Written Narratives

Tips on How to Submit Effective Personal and Research Statements

As you complete the online application, you will be asked to submit written statements that describe your purpose for pursuing graduate studies at Scripps Research, as well as your experiences in a research laboratory setting.

It is recommended that applicants compose their written statements in advance, so that they may simply paste them into the online form once they begin the application process. The text below provides valuable guidance regarding the types of information the Scripps Research admissions committee is seeking from doctoral program applicants.


Prepare a short narrative (maximum of 2 pages) describing your path to graduate studies, why you are applying to Scripps Research’s Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, and what you hope to gain from the experience, if selected.

We encourage you to incorporate the topics listed below into your statement, but please avoid simply providing responses to these topics in a question/answer format. We are looking for a cohesive narrative that weaves these topics into your statement, along with any other details that you feel will give the admissions committee a better understanding of your reasons for applying and what you will bring to the program.

  • Scientific Interest
    On the application, you are asked to specify your top three research areas of interest. Looking at just the first area you selected, explain why you listed it first and how it relates to specific research disciplines and topics that you find compelling. If you are particularly interested in the research of one or more Scripps Research faculty members, mention those here and elaborate.
  • Persistence and Determination
    Describe a situation when you experienced failure during research. How did that affect you personally and your approach to the problem you were working on? In general, what role do you feel failure and adversity plays in reaching your academic and personal objectives?
  • Your Path and Background
    How have your life experiences prepared you for graduate study in scientific research? Describe any specific events in your past that had a major impact on your interest in science and research. How do you feel your past experiences will contribute to your success as a graduate student at Scripps Research?
  • Motivation and Rationale
    Why are you seeking to pursue doctoral studies? What do you hope it will allow you to accomplish? Where do you hope to be 10 years after earning a PhD?


Please provide a statement (maximum of 2 pages) that details your laboratory research experience, including academic year research, summer internship programs, relevant employment, etc. For each experience, include the institution name, project duration, the faculty member or supervisor responsible for your project, and a description of your research. Other details that may be helpful include, but are not limited to:

  • Your specific responsibilities and how you assisted other lab members;
  • Research tools, techniques and methods used;
  • Project outcomes (include figures and diagrams, if available);
  • Honors, awards, publications or presentation of research at meetings or conferences;
  • Anything you would have changed about the experience (and why); and
  • Your thoughts as to the broader impact of your project on the field or scientific discipline in which the research took place.