10 Tips for Writing Your STEM Grad School Essay

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Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - 10 Tips for Writing Your STEM Grad School Essay by Laurie Martin of Stratus PrepDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Writing your grad school essay is a big step. This process usually breaks down into creating two documents: the personal statement and the statement of purpose. It can be daunting to know that, according to recent admissions committee evaluations, the personal statement is one of the most important components of your application.

On the STEM side, this process becomes more stressful. Many STEM MS, MA, and PhD candidates do not have a strong background in writing. It is important to research how to write in order to learn the steps and to best position yourself for success. Additionally, seeking our trusted guidance and reviewers for your grad application essays is the sensible step.

In the meantime, here are 10 more tips on writing your STEM Grad School essays:

  1. Highlight your academic strengths. For example: “I achieved the highest score on the departmental Chemistry exam,” or “I maintained an A average on all of my lab work and was asked by the professor to assist others on multiple assignments.”
  2. Relate your experience with aspects of their program. For example, you could discuss the moment you feel in love with computer games which ignited a interest in all things computers and how that spurred you to study computer science in undergrad. Connect that to their computer science department and the courses you’d like to take at their school.
  3. Show how your previous experiences will be an asset to their program. You could discuss what you learned from the professor you worked with as a research assistant and how you hope to share that experience with classmates in a certain class discussion.
  4. Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the field and understand their interdisciplinary nature. 
  5. Discuss emerging trends in your discipline that you hope to explore within their institution.
  6. Reference work of current professors and show any alignment they may have with your interests, ideas, or experience. You will need to do some reading for this one. Be sure you fully understand concepts, by perhaps checking in with your current professors—BEFORE you reference this work.
  7. Possibly introduce a general research topic idea to show your ability to critically think and plan studies. This may not be required but if you have it set and can talk about it, then you should include it.
  8. Segue into how you intend to utilize program resources (training grants, collaborations, affiliations) to bolster your academic experience
  9. Detail what you will specify add to their program. Answer the question on the Admissions Committee Reader’s mind: what mark will you leave?
  10. Discuss short-term and long-term goals, and how their institution or program will be instrumental in meeting them.

Follow these steps and you are on your way to grad essay application success! 📝


Laurie Martin, Stratus Prep - HeadshotLaurie Martin is the Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Consulting at Stratus Prep. She she has ten years of experience in admissions consulting, including work at one of the country’s top college preparatory schools. She has her B.A. from Columbia and a master’s degree from NYU.  A former journalist and published author; Laurie is also a former All-American athlete who understands the most important aspects of the college process and how to get an edge on the competition. Learn more about Stratus Prep’s Graduate School Admissions Consulting here.

  1. Kristy December 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    That’s what we’ve all been waiting for! Great pogsint!