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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

phd paper example

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings . In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

phd paper example

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The acknowledgements section of a thesis/dissertation

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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How to write a PhD thesis: a step-by-step guide

A draft isn’t a perfect, finished product; it is your opportunity to start getting words down on paper, writes Kelly Louise Preece

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Kelly Louise Preece

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Man working on his PhD thesis

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Congratulations; you’ve finished your research! Time to write your PhD thesis. This resource will take you through an eight-step plan for drafting your chapters and your thesis as a whole. 

Infographic with steps on how to draft your PhD thesis

Organise your material

Before you start, it’s important to get organised. Take a step back and look at the data you have, then reorganise your research. Which parts of it are central to your thesis and which bits need putting to one side? Label and organise everything using logical folders – make it easy for yourself! Academic and blogger Pat Thomson calls this  “Clean up to get clearer” . Thomson suggests these questions to ask yourself before you start writing:

  • What data do you have? You might find it useful to write out a list of types of data (your supervisor will find this list useful too.) This list is also an audit document that can go in your thesis. Do you have any for the “cutting room floor”? Take a deep breath and put it in a separate non-thesis file. You can easily retrieve it if it turns out you need it.
  • What do you have already written? What chunks of material have you written so far that could form the basis of pieces of the thesis text? They will most likely need to be revised but they are useful starting points. Do you have any holding text? That is material you already know has to be rewritten but contains information that will be the basis of a new piece of text.
  • What have you read and what do you still need to read? Are there new texts that you need to consult now after your analysis? What readings can you now put to one side, knowing that they aren’t useful for this thesis – although they might be useful at another time?
  • What goes with what? Can you create chunks or themes of materials that are going to form the basis of some chunks of your text, perhaps even chapters?

Once you have assessed and sorted what you have collected and generated you will be in much better shape to approach the big task of composing the dissertation. 

Decide on a key message

A key message is a summary of new information communicated in your thesis. You should have started to map this out already in the section on argument and contribution – an overarching argument with building blocks that you will flesh out in individual chapters.

You have already mapped your argument visually, now you need to begin writing it in prose. Following another of Pat Thomson’s exercises, write a “tiny text” thesis abstract. This doesn’t have to be elegant, or indeed the finished product, but it will help you articulate the argument you want your thesis to make. You create a tiny text using a five-paragraph structure:

  • The first sentence addresses the broad context. This locates the study in a policy, practice or research field.
  • The second sentence establishes a problem related to the broad context you have set out. It often starts with “But”, “Yet” or “However”.
  • The third sentence says what specific research has been done. This often starts with “This research” or “I report…”
  • The fourth sentence reports the results. Don’t try to be too tricky here, just start with something like: “This study shows,” or “Analysis of the data suggests that…”
  • The fifth and final sentence addresses the “So What?” question and makes clear the claim to contribution.

Here’s an example that Thomson provides:

Secondary school arts are in trouble, as the fall in enrolments in arts subjects dramatically attests. However, there is patchy evidence about the benefits of studying arts subjects at school and this makes it hard to argue why the drop in arts enrolments matters. This thesis reports on research which attempts to provide some answers to this problem – a longitudinal study which followed two groups of senior secondary students, one group enrolled in arts subjects and the other not, for three years. The results of the study demonstrate the benefits of young people’s engagement in arts activities, both in and out of school, as well as the connections between the two. The study not only adds to what is known about the benefits of both formal and informal arts education but also provides robust evidence for policymakers and practitioners arguing for the benefits of the arts. You can  find out more about tiny texts and thesis abstracts on Thomson’s blog.

  • Writing tips for higher education professionals
  • Resource collection on academic writing
  • What is your academic writing temperament?

Write a plan

You might not be a planner when it comes to writing. You might prefer to sit, type and think through ideas as you go. That’s OK. Everybody works differently. But one of the benefits of planning your writing is that your plan can help you when you get stuck. It can help with writer’s block (more on this shortly!) but also maintain clarity of intention and purpose in your writing.

You can do this by creating a  thesis skeleton or storyboard , planning the order of your chapters, thinking of potential titles (which may change at a later stage), noting down what each chapter/section will cover and considering how many words you will dedicate to each chapter (make sure the total doesn’t exceed the maximum word limit allowed).

Use your plan to help prompt your writing when you get stuck and to develop clarity in your writing.

Some starting points include:

  • This chapter will argue that…
  • This section illustrates that…
  • This paragraph provides evidence that…

Of course, we wish it werethat easy. But you need to approach your first draft as exactly that: a draft. It isn’t a perfect, finished product; it is your opportunity to start getting words down on paper. Start with whichever chapter you feel you want to write first; you don’t necessarily have to write the introduction first. Depending on your research, you may find it easier to begin with your empirical/data chapters.

Vitae advocates for the “three draft approach” to help with this and to stop you from focusing on finding exactly the right word or transition as part of your first draft.

