Writing a Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement is a necessity when applying to graduate or professional school. The format, length, and topic will vary according to academic discipline and program type, but there are some general guidelines you can follow.

Identify Resources: Find useful online resources such as those available on the Purdue OWL website to help you draft your essay(s) and review samples. Seek additional program-specific guidelines when available, like the ones offered through the MSU Pre-Health Advising office and information on writing personal statements for medical school for those applying to health professional programs.

Determine Your Message: Avoid writing a generic statement. Develop a well written essay that conveys your knowledge and maturity, shows your sincere interest in the academic discipline, and draws a connection between what they are looking for and what you have to offer. Make sure your message clearly states why that particular program is right for you.

Review Before Submitting: Follow up with your career advisor, academic advisor, professional mentor, and/or a representative from the MSU Writing Center to help you refine your essay(s) before submitting. Constructing a personal statement takes time; plan to write, edit, and rewrite several times before landing on the final product.


  • Tailor your statement to each program or school
  • Make sure to answer the question or prompt
  • Stick to the guidelines provided for length, format, etc.
  • Follow a traditional essay format with an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Find a compelling angle or hook to tell your story
  • Provide strong examples to support your claims
  • Emphasize what is unique, distinctive, or impressive about you
  • Be positive and sincere Avoid using general or obvious statements and cliches
  • Thoroughly check your spelling, grammar, and overall quality of writing

*Duplicate information available in attached resource.

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