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Hello, I'm in the middle of the application process to several UC PhD programs in social psychology and I'm having a hard time with the personal history statement.  I've already written my statement of purpose, but I'm really struggling with the personal history statement because I'm having difficulties organizing it and figuring out how to fit everything in that the prompt asks for.

I'd really appreciate it if anyone knew where I can find sample personal history statements or if anyone is willing to share their own statements. Either will be fine, I'd just appreciate any direction anyone can offer.


Here is the prompt for the statement:

Applicants for our graduate programs are selected using a holistic evaluation system. This essay will assist both the admissions committee and fellowship review committees to evaluate your background and motivation for graduate study. In your personal history statement, please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. A sample of topics that you might address in your statement is below. However, please structure your statement in any way that you feel best represents your personal history. Please do note that there is a 1200 word maximum for the statement.

  • Any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences or opportunities relevant to your academic journey
  • Challenges and/or obligations you have had to address in order to achieve your educational goals and how you addressed them
  • Employment while an undergraduate
  • How your perspectives or activities contribute to social or cultural diversity and/or make you sensitive to the experiences of underrepresented groups

This "Personal History Statement" is required for all applicants who are US Citizens or legal US Permanent Residents and is different from the "Statement of Purpose" that is required for all applicants. The "Statement of Purpose" is expected to focus on your academic/research background and interests while the "Personal History Statement" is expected to focus on your personal background.

In addition to the "Statement of Purpose" and "Personal History Statement", some academic programs require applicants to provide a writing sample. Applicants will be notified about any such requirements by their program and will submit any additional items separately and directly to the program.



Thank you!!

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Note that the prompt states the sections included are examples and do not necessarily need to be present in your statement, nor do you need to limit your statement to these sections. Think of these as questions and try to tell a story with this statement. This statement is your chance to talk about your background and why it makes you unique and someone they want to join their program. This is less about your research interests and more about all of the elements that have led to you being you and a future prominent member of your field. Basically, at its core it's a diversity statement.

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  • 2 months later...

I agree with @GreenEyedTrombonist. The UC personal statement is definitely just a diversity statement. It is a way for you to tell a narrative about your background and if certain aspects of your life led to you to apply to the program. I study the co-formation of race/ ethnicity and class, and so my UC Berkeley personal statement focused on how my personal history made me interested in this topic. It also highlighted my previous volunteer activities in positions related to my research and reflected my commitment to engage in similar projects at Berkeley.

Edited by qeta
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