Everything You Need To Include In A Doctorate Personal Statement

Hello and WELCOME to PsychAssist. As you may be aware of, it’s getting close to the end of application season. Many hopefuls may have already sent off their applications however, there are many who are still stuck on one pesky element of the application. THE PERSONAL STATEMENT! That is why we thought we’d lend a hand on Everything You Need To Include In A Doctorate Personal Statement. Now we know there are many things that you need to include and every university is different, however, there are 3 main themes that, if you include will boost your chances. Good luck to everyone who is applying.

Just Graduated? Check out: 6 Jobs for A Psychology Graduate straight out of university?

Thinking of Applying for the Clinical Doctorate? Check out: Everything You Need To Know About The Clinical Doctorate Application

What About Health Psychology? Check out: Why I Chose Health Psychology Instead of Clinical!

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Your Personality

Now, this may sound very counterproductive as many applicants that we have spoken to always mention that they’ve heard never to do this. We hear things like “all they want to hear is buzz words so tell me what words I need to include?” which we have to set straight. The whole point of a personal statement is that it’s PERSONAL to you. We know many psychologists who do the selecting for different courses and one thing that they consistently tell us is that they hate it when they read a “robotic” application. One selector actually told us that if she feels that the applicant is trying to use buzzwords or it’s obvious that they’re trying to be something that they’re not, that she’ll just throw their application in the “no” pile. This is why it is crucial to always have some element of YOUin the personal statement.

PsychAssist Tip: You’re probably thinking, “How do I show my personality in writing?” well there’s a simple trick to this. Think about why you want to pursue this career path? Have you had any barriers stopping you from achieving your goal? What is it? By answering these questions you’re showing them that you’re not just another psychology graduate who just heard that this is the career path that everyone takes. By answering these questions, you’re adding substance to your application and showing them that you’re a real human being. 

“once we show them this trick; VOILA, they get their first interview!”

        PsychAssist (2018)


This is something that we can’t stress enough when writing your personal statement. If you’re not reflecting on your application then forget any chance of getting onto a doctorate. It’s actually very easy when including this element into the personal statement as every time you talk about your experience you answer three questions. “What have you learned?”“How you learned it?” and “How that has made you a better clinician.”Sadly, there are many psychology graduates who still haven’t grasped this concept and are baffled as to why they aren’t getting interviews. It’s astonishing the number of graduates who will reach out to us about not getting interviews and once we show them this trick; VOILA, they get their first interview!

PsychAssist Tip: Now we know that the word limit is tight and you may not be able to answer all of these questions, however, if you make sure that there is some variation of the 3 questions in your personal statement you should be fine. Also, if worse comes to worst, it’s better to give too little information than to bombard them with lots of shallow information that lacks substance.

“THERE IS A CRITERIA that selector have to assess you against”

       PsychAssist (2018)

How You Meet The Criteria

Ok, so this is probably something I never hear anyone talking about. Applying for a psychology doctorate is exactly the same as applying for any job. THERE IS A CRITERIA that selector have to assess you against. Just like with any job, you have to look at the personal specification(in this case you can look at the competencies of the doctorate you are applying for). Now they are not asking that you hit each competency just yet (as that would mean that you don’t “need” training)however you must demonstrate how you have experienced certain challenges that trainees are expected to deal with. For example, if you have experience of seeing patients 1-1 then it would be good to include this as it is something that your doctorate may expect from their trainees. Also, remember to execute the first 2 points as without them, then you can’t utilise the final point to its fullest potential.

PsychAssist Tip: You may be wondering, where do you can find the competencies expected of a trainee of the doctorate you are applying for. Well, the easiest way to do this is to get on LinkedIn. I always encourage graduates to utilise LinkedIn to find trainees of the course you want to apply to. Politely ask them what the competencies are, as most will be happy to help if they can. Once you have the competencies then try to include them in your personal statement.



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