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How to Write a PHD Personal Statement – A Guide with Example

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Are you eying a Ph.D. in your favourite domain? 

Be reminded that your luck of getting a seat for the doctoral program at your favourite institute depends on a few criteria including a PhD personal statement. 

Universities have fewer seats for Ph.D. but they receive several times more the number of applications than what they could accommodate. 

By writing a very unique and compelling personal statement, you can beat all the odds. 

Through this blog, you will learn: 

  • What to write in a Phd personal statement? 
  • How to write a bespoke Ph.D. personal statement 
  • A few Ph.D. personal statement examples to help you understand it better

What Is a PhD Personal Statement?

A PhD personal statement is a document that will equip you to convey your motivation, future plans and what makes you the right fit into the PhD program you are applying to. 

In other words, it serves as a self introduction for PhD applications. 

Who Will Review Your Personal Statement for PhD Application?

When you apply for a PhD program, your application, including your personal statement for PhD admission, will be reviewed by various people.

Interview panel:

The panel that will be present for the face-to-face interview with you will go through your PhD supporting statement beforehand and prepare some of the interview questions from it. 


The supervisor under whom you will do the PhD will go through your personal statement to determine your motivations for choosing the particular academic domain.

Admission committee:

The shortlisting of your application is done by the admission committee. They will go through your personal statement carefully to know how suitable you are for the program and what makes you more suitable from other applicants. 

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Why Are You Required to Write a Personal Statement for PhD?

It is mandatory to write a doctoral personal statement as most of the doctoral programs would ask for it from the applicants. Given the weight that doctoral programs carry, applicants need to approach writing personal statements for it from a different angle than how they did write their graduate or postgraduate level personal statement. Institutes would consider only applicants with a serious take on the doctoral program that they are offering.

How Long Is a Personal Statement for PhD Programs?

You can write a personal statement for a doctoral program in about 500 words or 2500 characters. Some universities would specify how many words they expect candidates to write for their personal statement. It is advisable to follow if any such guidelines are given to you. 

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How to Write a PhD Personal Statement? What To Include and Expert Guidelines

When it comes to writing a PhD personal statement, the two important things that you must keep in mind are what to include in it and how to structure your points. 

What Should You Include in Your Personal Statement for PhD Application Pdf?

Here is a list of points that should be talked about in your personal statement for the doctoral program. 

  • What makes you want to do a PhD in this specific field/discipline/subject? 
  • What are your motivations for choosing this particular university to do the PhD research
  • What do you consider your strengths as a PhD aspirant? 
  • What do you regard as your notable transferable skills? 
  • How will this program benefit your career aspirations? 
  • What are your expectations from this doctoral research?
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How to Write a Personal Statement for PhD? Expert Guidelines

Here are five expert guidelines for writing a PhD personal statement.

Read university instructions:

Verify whether your university is asking you to write a personal statement in a certain way. If not, refer to the aforementioned prompts and personal statement for the PhD application sample given and compose your document.

Pick relevant points to include:

For each prompt, you may have lots of things to say but you can’t say everything due to the restricted length of your personal statement. So, cherry-pick the most relevant points for your write-up. 

Read about your chosen field:

Read as much as you can and enhance your knowledge about the particular field you want to do a PhD. These insights will help you write a convincing and powerful motivation as in the personal statement for PhD program examples.

Write the first draft:

Once you have all the details ready to speak of in the personal statement, begin working on your first draft. Don’t overthink when you write the first draft. Allow the natural flow of writing to continue as long as it goes.

Proofread and finalize:

Read the first draft several times and improvise each section of it. Once finished, proofread carefully with an eye out for spelling and grammar mistakes, readability, logical flow, etc.

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Best PHD Personal Statement Example

Reading this PhD personal statement example coupled with the guidelines given above will give you more clarity with regard to how to start and proceed with your document.

I feel lucky to have got the opportunity to apply for this doctorate program. In the competitive world, just a handful of students get the opportunity to complete their intermediates with impressive grades. Even fewer get admission to esteemed universities like yours to pursue their graduation. Born and raised in a progressive economy like India, I have witnessed the disparity in the privilege of quality education. Over the years, I have incessantly strived to embrace a research-oriented career. The experiences that I have gone through largely moulded my interests, and eventually prompted me to pursue this PhD program in Operations Research.

