How to Write a Statement of Professional Goals

Will you be successful as a graduate student? Your background, experience, passion for your field, and other factors help to answer this question during the application review process. 

Academic transcripts and resumes do not always tell a complete story. Your Statement of Professional Goals (or Personal Statement) will help to “fill in the blanks” and allow others to get a deeper understanding of you and your path.


1. Reflect

Ask yourself the following questions and write down your thoughts:

  • Why am I interested in this field of study and degree?
  • What do I expect to learn or gain from this program?
  • What courses or experiences am I most looking forward to?
  • How will this program impact my personal and professional lives? 
  • How will I contribute to the learning environment within the program?

2. Outline

Create an outline to help keep your ideas organized. Your reflections (above) can be used throughout your Statement of Professional Goals.

  • Introduction
    • Briefly introduce yourself and your background (as it relates to you applying for graduate school).
  • Body
    The body of your statement should be specific to your field or the program you are applying for. It should include: 
    • 1 to 3 examples of relevant experiences or accomplishments.  
    • Your professional and educational goals.
    • Why you are interested in the Morgridge College of Education (and what you can bring to the community!).
  • Conclusion
    • Summarize what you’ve already shared. Be sure to emphasize how your qualifications align with the program you are interested in.

3. Work on Your Draft

Give yourself time to work on your Statement. If you think your Statement is done after one sitting, there is a good chance that you’ve forgotten something important (or, worse yet, have significant grammatical or other errors).

4. Prepare Your Final Version

If you’re done editing and feel ready to submit your Statement, please make sure to adhere to MCE’s formatting guidelines.

  • Length: 2-3 pages
  • Font: 12-point Times New Roman
  • Spacing: Double
  • Citations: APA format 

What to Include

Do Include

  • Your voice! Your Statement should demonstrate your passion for the program you’re interested in. It is also an opportunity for you to let your personality shine through. 
  • What you know (or don’t!). Whether you’re hoping to fill a knowledge gap or want to grow your expertise, let us know what you want to learn.
  • Faculty mentions. Is there a faculty member whose research areas align with your interests? Make sure to mention them!
  • Plans or context. If you are addressing issues, be sure to explain how you plan to overcome them. As an example, if you let us know why your GPA was lower than you had hoped, you should explain what you’ve done (or will do) to maintain a high level of academic performance.

Try Not to Include

  • Vague or generalized goals. Saying that you “have a passion for education” is helpful, but we’d much rather know how you hope that passion will translate into your program experience and future career.
  • Another college’s name. If you’re applying to multiple colleges, try to have a different Statement prepared for each one. Every program is unique. Your Statement(s) should be specific to each program that you’re applying to.