Writing a Statement of Purpose for Graduate Students

Writing your statement of purpose is the perfect opportunity to provide a holistic view of who you are by sharing your accomplishments, values and goals. Bring your story to life by showcasing how you will be a good fit for Elmhurst and how your graduate program will help you advance in your professional career.

What Is a Statement of Purpose?

A statement of purpose or personal statement is typically a 1-2-page, single-spaced narrative in the first person explaining why an applicant wants to go into a particular profession and what life experiences shaped their development. It is not the same as a resume or cover letter. Select graduate programs require responses to specific prompts while others do not.

Programs with specific prompts:

For statements without prompts:

  • Tell your story.
  • Explain your fit and readiness for your current and/or desired profession. Explain what has led you to pursue this advanced degree and what interests you most about this program.
  • Describe your values and goals.

Quick Tips

  • Start writing early!
  • Have your drafts reviewed. Use your best judgment on what feedback to incorporate.
  • Be aware of your tone. Avoid hypercorrection so that your language is genuine and natural but not too casual that it comes across as unprofessional.
  • Use precise and clear language so stories and examples are clear to the reader.
  • Make the essay personal to you. Write about you, your experiences, and your insights rather than other people.
  • Use examples to “show” your audience what you did rather than “tell” them.
  • Answer all parts of the prompt as directed. Be mindful of character, word, and document-size limits.
  • Highlight key experiences rather than repeating everything covered in your application or on your resume in the essay.

Starting the Writing Process

To begin your first draft, you can use the application prompt(s) or the questions below to generate your initial topics. If you have writer’s block, it may help to try freewriting. Be patient with yourself. A strong personal statement takes time to come together and most applicants write several drafts before submitting their application.

  • What motivates you to pursue this field?
  • What have you observed or learned from your professional experiences that excites you in pursuing this new degree or program?
  • How would this field fit your goals/values?
  • Describe a meaningful life experience that influenced your interest in the field or your professional goals.
  • What challenges have you overcome along your vocational journey? How have you grown as a person?


How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School

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