It was back in 2012 that I completed two research internships during my Bachelor’s program at Reliance Industries. Besides, as a part of student exchange programs, I got the opportunity to work at the LEPP (Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics). My interest deeply revolved around particle trajectories present in electromagnetic fields. During this time, I published a research paper in an international journal. This was titled ‘Emittance & Phase-space Distributions of Electron Bunches in Energy Recovery LINAC’. It was at a LEPP seminar that I published this paper. Prior to my Masters in Operational Research, I had completed my graduation in Engineering Physics from Delhi University in India. Channelizing my mathematical interests and the inclination to natural laws that guide interaction of particles, I have decided to carry out further research in this field.

It was a pleasure for me to carry out research at AIIMS based on Plasma Studies. It was here that I explored the impact of etching techniques based on thin-wire on the uniform expansion of plasma. Eventually, I also worked on software that was capable of evaluating multi-wire experiments. It was in 2012 that I was initially introduced to Operations Research. At first, I studied the Simplex method. As I gathered more knowledge on the subject, I came across an apparently simple algorithm. I gained a reputation in our college for being able to resolve real-world problems in a quick time. Over time, I thought over the matter and drew certain parallels that shared similarities to certain concepts in Physics. I also came across an astonishing similarity between linear programming and Lagrangian multipliers, which was handy in finding the extrema of constrained functions.

Next, I started focusing on operations research, as I progressed with my Bachelor’s program in Physics. In 2013, I decided to acquire some practical experience in the application of field tools in the domain of finance. I reached out to the Bajaj Finance Group for an internship. It was here that I worked on an application for smoothening the time series. Besides, I deployed a Kalman filter that could validate the estimates showing the volatilities of varying times. At the end of this internship, I presented this work to my peers and professors. I was overcome with joy by their positive attitude to my efforts. It was here that my interest to teach students got kindled. That particular year, I returned to college as a senior. Eventually, I got the opportunity to serve as a facilitator for Calculus at the Academic Excellence Workshop. Later, I also taught Linear Algebra to the students. During these weekly interactions with students, I used to help them solve challenging problems related to their coursework. It was a gratifying experience for me to teach students and resolve problems for them.

Considering my academic excellence, I received a fellowship after my Master’s program. I integrated myself as an assistant teaching faculty, teaching Spreadsheet-based modelling at one of the colleges affiliated with Delhi University. During this time, I decided to go for a Master’s program in Operations Research and joined Cornell University. During the summer internship, I got an opportunity to work at Milcord LLC as a quantitative developer. Located in Boston, this company specializes in knowledge management through geospatial intelligence processing. I was responsible for developing belief-network models that were capable of predicting geographic fluctuations in the insurgency. The system could also prototype dynamic risk avoidance. Through this experience, I was able to grasp the extent to which the industry is dependent on academics to gain insights and resolve complicated issues. This explains why I went for coursework to study Service Systems Modeling and Discrete Models. Now that I am well-versed in these aspects of research, I look forward to pursuing the PhD program in Operations Research from your revered university in the US. A research-oriented academic career will enable me to contribute fervently to the learning environment at your university, as I streamline my career.

Download PHD Personal Statement Sample PDF

10 Professional Tips for Writing a Successful Personal Statement for PhD Application

The following ten curated tips will help improve your personal statement and make it stronger, impeccable and sure to win. 

Try to incorporate them as much as possible while writing. 

Customize your statement:

A PhD personal statement that is customized for the program and the institute will receive quicker attention from the selection panel. 

Focus on relevant points:

Don’t load your personal statement with too many points but pick the most relevant ones that align with the program and focus on them. 

Be truthful to yourself:

Nothing spoils a personal statement as much as a dishonest point does. You may stay away from writing anything that doesn’t represent you.

Make it personal:

Reading a personal statement for PhD program, the selection committee should feel that it’s a true reflection of you.

Write a catchy introduction:

The introduction of your personal statement PhD does a great role. It makes the reader decide whether to read your document fully or not. 

Write a reminiscing conclusion:

Consider the conclusion of your personal statement as the takeaway that you want the reader to leave with. 

Allocate enough time:

Though it’s only about 500 words, you can’t write a winning personal statement in one hour. You need to allocate at least a week’s time to write and perfect it.

Be mindful of mistakes:

It is normal to overlook mistakes while writing but not advisable to leave them as they are in the final draft. Do away with all grammatical and spelling mistakes. 

Seek a second opinion:

We strongly recommend you request someone else, a colleague or an expert, to read your personal statement and give you constructive feedback.

Finalize and submit on time:

It is recommended to get ready with your personal statement and other documents in time and file the application a couple of days before the last date.

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Checklist to Validate Your Personal Statement for PhD Application

So, you have finished writing your personal statement. 

