample personal statement for masters in data science data science masters personal statement

7. speech and language therapy personal statement statement of purpose for masters sample: speech and language therapy

8. business administration personal statement personal statement for masters in business administration

9. personal statement for masters in cyber security pdf masters degree personal statement examples for cyber security

10. personal statement for masters in finance msc finance personal statement examples

11. statement of purpose for masters in information technology pdf msc personal statement examples for information technology

12. international development personal statement statement of purpose for masters example

13. msc international business management personal statement international business management personal statement examples

14. computer science masters personal statement

statement of purpose for masters in computer science pdf

15. personal statement for masters in economics statement of purpose sample for masters degree in economics

16. mha personal statement statement of purpose format for masters in health administration    

Conclusion – Things to Avoid When Writing A Personal Statement For Masters When writing a personal statement for university masters, there are some things you should avoid, so that you don’t ruin your essay. We have listed out those things below: •    Avoid negativity. •    Following an online template blindly. •    Do not include unnecessary course modules, personal facts, or extra-curricular activities in your personal statement. •    Do not lie or exaggerate an achievement or event. •    Do not include inspirational quotes to your statement. •    Avoid using clichés, gimmicks, humour, over-used word such as 'passion' or ‘driven’. •    Do not make pleading statements. •    Avoid mentioning key authors or professors in your field without any explanation. •    Avoid using sentences that are too long. •    Avoid flattering the organisation or using patronising terms. •    Do not repeat information in your statement that you have already listed in your application. •    Avoid waffling i.e., writing at length. •    Don’t start writing your personal statement at the last minute.  

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How to Write a Good Personal Statement for a Scholarship ( 7 PDF Sample Examples).

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101 Personal Philosophy Examples (Copy and Paste Ideas)

personal philosophy examples and definition, explained below

Personal philosophy refers to an individual’s foundational beliefs, values, and attitudes that guide his or her perspectives, decisions, and behaviors (Covey, 1989).

These integral elements of a person’s philosophy often shape and mold their characters, propelling them through life with their distinct take on existence, perspectives on truth, and individual ethos (Prior, 2015).

Our personal philosophy is based on our core values (aka terminal values ), which are those things that we hold most dear and that are fundamental to our personality and character.

Consider the case of Steve Jobs (2011), Apple’s co-founder, whose personal philosophy was famously rooted in Zen Buddhism with an unwavering belief in intuition . His philosophy was delineated by his renowned quote at Stanford University: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

This dictum underscores Jobs’s individual belief system , his viewpoint of success, and the guiding principles for his life’s work . Evidently illustrating how personal philosophy is both a driving force and a beacon of direction in an individual’s life.

Personal Philosophy Examples

Famous people’s personal philosophies, 1. steve jobs.

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

As noted above, the co-founder of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs, was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism. Besides the quote I already gave, Jobs would often quote another one based on Buddhism: “Stay hungry, Stay Foolish”. This idea underscores the importance of continuously seeking knowledge and not being afraid to take risks. Jobs delivered this philosophy in his famous commencement address at Stanford University in 2005 (Jobs, 2005). This personal mantra shaped his pioneering innovations that revolutionized communication and technology.

2. Bill Gates

“Be Patient”

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, emphasizes patience as a key defining feature of his philosophy. He believes that change operates on a longer timeframe than we may initially anticipate and that great works take time (Gates, 2013). This philosophy saturates Gates’s philanthropy efforts, where his focus primarily lies in long-term, foundational improvements to global health and education. 

3. Richard Branson

“Screw it, let’s do it”

The flamboyant entrepreneur Richard Branson lives by his guiding philosophy of “Screw it, let’s do it”. This mantra reflects his belief in jumping at opportunities even when the outcome may be unknown (Branson, 2012). Branson’s multi-industry success with his Virgin brand is a testament to his willingness to defy conventional wisdom through his adventurous business ventures. 

4. Maya Angelo

“When people show you who they are, believe them”

The acclaimed poet Maya Angelou deeply held onto the philosophy “When people show you who they are, believe them”. This philosophy emphasizes the importance of understanding people’s character based on their actions rather than their words (Angelou, 2013). Angelou’s insightful poetry and autobiographies often encompass the theme of human nature and the importance of personal integrity.

5. Jeff Bezos

“It’s better to invent than to copy”

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, thrives on his philosophy “It’s better to invent than to copy”. He believes in the power of originality and innovation instead of conforming to conventional paths (Bezos, 2016). This belief has been implemented into Amazon’s corporate culture which revolves around exploration and inventiveness.

