Personal Statements and Curriculum Vitae (CVs)

Personal Statement

Admission committees typically request a brief essay (500 to 2000 words), sometimes called a Personal Statement (also known as Statement of Interest or Purpose). It is a very important piece for assessing your fit for the program, and your writing ability.

Some schools provide prompt questions, so look for those! In general, these statements discuss:

  • Your research and/or professional interests
  • Your future goals and career plan
  • How their institution and/or program will meet your goals
  • What you will contribute to the program

We have two short exercises, led via video, to get you started on writing your personal statement!

Curriculum Vitae or CV

You may be asked to provide a resume, or you may be asked for an academic CV. They are related but different, as follows:

Typical Differences CV Resume
Audience Fellow academics in your field of study Hiring managers and human resources officers
Purpose Applying to research-focused graduate studies and academic jobs Applying to professionally-focused graduate studies and jobs
Goal Display your academic credentials and accomplishments in great detail Demonstrate you have the skills and experience necessary relevant to a job or organization
What readers see Your scholarly potential Your knowledge, skills and abilities
Essential information Relevant course projects (essays, presentations, assignments), research experiences, publications, conference presentations, teaching experiences, awards Academic, work, and volunteer experiences that highlight your accomplishments
Length As long as necessary 2 pages maximum
References Include if requested Do not include

The following sample documents were developed by AA&CC staff and student staff, with input from faculty members:

Find more explanation and other useful examples here.

Application & Personal Statement Resources