Infographic of the three draft approach

This resource originally appeared on Researcher Development .

Kelly Louse Preece is head of educator development at the University of Exeter.

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Phd Essay Examples

Nova A.

Get Inspired With These Exceptional PhD Essay Examples

Published on: May 6, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

PhD Essay Examples

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Are you a Ph.D. student struggling to write a standout essay for your application?

Well, the competition for Ph.D. admissions can be intense, and your essay can set you apart from other applicants. But where do you start?

One effective way to get started is by examining successful Ph.D. essay examples. By studying strong examples, you can gain insights into what makes a great Ph.D. essay.

In this blog, we'll provide you with various Ph.D. essay examples. By examining these essays, you'll see how to present your research interests and goals. You will also learn how to apply those techniques to your own writing.

So let’s start with the blog!

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Ph.D. Essays Examples by Experts

Examples provide valuable insight into the writing process. To give you an idea of what successful Ph.D. essays look like, here are some examples written by experts.

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Md Phd Essay Examples

If you're applying to an MD-PhD program, you'll want to put your best foot forward in your essay. These examples can give you an idea of what to strive for. Check out!

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Want to learn more about MD/Ph.D. essay writing? Check out this video!

Graduate School Essay Examples

To help you get a better sense of what is a graduate school essay, and how it may differ from master's and Ph.D. essays, here are some examples:

?Personal Statement Examples For Graduate School Psychology

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Free Sample Essay For Graduate School Admission

Common Ph.D. Essay Prompts And Their Examples 

When applying to a Ph.D. program, it can be challenging to impress the admissions committee. To help you craft a successful application, we have compiled some sample prompts below.

Why Do You Want to Pursue A Ph.D.?

What Are Your Research Interests?

What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?

How Has Your Academic Background Prepared You For Doctoral Studies?

What Makes You A Good Fit For This Ph.D. Program?

How To Write a Ph.D. Essay?

Crafting a successful Ph.D. essay requires careful planning, research, and attention to detail. Here are some steps to guide you through the process and help you create a strong essay.

Step# 1 Understand The Prompt 

Before you start writing, make sure you understand the essay prompt and any specific requirements or guidelines provided.

Step# 2 Conduct Research 

Do your literature search on the topic to develop a deep understanding of the subject matter and identify key areas of interest.

Step# 3 Develop an Outline 

Organize your thoughts and research into a clear and structured outline. Your outline should include an introduction, main body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Step# 4 Write The Essay 

Use your outline as a guide and begin writing your essay. Be sure to maintain a clear writing style, use appropriate terminology, and support your arguments with evidence.

Step# 5 Edit and Proofread 

Once you have finished writing, carefully edit and proofread your essay. It will help you ensure that it is well-written, free of errors, and effectively conveys your message.

Step# 6 Get Feedback 

Consider sharing your essay with trusted colleagues, mentors, or friends to get feedback and constructive criticism. Use their suggestions to further refine and improve your essay.

Step# 7 Finalize and Submit 

Once you are satisfied with your essay, make any final edits and submit your application on time, ensuring that all necessary materials have been included.

Ph.D. Essay Outline

Here is a sample outline for a Ph.D. essay:

Note: This is just a sample outline and the specific sections may vary depending on the requirements of the Ph.D. program and the topic of research.

Ph.D. Essay Format

Here are some general guidelines to follow while writing a Ph.D. essay:

  • Font: Use a clear and legible font such as Times New Roman or Arial, in 12-point size.
  • Margins: Set margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Spacing: Double-space the text throughout the essay, including between paragraphs.
  • Title Page: Include a title page with the title of your essay, your name, and the name of your program or institution.
  • Table of Contents: If your essay is longer, consider including a table of contents to help the reader navigate through the essay.
  • Sections and Headings: Organize your essay into clear sections and use headings to guide the reader. Follow any specific guidelines provided by your program for section headings.
  • Citations and References: Use a consistent citation style such as APA or MLA, and include a list of cited sources and references.

It's important to follow any specific formatting guidelines provided by your institution to ensure that your Ph.D. essay is professional-looking.

Tips For Writing a Successful Ph.D. Essay

Here are some tips for writing a successful Ph.D. essay that will improve your chances of being accepted into the program:

  • Focus on original research: Emphasize your unique research goals and objectives, and explain why they are important to the field.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant literature: Showcase your knowledge of the current research in your field. Discuss how your work will build upon existing knowledge.
  • Avoid common mistakes: Be sure to avoid mistakes such as overusing jargon , neglecting to define key terms, and failing to make a clear argument.
  • Proofread and edit: Always proofread and edit your essay for grammar and syntax errors, as well as for clarity and coherence.
  • Stay organized: Make sure your essay is well-structured with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion that effectively convey your message.

The Bottom Line!

We hope that these PhD essay examples have given you some inspiration for your own essay. Pursuing a PhD is a significant academic endeavor, and your essay is an opportunity to showcase your expertise, which will impact your future career.