6. Mark Zuckerberg

“Move fast and break things”

Co-founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, follows the philosophy “Move fast and break things”. This mantra represents his focus on rapid innovation, even if it means making mistakes along the way (Zuckerberg, 2012). It captures the essence of Facebook’s initial growth strategy and its determination to push the boundaries of technological progress.

7. Oprah Winfrey

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”

Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul, ascribes to the philosophy “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”. Her philosophy encourages people to strive for their aspirations despite potential obstacles (Winfrey, 2014). As a beloved television host and philanthropist, she exemplifies the philosophy through her career trajectory rising from poverty to become one of the most influential women in the world.

8. Einstein

“Imagination is everything”

Much of Albert Einstein’s philosophy can be contained in the quote “Imagination is everything”. He held that imaginative thought was more crucial than detailed knowledge as it leads to innovation and progress (Einstein, 2011). This philosophy was a driving force behind his ground-breaking physics discoveries, reinforcing the power of imaginative intelligence.

9. Nelson Mandela

“I never lose. I either win or learn”

The first black President of South Africa and anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela, maintained the philosophy “I never lose. I either win or learn”. This greatly shaped his attitude towards persisting in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds during the fight for racial equality (Mandela, 2010). It also underscores Mandela’s belief in the value of learning from adversity rather than viewing it as a failure.

10. Walt Disney

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”

Walt Disney, the pioneer of the American animation industry, adamantly believed in the motto “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”. This philosophy emphasizes the power of determination and bravery in the realization of one’s dreams. It resonates throughout Disney’s legacy of imaginative storytelling and innovative moviemaking.

Personal Philosophy Ideas

1. Have a Growth Mindset Life is a continuous learning experience and challenges are our greatest teachers. Embracing this philosophy means perceiving setbacks as opportunities to grow, not as insurmountable barriers.”

2. Pursue Knowledge “The essence of human progress lies in the relentless pursuit of knowledge. To follow this philosophy, one must bear an insatiable thirst for learning, always seeking to expand their intellectual horizons.”

3. Respect for All Living Things “My philosophy is rooted in a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life forms. Respect should not be exclusive to humanity but extended to every living organism, acknowledging the vital role it plays in Earth’s ecosystem.”

4. Keep an Open Mind “Life’s richest opportunities often sprout from seeds of difference. By practicing an open mind, one positions themselves for growth, improvement, and innovation borne of diverse ideas and opinions.”

5. Seek to Understand Before being Understood “Understanding generates empathy and in a world rife with divisive language and behavior, empathy is paramount. This philosophy beckons us to listen actively , to engage genuinely in the dialogue of life.

6. Pursuit of Personal Freedom “Freedom is not simply the absence of captivity; it is the robust expression of one’s identity and the power to make choices. To chase personal freedom is to relentlessly pursue self-determination and personal authenticity.”

7. Gratitude is the Key to Happiness “Happiness does not depend on the grandeur of our possessions, but on the depth of our gratitude. This philosophy teaches us to express sincere gratitude for our blessings, even the most inconspicuous ones.”

8. Trust but Verify “Trust plays a linchpin role in cultivating genuine relationships. However, maintaining a level of discernment, “to trust but verify,” keeps us on a solid footing, fusing trust with pragmatism.”

9. Live in the Moment “Amidst the hustle of life, we often forget to live in the present. Appreciating the current moment, absorbing its raw reality, is essential to experiencing life in its purest form.”

10. Integrity is Non-Negotiable “Integrity is my immovable cornerstone, the compass guiding my every interaction. It is a commitment to remain honest and ethical, even in the face of adversity or temptation.”

11. Everyone Has Something to Teach You “From the janitor sweeping the floor to the professor delivering a lecture, everyone has valuable knowledge to share. Being open to learn from all encounters magnifies our wisdom and cultivates humility.”

12. Humility Goes a Long Way “Regardless of my accomplishments or social standing, humility is my chosen companion. It keeps my ego in check and fosters genuine connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

13. Don’t Let Fear of Failure Hold You Back “Rather than a crippling force, I regard fear of failure as a stepping stone towards success. It is a philosophy that encourages me to take risks, embracing failures as poignant life lessons.”

14. Aim to be Better, not Perfect “Striving for perfection imprisons us in a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, aiming to improve incrementally, to be better today than yesterday, leads to wholesome progress and contentment.”

