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Writing Sample - Related to Research Interests?


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Hi All,

I'm a new poster here - just had a question about my writing sample. I'm applying for PhD programs; currently I have my B.S. For my writing sample, I'm planning on submitting my honors thesis, but is it a problem if it's not narrowly related to what I want to study in grad school? It's still in the same discipline, but it is more geared toward another one of my interests in undergrad. Because I didn't really pinpoint my current interests until the end of undergrad, I unfortunately don't have any papers that I can submit that are focused on my area of interest. I'm hesitant to write an entirely new paper on my research interests just for my writing sample, though. Thoughts??? Thanks in advance for the advice!

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If the paper is still within your (sub)field it should be OK if it's not within your narrow specialization. As long as there will be professors on the admissions committee who will be able to read your writing sample and learn from it about your research skills, that's good enough. It's very common for people to change their interests or refine them between undergrad and grad school; I'm sure you'll address that in your SOP, so there shouldn't be any problem with that. I agree that it's better to submit a polished paper that has been commented on by professors, even though its topic is not exactly what you want to study in grad school, than to write a new paper that will be more closely related to your new interests.

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