Graduate School Essay Samples
Making the choice to continue your education is an exciting one, but it also comes with the promise of lots of work ahead. Before even getting accepted into a graduate school you will need to dedicate yourself to the graduate school admission process- including when it comes to writing assigned admission essays. Explore the essays below to get a good idea of what a successful graduate school essay includes, and what admissions officers will expect from the essay you write.
This section contains five sample essays
- Graduate School Sample Essay One
- Graduate School Sample Essay Two
- Graduate School Sample Essay Three
- Graduate School Sample Essay Four
- Graduate School Sample Essay Five
Graduate Essay Sample One
I believe that it is necessary to defy the standards of the present in order to think about the future. It is apparent that the subtext of current events and technological advancements are dictating change, a change that will bring about a world in which architecture must operate on modes that are beyond today’s normal. I want to pursue a Masters Degree in Architecture to prepare for this new normal. This advanced education will equip me with the expertise to challenge the practice of today. It is imperative that I learn from those who operate on the forefront of our profession. Through this program, I aspire to further develop my disciplinary interests in advanced tools for architectural form making and theory-based design research.
After my undergraduate studies, I continued the trajectory of developing my design sensibility by working for Tom Wiscombe in Los Angeles. His advanced approach to the discipline carries a significant influence on my current interests and methodologies. As much as it was a professional experience, it was a mentorship that advanced me as a designer and an aspiring architect. Design can be found anywhere at any time, as it is just a matter of how one observes. For example, while designing the National Museum of World Writing, we appropriated our 3D printer’s imperfect resolution to influence formal decisions. I was fortunate to work on strange and odd things like museums that reused extracted figures from medieval castle plans or an oversized fireplace that acted as circulation, structure, and book shelving. These architectural objects placed their respective surroundings in question, like an augmented reality overlay.
Architecture changes the status quo and extends beyond the built environment as it engages mediums that define our everyday reality and how we accept it. Academia engenders this pursuit towards the future ahead, with an ‘if not now, when’ attitude.
The culmination of my disciplinary training at Texas A&M University expresses a strong interest in contemporary ideas as they relate to the discourse. After I was introduced to canonical concepts in architecture ranging from Criticality to Digital Turn, I have gravitated towards Speculative Realism and Accelerationist Aesthetics. Eventually, like the faculty at Princeton, I aspire to contribute my own theoretical position in contemporary architectural discourse. My interest is in theory based architectural practice; however, I am open to a variety of research directions. There are several professors at Princeton whose works are especially appealing to me such as Sylvia Lavin (theory), Jesse Reiser (practice), Michael Meredith (practice). Studying these professors for my own studio projects have given me a sense that Princeton’s Master of Architecture program is a great match for my interests. I would be honored to join the environment Princeton has curated and to be given the opportunity to learn from those who have expert knowledge in combining theory with practice.
Graduate Essay Sample Two
My infatuation with architecture came rather late in my academic career. It was during a period when I had a lot of self doubts and internal conflicts in my life and architecture was the vehicle for this self realization. Through discussions with peers and professors alike, I was able to remove the small minded, suffocating ideations I had towards the discipline of architecture instilled in me early on in my academic career at my predominantly conservative university. After taking several interdisciplinary studios under Gabriel Esquivel, Casey Rehm (visiting professor from Sci-Arc), and Sarah Deyong (recipient of a Ph.D from Princeton) my preconceived notions of what architecture is, were trampled. From then on, everything became about architecture. It was through this newfound respect for architecture, and design in general, I was able to find myself navigating new realms of creative personal expressions. I was able to reflect upon these new exposures and gathered self realization about my previous biases. As facetious as it may sound, I owe architecture to my coming out as bisexual, something I struggled to come to terms with for years. I was able to shed the prejudices and self hatred instilled in me throughout my conservative, religious upbringing through a new personal expression, that is, design. I felt that I finally had a confidence in myself I was never able to achieve before. The architecture community became a safe space for me. I developed personal relationships with my professors and colleagues because I finally felt that I could express myself the way I’ve always wanted to, in ways I never knew I could. This expression is communicated through the provocative and occasionally quirky nature of graphic representation seen in my work. Quite like the designer, I see each project to have its own individual identity and I wish to show it’s representation as such. I looked towards queer artists and other creatives (the drag community, fashion designers, film directors) to fuel my intrigue due to their unique and unfearing assertion of who they are through their works, and as a result, I was able to find a voice for myself.