15. Be Responsible and Reliable “Responsibility and reliability are the pivot upon which successful relationships rotate. By upholding these virtues, I become a dependable ally and an accountable human being.”

Read Also: Personal Mission Statement Examples

Complete List of 101 Personal Philosophies for the Taking

  • Pursuit of knowledge.
  • Respect for all living things.
  • Strive for balance in all areas of life.
  • Always be curious and open-minded.
  • Seek to understand before being understood.
  • Focus on continual self-improvement.
  • Kindness above all.
  • Embrace change and adaptability.
  • Pursuit of personal freedom.
  • Respect and value diversity.
  • Gratitude is the key to happiness.
  • Life is about experiences, not possessions.
  • Emphasize compassion and empathy.
  • Encourage collaboration and teamwork.
  • Strive for sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  • Find joy in simplicity.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Practice mindfulness and be present.
  • Encourage creativity and original thinking.
  • Integrity is non-negotiable.
  • Practice patience and forgiveness.
  • Everyone has something to teach you.
  • Believe in the power of positivity.
  • Health is wealth.
  • Promote honesty and transparency.
  • Courage in the face of adversity.
  • Embrace life’s imperfections.
  • Foster a community spirit.
  • Make decisions out of love, not fear.
  • Humility goes a long way.
  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Prioritize mental health.
  • Respect personal boundaries.
  • Promote freedom of expression.
  • Stand up against injustice.
  • Cultivate resilience.
  • Seek truth in all things.
  • Be a lifelong learner.
  • Encourage innovation and new ideas.
  • Work smarter, not harder.
  • Find value in every situation, good or bad.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Growth comes from stepping out of your comfort zone.
  • Maintain work-life balance.
  • Love unconditionally.
  • Celebrate every success, no matter how small.
  • Prioritize personal relationships.
  • Embrace vulnerability .
  • Keep an open heart and mind.
  • Regular self-reflection leads to personal growth .
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection.
  • Find and follow your passion.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Value the process, not just the outcome.
  • Believe in the power of kindness.
  • Embrace and learn from failures.
  • Always be humble and grounded.
  • Be a problem solver, not a complainer.
  • Choose peace over conflict.
  • Create more than you consume.
  • Advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.
  • Leave things better than you found them.
  • Believe in the power of unity.
  • Invest in personal growth.
  • Embrace diversity and inclusivity.
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Prioritize authenticity over popularity.
  • Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.
  • Keep a healthy sense of humor.
  • Encourage and support others.
  • Embrace lifelong learning .
  • Be patient and persistent.
  • Invest in relationships.
  • Do what makes you happy.
  • Value people over things.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Stand up for what you believe in.
  • Remain open-minded.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • Aim to be better, not perfect.
  • Always tell the truth.
  • Help others when you can.
  • Stay grounded in the present moment.
  • Prioritize self-care.
  • Cultivate inner peace.
  • Be responsible and reliable.
  • Strive for equality.
  • Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it.
  • Make every day meaningful.
  • Aim to inspire others.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Live with integrity.
  • Make the world a better place.
  • Don’t take life too seriously.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Embrace change as a part of life.
  • Celebrate individuality.
  • Keep a curious mind.
  • Live in alignment with your values.
  • Be your own biggest fan.

Writing down your own personal philosophy is an excellent exercise in helping you to clarify your core values, moral values , and goals in life. I’d recommend trying to narrow them down to three or four or five. Then use the five Why’s strategy to zoom-in on why you have this philosophy: what is is at your core that guides your personal philosophy? Those core things at the end of the ‘why’ chain is your set of terminal values, and they represent who you are. It’s important to have this at the heart of all our actions so we live a life of integrity.

Furthermore, it’s worthwhile re-examining your core values every six months. They change over time as we mature and our lives change and our priorities shift .

Angelou, M. (2013). The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations . New York: Penguin.

Bezos, J. (2016). Re: 2016 Shareholder Letter. seccdn.com.

Branson, R. (2012). Screw it, Let’s do it – Lessons in Life . London: Virgin.

Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: restoring the character ethic . New York: Simon and Schuster.

Einstein, A. (2011). The Ultimate Quotable Einstein. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Gates, B. (2013). Gates Notes: The Blog of Bill Gates . gatesnotes.com.

Jobs, S. (2005). Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address . Stanford News.

Mandela, N. (2010). Conversations with Myself . London: Macmillan London Ltd.

