University of California graduate admissions

Personal statement

Most UC campuses require a personal statement in addition to a statement of purpose. Make yours count.

While the statement of purpose highlights the goals and experiences related to the research area you plan to pursue, your personal statement (also called a history or diversity statement) is an opportunity for the review committee to learn about the unique qualities and perspectives you’ll bring to the program.

Crafting a strong Personal Statement

Simply put, the statement of purpose is about your work, while your personal statement is about you – and how you’ll contribute to the diversity of ideas. Draw on your unique background to present yourself as an ideal candidate for the graduate program to which you are applying.

Tell your story
This is your opportunity to expand on your background, highlight unique experiences, challenges and triumphs and give the committee a more compelling reason to accept you. If a personal statement is not requested, consider incorporating this content into your statement of purpose. It is in your best interest to offer supplemental information when given an opportunity.

Describe goals, achievements and challenges

  • Describe your academic and career goals and highlight how graduate school will advance them.
  • Tell how personal experiences shaped your aspirations, and don’t shy away from discussing poor grades or large time gaps in your resume.
  • Address any particular challenges you’ve faced, and how you worked to overcome them.
  • Focus on issues that have had an impact on your education, such as being raised in a single parent household, working to help support family, thriving in unsafe environments, persevering with physical or other challenges or coming from an underrepresented minority group.

Showcase experiences related to diversity 

  • Mention your engagement in programs that increase diversity in your chosen field, such as participation in undergraduate academic preparation, diversity and equity programs, higher education pathways and summer research opportunities, and mentoring underrepresented students.
  • Explain how your experiences have deepened your understanding of the barriers facing ethnic minorities, women, and others underrepresented in higher education or how your experiences have helped advance efforts to improve inclusion of these groups.
  • Highlight research you have conducted that addresses underserved populations, such as issues of race, gender, equity and inclusion, disparities in health or educational access, and human rights. Mention artistic and cultural works you have produced that reflect diverse communities and voices not well represented

Remember, write a statement specifically tailored for the program to which you are applying. This allows the admission’s committee an opportunity to see exactly who you are.