Admission, application and entrance essays: writing, editing, proofreading

How to write a PhD application essay

So you’re writing a PhD-level application essay? The easiest way to take this on is to simply follow the same process of writing any essay. For the most part, this is just your standard personal essay or application essay; it’s just that the objective is a PhD.


This stage takes the place of research in a normal essay. Since there’s no actual written material to refer to, you’ll just reflect on your traits. These traits and personal experiences will make up the greater bulk of the application essay.

Establish a Title and General Theme

This can definitely help in your self-reflection by giving you a kind of blueprint to work with. Establishing a title will let the reader know what the admission essay’s focus will be and that they should expect everything in the essay to be relevant to that title. Your personal statement should stay very close to that.


You’ll want to elaborate on everything, but at the same time you want to pace everything so that the essay has a solid flow. By establishing a flow, it makes it easier for the reader to digest your essay and it doesn’t feel like a monotonous piece of writing with bricks of text as far as the eye can see. Note that you don’t want to present an elementary school-length essay; this is a college attempt after all.


Writing includes drafts, your introduction, and your closing statement. You want to touch on everything that makes up the actual meat of your essay. In the case of a general admission essay, you could write about any personal experiences as long as you’re able to tie some of these experiences into your chosen field of study. You should also mention why it is important for you to be a part of their institution and what you can offer said institution. Something vague like “All my life I’ve always wanted to go to this university” won’t cut it.

The introduction and closing statements are essential to your essay. In the introduction, you want to give your personal statement and a kind preview of what the essay will include. Sure the reader knows what the essay is largely about, but what will be included? When you close out your essay, give the reader a brief review of everything and drive home your personal statement.

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