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All applicants must include a personal statement that addresses the following question:
Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.
The personal statement helps us evaluate the fit between your interests and skills and the Penn Psychology program. It should describe why you want to pursue a PhD in Psychology, why Penn is the right place for you to do it, what sorts of skills and experiences make you qualified to pursue a PhD in a research-intensive Psychology program like Penn’s, what kinds of questions you are interested in studying, and who on the faculty you would like to work with. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors in advance of writing the personal statement, to ensure that the research questions the applicant hopes to pursue are a good fit with research topics Penn faculty are working on. If you hope to study a question that members of our Psychology Graduate Group are not interested in pursuing, then Penn would not be a good fit for you. Please also look at the websites of faculty members whose labs you would like to join; they might have additional instructions for information they would like you to include in the personal statement. The personal statement is typically around two pages, single-spaced.