A statement of purpose or personal statement is typically required and is used to evaluate your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree, your career goals, and your fit for the program. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for your field of study and your potential for success in a graduate program.
Statement of Purpose
- What is your academic/research interest?
- Focus on your plans and how you will achieve your goals in graduate school.
- Select your details carefully and do not include irrelevant personal information
- Indicate your ability to work with a diverse group of peers or colleagues.
- Include any experiences that illustrate that you could teach a course, design a syllabus, or lead a discussion.
- Demonstrate your qualities and skills by using specific, concrete examples.
- Impart a sense of yourself in a way that compels the reader (your admissions committee) to see you as a valuable future member of their department.
- Indicate what experiences in your life have shaped your personality and your ambition.
- Illustrate obstacles or difficulties through which you have been able to persevere and thrive.
- Explain any less-than-ideal circumstances that may have affected your academic record.
- Give the committee the most compelling possible reasons for admitting you.
Letter of Recommendation
Graduate schools typically require 2-3 letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your academic ability, research potential, or professional experience. These individuals should be chosen carefully and should be able to provide specific examples of your strengths and achievements.
Steps to ask for letters of recommendation:
Prepare your email request at least 5-6 weeks ahead of the deadline
Request to meet in person or over the phone with the letter writer
Provide them with the necessary information: CV/Resume, Draft of your personal statement, list of schools and deadlines, and instructions for application portals
- Send reminders
Many graduate programs require standardized test scores, such as the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT. These scores are used to evaluate academic ability and potential for success in the program.
Confirm whether your program(s) of interest require an exam and which one
Find the testing calendar for the applicable exam
Contact the UIUC Grad College for study resources and practice exams
Create a study schedule and a testing timeline
Execute your plan