Academic and Personal Statements

The Michigan State University Graduate Application requires two statements (Academic and Personal). The College of Engineering has developed the following guidelines to assist you in developing strong academic and personal statements. These statements are used both to evaluate your application to our graduate program and to identify candidates for MSU fellowship and scholarship opportunities. You may use the same Academic and Personal statements for both the MSU Graduate School application and the College of Engineering application (see the Application Instructions for more information).

Guidelines for your Academic Statement

Your Academic Statement should be a concise statement of your plans for graduate study, your career goals, and how MSU's graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Your Academic Statement must include the following statement: "My intended area of specialization in the graduate program in (DEPARTMENT) at Michigan State University will be in _________________." If you have already been in contact with faculty or staff at MSU regarding your application for graduate studies, please list these contacts in your Academic Statement.

When preparing your Academic Statement, please include the following information:

  • Briefly describe key experiences that led you to graduate studies. Examples might include research experiences, internships, coursework or extracurricular activities.

  • Share specific, relevant examples of how these experiences helped you develop skills for success as a graduate student. For instance, you might demonstrate ways that you have synthesized knowledge from the classroom, developed research skills, communicated effectively, acted as a leader, or gained skills and responsibility over time.

  • Make a clear connection between your previous experiences and your current interest in graduate studies. If your intended area of specialization in graduate school differs significantly from your previous experiences, please briefly explain why you decided to change focus.

  • If applicable, explain any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record and share unusual obstacles or hardships that you have overcome in pursuit of your educational objectives.

  • Explain how your goals for graduate study relate to your longer-term career plans, including the pursuit of additional degrees or certifications if applicable.

Your Academic Statement should be concise, and no more than 2 pages when formatted in Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins and single line spacing.

Guidelines for your Personal Statement

Your Personal Statement should concisely describe how your background and life experiences - including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges - motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree.

When preparing your Personal Statement, please address the following questions:

  • How well do your personal goals for education and research fit with the interests of our faculty and the research activities within our department? Briefly describe research areas or questions that you find interesting and identify any specific faculty, labs or research projects at MSU that are of particular interest to you.

  • How have you demonstrated your leadership skills, or your potential as a leader? For example, you might share specific examples of how you made contributions as an officer in a student organization or how you assumed a leadership role within a team or during a professional internship. You could also discuss your potential for leadership in graduate school and afterwards by sharing your career goals and discussing your capacity to make a distinctive professional or scholarly contribution in your field.

  • How have you contributed to a diverse educational community, or how will you do so as a graduate student? How have you promoted understanding among persons of different backgrounds and ideas, or how will you do so as a graduate student? Examples might include service activities, leadership roles, study abroad, language study, etc.

  • If applicable, please describe any barriers or obstacles that you have overcome in pursuit of your educational or personal goals. Examples might include economic, social or health challenges, being the first in your family to attend college, family obligations, etc.

  • If applicable, please describe aspects of your personal background that will enhance the diversity of MSU's graduate student body, such as being multi-lingual, participating in a McNair or TRIO program, attending a minority-serving institution, etc.

  • If applicable, please describe anything else in your personal history, experience, or aspirations that distinguishes you from other applicants to our graduate programs.

Your Personal Statement should be concise, and no more than 2 pages when formatted in Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins and single line spacing.