However, being at such an early stage in my architectural career, I believe I do not yet have the privilege to have a brand for my work. I wish to attend graduate school and study under established architects, pursuing their agenda and identity and then utilizing certain aspects in my own work later on, creating a representation I can call my own through the drawing of intersections between representation and the built form. During my journey as an architecture student I have honed a variety of applicable skills and points of interest in the domain of architecture. These interests include the investigation of architectural philosophy and theory through cross disciplinary studies. I am very interested in formal characteristics of autonomous objects and their ability to respond to their own context. The ever-present quest for exposure to theoretical topics fuel my passion for design. I also have an inclination towards architectural visualization and representation. There’s a soft spot in my design aesthetic heart for the estranged, outlandish, otherworldly, comical, playful, and somewhat absurd executions of architectural questions. Objects that oscillate between building, machine, or critter. I have an affinity for works that tell a narrative through design at all scales. The works of Erin Besler, Michael Meredith, and Paul Lewis have interested me greatly and I believe their styles align nicely with what I would like to pursue in my graduate experience. I would hope to one day be able to study under them in a studio setting.
I would be more than grateful to continue my architectural career at the Princeton School of Architecture. I believe there is a strong aversion to formal analyses and design at all scales through interdisciplinary explorations of historical/theoretical, socio-political, and digital methodologies. I would like to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. I wish to bring about this awareness and advocate through pursuits in design. Though the design community is most stereotypically where this community thrives, we are still underrepresented and sometimes undermined due to incorrect misconceptions. I wish to work in tandem with queer artists and designers to create spaces, products, and/or works that represent this community in the light that they deserve. I hope to grow as a designer on all fronts in the hopes that I may foster ideals for a design firm of my own someday, whether that be in architecture, graphics, products, or fashion. After gaining an identity for myself through the learning under this esteemed faculty I hope to head back to the classroom as a professor myself. I have had substantial mentoring/teaching experience throughout my undergraduate career as a Camp ARCH counselor for high school students, serving as their first introduction to the possibilities of architecture as well as serving as a studio liaison, teaching underclassmen softwares such as Rhino, Maya, Keyshot, Vray, and Adobe Suite. Teaching is a passion of mine and I would love nothing more than to teach something that I love so much. Attending the Princeton School of Architecture for my Masters of Architecture would be an incredible next step in my life for furthering my career and myself.
Graduate Essay Sample Three
Growing up in a low-income immigrant home in Fresno, California, history always captivated my curiosity, serving as an escape to a distinct yet similar past. This lifelong intellectual curiosity for history now drives me to become a professional historian. My own scholarly progression toward academia was catalyzed by a series of experiences in rigorous inquiry and research. Being admitted into the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) helped me realize that a career in academia was not only possible, but also important for young scholars of color like myself to consider. Through workshops, mentorship opportunities, and conferences that I participated in as an MMUF Fellow, I confirmed my passion for research. I gained concrete research skills in the summer of 2014 through the MMUF Summer Research Training Program, a ten-week program focused on academic writing, research techniques, and historical methods. That same summer, I began working as a research assistant for Professor Tianna Paschel. As a research assistant, I helped copyedit two manuscripts for publication that involved specialized citation research, transcription, and translation.
Writing my senior thesis in history at the University of Chicago was the major turning point in this intellectual trek. My main scholarly question was to understand how Latino political identity was forged and powerfully emerged around the 1983 mayoral campaign for Harold Washington, who was elected as Chicago’s first Black mayor. This project allowed me to work closely in two of Chicago’s historical archives, supplementing this research with a wide variety of primary and secondary sources. As I worked independently on my thesis, keeping track of personal deadlines and staying disciplined was tantamount to my success and a great learning experience. Throughout the process of crafting research questions and formulating an argument structure, I was also able to engage my work with peers and senior experts at many conferences, most notable of which was the International Latino Studies Conference. With the guidance of my faculty mentors, my thesis was awarded the University’s Cox-Just Prize and will be published in the faculty-edited Chicago Studies Journal in early 2017.
