Personal and Teaching Statements

This page offers some guidelines for writing personal statements and teaching statements.

Guidelines for Writing a Personal Statement

A personal statement is, in fact, a research statement. You need to follow a certain structure or at least provide certain information. Try to keep it short - only one or two pages - since you are sending it to a very busy person! Try to avoid describing what you did as a child. Most academics are not interested, so including this information would most likely only hurt your application.

1st Paragraph

Describe the area of research that interests you and why. If you have already done some research work in this area, be sure to mention it. Also, explain why you think you are suitable for this area. You may also describe competitions in the area that you have done well in and special academic attainments. For example, a double major in mathematics and computer science probably set you apart from students who only studied computer science. If you have nothing special to say, then just mention briefly how you came to choose this area.

2nd Paragraph

Describe research programs you have worked on (one paragraph per program.)

  1. What did you find?
  2. What did you learn?
  3. What approaches did you try?
  4. Did these approaches work or not?

3rd Paragraph

Explain why you feel you need a Masters degree or PhD.

4th Paragraph

Tell the reader why you want to go to that particular university. Make it easy for them:

  1. If you want to work with a particular person or persons tell them who you want to work with and why.
  2. If you want to work in a particular area, tell them why you want to work in that area in their university.
  3. If there is no particular person you want to work with or particular area you want to work in, explain why you would like to join their program.

5th Paragraph

You can also state what papers you have read from that university and what you enjoyed about them or how they inspired you. Lastly, tell them what you hope to gain from their university.

After you write a draft of your statement, please send it to your communication tutor for copy editing.

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