Michigan Ann Arbor Graduate Application Personal Statement

Degrees and Transcripts

Do I need to send official paper copies of degrees and transcripts?

When you apply: no, you only need to upload electronic versions to your application.

If you are accepted: yes, official copies are be required by the Rackham Graduate School. Please read HERE for detailed instructions regarding how to submit transcripts.

The Rackham Graduate School Application says that official degrees and transcripts are required. Are you sure I do not need to mail them? 

While the Graduate School requests these items at the time of application and it is recommended for students who attended U.S. institutions, we can still review your application without the official paper copies and translations of your degrees and transcripts. Only an electronic copy in your application is required since this can be a costly and complicated process for international students. Please disregard the requirement that official paper copies be mailed and if you are admitted and choose to attend Michigan only then will we require official documents and English translations.

Do I still need to send official documents if I attended a foreign university?

Yes, if you are admitted. We understand that many foreign universities do not provide transcripts and if you are admitted we will help you determine what documentation is needed.


How is the academic statement different from the personal statement?

Academic statement: includes your academic experience to date, reasons for wanting to do graduate work at the University of Michigan, and your eventual career expectations.

Personal statement: describes how your background and life experiences motivated you to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan.

What tips do you have for crafting a strong academic statement?

We encourage you to seek feedback on your statement from several points of view, especially from a professor who knows you well.

  • A coherent idea for a project (or possible projects) that both identifies a body of materials you will work on and a conceptual approach that will inform your research.
  • The ability to raise interesting questions about a topic.
  • A clear sense of the difference between analysis and descriptive work and some feeling for the proper role each might play in the context of your project.
  • Some anticipation that your project will change through your graduate education and flexibility regarding those changes.
  • Your background and personal trajectory that led you toward making a life commitment to kinds of work specific to academe.
  • Awareness of faculty interests and expertise that explain your "fit" within our department.
  • Explanation of any parts of your dossier that would benefit from being placed in context.
  • Particularly if your writing sample is older or no longer adequately reflects your capabilities, you might consider talking briefly about what you would change if you were to write it today.


Do’s and Don’ts of Statements

Sample statements

If you would like feedback on your statement, please send it to the Graduate Assistant and the Director of Graduate Studies will arrange to have one of the members of the graduate committee contact you.

Can I combine my statements into one?

Yes, as long as you address both the academic and personal and you adhere to a 1,000 word limit. If the web form prompts you to add both statements, simply upload your combined statement a second time.


Is the GRE required? 

No. We have not found it helpful in our admissions decisions and no longer use it.

Are there any exceptions for the TOEFL?

If you received a degree from an English-speaking institution, you do not need to submit a TOEFL score.  Scores are accepted for up to two years after completing an exam. Click HERE for further information regarding the TOEFL and language assessment.

In this document, you should indicate how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, have motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an Academic Statement of Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree in Robotics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I combine the Personal Statement with the Statement of Purpose in one document?

A: No. We ask that all applicants submit two separate documents for the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement. If an applicant submits one document we will contact them to request two separate documents. The Graduate Admission Committee requires two separate documents.

Q: Are there specific guidelines for formatting?

A: No there are no formatting guidelines in regards to font type, font size, etc.

Q: What should I include in the Personal Statement (PS)?

A: The Personal Statement is an essay about how an applicant’s background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, and educational or other opportunities or challenges, motivated the decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. For example, if an applicant grew up in a community where educational, cultural, or other opportunities were either especially plentiful or especially lacking, they might discuss the impact this had on their development and interests. This should be a discussion of the journey that led to the decision to seek a graduate degree.

Q: How long should the Personal Statement be?

A: The PS document should only be 500 words or less.

Q: Can I submit an edited Personal Statement?

A: No. Please review all application materials before submitting your application. 

Please note that once an applicant submits their online application, no changes to the Personal Statement, Academic Statement of Purpose Letter, Curriculum Vitae, and Application can be modified online.


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