Studying examples of personal statements is an invaluable strategy when applying to a university or college course.
That’s because personal statement examples can teach you how to write and structure your application, and you can quickly learn how to write a personal statement by examining others.
But with so many university personal statement examples available, how do you know if you’re reading a good one?
Postgraduate personal statements should highlight relevant academic and practical experience, research skills and ambitions and their suitability for the course. This postgraduate personal statement example for Gender, Development & Globalisation considers these three critical elements.
Studying master’s degree personal statement examples can be especially valuable. They’re sometimes referred to as personal mission statements or statements of purpose, so if you’re tasked with writing a personal mission statement, the following example will work for you.
I’ve broken down this personal statement example section by section, with a commentary on each element.
That way, you’ll see its strengths and weaknesses and get some inspiration for your own personal statement.
Once you’ve read the personal statement example and analysis, you can download a pdf of the whole document to use as inspiration for your own!
Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: Gender, Development & Globalisation
Personal Statement Example: Introduction
“In many families in my culture, it is common for the father to undertake significant financial responsibilities and the mother to undertake domestic and parental duties within the home. However, in my family, the opposite is true: my father stays at home, and my mother works outside. I didn’t see anything wrong with this family division until my childhood peers consciously brought up our differences, and some even commented on our family model in unpleasant terms. This was the origin of my gender consciousness and my confusion regarding gender stereotypes and traditional models of family collaboration.
This confusion increased as an undergraduate. In my first year, I ran for a position in the Student Union but lost the election. Of the eight candidates remaining in the final round of interviews, six were female, and two were male. Both male students won the election, to the exclusion of all the female candidates. When I asked the interviewer for feedback, she said, “You’re all excellent, but for the sake of the team’s gender balance, we need two boys.” I felt angry and helpless, and I began to question a system that rejects obviously brilliant women for the sake of so-called gender balance. Why is it more challenging for a woman’s potential to be recognised in both the family and the workplace? Why is it generally accepted that non-male labour is worthless? Why are women frequently unpaid, undervalued, and unrecognised? The need to find answers to questions like these and explore gender issues in the division of household and market labour is the motivation behind my application to read for an MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation at Buckley University.”
My Commentary and Analysis
This personal statement example begins by referencing the writer’s strong personal connection with the subject matter. This strategy of starting a statement with an inspirational moment or realisation can work very well, as it draws the reader into your world and adds some motivation and validity to your writing.
In this case, it’s highly relevant, which is positive. Don’t use an example that doesn’t directly connect to the course you’re applying for!
The writer indicates that they were ‘confused’ by matters relating to gender and family. I would have used words such as ‘engaged’ or ‘intrigued’, as indicating a sense of confusion does slightly weaken the writer’s standing.
The second paragraph above outlines a further personal experience of gender bias and is a logical development from the childhood questions raised in the opening paragraph. It also gives the writer the opportunity to mention undergraduate study and to show ambition and engagement in co-curricular activities.
However, I would suggest that this is slightly too long. The reader won’t be interested in the details here and will be looking instead for evidence of academic suitability for the course, which the writer has yet to provide.
If you’re struggling with your personal statement introduction, check out my article on how to write perfect opening paragraphs here.
Personal Statement Example: Academic Background
“We have witnessed intense academic and social debates on gender issues in recent years, and the university environment is no exception. I participated in many debates throughout my undergraduate years, researching topics such as gender equality in the workplace, women’s career ceilings, misogynistic speech and gender freedom. I found that these discussions were easily pushed to antagonistic extremes that reflect society’s obsession with stereotypical gender differences. I think it is superficial to attribute the inequality of social structure simply to the biological structure or opposition of gender. While clear in my convictions, I often felt that during debates, my argument lacked depth due to my lack of gender-specific academic studies.
Consequently, I declared an undergraduate major in Diplomacy. This laid a solid knowledge foundation in politics and international relations and allowed me to look beyond my own country and engage with wider aspects of global gender inequality. I was exposed to the history and development of feminist theory and began to examine gender biases and inequalities from both cultural and social perspectives, considering individual and institutional outcomes. However, as my university did not offer a specific course in gender studies, I lacked the opportunity for a systematic study of gender and its research methodology. As a result, I aim to learn more about social structures of gender and theories of power in your Gender Theories: An Interdisciplinary Approach course.”
My Commentary and Analysis
The first paragraph above is a stronger one, and moves this personal statement example into a more academic sphere. There’s some evidence of related vocabulary, and the writer discusses themes and theories that evidence suitability for the course being applied for.
It’s not done in traditional academic terms, and although the writer is showing a clear sense of engagement with the topics, I would like to see more formal academic content included.
The second paragraph does begin to focus on academic background, but in quite a general way. The writer shows some depth in the field and makes arguments about relevant theory, giving the reader some reassurance about their academic capacity.
The writer then makes a strong case for explaining how the course would be of value and quite skillfully turns a negative (lack of formal study in this area) into a positive (justifiable motivation for further study).
A sense of a dynamic and highly motivated applicant is also emerging. This is someone who has discovered a passion and is taking every opportunity to prepare themselves for further study. Although their route isn’t totally logical, it’s evident that they are dedicated to this subject, and that counts for a great deal.
If you’d like to learn more about structuring your personal statement or statement of purpose, check out my awesome Personal Statement Template eBook here. It’s full of detailed examples of what to include!