Upon graduating from the University of Chicago in June of 2015, I decided to take some time off to broaden my perspective and gain new skills as a Research Analyst for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In this capacity I focus on the regulation and reform of Medicaid policies as they relate to the in-home healthcare industry. I have gained many new skills in legal research methods, survey creation, and quantitative data analysis through my assigned projects. In the world of organized labor, the timeline for research projects is very fast-paced and the types of sources used are very different from historical primary sources. But despite the dissimilar contexts of public sector and academic research, I have learned invaluable professional research skills that have prepared me to embark on my graduate studies with confidence.
During my time with SEIU, I was given the opportunity to work in Nevada as part of the national union voter mobilization effort for five weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election. By targeting and engaging with specific communities, we worked to form a coalition of disparate groups to support progressive candidates. And though I was sent to Nevada with a very clear objective, I returned from the experience with many complex research questions about American politics and society. The issues that I witnessed on the campaign did not appear to be new, but rather grounded in the political history of the United States in the long-twentieth century. Inspired by my recent observations, I want to follow the line of inquiry around elections themselves as catalysts shaping and revealing the historical processes of group identity formation. Within the discourse of political history, my dissertation research interest positions electoral campaigns at the center of an analytical framework in order to better understand the construction of social, racial, and political identities.
Political candidates have used the rhetoric of constituency to galvanize voters for decades, closely aligned with the formation of group identity. The historical problem at hand is analyzing the extent to which the political forces of elections actively propelled the development of identities, rather than simply appealing to “preexisting” factions. Additionally, the converse is also equally important, wherein elections demonstrate that historically cohesive identities are actually more divided than has been assumed. Specifically for my research, I want to delve into archival records from various twentieth-century political campaigns to uncover the language, organizing, strategy, and advertising that reinforced the social categorization of individuals into blocs such as Latinos, organized labor, and others. To this end, I conceive this to be a history of presidential campaigns as much as it is an urban history, as group identity is also powerfully shaped by the politics of neighborhoods and local elections.
To become the researcher and historian that I aspire to be requires a mix of ingredients: various theoretical perspectives, thoughtful mentorship, and most importantly, a challenging intellectual environment. Without a doubt, these are the very reasons I am applying to Columbia. I am particularly inspired by the possibility of working with Professor Mae Ngai, whose scholarship on the history of citizenship and national identity in Impossible Subjects is closely aligned with many of my research interests. Similarly enkindling are the methodological frameworks in political history employed by Professor Alan Brinkley’s work on the American presidency that I would like to learn from and incorporate into my own research. Additionally, I am also interested in working with Professor Ira Katznelson upon his return from sabbatical in 2018. Overall, I hope to contribute as much to the intellectual community of the department and the University as I hope to learn from it. My decision to apply to Columbia’s program was not rushed, but rather carefully considered as the ideal place where I can grow as a scholar, broaden my worldview, sharpen my methodology, and engage in the discourse of history as I begin my academic career.
Graduate Essay Sample Four
Here in the United States, our healthcare and education systems face a similar intractable problem: poor outcomes relative to exorbitant spending. My focus on these two policy areas through my studies in the Woodrow Wilson School and work as a Policy Analyst have taught me that the monolithic inefficiencies of these systems are complex, deeply rooted, and defy big fixes and silver bullet solutions.
Yet, I’ve seen firsthand how small, targeted initiatives in areas that are governed by stale or misguided policies and ripe for innovation can create meaningful change. My senior thesis focused on the relatively low levels of financial literacy among American youth when compared to other countries. Most U.S. schools do not offer financial learning as part of their curriculum and little research has been done on the subject. Performing a regression analysis using the first international assessment of youth financial literacy test scores, I identified a positive relationship between mandatory financial education and literacy and identified the specific curriculum structures that had the most impact. Focusing on one small area of education policy, I was able to fill a literature gap and make novel evidence-based recommendations to prepare students to make sound personal finance decisions.
