Masters Program Admission Essay

As any graduate school admission officer will tell you, numbers don’t always tell the complete story. If that was the case, students would be admitted or denied solely on their numerical grades and test scores. Instead, graduate school applications usually require an essay component so that school officials can get a sense of a student’s personality, ideals, and commitment to their studies.

Depending on the type of program you wish to enter and the essay question itself, the writing portion of your application could be a chance to tout your achievements, offer a lighthearted glimpse into your personality and writing style, and/or explain what contributions you’d make as a student.

Don’t fret: you don’t have to write the great American novel to get into grad school. On the contrary, you probably have to share your thoughts in 500 words or less. Here are six ways to make those words count.

1. Don’t become a graduate school essay cliché

Grad school essays may require you to answer a specific question (i.e., Discuss a piece of literature that changed your life.); ask you for a general statement (Tell us about yourself.); or about your goals (What do you hope your graduate studies will help you achieve?). No matter the question, you don’t want to end up boring the admission committee with a clichéd response. They have already read thousands of submissions detailing how a traumatic childhood experience influenced your career goals or how a volunteer endeavor changed the way you see the world. Don’t write about lofty ideals or brag about academic triumphs either, just because you assume it’s what admission officers want to hear. Instead, write about something that’s honest, reveals your personality in some way, and makes you a standout applicant.

2. Follow the directions

Forget about the content of your essay for a second. The quickest way to blow it is to ignore the directions. If there is a suggested word count, aim to come as close to it as possible. If there is a direct question, answer it without veering off on a tangent. If you are asked to submit the essay as a single-spaced document in Comic Sans font (okay, probably not, but you never know), then so be it.

3. Keep it clean

You should have impeccable spelling, grammar, and punctuation throughout your essay, and avoid texting slang or vulgar language unless there is an absolutely compelling reason why it needs to be in your story. (Hint: there’s probably not.) If you’re sending in a hard copy, it should be on also be on crisp, white paper without fold marks, crumples, or pizza stains. If you’re e-mailing or attaching a file, be sure it’s named appropriately, and keep the formatting simple (or as directed).

4. Tell your story, in your words

Ditch the thesaurus. Admission folks will not be impressed by a litany of 14-syllable words or Shakespearean quotes, unless there is a reason why they tie into your story. Use conversational language and a consistent, friendly tone. Try reading your essay out loud to make sure it sounds natural. And this probably goes without saying, but it’s a good reminder anyway—never, ever plagiarize or lift words from another source in your personal essay. With the exception of a quote, which you’ll attribute appropriately, the words in your essay must come from your brain. Better yet, they should come from your heart. Try these brainstorming techniques to help get past writer’s block.

5. Take the Instagram approach

No, we’re not saying to use photos and hashtags in your essay. It’s just a modern way of telling you to “show, don’t tell” (remember that from creative writing 101?). In other words, be descriptive and detailed, use colorful metaphors, and avoid superlative terms. You want to try to take your reader to a place or time, and help him or her understand who you are and what makes you tick. Generalized statements like “attending BLANK University will help me achieve my dreams” or “BLANK made me the person I am today” are throwaway sentences.

6. Know your audience

You should never write a one-size-fits-all essay if you’re applying to multiple programs and schools.  Even if the topics are similar, you still want to tailor your writing so that each university your applying to feels like you’re writing it for them. For instance, you might take a different approach for a small Christian university like Olivet Nazarene in Illinois as opposed to a large, urban public institution like New York University or a more specialized program like at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Now that you’re armed with these prose pointers, put them into practice and wow some grad school admission officers. Happy writing!

Note: Did you know you could win a $10,000 scholarship for college or grad school just by registering on CollegeXpress? This is one of the quickest, easiest scholarships you’ll ever apply for. Register Now »

Tags:
admission advicegraduate programsgraduategraduate admissionpersonal statementsgraduate schoolessaysadmissionadmission essays

More on CollegeXpress

Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services

Graduate School Sample Essays


Although it might seem like it simply involves luck, getting into graduate school involves more than just having your name randomly drawn out of a pile. Admissions officers are looking to distinguish candidates in any way possible. As more highly qualified candidates are applying to graduate school every year, the process of selecting students often goes beyond comparing test scores and grades to using more subjective measures like the graduate school application essay.