Prior, A. (2015). Pursuing Eudaimonia: Re-appropriating the Greek Philosophical Foundations of the Christian Apophatic Tradition . Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Winfrey, O. (2014). What I Know for Sure. Chicago: Flatiron Books.

Zuckerberg, M. (2012 ). Zuckerberg’s Letter to Investors: ‘The Hacker Way’ .


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ Social-Emotional Learning (Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons)
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PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE Psychology and Philosophy Personal Statement

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Psychology and Philosophy Personal Statement

For centuries humanity has pondered the definitions of truth and falsehood. For many, the truth is simply common sense, which Descartes described in “Discourse on Method” as something which everybody b lieves they are already well endowed with. The fault, he later points out, lies in the wide belief that persuasion and perception, two tools of common sense, can never deceive us – a belief which I am certain Psychology, Philosophy and Language Sciences repeatedly disprove. Such varied perspectives on the issue of reliability intrigue me no end, and I wish to study them further at university. Studying the IB has helped me to find the different viewpoints on the issue of reliability, which learning many subjects simultaneously can provide. In my Extended Essay “Is Seeing Believing?”, I combined my study of Biology, Psychology and Epistemology to research why sight is not always trustworthy. For example, if our eyes are so complex, why are they easily fooled by the likes of Hering’s optical illusion? Why do we trust most what we have seen for ourselves, when psychologist Neisser’s investigations into flash bulb memories (1982) show that over time, even our sharpest memories can change significantly? And if anything is to be learnt from ideas like Phrenology, could not what is accepted fact today become superseded theory tomorrow? A refusal to accept the easy answer is a quality I have often been commended for, and will certainly utilise on these courses.

Another fascinating idea on reliability is how easily swayed common sense can be through the art of persuasion. I believe this is a key concept in linguistics, especially in speech-giving, which I have a keen interest in. During a recent ESU Public Speaking Regional Final, in which I placed second, I considered how the most convincing speakers were the ones whom people thought adhered the most to common sense. This concurs with Descartes’ aforementioned beliefs on the subject – that, as an old proverb puts it, “the first to speak in court sounds right until the cross-examination begins”. Then it is revealed that it is how speakers orate, as opposed to the “common sense” in their speech, that creates a persuasive argument. Inspired by the idea that much of what we believe to be common sense is in fact misconstrued, I investigated the true reliability of memory. I reconstructed Bransford & Johnson’s research study on the Schematic Effect on Memory (1972) with Bath University’s ‘On Track’ scheme. I learned how past knowledge can heavily influence new information, which is arguably why we find it so hard to get rid of pre-conceived stereotypes. Understanding how harmful stereotypes can be then motivated me to develop and lead a community project de-constructing anti-religious stereotypes. This developed my organisational, fundraising and teamwork skills. I thoroughly enjoyed studying English on a UCL Summer School; by the end of it, not only had I learnt vital lessons on in-depth literary analysis and writing critically, I had also received the “Best Contribution to the English Strand” Award. I also took part in last year’s international Student Robotics competition, which taught me skills in logical and systematic analysis – useful in Philosophy and scientific evaluation. In addition, I gained a Nuffield Placement with a biomedical research team at Bristol University. I used computer software to analyse how research processes work, and regularly fed back to the researchers, which earned me a Gold Crest Award and a small influence in the researching world, as well as some great report-writing experience.

My experiences overall have shown me that the constant fluidity of humanity guarantees infinite study material for “people scientists” like myself. The endless potential these combined subjects provide excites me greatly, and I believe the skills I have learnt in the last two years are but a foundation upon which my time at university will build; I cannot wait to get started.

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Maths and philosophy personal statement example 1.

I believe that there are two ways to look at how the world develops: the first is through the progress of history and human civilisation, and the second is through the progress of knowledge and human understanding. The two are intensely interlinked, and I am and always have been passionately interested in both. In addition to maths, cosmology and philosophy, I also devote much of my time to pursuing my love of history and current affairs.

I have read widely in these subjects, but have ultimately decided that my abilities and interests are best focused in the study of mathematics and philosophy, in order that I may be able to increase my understanding of the universe we live in so that I can perhaps contribute to its future. Over the last couple of years I have regularly read New Scientist (and the Economist), and occasionally copies of Nature and the BMJ. I have always read the newspapers and books on science, history and politics; I have been to political party conferences as an observer, participated in debating all through school and spent time in the medical world both on work experience and with my parents.