Use these examples as a starting point to craft a unique essay that highlights your strengths and contributions to your field of study.

However, if you're still unsure where to start, don't hesitate to try our AI essay writing tools .

Our PhD essay writing service has a team of experienced writers. They can help you create an impressive essay that meets the requirements of your program. 

Visit our website, and just ask write my college essay , and we'll handle the rest! 

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phd paper example

How to Write M.D.-Ph.D. Application Essays

M.D.-Ph.D. applicants should write essays that highlight their scientific curiosity and knowledge.

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M.D.-Ph.D. applicants are usually expected to write more admissions essays than traditional medical school applicants.

Pursuing an M.D.-Ph.D. degree , which combines the rigors of medical school with the difficulty of a doctoral thesis, is not a challenge to be taken lightly. Becoming a physician-scientist requires demanding training; people who pursue this profession must be prepared to both heal sick patients and conduct biomedical research.

M.D.-Ph.D. programs usually last between seven to eight years, so admissions officers for these programs want to ensure that the students they choose are ready to commit to many years of strenuous study.

Admissions officers also want to select students who have a history of conducting meaningful academic research and who have the potential to increase knowledge in the medical profession. Because M.D.-Ph.D. students frequently attend medical school for free through full scholarships and also receive stipends to pay their living expenses, M.D.-Ph.D. programs hold applicants to high academic standards.

Dr. McGreggor Crowley, an admissions counselor at the education consulting firm IvyWise who previously served on the Harvard Medical School admissions commitee, says that M.D.-Ph.D. programs seek students who are diligent and self-motivated.

"They're going to want someone who is going to dive into a project and take ownership of it and take control of it," Crowley says.

M.D.-Ph.D. applicants are typically expected to write more admissions essays than traditional medical school applicants. In addition to the personal comments essay , which is mandatory for all M.D. applicants who submit their credentials using the American Medical College Application Service, M.D.-Ph.D. hopefuls who use this application method are also obligated to write two supplemental essays. They must write an M.D.-Ph.D. essay, where they explain why they want both a traditional medical degree and a Ph.D. degree, and a significant research experience essay, where they describe the scientific research they have conducted.

Learn about how M.D.-Ph.D. programs

M.D.-Ph.D. admissions officers say that when they read these supplemental essays, they are looking for evidence that an applicant has the grit, initiative, academic aptitude and love of science necessary to excel in an M.D.-Ph.D. program.

Dr. Michael Donnenberg, the senior associate dean for research and research training at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and director of its M.D.-Ph.D program, says when he reads M.D.-Ph.D. applications, he looks for signs that these students wouldn't be satisfied by a career that didn't involve both clinical medicine and research medicine.

Pursue a medical career

"I'm always looking for that, not that they can't decide which one they want to do, but that they can't imagine giving one up for the other," he says. "I think that's a really essential quality of a physician scientist."

Dr. Andrew Zinn, director of the Medical Scientist Training Program and dean of the graduate school of biomedical sciences at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center , says he appreciates when M.D.-Ph.D. applicants demonstrate strong interest in a particular area of medicine. Ideally, applicants have completed a series of significant research projects on a specific topic, he says.

"I like to see somebody who has prioritized depth over breadth," Zinn says.

With that in mind, below are two M.D.-Ph.D. admissions essays that impressed admissions officers. The first is an M.D.-Ph.D. motivation essay submitted by a student who was accepted to the M.D.-Ph.D. program at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center but ultimately decided to go elsewhere.

phd paper example

Zinn says one key reason why this M.D.-Ph.D. motivation essay made a positive impression is because it conveyed the applicant's strong interest in investigating treatments for a specific disease, which in this case was multiple sclerosis. Zinn says very few M.D.-Ph.D. applicants have identified the particular medical problem that they want to solve using their research.

"That's unusual for an individual at his stage of training," Zinn says. "It indicates a sophistication, a maturity. It's not absolutely essential, but it does stand out. It's unusual to see somebody who really found their passion in 10th grade and has worked toward that passion."

The second essay is a significant research experience submission authored by an incoming M.D.-Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

phd paper example

Donnenberg says the aspect of this significant research experience essay that impressed him the most was how it conveyed the applicant's persistence when faced with research challenges.

While he personally doesn't care if an M.D.-Ph.D. applicant knows what field they want to study in the Ph.D, portion of an M.D.-Ph.D. program, he is focused on finding students who are prepared to handle the rigors of scientific research.

Donnenberg says he was especially intrigued by the applicant's description of the problems she faced in her various research projects, what she did to address those problems and the lessons she learned from those difficult circumstances. Many M.D.-Ph.D. applicants avoid discussing lab failures to only highlight the experiments that went well, but he was impressed that this applicant took the opposite approach.

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Phd Essay Samples

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Learn To Write Ph.D. Essay Through Ph.D. Essay Samples

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Write The Best Ph.D. Essay By Following These Tips!

