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Writing Your Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a very important component of your application for graduate admission. You want to develop this statement carefully, as an evaluation of that statement's content is central to Anthropology's graduate admissions decision-making regarding admissions and, as appropriate, financial aid.

Note that the personal statement is not intended to be a life-story narrative, but an essay that explains your interests in graduate work in anthropology and situates those interests within the strengths of the Anthropology Department's graduate program.

Here are some suggestions for preparing an effective personal statement:

  1. Review the information about the department presented in this website carefully. Note the areas of anthropological interest that our department can help you explore, and decided if your interests in anthropology lie within one of those domains.
  2. Read the mission statement related to your degree objective (MAPA, PhD). Make sure your interests in anthropology fit with that degree program's priorities outlined in the mission statement.
  3. Review the faculty profiles, to see which member(s) of the faculty are doing research and teaching in the areas of anthropology of interest to you. Contact those faculty members, discuss common interests and see what faculty members have to say regarding opportunities for graduate study related to your areas of interest.
  4. Then compose your personal statement. We suggest you organize that statement according to the following content-driven outline:
  • describe your interests in anthropology
  • explain how your interests fit within the mission statement for your intended degree objective
  • connect your interests to the research and teaching of department faculty, and
  • provide other commentary to explain why you see our department as an appropriate place for you to address your interests in anthropology.

Questions as you prepare this statement? Contact the Graduate Admissions committee (c/o or contact any member of the faculty.