In my own time, I enjoy swimming, walking and climbing. I work part-time as an office junior for a local independent financial advisor and have a babysitting business. I love working with children and seeing their minds develop - two of the children I look after were unable to speak English when they arrived in this country, and I have really enjoyed watching and helping both their linguistic and mathematical abilities develop. This has made me realise that maths above all things is something that can be universally understood.

I am also lucky enough attend one-to-one tutorials once a week at Glasgow University, and have done so since September 2002. There is no set course: I have covered some number theory, fields, complex numbers, quaternions and octonians, but, more importantly, I have gained a basic understanding of proof and mathematical arguments. The tutorials have been an inspiration in that I have discovered ideas and a way of thinking which I did not know was possible and which I am extremely excited by. It is this that has really attracted me to studying both maths and philosophy at university; I really love the process of arguments and proofs and I am eager to pursue this interest, wherever it may take me. My personal study of some of the early Greek philosophy - such as Plato's Republic, which I particularly enjoyed - has only served to make me more certain of my decision.

Studying at university is something I have looked forward to for a very long time, but what to study has been a difficult decision as I find it almost impossible to focus on a career. Ultimately I have chosen, as I have always done, based on my own interests and passion for learning. I hope that if I am able to study the 'language' of maths along with the process of philosophy, I will be ableto develop myself and my thinking in order that I may take my place in the world.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by mussed for application in 2004.

mussed's university choices Oxford University University of Bristol The University of Warwick University of Bath The University of Durham The University of York

Green : offer made Red : no offer made

mussed's Comments

First, I'm from Scotland, so I sat S Grades not GCSES, and got 1s rather than A*s; I did Highers and Advanced Highers instead of ASs and A2s, and didn't have room on the form to put in this year's Chemistry Higher. Just to clarify.

You may notice that my personal statement does not have the obligatory paragraph saying "I am a Prefect and a Sgt in the cadets and captain of debating and..." I was all these things, but decided that they were not relevant to the future and really not as important to me as the learning aspect of a degree. The school were not happy about that (!) but to be honest, my only advice is to be true to who you are and where your interests lie: this is true to me, and I got six offers, so I feel quite happy with it; really, though, it's personal, so write what you want rather than following the formula. At least it will stand out! *g*

Related Personal Statements

Two words absolutely.

Tue, 20/09/2005 - 00:00

two words absolutely fantastic.

Wed, 21/09/2005 - 00:00

Does anybody else feel

Sun, 25/09/2005 - 00:00

Does anybody else feel intellectually inferior?!

inferior is not the word!!

Tue, 05/09/2006 - 00:00

inferior is not the word!! people that are like this want to make us look bad i thought i was having problems before but now well...

Thu, 14/09/2006 - 00:00

Judging by your results you deserve all 6 offers. I was just confused by one thing.. Your A levels say that you didn't do maths or philosophy, hence how did you get into oxford if you didn't do maths at A level?

Thu, 28/09/2006 - 16:05

The last comment says you didnt do maths? How did you get in, I really want to know

I understood everything. I

Mon, 05/03/2007 - 19:59

I understood everything. I mean, PS is not written in complicated way and there is no arrogance in her words. Bravo!

Fri, 29/06/2007 - 09:16

your personal statement is truly impressive, very well structured and balanced in your activities,

simply brillant

Mon, 16/06/2008 - 21:03

i'm guessing, but oxford

Sat, 19/07/2008 - 19:33

i'm guessing, but oxford might have accepted her without mathematics A level because of the mathematics tutorials which she attended at glasgow. They sound far more valuble than just following the fumulaic maths a level sylabus, and oxford would value real university maths experience over the A level, which doesn't prepare you for the rigorous proofs involved in uni maths. Excellent ps btw.

Being an Admissions officer

Thu, 11/09/2008 - 20:47

Being an Admissions officer for the University of Oxford I believe it got through due to one, and only one reason:

It's passion to strive through the integral facilitated components of integration and differentiation of simple functions etc.

well written, i like the tone

Tue, 04/11/2008 - 19:26

well written, i like the tone portrayed however i do think at times you need to cut wording down and make things more direct. i have written my PS for maths and philosophy too, might well put it up on here.

I love it! And thanks for the

Wed, 15/06/2011 - 09:54

I love it! And thanks for the advice.


Thu, 15/12/2011 - 20:18

It was a real pleasure reading this PS! The best one in this site so far.

Good luck finding you place in the world!

Add new comment


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