How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School

Of all the application requirements writing a personal statement for graduate school is where you're able to express your intentions.

So make it count. It’s nothing to fear. Let's review important things to do and not do in writing your personal essay.

Applying to graduate school, master's in healthcare programs included, are fairly typical. A resume, letter(s) of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and official transcripts are the four documents students will need to apply.

After you write your resume, request your transcripts, and request letters of recommendation, the essential ingredients, you're ready to put the icing on the cake.

How to Write a Statement of Intent

The goal of your statement is to inform the admissions committee why you’re the ideal person for their program.

How do I know if i'm the right person?

Every master's program has specific requirements such as grade point average, or years of professional experience, that schools use to qualify student's.

Whether the essay prompt is detailed or concise, we need to know what the program is looking for to demonstrate our aptitude and drive. Before you apply, let's discuss a few common prompts and how to approach them strategically.

Why do you want to enroll?

Every master's program has specific outcomes. You've decided to apply to graduate school because the outcomes align with your professional goals.

In this section it is important to highlight the areas of greatest interest to you, what kinds of skills you’re looking to build, and how those skills will enable you to achieve strategic goals for your organization and career.

  • What you plan to do with the degree after earning it?
  • Why does this degree appeal to you?
  • Why does this program specifically, or this university appeal to you?

If you're applying to multiple programs, each statement should be presented in a tailored, non-generic manner personalized to the specific institution.

Share your experience

When you're communicating why you wish to complete an advanced degree, its important to use both experience and passion to convey your message.

Professional experience should be used to accent your plans after graduation, your decision to apply, and how it uniquely qualifies you for the program.

Professional experience includes but is not limited to: personal achievements, challenging situations, strategic decisions, and leadership roles you held or hold.

Writing Your Personal Essay

Aside from your goals and experience, a statement of purpose also demonstrates your writing skills, an indicator of ability to complete assignments.

Five Steps

1. Brainstorm

With the degree outcomes and application requirements in mind, start a brainstorming session. Think about how a master's will advance your career.

Then, collect highlights from your education, professional training and work experience to validate how the program will accelerate your career.

If you're applying to an executive-level master's program, limit your experiences to your professional roles. Professional context is more relevant to executive degrees.

Note, projects you've lead, honors you received, current events or trends that you want to discuss, and faculty you're interested in working with.

When discussing weaknesses, frame them positively. Here's an example: a physician looking to start a group medical practice might say, "healthcare accounting will allow me to take an active leadership role in risk management."

2. Organize your Content

You don't need to be a natural storyteller to demonstrate your ability to write a logical and compelling statement of intent.

Take your ideas and prepare an outline. If the program has a detailed statement of intent, proceed according to their directions. If the personal statement is open-ended, lead with your reason(s) for applying to this specific program.

Use the remaining one or two pages to support your statement with professional experience that align with the application requirements.

3. Write your First Draft

This version does not need to be perfect.

Its important that you get the main sections of your essay down. Then connect the ideas as you've outlined them. Lastly, ensure the structure follows logically.

Once you have a first draft that states and supports your reason for applying, you can begin the editing process (adding, deleting and refining).

4. Get Feedback

When you're happy with your first draft, show it to people you trust and whose opinion you respect: colleagues, friends, family, or mentors. Getting feedback from professionals inside your industry is preferable.

5. Polish and Submit

Once you've incorporated the feedback of professionals its time to make the adjustments and prepare your application.

  • Does your statement deliver the message you want?
  • Does your paper read smoothly?
  • Does your essay conform to the school's guidelines?
  • Is your article free of grammatical errors?


If there isn’t a word or character limit, err on the side of concision. Use as many words (500-1000) as you need to convey your message and demonstrate character.

Written by Frank Farrar