Before you file your PhD application, here is a checklist to validate your personal statement against. Make sure your document checks all those checkboxes just like in the PhD goals statement examples we have shown you. 

  • Have you talked about all the relevant points? 
  • Have you formatted your personal statement correctly? 
  • Have you proofread for one last time? 
  • Does your personal statement strictly adhere to the recommended word limit? 
  • Does your personal statement use a recommended structure?

Look at the Suggested Timeline and Writing Process

Given that most universities begin accepting Ph.D. applications in December, here we share with you a rough timeline to help you get ready with your application and Ph.D. personal statement. 

If your university’s application due date is different, modify the timeline accordingly. 


Have an open discussion with a senior student who has done Ph.D. in your chosen field or a related field about your academic plans. This will help you set your motivations. 


Decide who should be writing your letter of recommendation.


Gather relevant points to include in your personal statement. Brainstorm with your colleagues. Check your university website for guidelines as to how you must write your personal statement. 


Get ready with the first draft of your personal statement.


Collect the LORs from the respective referees and go through them carefully. Make sure that they completely agree with what you have written in your personal statement. If there is anything that looks suspicious in it when read along with the LORs, modify the former to suit the latter. 


Finalize your PhD personal statement. Have a colleague or friend or an expert read it and give you feedback. If they give you any valid suggestions for improvement, accept and modify your write-up accordingly. 


Submit your PhD application before the due date.
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Personal Statement for the Most Popular PhD Programs

You can do a PhD in any discipline that you are interested in. 

One of the criteria for your PhD application approval is going to be your personal statement. 

So, write a tailor-made document for your respective program that is as perfect as the PhD personal statement sample pdf we have included in this blog. 

Here is a list of personal statements for the most popular PhD programs. 

  • Personal Statement for PhD in Education
  • Personal Statement for PhD in Biomedical Science
  • Personal Statement for PhD in Computer Science
  • Personal Statement for PhD in Finance
  • Personal Statement for PhD in Management
  • Personal Statement for PhD in Molecular Biology

Top 10 Universities to Choose for Your PhD

Getting your Ph.D. from the world’s best universities will boost your career prospects. 

Here is a list of the top 10 universities in the world for PhD. 

  1. University of Oxford
  2. Harvard University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  4. Princeton University
  5. Johns Hopkins University
  6. California Institute of Technology 
  7. Stanford University
  8. University of Cambridge
  9. University of Chicago
  10. Imperial College London

Best Countries to Pursue Doctoral Programs

There are several countries to choose from to do your PhD. 

You may decide where to do your doctoral program after considering a few factors such as the cost, the availability of the research program in your domain, and the factors that make the country ideal for your particular PhD field. 

The following list only includes the top 10 countries as per the latest surveys. 

  • Ph.D. in USA
  • Ph.D. in Canada 
  • Ph.D. in UK
  • Ph.D. in Switzerland 
  • Ph.D. in Germany 
  • Ph.D. in Australia 
  • Ph.D. in Ireland 
  • Ph.D. in New Zealand 
  • PhD in France 
  • Ph.D. in Austria

How to Apply for a Ph.D.? Step-By-Step Process for Your Help

Here is the step-by-step process for applying for your preferred Ph.D. program. 

  • Decide what you want to focus on in a specific field and finalize your topic 
  • Choose between the right kind of PhD program for you – predesigned or self-designed 
  • Finalize a university where you want to do the PhD 
  • Review the requirements and check your eligibility
  • If you are eligible, proceed to the next step. 
  • Prepare your application with all required documents including your PhD personal statement.
  • File your application
  • If you want to apply for a scholarship while doing your PhD, don’t forget to write a personal statement for PhD scholarship as well and file your application accordingly. 

That Brings Us to The End. Before We Wind Up…

Before we conclude, we would like to ask you a few things. 

Have you found this blog useful? 

Are you confident to write a PhD personal statement?

By carefully following the tips and guidelines discussed in this blog, you should be.

In case you have got anything to clarify with us or want us to include more doctoral personal statement examples we are ready to help you further. 

You can leave any of your doubts or questions or concerns in the comments below. 



I am Anjit.V.S, a freelance writer, overseas education consultant and an academic documentation expert. Over the years, I have written documents for thousands of students and hundreds of businesses and individuals worldwide. Many of the prominent study abroad counsellors in India refer me to their students for SOP, LOR, admission essays. personal statements and other similar documents. Not just the academic documents but whatever content needs you have, stay assured. Perfectly impeccable services are delivered.

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