How to Write a PhD Personal Statement: Essential Tips and Examples

PhD Application

6th June 2024

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A personal statement is a crucial part of your PhD application. It provides an opportunity to showcase your academic background, research interests, and motivations for pursuing a PhD. Crafting a compelling personal statement can significantly impact your chances of being accepted into your desired course. This guide will help you understand how to write a good personal statement, how to format it, and provide an example for reference.

What is a Personal Statement for a PhD?

A personal statement for a PhD application is a written account of who you are, your academic achievements, your research interests, and your motivations for pursuing a doctoral degree. It is your chance to convince the admissions committee that you are a suitable candidate for their programme. A well-written personal statement should highlight your strengths, experiences, and goals, demonstrating your readiness for the challenges of a PhD programme.

How to Write a Good Personal Statement

Writing a good personal statement requires careful planning and reflection. Here are some essential steps to help you craft a compelling narrative:

Reflect on Your Academic Journey

Begin by reflecting on your academic and professional experiences. Consider what motivated you to pursue your current field of study, any significant achievements or projects, and how these experiences have prepared you for a PhD. This reflection will form the foundation of your personal statement.

Define Your Research Interests

Clearly articulate your research interests and how they align with the programme you are applying to. Be specific about the areas you want to explore and why they are important to you. Mention any previous research you have conducted and how it has influenced your interests.

Explain Your Motivations

Discuss your motivations for pursuing a PhD. Explain why you want to delve deeper into your chosen field and what you hope to achieve with a doctoral degree. This section should convey your passion and commitment to research.

Highlight Relevant Experiences

Include any relevant experiences that demonstrate yo that you are ready to pursue a PhD programme. This could include academic achievements, research projects, publications, presentations, or professional experiences. Emphasise skills and knowledge that will contribute to your success as a doctoral candidate.

Convey Fit with the Programme

Research the PhD programme you are applying to and mention specific aspects that attract you. This could be faculty members you want to work with, research facilities, or unique programme features. Demonstrating a good fit shows that you have thoughtfully considered your application and are genuinely interested in the programme.

Maintain a Professional Tone

While your personal statement should be personal, it should also maintain a professional tone. Avoid colloquial language and ensure your writing is clear, concise, and free of grammatical errors. Proofread multiple times and consider seeking feedback from mentors or peers.

How to Format a Personal Statement

The format of your PhD personal statement is crucial for readability and coherence. Here are some tips on how to format your statement:


Typically, a personal statement for a PhD application should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Check the specific requirements of each programme, as they can vary. Aim to be concise while covering all necessary information.


A well-structured personal statement usually follows this format:

  • Introduction: Briefly introduce yourself and your academic background.
  • Academic and Research Background: Discuss your previous studies, research projects, and relevant experiences.
  • Research Interests: Clearly state your research interests and objectives.
  • Motivations for Pursuing a PhD: Explain why you want to pursue a PhD and what you hope to achieve.
  • Fit with the Programme: Mention why you are interested in the specific PhD programme and how it aligns with your goals.
  • Conclusion: Summarise your key points and reiterate your enthusiasm for the programme.

Formatting Tips

  • Font and Size: Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 11 or 12.
  • Margins: Use 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Spacing: Double-space your text to enhance readability.
  • Headings: Use headings and sub-headings to organise your content if appropriate.
  • File Format: Submit your statement in the required file format, usually PDF or Word.

PhD Personal Statement Example

Here’s a brief example to give you an idea of what a PhD personal statement might look like:


I am passionate about advancing research in molecular biology and have dedicated my academic journey to exploring the intricate mechanisms of cellular processes. With a strong foundation in biochemistry and hands-on research experience, I am eager to pursue a PhD at [University Name] to contribute to groundbreaking discoveries in this field.

Academic and Research Background:

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at [University Name], where I graduated with honours. During my studies, I worked on several research projects, including an investigation into the role of protein folding in neurodegenerative diseases. This project, under the guidance of Dr. [Mentor’s Name], resulted in a publication in the Journal of Molecular Biology. My passion for research led me to pursue a master’s degree, where I focused on the genetic regulation of cancer cells.

Research Interests:

My primary research interest lies in understanding the molecular basis of cancer. Specifically, I am interested in the signalling pathways that regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis. My previous work on the genetic mutations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes has prepared me to delve deeper into this area. At [University Name], I hope to work with Dr. [Professor’s Name], whose research on cellular signalling in cancer aligns perfectly with my interests.

Motivations for Pursuing a PhD:

Pursuing a PhD will enable me to contribute to the field of molecular biology by addressing critical questions about cancer development and progression. I am motivated by the potential to translate research findings into therapeutic strategies that can improve patient outcomes. A doctoral degree will provide me with the skills and knowledge to lead independent research projects and collaborate with experts in the field.

Fit with the Programme:

[University Name]’s PhD programme in Molecular Biology is an ideal fit for my research goals. The programme’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research and access to state-of-the-art facilities will provide the perfect environment for my studies. Additionally, the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. [Professor’s Name] and the esteemed faculty at [University Name] excites me.


I am enthusiastic about the prospect of joining [University Name]’s PhD programme and contributing to the advancement of molecular biology research. My academic background, research experience, and passion for discovery have prepared me to undertake the challenges of a doctoral programme. I look forward to the opportunity to further my research and make meaningful contributions to the scientific community.

Take Your PhD Personal Statement to the Next Level

Writing a PhD personal statement requires careful reflection, clear articulation of your goals and experiences, and attention to detail. By following this guide, you can create a compelling personal statement that showcases your qualifications and passion for research. Remember to tailor your statement to each programme, highlighting why you are a good fit and how the programme aligns with your research interests. With a well-crafted personal statement, you can enhance your chances of gaining admission to your desired PhD programme.

Need a second pair of eyes for your personal statement? Our expert academics can review and provide feedback to ensure your statement is polished and impactful. We offer tailored advice to help you highlight your strengths and address any weaknesses, making your application as strong as possible. Contact us today to get started on perfecting your application and take the next step towards achieving your academic goals.