Are you considering applying for a Ph.D. program for a future career? You will first need to write a Ph.D. essay as part of the admission process.

But don't worry! With a little practice, you'll be able to write PhD essays like a pro.

So how do you go about writing a Phd.-level essay? The best way to learn is by example.

That's why we've collected some of the best Ph.D. essay samples and put them all in one place for you to read and study.

So check out these samples and learn how it’s done!

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  • 1. Ph.D. Essay Samples by Experts
  • 2. Tips For Writing Ph.D. Essay
  • 3. Features of Successful Ph.D. Essays

Ph.D. Essay Samples by Experts

If you're thinking about applying for a Ph.D. program, be sure to study these successful sample essays.

This will give you a good idea of what the admissions committee is looking for. It will also help you learn how to structure and organize your thoughts. Here are a few PhD essay samples for reference:

Personal Statement For PhD | PDF Example 

Personal Statement For PhD | PDF Example

Sample PhD Essay - Free Admission Essay Sample

PhD Personal Statement Sample - Free Download

Example of PhD Personal Statement | Free PDF

Ph.D. Admission Essay Sample - Free PDF Example

Tips For Writing Ph.D. Essay

A PhD personal statement can be tough to write. But with the right tips, you can make the process a lot easier. 

Here are six tips to help you out:

Start With a Strong Introduction

Your introduction should be clear and concise, and it should state your position on the topic at hand. It should also provide a brief background for the points you will cover in the body of your essay.

Furthermore, when writing a Ph.D. essay, it's important to start with a strong thesis statement . This is a sentence that states your position on the topic. 

So make your thesis statement clear, short, and catchy.

Use Strong Supporting Evidence

Don’t just rely on your opinion. Use facts and statistics from credible sources to support your argument.

The most important part of writing a Ph.D. essay is the strength of your narrative. 

So make sure to support your narrative with evidence from credible sources. This could include facts, statistics, research studies, or quotes from experts in the field.

Stay Organized

When you're writing an essay, it's important to stay organized. 

Make sure to structure your essay in a logical way, and use headings and subheadings to help readers follow your argument. 

One way to stay organized is to make an outline before you start writing. This will help you map out your thoughts and ensure that all your points are covered. 

Write a Draft 

After you have made an outline, you can start writing a draft of your essay. 

Don’t worry about making it perfect at this stage. The first draft is your opportunity to get all of your thoughts down on paper. You can always go back and edit later on, but getting started is the essential part. 

So don’t be afraid to write a rough draft. Just make sure to take the time to revise and polish your work before you submit it. 

Proofread and Edit Your Work

Once you have written a draft, it’s time to edit and revise your work. 

Crafting polished pieces that are free of errors requires a lot of editing. Read through your essay several times to check for any grammar or spelling errors. 

Make sure that your essay flows well. You may also want to add or remove sections at this stage.

You should also look for any areas where your argument could be stronger and think about ways to improve them. This can include adding more evidence or restructuring passages to make them clearer. 

Finally, remember to proofread it several times before submitting it so that it’s the best it can be.

At this stage, you can also take help from your friends and teachers to proofread your essay. Having your essay read by someone else is a great way to find any mistakes you may have missed.

Proofreading and editing are essential steps in the writing process, and they can make a big difference in the final product. 

So don't skip them – make sure to give your essay the attention it deserves! 

Format Your Essay

In addition, format your essay according to the instructions provided by the university you are applying to. Formatting your essay correctly is a simple but significant step that will be noticed.

There are several different academic writing styles used by different institutions. These include the APA , MLA , Harvard , Chicago , and other citation styles . 

So always check the formatting guidelines and ensure that your essay conforms to those guidelines.

Features of Successful Ph.D. Essays

A Ph.D. essay demonstrates your understanding of the topic, your ability to think critically, and your writing skills.

So what makes a Ph.D. essay successful? There are several key elements, including:

  • Clear thesis statement: 

Your thesis should be clear and concise, and it should be evident from the beginning of your essay.

  • Well-organized body paragraphs: 

Each paragraph should have a specific focus and flow smoothly into the next one.

  • Strong narrative points: 

Make sure your narrative arguments are well-supported and logical.

  • Effective use of evidence: 

Use evidence to support your points and make your argument stronger.

  • Well-written conclusion:

The conclusion is often the most important part of an essay, so make sure you leave the reader with a strong impression.

Including these elements will give you everything needed to write a successful Ph.D. essay. 

By following these tips, you can write a strong Ph.D. essay that will help you get accepted into your dream program. 

Ph.D. essays can be challenging, but if you follow these examples, you'll write a paper that will impress the admissions committee. Make sure to do your research, stay organized, and edit as much as you need! 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by writing a Ph.D. essay, don't worry – you're not alone. Consider hiring our PhD essay writing service to help you out. Our professionals can write a polished and error-free essay for you.

Hire our essay writing service now! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should i include in my phd essay.

