• On this page you will be asked to explain why you want to go to graduate school, including some idea about what sort of research you would like to conduct.
  • Your statement should demonstrate that you know what research is, that you have had at least one idea in your life, and that you have an interesting and tractable idea about your research for the future.
  • Try to be concrete, but also include a few hedges such as “perhaps” and “these possibilities include”. Good writing counts. Project sobriety and maturity.
  • Don’t talk about your family or your non-professional interests.
  • they’re looking at hundreds of applications and they’re only going to take a second look at the ones that stand out.
  • You might write a generic statement and then edit in some passages that fit each department, for example mentioning one of the professors there whose work is relevant to your interests, just to show that you know what you’re doing.
  • Ask someone in your department which are the major fellowships in your area and apply for them all.
  • For example, you might recompute your GPA without your freshman classes (many universities do this routinely), or your GPA for upper-division courses only, or only for courses in your major.
  • This strategy almost always makes a dreadful impression, for the simple reason that professors are busy people who hate it when you waste their time.
  • Send each one a customized e-mail message, no more than a few hundred words in length. This message should do four things: (1) demonstrate knowledge of their research, (2) explain that you are looking for the right PhD program, (3) explain the general research area you are interested in working in, and (4) ask them whether they are taking on new students.
  • Foreign students often assume that they lack “inside information” that American students enjoy, and they sometimes respond by trying to divine this information from statistics about what kinds of test scores got someone into one school or another.


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