Personal Statement Example: Research Experience 1
“Working on a project on First Lady diplomacy, I discovered that female leaders frequently set a positive and valued example when dealing with international affairs. They actively manage public affairs and advocate for sectors such as international issues, public services and charity. However, their public voices frequently remain underrepresented. This discovery inspired me to research the scope of female influence in developing countries, and I engaged in research examining rural poverty alleviation and construction in Hubei Province, China. Applying quantitative and qualitative techniques, my team and I distributed questionnaires and interviewed local officials during field research on the development of B&Bs in the area. The data analysis we undertook indicated that by empowering women, relative poverty could be alleviated and economic growth boosted. The products created by these women could then be sold to other countries, allowing them to participate in a global value chain. In cooperation with an international non-profit organisation, the local government subsequently explored a path for the employment of rural women in cultural and recreational activities, volunteer services and public affairs, ultimately achieving the goal of developing an effective rural employment policy. Gaining economic autonomy through employment will enable women to enter the public sphere and thus effectively eliminate gender inequalities.”
Commentary and Analysis
This is an excellent paragraph. After the slightly general paragraphs that preceded it, the writer now outlines a well-contextualised and highly relevant piece of academic research. This is exactly the kind of content important in a master’s personal statement. It shows engagement, academic strengths, commitment and a sense of purpose and action.
It’s an impressive account, although I would like to see slightly more content related to the research and analysis skills used, as it is, perhaps, slightly too descriptive of the outcome and not focused enough on how this experience adds to the writer’s suitability for postgraduate study.
Check out lots more examples of personal statements here, and see how they can inspire your application!
Personal Statement Example: Research Experience 2
“However, the questions of how to promote women’s economic autonomy, ensure female independence in the labour market and facilitate global development remain to be addressed. The current labour market model of equal pay for equal work allows corporations to reproduce, generate profit and develop a formal economy but exploits the underprivileged. So why is it that people are so frequently thrown out of this economic development track? My argument is that gender, labour and class are intertwined, and the process of gender socialisation leads to inequality. I believe this is one factor that leads to discussions involving gender issues becoming extreme in nature. Gender is not simply about gender. It requires us to analyse various power relations that are often interactive and fluidly intertwined. By studying this postgraduate course, I hope to identify more clearly the dilemmas associated with gender and power and apply the knowledge gained at Buckley in an increasingly impactful professional context.”
My Commentary and Analysis:
This paragraph is almost all opinion. It’s informed but not referenced. It would have been far stronger if the writer had used texts or findings to validate their opinions and to show a depth of research knowledge.
Accurate or compelling as they may be, whilst these arguments do indicate an astute and informed viewpoint, they don’t add enough value to this personal statement. By comparing the views of experts or drawing conclusions from identifiable research, the writer would have added some depth and credibility to their application.
Additionally, whilst there is a reference to the value of the course applied for, there is no real sense of connection made between the writer’s ambitions and the course content. As a consequence, this section is written in a bit of a vacuum.
A postgraduate personal statement should always clearly indicate how the applicant’s skills, experiences or ambitions make them suitable for specific aspects of the course being applied for, and there’s no evidence of this here.
The one thing that all successful personal statements have in common is that they are concise, engaging and accurate in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Consequently, I always recommend Grammarly to my students and clients.
It’s an outstanding tool for ensuring your personal statement is rich with detail whilst hitting those all-important word limits. Check out the free version of Grammarly here, or hit the banner for more information.
Personal Statement Example: Conclusion
“I believe that women should be involved in global value creation as subjects, not as invisible objects, and that everyone has the freedom to develop into the person they are capable of becoming. Consequently, I plan to work for international organisations such as UNDP or UN Women in the short term. My goal is to focus on female employment in the context of global integration and promote economic development through gender equality. Having developed the networks and experience required in this sector, I intend to establish my own NPO to empower women and facilitate gender equality. I expect to take a more open and multidimensional view of gender, challenge views and concepts that are taken for granted and dismantle traditional societal gender stereotypes and the violence they can generate. I am confident that the modules, networks, resources and opportunities your faculty offers represent a critical next step on my personal and professional journey.”
My Commentary and Analysis
The writer restates their commitment to gender equality and then identifies the steps they plan to take to act on this conviction. This indicates a depth of dedication and ambition, and it’s implied that the master’s course would be of value in achieving these goals.
However, this connection really needs to be made tangible, and the links between the writer’s ambitions and the ways in which the course will facilitate them made clear. There’s almost no reference at all to the course content in this personal statement example, so the admissions reader just can’t tell if the writer really understands the content and purpose of this postgraduate degree.
The final sentence makes a general reference to the course, but this is nowhere near enough.
In summary, this personal statement example gives the impression of a dedicated and committed applicant who has some tangible academic experience. However, this is really just a manifesto of opinion and vision, and not an informed personal statement.
It doesn’t make connections with the course, show a range of skills or discuss the value that the applicant might bring to the faculty.
Consequently, it would be hard for an admissions team to make this applicant an offer.
For more great advice, check out my article on writing an excellent final personal statement paragraph here.
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Whether you’re looking for personal mission statement examples or an example of personal purpose statement, I hope this personal statement example has been helpful. Above all, I wish you every success in your academic career.
If you’d like to work with me to develop your personal statement 1:1 and write a powerful mission statement, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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