Preparing a Personal Statement for a Masters Programme

Original Editor - Kim Cusack Top Contributors -

When Will You Be Asked to Submit a Personal Statement?[edit | edit source]

You will more than likely be asked to prepare and submit a Personal Statement during an application for a taught or research postgraduate course such as a Masters.

Why is a Personal Statement important?[edit | edit source]

It is one of the ways in which those offering the Masters course will judge your commitment to the area of study. For some Masters courses it will be one of the main methods used, whilst in others it may be used as a preliminary assessment of suitability, which will be followed by an interview.

Important Points to Include in a Personal Statement[edit | edit source]

  1. Why you want to undertake the Masters course
    Try to show your enthusiasm and eagerness for study or research. Don't write what you think those reading want to hear, instead write your real reasons and motivations for choosing the Masters course.
  2. The elements of the course, which are of particular interest to you, for example a placement opportunity, practical experience, specialist modules or a specific research opportunity?
    Be clear about why your reasons for choosing this particular Masters course. Is this course known for a particular speciality? When did you become interested in this area and what experience and insights have you gained thus far? How have you learned about this area i.e through lectures, talks, placements or conversations with academic staff?
  3. Your reasons for wanting to study at a particular university
    Are there specific academic staff you want to do research or study with? Is this university acclaimed for a certain area of research?
  4. The previous practical or academic experience you may have already undertaken which either indicates your interest in the area of study?
    Illustrate the lengths you have gone to, to gain knowledge and experience in the area. Show that this is not a rash decision.
  5. What personal skills can you offer?
    Show how your strengths may facilitate you in pursuing this course. In what ways are you better than other applicants? If you can't answer this question, don't expect the selectors to answer it for you! Mention skills and attributes have acquired both academically and personally e.g. teamwork, communication, working under pressure. Overcoming of any obstacles in life may show evidence of determination and resilience. But also, don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses and areas you want to improve upon in doing this area of study/research.
  6. What skills you have you learned in your undergraduate degree which will enable you to make this transition and be successful in your chosen course or research area?
    Point out any circumstances that may have effected your academic results, that you think should be considered by the selectors.
  7. What are your career aims?
    You may not know exactly where you intend to be on completing the Masters, but you should have some ideas. A clear direction will strengthen your commitment to continuing your professional career.

Other Useful Points to Remember[edit | edit source]

Length – this will vary. Some application forms may ask for 1 A4 page, while others may require that you fill in a text box on an application form that only allows between 300 and 500 words.

Rules and Guidelines – the admissions officer will check that you meet any eligibility criteria and have followed application guidelines. Stick to any rules on length and word limits, and supporting documents. Your application may be rejected because of your inability to follow the limits set or the assessors may discard the additional text or documents you have included.

Research- Research the university and course/research area. Find out what sets your choice apart from other universities.

Don’t copy and paste- Sometimes you will be given a very clear indication of what you should write but on other occasions there may be no guidance given. Don't use the same statement for all applications. Each statement will need a slightly different emphasis, depending on the university you are applying to. Make sure that you answer the questions asked in each statement. And most importantly do not copy and paste one from the internet!

Time – preparing and writing a good personal statement will take time. Ask for feedback after your every draft.

Written style – be factual, concise and positive. Make sure your grammar and spelling are accurate. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the crowd.

Structure - an introduction, a body and an end are needed. The opening paragraph, if written correctly, will grab the reader's attention and become a framework for the rest of the statement.

Good and Bad Examples of Taught Masters Course Personal Statements[edit | edit source]

Application for a Masters in Sport and Exercise Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

Bad Example
‘I am very interested in undertaking the Sport and Exercise Physiotherapy Masters course as it is the area of physiotherapy that I enjoy the most. I think your course offers me the opportunity to learn a great deal about sports and exercise Physiotherapy and will help me to get a good job in this field.....’

This example is too obscure and vague and only states what the applicant wants to gain from the Masters course. There is no evidence of research into the course or future career.

Good Example
‘I am very committed to continuing my professional development in Physiotherapy. Since graduating my key areas of interests have led me toward the pursuing of further education in Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy. I have gained a large amount of experience in the area over the past two years and have attended several career talks and conferences on this area to learn more about what this specialist area of Physiotherapy entails. As a result I have decided that undertaking the Masters course in Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy would be an essential step forwards towards my career ambition. I am particularly interested in the course offered at NUI Galway as it combines both practical and theoretical study in the key principles of Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy....’

Application for a Masters in Respiratory Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

Bad Example

“I am currently studying for a BSc in Physiotherapy and would like to progress my studies further and undertake a Masters course. I have enjoyed my all of my undergraduate courses but want to specialise further in respiratory physiotherapy; the area of my course that I have enjoyed the most. I have also applied for Masters courses in Manual Physiotherapy however as I am also interested in this area….”

This would not come across as a promising Personal Statement and as there is lack of certainty and reasoning behind choosing the Masters course in questions. The admissions officer may think that offering a place to this applicant may be wasted if they haven’t even decided which specialist area they wanted to specialise in and why?

Good Example

“I am currently studying for a BSc in Physiotherapy. I have particularly enjoyed the Respiratory Physiotherapy modules and my experience on clinical placements in this area. In addition, I am about to begin my final year research project on ‘The effectiveness of manual versus ventilator manual hyperinflation in infants.’ My interest in this area has also been stimulated by lectures from visiting clinical specialists in from various university teaching hospitals and from ISCP conferences I have attended. From the theoretical and practical experience I have gained, I realised that I would like to study Respiratory Physiotherapy in more depth with the aim of eventually undertaking further research in this fascinating field…….”