Similarly in healthcare, my recent investigative work as a Policy Analyst hones in on a specific area of Medicare policy: how to drive greater efficiencies of quality and care through bundled payment models. I’ve played a key role in the design and refinement of both Medicare’s Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative as well as its End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System. This work is critical to ensure that payments are accurately adjusted to account for the riskiest and high-cost patients in a way that improves access to care and prevents care stinting. Thus, by improving the statistical models that determine these payments, my work has impacted the lives of millions of the most vulnerable Americans.
In my experience as a Policy Analyst, I have found that one small, targeted policy success such as these can beget many more. Several of the most promising Medicare initiatives I’ve worked on have since been expanded to new diseases, new settings of care, or have even been transformed from voluntary to mandatory. When highly focused fixes or innovations are proven effective through robust analysis, policymakers are often eager to fine-tune and scale them for application in other contexts.
This is how I would like to contribute to the education and healthcare policy fields. I want to identify specific inefficiencies and previously untapped opportunities for improvement, pinpoint their barriers to change, use evidence-based tools to create and spread replicable solutions, and relentlessly chip away at enough small pieces to make a substantial impact.
I’m not so naïve, however, to believe that a thoughtful process of gradual, systematic, and evidence-based change is sufficient for success. Addressing inefficiencies and poor outcomes in healthcare and education policy also requires that solutions are communicated and messaged effectively. This is particularly important for driving change across impassioned policy areas such as these, where emotional intuition can be in conflict with empirical evidence. It can also be challenging when solutions are developed using complex methods but must be communicated to a general audience in a digestible way. So in addition to advancing the technical skills needed to affect positive change, I plan to use my MPP training to develop the communication and leadership skills that will help me bridge these worlds, so that the evidence-based solutions I work on can be widely accepted by key stakeholders and the public at large.
Graduate Essay Sample Five
I am absolutely fascinated by the astonishing simplicity of the genetic code. That an entire living, breathing being can be programmed from four simple letters is miraculous to me. From the day I first learned about genetics in my high school biology course, I fell in love with the elegance of DNA, its structure, its potential for variability, and its resistance to harmful mutation when the dysfunction of any one of thousands of genes could be detrimental to life.
In the genomic era, information is more widely available than ever before. I am passionate about demystifying genetic data and uncovering the unique mutations underlying each patient’s illness. In the course of cancer treatment, being able to succinctly choose effective therapeutics based on specific pathways determined by genetic biomarkers can save months or even years of valuable time in a patient’s life.
I believe that communication from bench to bedside is crucial to advancing biomedical research and achievement. As a physician, I hope to use my nuanced understanding of molecular genetics to fully educate my patients on their conditions and walk them through treatment with a firm understanding of its effect on their body at the smallest level. As a scientist, I hope to bring my direct experience with medical care to emphasize the most pressing problems facing patients and strive to answer the questions most essential to improving my patients’ quality of life. A combination of the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees will uniquely qualify me to push the boundary of cancer genetics research with both patients and researchers in mind.
The past three years in a research lab have fueled my drive to investigate the unknown and to elucidate life’s greatest secrecies. Work done in the lab is thrilling and immensely rewarding; I am enamored with the process of research at every phase from concept to breakthrough. I find scientific theory captivating – from days of drawing out organic chemistry mechanisms for fun to hours searching the internet to learn about the latest trials in cancer immunotherapy, I am constantly amazed by the intricacy, complexity, and beauty of the compounds that comprise human life.
I hope to pursue a career as a pediatric oncologist and cancer genetics investigator. I cannot imagine a livelihood without aspects of either discovery or patient interaction. I believe that raw science informs and enhances medicine, and I hope to advance my career at the interface of these two disciplines, hovering on the cutting edge of genetic testing, drug design, and development of novel treatment. As the use of genetic information and genetics-based research permeates all specialties of care, there is no better time to be a physician-scientist in the field - and I am ecstatic to be in the center of the action.