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Your PhD essay should reflect your research and interest in the subject. Ensure to include relevant evidence and persuasive arguments supporting your point of view. Additionally, keep in mind the format requirements for the essay – such as word count and formatting. 

How can you use a PhD essay sample to improve your writing?

Reading a sample essay can be helpful for understanding the expectations and conventions of a PhD essay. You can use samples to get an idea of how to structure your own essay, as well as what kind of language and evidence are used by experts in the field. 

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John K.

John K. is a professional writer and author with many publications to his name. He has a Ph.D. in the field of management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is highly sought after for his insights and knowledge, and he regularly delivers keynote speeches and conducts workshops on various topics related to writing and publishing. He is also a regular contributor to various online publications.

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The  PhD Dissertation Formatting Guide  (updated Spring 2023) is the source of all formatting requirements and guidelines for PhD Dissertations. Make sure to follow the guide when writing your dissertation.

Double check your formatting with the  PhD Dissertation Formatting Checklist  before submission.

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Harvard University Theses, Dissertations, and Prize Papers

The Harvard University Archives ’ collection of theses, dissertations, and prize papers document the wide range of academic research undertaken by Harvard students over the course of the University’s history.

Beyond their value as pieces of original research, these collections document the history of American higher education, chronicling both the growth of Harvard as a major research institution as well as the development of numerous academic fields. They are also an important source of biographical information, offering insight into the academic careers of the authors.

Printed list of works awarded the Bowdoin prize in 1889-1890.

Spanning from the ‘theses and quaestiones’ of the 17th and 18th centuries to the current yearly output of student research, they include both the first Harvard Ph.D. dissertation (by William Byerly, Ph.D . 1873) and the dissertation of the first woman to earn a doctorate from Harvard ( Lorna Myrtle Hodgkinson , Ed.D. 1922).

Other highlights include:

  • The collection of Mathematical theses, 1782-1839
  • The 1895 Ph.D. dissertation of W.E.B. Du Bois, The suppression of the African slave trade in the United States, 1638-1871
  • Ph.D. dissertations of astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (Ph.D. 1925) and physicist John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (Ph.D. 1922)
  • Undergraduate honors theses of novelist John Updike (A.B. 1954), filmmaker Terrence Malick (A.B. 1966),  and U.S. poet laureate Tracy Smith (A.B. 1994)
  • Undergraduate prize papers and dissertations of philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson (A.B. 1821), George Santayana (Ph.D. 1889), and W.V. Quine (Ph.D. 1932)
  • Undergraduate honors theses of U.S. President John F. Kennedy (A.B. 1940) and Chief Justice John Roberts (A.B. 1976)

What does a prize-winning thesis look like?

If you're a Harvard undergraduate writing your own thesis, it can be helpful to review recent prize-winning theses. The Harvard University Archives has made available for digital lending all of the Thomas Hoopes Prize winners from the 2019-2021 academic years.

Accessing These Materials

How to access materials at the Harvard University Archives

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All theses with publications must have the following:

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  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methods
  • Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion
  • Chapter 5: Paper 2
  • Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter – results
  • Chapter 7 : Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion
  • Appendices - May include CD, DVD or other material, also reviews & methods papers
  • Chapter 2: Methods
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  • Chapter 4: Regular thesis chapter
  • Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 7: General discussion
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  • Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 8: General discussion
  • Chapter 4: Paper 2 - e.g. data paper, including meta analyses
  • Chapter 5: Paper 3
  • Chapter 6: Paper 4
  • Chapter 7: Paper 5
  • Chapter 3: Major paper
  • Chapter 4: Normal thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 5: General discussion

Chapter examples

  • Introduction – including specific aims and hypotheses
  • Introduction – including specific aims, hypotheses
  • Methods – results (including validation, preliminary) not included in the paper
  • Results (including validation, preliminary) not included in paper
  • Discussion – expansion of paper discussion, further method development
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Articles & Advice > Graduate School > Articles

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3 Great Grad School Application Essay Examples

The grad school personal statement is an important part of your application. Here are a few good graduate admission essay examples to inspire you.

by CollegeXpress

Last Updated: Jan 3, 2024

Originally Posted: Jun 15, 2017

Graduate school application essays, personal statements, and letters of intent can be a major hurdle to overcome in the application process. Getting just the right words on paper to convey why you want to go to grad school and the impact you intend to have using your degree is a lot to ask. To help you get some inspiration and tell your story the right way, check out these three essay examples. Every essay here comes from a successful grad school application, and after reading the essay we break down just what makes it good. And you’re going to love their stories.

Daniel Masciello, Juris Doctor

University of Connecticut Class of 2015

T ry. To get. Some. Slee—it’s no use.

It’s 3:00 am, 90 minutes before our day at work in the landfills of rural Thailand is set to begin, and the 60-watt bulb is still shining bright overhead. It is radiant.

Directly on my left is one grown man’s bare armpit; to my right is more of the same. I keep my nose pointed at the ceiling. I can’t lift my arms because I am too big, a Caucasian beetle trying to fit into this Thai ant colony.

I’ve been lying still for the better part of six hours now, unable to determine exactly why my host family insists on leaving the brightest light in the house on all night (to this day, still a mystery). It is not for a child’s sake; I, at 22 years old, am the youngest in the home. I’m also the only American. Five grown men, lined up snugly on a queen-sized mattress, are soundly sleeping while I contemplate excuses for not working in the landfill that day.

Twelve hours later, over sticky rice and “fresh” vegetables (from the landfill), I try to call out some of my bunkmates for being afraid of the dark. Nobody laughs at my jokes, but they don’t stop smiling either. Perhaps they don’t understand my infantile Thai. From what I can understand of them, they enjoy talking about how grumpy I’ve been all day. No sleep for some 60-odd hours and putting in two grueling days in the landfill, filtering through mountains of trash from the nearby city of Khon Kaen, looking for yogurt containers and car batteries in the hot Thai sun—these things can change a man’s general disposition.

But I did wake up and go to work with my host family. No, I was not prepared physically or mentally, nor was I in the best of moods that day. But the smiling way of the Thai people is infectious, and it wasn’t long before I was smiling too that night, stomach full and ready for more...

That was back in the fall of 2008. The study abroad program I was participating in revolved around studying specific issues (damning rivers, mining minerals, razing slums, etc.), staying with a village that was negatively affected by an issue, and then working to help solve the problem. It was not uncommon to have sessions lasting eight or nine hours just to prepare for a town meeting the next day. Free time after exchanges and interviews would be spent working in the fields with the villagers or perhaps working on our program’s publications. It was not your typical study abroad experience. I have yet to learn of another like it.

It was also challenging at times. Thailand changed my view on a lot of things for the better, including what it means to truly work hard. As a waiter back home, it was a routine practice to work 40 hours a week in addition to going to class and studying. Still, sometimes I wonder if I used jobs outside of class as a crutch. I always had the excuse: I have to work to support myself. But so do a lot of people. And for some of those people, like many of the villagers in Thailand, working extra hours is not temporary. It's a way of life.

At the time I'm not sure I truly appreciated the privilege I had of going to college, as my undergraduate GPA might indicate. Part of that disappointing number is that I feel as if I was afraid of putting 100% of my effort into school. If I was to put all my effort in and still get mediocre grades, I would have considered myself a failure. Apparently I couldn’t or refused to handle that. How cowardly, not to mention foolish!

But while I was in Thailand, I developed a confidence in myself that I simply hadn’t been able to locate before. On multiple occasions I tasted the failure that comes with studying complex issues in a foreign land. Each time it tasted horrible. But I worked on these failures.

For example, I nagged my homestay families to help me with my Thai and forced myself to request constructive criticism in a group setting. Through these trials I discovered the sweetest feeling of them all: perseverance. That meal next to the landfill, described above, was one of the most deliciously memorable meals of my life for that same reason. I was exhausted and maybe a little bit grumpy, but I learned to work through it—and smile too.

I am well aware that law school will probably force me to even further revise my definition of hard work and present challenges and setbacks the likes of which I may not have yet experienced. But I would like to face these challenges, and most importantly overcome them, at your school. I hope my letters of recommendation and LSAT score give the indication that I am capable of doing so. This essay, lastly, is a chance for me to convince you that I can and will. I look forward to hearing from you.

Why this essay is great

Try to stop reading this personal statement, we dare you. The introduction grabs you and doesn’t let go. But besides spinning a great yarn that also says a lot about Daniel’s values, this application essay has an important function: it thoughtfully and maturely addresses any concerns the graduate admission committee might have regarding Daniel’s undergraduate academic performance. Showing rather than telling, he depicts a person who is prepared to do the work to overcome obstacles and learn from mistakes. And since he was admitted to the grad program, clearly it worked.

Related:  How to Know If Law School Is Right for You

Bridget Sullivan, Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration

Boston College Class of 2017                                                                                                    

I did not know higher education existed as a field until I came to college. Despite this, it has surprisingly been the field that has had the largest impact on my college experience. It has given me direction going forward.

College has been my most important experience so far, in that it has allowed me to better understand how I interact with my environment and how others experience the world around them. Without the Student Affairs professionals I have interacted with over the past four years, I would not be where I am today. I hope that in my future as a Student Affairs professional I can give students the great experience I have been privileged to receive. I will take the lessons I have learned and those that I will learn in the future to improve the college experience for many future generations going forward. 

I have enjoyed being a Resident Advisor, a Parent Orientation Leader, and an Assistant Resident Director while attending the University of Massachusetts Lowell for the past four years. All of these jobs fall under the Office of Residence Life. These opportunities have been cornerstones of my college education. They have taught me the long-term and transferrable skills of organization, conflict management, and supervision.

I have most enjoyed being an Assistant Resident Director, as I get to work with the Resident Advisors and Resident Director in a more administrative capacity. The ARD works closely with the RD to get the work done and hold RAs accountable. I think my favorite part of being an ARD this year has been working with the RAs to make sure they have the best experience they can, while at the same time making sure they complete their work well and on time. I enjoy helping RAs and other students reach their full potential, and I feel that it is a learning process for me too. The ARD position has shown me how much I value helping others on the path I have set for myself through my experiences with the RAs I supervise.

Because of the ARD role I have been afforded, I have had the opportunity to see how this potential career may play out. I feel confident about my ability to transition to the professional side of the field because the ARD position has already forced me to take on many of these steps. I tested the waters of the potential career in my RA role last year; this year as an ARD has shown me that I know I can succeed. 

I am passionate about student affairs and higher education because it is an opportunity to work with college students and help them grow and develop. I truly believe that there isn’t a more rewarding career than one that allows you to help others. This field allows me to assist others every day at a time in their lives when many students need it most. It was my developmental path, and I want to give that support to others.

So far my academics and daily practice have not been linked nor intentional. I am excited to be able to make this so by starting a graduate program in higher education. Understanding my former responsibilities in terms of theory and learning how to turn new theories into practice is a process I cannot wait to begin. 

I know the Lynch School of Education can assist me in achieving this goal through their program in Higher Education Administration. The opportunity to study in the Boston area will give me a multitude of professional development opportunities that would be hard to find anywhere else. If I am admitted, I will work hard to maximize my time at the Lynch School and become a young professional who can innovate and improve upon current practices in the field.

This personal statement takes you on a journey, as Bridget discovers her calling as an undergrad, gets all the hands-on experience in it she can, and figures out the perfect way to make it her career: grad school. And not just any grad school—Boston College in particular! There’s no doubt in your mind that she’s going to take advantage of everything BC’s master’s program has to offer, and she has the real-world experience to back her claims up.

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Haviland Johannesson-Forgit,  Master of Arts in Arts Administration

Vermont State University , formerly Castleton University Class of 2018

While contemplating how I should approach my personal and professional goals and how earning an advanced degree will support them, I came upon my application essay for Goddard College that I wrote close to three years ago:

“Oftentimes, children who lack positive, authoritative figures and emotional support end up making unwise choices that stay with them and induce prejudice and judgment from other people who may be ignorant to what caused these children to make the choices in the first place. This cultural stigmatism that exists in our society often leads to these children being segmented into a disenfranchised group as adults. The misunderstanding and neglect that occurs in communities towards socially disenfranchised children goes against everything that I was raised to take in regard when attempting to understand a person.

I envision my studies reaching children and young adults in many different communities. It is my goal to immerse myself in rural, inner-city, and lower-income communities and meet these children before or in the midst of their time when the decisions they make can influence where their life may lead. I believe that the teachings of dance as a holistic lifestyle will provide outlets of knowledge and self-expression for these children and young adults that will lead them in positive directions.”

In this essay we were expected to write about our intentions and ambitions for our studies; to address the passions that acted as the drive for our work during our attendance at the college as well as after graduation. In returning to this essay, I was pleased to discover that my ambition and dedication to using the performing arts as a source of structure and reliability for youth in this country has not changed. When applying to Goddard College for my undergraduate degree I knew that I would want to continue on to pursue my graduate degree afterwards to enhance myself as a qualified candidate working in my field. Earning my advanced degree will enable me to go forth in the world as a confident and learned individual prepared to create the positive opportunities I envisioned years ago.

While earning my advanced degree, I intend to learn the details and structure that is needed to successfully run arts organizations. The closeness that Castleton University has with the Association for Arts Administration in developing its program for the MA in Arts Administration encourages me; it assures me that the quality and rigor of the program at Castleton is the right fit for my personal and professional aspirations. The efficacy of the program combined with the professional portfolio of projects demonstrating a mastery of skills in a range of areas in the arts and the six-credit culminating internship is exactly what I am looking for in an advanced degree program.

My background in the performing arts is broad. Not only have I have spent many years performing in productions of theater and dance, but I have also devoted my time and learning to other aspects of performance arts, whether it be technical, political, or social. My time attending Goddard College has proven to be extremely educational in training me in areas of social justice and cultural realizations of privilege, class, and human rights. With an accomplished and culturally diverse faculty and staff, the College requires its students to incorporate this training into their degrees, which makes for globally conscious citizens.

What I stand to bring to Castleton University’s campus is a vibrant love for the performing arts accompanied by acute social awareness training. My dedication to improving myself as an individual in my career is resolute; earning my advanced degree is vital to my continuing as a professional in a field so important to the foundation of our culture. I look forward to the opportunity of earning my Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Castleton University. 

