There are many different names for very similar documents that may vary by school at this stage in the application process. Although these documents are all very similar in nature, there are subtle key differences you will want to highlight with each one. Most letters or statements are 1-2 pages in length, but always check the requirements of the schools to which you are applying. If they do not give a lot of information and you want to know how to make the best application for them, do not hesitate to contact the program with specific questions.
Personal Statement/Application Essay
- Usually there are additional instructions included to indicate what the school/program prefers. Because a personal statement can be very broad in definition, always follow instructions!
- If no other instructions are given to you, and you are asked for a personal statement, here are some guidelines to follow:
1. Describe your interests in the field and how you came to have
2. Tell them your goals (both short- and long-term) in the field.
3. Explain to them how this specific program can help you achieve
4. Show them your passion, dedication, and ambition through past
examples and forward thinking.
- Other potential topics include: personal characteristics that are applicable to being successful in graduate/professional school, skills and abilities you have gained through experiences that make you stand out as a candidate for admission, explanations of any inconsistencies in your history or materials (e.g., low GPA, gap in school) discussed in a positive way, and how you will contribute to the program where you are applying.
Statement of Intent/Statement of Purpose/Letter of Intent
- These are very similar to the personal statement in content, with just a slightly different focus.
- Although most of the content is the same (see above), you will be focusing on what you want to study in graduate/professional school in greater detail. This can be accomplished through discussing specific areas of interest within a field, research questions and ideas you have for those topics, and indicating faculty members who have similar research interests.
- Your statement will answer the question, “what is my intent (or purpose) for attending this program?”
Letter of Qualification
- This is going to be very similar to a personal statement in content, but shift the focus more towards your qualifications as a candidate for admission to the program.
- You will focus on your outstanding skills, abilities, and experiences that show you are the best qualified individual for the program, while still including the pertinent content from above.
- Here you focus more on the experiences that led you to apply for this particular program and field of study.
- It will contain similar content to the above documents, but shift the focus to your history relevant to further study in your field and how it makes you a qualified candidate for the program.