For some students, their graduate school admission essay is their first -- and best -- chance to grab the attention of the admissions department at the school of their choice. Prospective students should consider it their one chance at an interview with the school; in many cases, it's a better option than interviews since the applicant has the chance to set the agenda rather than being forced to answered a prepared set of questions.

Your graduate school personal statement needs to show the school you are applying to your unique qualities and how you would enrich their school if you were accepted. Below are some examples of successful graduate school admission essays that we've helped prospective students develop in the past.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind you of what is really important in life. A year and a half ago my cousin and good friend died suddenly. I was so sad thinking about all the experiences in life that she will miss by being taken at such a young age, and what a loss this was for the entire community to never know what good she could have accomplished, if given time...
Spending my early years in my family’s native Lebanon gave me a sense of history and permanence on this earth that seemed very at odds with the new life we started when my family moved to New Mexico when I was ___ years old. Life in Lebanon is, on the surface, much like it was hundreds of years ago, and if you were to take a picture of our street there and its inhabitants, I have no doubt with the exception of the particulars of people’s faces it would look much the same as a painting from long ago...
Life can be so shallow and unrewarding if you are living each day with no plan for the future and little thought toward helping others. This may seem like an obvious statement, but I come across people every day who haven’t had the opportunity to realize this truth for themselves just yet, and they are miserable because of it. I feel very fortunate that the goals I have formed for myself over the past few years are helping me make the most of every opportunity that presents itself, allowing me to live a life with true meaning...
Growing up in a small village deep in rural Russia I never could have dreamed that as an adult I would be doing cutting edge research on polymer science, but through hard work, a desire to build a future of advancement, and inspiration from those scientists who have gone before me, I have already fulfilled the first few steps of this amazing dream...
My husband often likens me to a flower. Not some delicate and fragile blossom that droops in adverse environments, but a strong and hearty plant that can make the most of what is offered and bloom anywhere. As the wife of an active duty military man, I have had to make many compromises in life, but with all of the challenges, opportunities have arisen. It may not have been my first choice to move every couple of years, but each new location has given me the opportunity to teach our two daughters more about the world we live in...
It must have driven my mother crazy to know that the minute a tomato left on the counter too long began to mold and decompose it suddenly became endlessly fascinating to me, and must therefore not be thrown out. Something about how organic systems began to break down drew me in and it seems that as far back as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated by how things work...
"Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I'll understand." ~ Native American Proverb

These are words of inspiration for anyone who seeks to teach others some of the knowledge they have earned over the years. I am a very different person now than the one I was just a few short years ago. Events in my life, both planned and unexpected, have conspired to bring me to a place where I know for sure that teaching is in my blood and I am now seeking admission to the Ph.D. program in Instructional Design and Development at ____ University so that when I go before a classroom in the role of educator, I will be the best prepared and most competent teacher I can be...
In the two years that have passed since I earned my undergraduate degree, much has changed in my life. I returned to my homeland of Malasia after six years of living in the United States and began working for a major international company. I was hired as a researcher and, given my long standing interest in the medical field, was assigned several M&A projects researching that industry, and this subsequently became something of my field of expertise...
Growing up under a communist regime is not the most auspicious beginning for a budding artist, but I have found that if one’s innate talents can flourish in this most austere of environments, then just imagine what it can accomplish in more fertile ground. My family never had much money for food, let alone presents. I had few toys and little in the way of craft material, but as a child I didn’t see the bleakness of communism and instead discovered ways to create beauty by using the things around me...
I am passionate about becoming a tax accountant. This is probably not a sentence one hears everyday, if ever, but for me it is true. I know many people fear and loath taxes, and are frightened and put off by the complex laws that govern their applications, but I am just the opposite; they fascinate me...

0 Thoughts to “Masters Program Admission Essay

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *