Skip to content

Grad School Personal Statement Sample Counseling Intake

Structure and Organization

Why do you need structure? Many students write personal statements that are fascinating but incomprehensible to the reader and as a result, they may be rejected. Thus, the structure and organization of your essay is a crucial component to your personal statement. With a well-structured essay, the reader will not only be interested in the content of your essay but also will know that you have the capacity to create a legible essay.

Introduction

  • The introduction is the most important part of the essay, especially the first sentence. The first sentence can say a lot about the content and format of your essay.
  • Keep the reader interested by making them continue to read your essay after reading the first paragraph.
  • The first sentence should be unique and compelling, possibly thought provoking or attention-grabbing.
  • First sentences may explain your desire to study the subject of interest or discuss the motivation that influenced your desire to study the subject of interest. State it in a creative manner.
  • The sentences following the first sentence should provide a brief explanation that supports the claim stated in the first sentence.

The Body

  • The body should include several paragraphs (usually about three) that provides detailed evidence to support the statement made in the introductory paragraph. The paragraphs should flow by using transitions and resolutions.
  • Each paragraph should have a transition, which starts each paragraph with a topic statement that will be the theme of that paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
  • Each paragraph should have a resolution, which ends each paragraph with a meaningful sentence that provides a transition to the next paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
  • Experiences, accomplishments, or any other evidence that can support your claims should be included in the body. Future Goals should also be mentioned in the body.
  • A short summary of your educational background can be discussed in the first paragraph.
  • Personal experiences and the reasons for wanting to attend the school can be discussed in the second paragraph.
  • Do not repeat what was stated in the application.
  • The last paragraph should explain why you should be accepted.

Conclusion

  • The conclusion is the last paragraph of the personal statement.
  • State why you are interested in studying the subject of interest.
  • State the key points mentioned in the body, such as your experiences or accomplishments that explain your interest in the subject. State it in a conclusive and brief manner.
  • End on a positive note with one or two attention-grabbing sentences.

It is crucial that your paragraphs have transitions and resolutions. Transitions start a paragraph by providing a statement that suggests the theme for that paragraph. This allows the reader to be aware of the direction the essay is heading in. Transitions connect paragraphs to other paragraphs (usually preceding paragraphs), which causes the essay to flow smoothly. Resolutions, on the other hand, are statements that end paragraphs and allow for transition to the next paragraph. The resolution should not be a general statement but rather a meaningful one that connects facts included in the current paragraph. Both transitions and resolutions are beneficial in terms of making your essay clear and understandable.

Your essay should include enough detail, be personal, and specific. The purpose of a personal statement is to show the admission committee what makes you unique and different from other applicants. Your job is to display your distinct personality and provide evidence that confirms your passion and desire for the subject and the school. However, even if you can write an interesting and compelling essay, the structure and organization may not be appropriate. Therefore, it is necessary that you follow the proper structure of an essay and allow all your paragraphs to flow smoothly. The structure and organization of your personal statement will not only make your essay more comprehensible and fascinating but it will also increase your chances of being accepted

Source: Tara Kuther, Ph.D.

Adapted from: “Your guide the graduate school”

  • Q: What is required for application to the EPC master’s programs?

    A: All applicants to programs in the EPC department must submit a completed university application through Cal State Apply, as well as submit both parts of the departmental application completed, including the Web-based Application and the supplemental paper application packet.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to submit both a paper and electronic application?

    A: Yes, you do have to submit both applications.

    The web-based portion of the departmental application includes: Basic information, Prerequisite Information, and Test Score(s) Information. The portions submitted in paper form are: (1) a completed Application Checklist, (2) a copy of the confirmation page from your university (Cal State Apply) application or Change of Objective form, (3) printed copy of your responses to the departmental web-based application, (4) Personal Statement, (5) Resume, (6) prerequisite completion information and course substitution forms (if necessary), two completed recommendation forms (written letters of recommendation are preferred by the School Psychology program), and (7) Photocopies of all transcripts and any applicable test scores.

    In addition, please be sure you have completed and submitted either the CSUN graduate application through Cal State ApplyOR, if you are a student currently enrolled in another CSUN Master’s program, the Change of Objective form through Admissions and Records before submitting the departmental application.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I need to submit both electronic and paper applications by the departmental application deadline?

    A: Yes, you must submit all application materials - electronic and paper – on or before the application deadline. All parts of the paper-based application packet should be submitted together in one envelope. Please be aware that postmark dates will not be accepted.

    In addition to both parts of the departmental application, please also be sure you have completed and submitted either the CSUN graduate application through Cal State ApplyOR, if you are a student currently enrolled in another CSUN Master’s program, the Change of Objective form through Admissions and Records. This should be done before submitting the departmental application.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Can I submit more than one electronic application?

    A: No, do not submit more than one copy of the departmental electronic application. If you realize that you have made an error on one of your responses, please fix the error manually by writing in the correct response on the printed copy of your electronic responses before submitting your supplemental application packet.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Who can I contact if I have questions about the electronic application?

    A: You may contact our Graduate Advisor, Shannon Sexton, at (818) 677-5719 and via email at epcdept@csun.edu. You may also contact the main EPC Department office at (818) 677-2599.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to complete all of my prerequisites before applying to your program?

    A: No. Coursework can be in progress at the time you submit your application but must be completed by the start of the program for which you are applying. However, it is to your advantage to complete as many prerequisites as possible before submitting your application since admission to our programs are very competitive. Remember that you will be competing against other applicants who may have some or all of the prerequisites completed, so it behooves you to have as many completed or in-progress at the time of application as possible. If you are admitted before all required prerequisites have been completed, your acceptance is conditional based on successful completion of all prerequisite courses before the start of the program.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to complete all of my prerequisites to be admitted to the program?

    A: All prerequisite courses must be completed before beginning a graduate program; however, prerequisite courses can be in-progress at the time you submit your application.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: What are the prerequisite courses required?

    A: Each of our programs has its own prerequisite courses. Course descriptions for each class can be found in the CSUN catalog. The prerequisites for each program are:

    Career CounselingEPC 430, EPC 451, EPC 600, & PSY 310
    College Counseling/ Student ServicesEPC 430, EPC 451, EPC 600, & PSY 310
    Marriage & Family TherapyEPC 430, 451, 600, & PSY 310
    School CounselingEPC 451, EPC 600, & EPC 430 or 314
    School PsychologyEPC 314, EPC 430, EPC 451, & EPC 600
    Development, Learning & InstructionEPC 314 & EPC 600
    Early Childhood EducationEPC 600 & EPC 430 or 314

    Return to Question List

  • Q: How can I take prerequisite classes at CSUN before I'm admitted to the graduate program if I am not a current CSUN student?

    A: Non-CSUN students may take prerequisite courses through Tseng College at CSUN during the summer only. Non-CSUN students cannot take classes during the Fall and Spring semesters. 

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I substitute courses offered by other colleges for the prerequisites courses at CSUN?

    A: Possibly. You may be able to use courses you have previously completed or courses offered elsewhere to complete the prerequisite requirements. First, review our list of pre-approved prerequisite course substitutions. This list includes all UC and CSU campuses, as well as a large number of community college options, some of which can be completed online. All of the courses listed here have been approved and may be used as substitutes for CSUN prerequisite courses. Next, if you find a course at an accredited institution that is not on our list but that you believe, based on a comparison of the course descriptions, could serve as a substitute, you can request this. Submit your request to our Graduate Advisor, Shannon Sexton, via email at epcdept@csun.edu. If your request is approved, complete the Request for Prerequisite Course Substitution form and submit with your department application packet.

    Please remember that courses used as substitutions for CSUN prerequisites must have been completed within 7 years of the semester for which you are applying and with a grade of 'B-' or better.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Is it enough simply to have completed the prerequisites for the program?

    A: No. Prerequisites must be completed within 7 years of the semester for which you are applying and with a grade of 'B-' or to be accepted.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I take my prerequisites concurrently with the first term of my Masters' program?

    A: No. All prerequisites must be completed prior to beginning a master’s program in the EPC department.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Must I have a Psychology degree to apply to a Master’s Program in this department?

    A: No. All undergraduate majors are considered. However, if you have a psychology or social science degree, you are more likely to have completed some of the prerequisites as a part of your undergraduate program.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do the recommendation forms have to be completed by professors?

    A: Not necessarily. A suitable person would be someone who can meaningfully address the questions on the recommendation form. This could include a professional contact, such as a work or volunteer supervisor or a faculty member. Personal character references (e.g., from friends or family members) are not appropriate.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I submit only letters of recommendation without the form included in the department application?

    A: No. With the exception of the School Psychology program, the included forms should be used in addition to letters if the recommender wishes to write a separate letter.

    Applicants to the School Psychology program must submit letters of recommendation. Completed recommendation forms may be included as a supplement to these letters if desired.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: My undergraduate university has a service for submitting recommendations; I won’t be communicating directly with my former professor. What should I do?

    A: If the service allows you to submit information for use in writing recommendations, submit either our form or the information contained in our form. If not, have the letters from the service sent directly to our Department Office: EPC Department, 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8265

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May recommendations be sent directly to the department by the person writing the recommendation?

    A: No, unless being sent by a university recommendation service (see previous answer) recommendations should be included in the same envelope with your department application. Ask the person writing your recommendation to place it in a sealed envelope with his/her signature across the flap, and then give it to you for inclusion with your departmental application packet.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I include more than two recommendations with my application?

    A: Yes, however, no more than 3 letters of recommendation may be submitted.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Are there any differences between programs for the recommendation requirement?

    A: Yes. The School Psychology program prefers recommendations to be in letter format, rather than on our department form. A completed recommendation form may also be attached as a supplement if desired.

    All other programs prefer that the recommendation form be completed and submitted. For these programs, a letter may also be submitted as a supplement to the completed form if desired.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to take the GRE? Can I still be admitted if I don't “pass” it?

    A: If you are applying for the School Psychology program, you must take the GRE. For applicants to all other programs, if your Cumulative Undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, you must take the exam. It is possible to be admitted if your score is below the 50th percentile on the test.

    CSUN’s GRE test score reporting code: 4707

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to take the CBEST?

    A: If you are applying to either School Counseling or School Psychology, you must take the CBEST. For School Counseling applicants, test scores should be included with your departmental application packet; for School Psychology applicants, the test may be taken before or during the first year in the program.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do I have to submit my test scores with my application or can I turn them in later?

    A: Any required test scores must be submitted with your departmental application packet by the application deadline.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: What is the UDWPE and do I need to take it?

    A: The Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam, or UDWPE, is required for all students interested to applying to a CSUN Master’s level program. Information on test dates and registration can be found on the UDWPE website.

    There are some circumstances under which the UDWPE requirement can be waived. First, if you graduated from CSUN as an undergraduate, you have already met this requirement and will not need to retake the test. Similarly, if you satisfied the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) during your time as a student at another CSU campus, we will accept an official verification of your passing score from that campus. Finally, if you have taken the GRE and earned a score of 3 or higher on the Analytical section, the UDWPE requirement can also be waived.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Where should I have my official transcripts sent to complete my university application completed through Cal State Apply?

    A: Official transcripts should be sent directly from all colleges and universities through which you completed coursework to CSUN’s Office of Admissions and Records: CSUN - Office of Admissions and Records, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8207

    Remember that copies of all transcripts, including CSUN transcripts, must also be submitted as part of your Departmental Application Packet. Unofficial copies are accepted by the department.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: I already submitted transcripts with my University application; do I need to submit them again with my departmental application?

    A: Yes, the department also needs a copy of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, including CSUN. The department will accept either official or unofficial transcripts. Degree Progress Reports will not be accepted.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: If I received my bachelor's degree from CSUN, do I have to include transcripts with my departmental application?

    A: Yes. The department will need copies of all transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, including CSUN.

    However, applicants who received their bachelor’s degrees from CSUN are NOT required to submit official transcripts to CSUN’s Office of Admissions and Records unless additional coursework was completed after graduating. As well, if you already submitted transcripts to CSUN as an undergraduate, you do not need to re-submit them to the university.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: How can I obtain a copy of the departmental application?

    A: The departmental application is available through the Prospective Students page on the EPC department website. The web-based application is made available during the Fall semester and Winter term prior to application. Information regarding the Departmental Application Packet is available year-round on our Departmental Application Checklist, also on the Prospective Students page.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Can I apply to more than one of your Master's programs at the same time?

    A: No.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I apply for a Certificate program at the same time I apply for a Master's program in counseling from this department?

    A: No. However, EPC students enrolled in a counseling master's degree program in another specialization may apply for either the Career Counseling or College Counseling/Student Services certificate programs after their first year.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Can I submit transcripts, test scores, or recommendations separately from my departmental application packet or after the application deadline?

    A: No. Due to the volume of applications we receive and the short period of time between the application deadline and admission interviews, we require that all materials listed on the Application Checklist be submitted together in one envelope, which must arrive complete by the application deadline. Postmark dates are not accepted.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Can I submit my department application in person?

    A: Yes, applications may be submitted directly to our Department Office in the Education building, Room 1218 during the established application window.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: What is the mailing address for the departmental application packet?

    A: CSUN – EPC Department 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8265

    Return to Question List

  • Q: What is the application deadline?

    A: The application deadline is subject to change from year to year. The deadline for the current application period can be found on the Prospective Students page of the EPC website.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Are there any exceptions to the deadline?

    A: No, there are no exceptions to the application deadline. Complete applications must arrive in the department office by the application deadline. Applications that are submitted late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: If my application package is postmarked by the application deadline but arrives later, will it be accepted?

    A: No. Applicants must ensure that the package is mailed early enough to arrive in the EPC office by the application deadline. Applications may also be submitted in person to our department office in the Education Building, Room 1218.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: What happens after I apply?

    A: On campus group interviews of selected applicants will be conducted in February and early March. You can find the current interview schedule on our website. Admission notifications will be sent approximately four to six weeks after the interview date.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: If I already have a Master's degree in Counseling, may I take courses to obtain a School Counseling or School Psychology Credential without completing the entire program?

    A: We do offer this possibility on a limited, case-by-case basis for the School Counseling credential, but not for School Psychology. This program is called the 'Advanced School Counseling' Program. You must still apply through the regular department application procedure. The Advanced program requires at least one year of full-time evening coursework as well as fieldwork and internship during daytime hours in a school setting. Before applying, please contact the program advisor to determine whether you are eligible to apply as an advanced student.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: How long should my personal statement be and what format is required?

    A: Your personal statement should be no longer than two sides of single or double spaced typing. There is no required format; it should be clear and easy to read. There is an outline of the information that should be addressed on the Departmental Application Checklist.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Do you admit students for the Spring Semester?

    A: We admit students in the fall and spring semesters for the ECE and DLI&E master’s programs and the Program Evaluation Certificate program only. All other programs admit for the Fall semester only. Please be aware that the CC/SS and School Counseling programs have a summer start date.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: If I am admitted, when will I start taking classes?

    A: The School Counseling and College Counseling/Student Services programs each have required course(s) in the summer term. For that reason, it is particularly important for to complete prerequisites by the spring term or sooner to be prepared for the summer courses if accepted to School Counseling or the CC/SS master's program. For all other programs, coursework begins in the fall term unless you have been admitted to the ECE or DLI&E programs for the spring term.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: May I attend as a part-time student?

    A: Our Master’s in Counseling degree programs only admit students on a full-time basis. However, students typically attend the M.A. (either DLI&E or ECE) and certificate programs part-time.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Can I take fewer than 12.0 units in any given semester?

    A: Most of our Master’s in Counseling programs require students to attend full-time. However, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if extenuating circumstances arise. Counseling students in their first year must minimally enroll in at least 6.0 units in the first two semesters of any of the counseling programs. This would require students to attend classes a minimum of one evening a week from 4-7 and 7-10 p.m. Note: Students in the CC/SS program are required to attend full-time (12 units/semester minimally) during the first year.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Is it possible to keep working while I’m in one of the programs?

    A: While our classes are scheduled from 4-7 p.m. or 7-10 p.m., an important consideration to keep in mind is that the counseling programs will require fieldwork and/or internship hours outside of class hours, and generally during daytime hours (other than the MFT program which may have more flexibility). It is also important to consider that attending graduate school is more time-consuming than most undergraduate programs. Counseling students are required to complete group projects, individual supervision, videotaping, and other activities as a part of the program. Remember that graduate school is an opportunity to develop into a professional. For that to optimally occur, you need time to reflect and consider.

    Depending on the program you are applying to, the general recommendation is that those working 20 or fewer hours are the most likely to succeed with the required 12 units. Faculty advisors for each program can provide you with the specific guidelines for students in each program.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: How long will the program take?

    A: Most of the M.S. programs take about two and a half years to complete. It is possible to complete the School Counseling and College Counseling programs in two calendar years, which includes summer session(s). MFT and School Psychology are three-year, year-round (fall, spring, summer) programs. Career Counseling is a three year programs that does not require summer courses (other than continuing fieldwork if accruing hours post-fieldwork).

    The M.A. programs require one and a half to two years minimally to complete.

    Return to Question List

  • Q: Who can I speak with if I have further questions?

    A: Shannon Sexton is our graduate advisor. Call (818) 677-5719 for her current office hours or e-mail her at epcdept@csun.edu

    Return to Question List