Haviland draws a remarkable line from her undergraduate studies and goals to the present day . She’s been on a clear path for a long time, and grad school has always been part of the plan and the logical next step for her career. Her unwavering commitment to arts education and dance as a means for furthering social justice will serve her well professionally—and it probably impressed the graduate admission folks too. Haviland also references specific features of Castleton University’s graduate program, showing she’s genuinely interested in the school and its unique strengths.

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We hope these essay examples helped you get a better idea of where to take your grad school personal statements. The most important part of writing your essay is ensuring every word you put on the page is authentically you and true to your goals. You can write a great essay and get into a good grad school; just give yourself the time and flexibility by starting early and focusing on your story. Good luck!

Need help getting the ball rolling on your graduate essays? Check out these  Good Strategies for Writing Grad School Personal Essays from the experts at GradSchools.com.

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phd paper example

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  1. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Find out how to write a high-quality thesis or dissertation by looking at previous work done by other students on similar topics. Browse a list of award-winning undergraduate, master's, and PhD theses and dissertations from various disciplines.

  2. PDF Sample APA Paper: Professional Format for Graduate/Doctoral Students

    sample apa-7 paper for graduate/doctoral students 1 Created by Christy Owen of Liberty University's Online Writing Center [email protected]; last date modified: January 30, 2024

  3. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Learn how to outline your thesis or dissertation with a template and examples. Find out how to structure your chapters, use alternative sentence constructions, and avoid plagiarism.

  4. What Is a Dissertation?

    Learn how to write a dissertation, a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research. Download a free template, see examples, and get tips on structure, formatting, and proofreading.

  5. A Guide to Writing a PhD Thesis

    A Guide to Writing a PhD Thesis. A PhD thesis is a work of original research all students are requiured to submit in order to succesfully complete their PhD. The thesis details the research that you carried out during the course of your doctoral degree and highlights the outcomes and conclusions reached. The PhD thesis is the most important ...

  6. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

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    It often starts with "But", "Yet" or "However". The third sentence says what specific research has been done. This often starts with "This research" or "I report…". The fourth sentence reports the results. Don't try to be too tricky here, just start with something like: "This study shows," or "Analysis of the data ...

  9. PDF Writing a Graduate School Application Essay

    Create an outline for your essay, with a concrete thesis and examples to support it. Organize your points and examples to meet the needs of your readers , narrow your thoughts and experiences down from the brainstorming session. Perhaps most importantly, keep in mind any page length or word count restrictions! • Know your audience:

  10. Sample Dissertations & Theses

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    the paper ends up saying something that other people have said before. Your choice of topic should only be constrained by where you think you can do your best work. Usually, a more tightly focused paper is better than a large, programmatic paper. That's because of the kind of evidence the writing sample is supposed to provide.

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  13. See What Excellent M.D.-Ph.D. Application Essays Look Like

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    The best way to learn is by example. That's why we've collected some of the best Ph.D. essay samples and put them all in one place for you to read and study. So check out these samples and learn how it's done! On This Page. 1. Ph.D. Essay Samples by Experts. 2. Tips For Writing Ph.D. Essay. 3.

  15. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

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    Formatting Guide. The PhD Dissertation Formatting Guide (updated Spring 2023) is the source of all formatting requirements and guidelines for PhD Dissertations. Make sure to follow the guide when writing your dissertation. Double check your formatting with the PhD Dissertation Formatting Checklist before submission. LaTeX Template. The University provides a standard LaTeX template that ...

  17. Harvard University Theses, Dissertations, and Prize Papers

    The Harvard University Archives' collection of theses, dissertations, and prize papers document the wide range of academic research undertaken by Harvard students over the course of the University's history.. Beyond their value as pieces of original research, these collections document the history of American higher education, chronicling both the growth of Harvard as a major research ...

  18. Examples of thesis and chapter formats when including publications

    Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Example 5. Chapter 1: Introduction. Chapter 2: Literature review. Chapter 3: Methods. Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion. Chapter 5: Paper 2. Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter - results. Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work.

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    Developmental pathways of suicidality and self-harm among youth . Zhu, Xinxin (The University of Edinburgh, 2024-03-18) Suicidality and self-harm among youth are significant public health concerns. This thesis seeks to elucidate the developmental pathways and predictors underpinning these issues, with a particular emphasis on the roles of ...

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    Theorem 1.2.1. A homogenous system of linear equations with more unknowns than equations always has infinitely many solutions. The definition of matrix multiplication requires that the number of columns of the first factor A be the same as the number of rows of the second factor B in order to form the product AB.

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    Dissertation examples. Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written.

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    Structure. A typical format might be as follows: Abstract: As outlined in the Rules for Submission of Theses for Higher Degrees. Chapter 1: Introduction - A concise introduction to the aims of the research, the key research. questions being addressed, and how these are addressed in the papers which are.

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    T ry. To get. Some. Slee—it's no use. It's 3:00 am, 90 minutes before our day at work in the landfills of rural Thailand is set to begin, and the 60-watt bulb is still shining bright overhead. It is radiant. Directly on my left is one grown man's bare armpit; to my right is more of the same.