Application Essays for Master’s Degree Programs

Criteria for Admission in Graduate Application Essays

You must write and submit the required essays. The application review committee weighs the quality of your essays very heavily in their decision about whether you will be admitted to the program. The criteria considered in their review include:

  1. whether the program is appropriate, given your interests, needs and background;
  2. whether your basic writing skills (grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.) are sufficient for graduate-level study;
  3. whether you are able to write a coherent, well organized essay in a style appropriate for graduate-level work in your academic field.

The assigned essays must be original to this application and responsive to the specific questions (they are not intended to be writing samples drawn from previous undergraduate or professional writing assignments). If you use any material from other sources/authors, you must include appropriate academic documentation and citation.

Business, Management, and Leadership

In an essay of approximately 600 words, describe your interest in SUNY Empire State College’s MBA program. Include your short-term and long-term post-MBA professional goals and how the MBA program will help you to achieve those goals.

In an essay of approximately 600 words, integrate a self-assessment of your readiness to meet the rigors of the graduate-level healthcare courses with your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how the M.B.A. in healthcare leadership will help you achieve these goals. In addition, indicate how your experience and skills would help you be successful in this program.

In an essay of approximately 600 words, describe your motivation for applying to the Master of Science in Finance at SUNY Empire State College. Include your short-term and long-term professional goals and how the MS in Finance will help you to achieve those goals. In addition, indicate how your experience and skills would help you be successful in this program.

Education

Two essays required

  1. The M.A. in Adult Learning is especially designed for those in the full range of settings in which learning in adulthood takes place: the private and public sector workplace, organizational and community life, formal education, social work and justice, health care, etc... In an essay of approximately 700-1000 words, explain: First, what is your current area of work and what is the basis of your commitments to the field in general and your own work in particular? Second, what do you hope to accomplish in the program? Do you have a general area of interest? Is there a question, theme, problem or issue that you wish to explore? Or, do you have a focused project that you would like to bring to fruition through your master’s degree? Is there, for example, a project or program proposal you would like to develop, a curriculum you would like to design, a book chapter/proposal or article you would like to write? In your answer, please be as specific as possible. This is your chance for you to describe how the MA in Adult Learning can help you meet your goals.

 

 

  1. The following quotes take a variety of positions concerning the purposes and roles of adult learning. We invite you to use one of these quotes as a basis for essay #2. You may choose to agree or disagree with one of the quotes, discuss the quote in greater depth, or use it as a point of departure for developing ideas of your own.

As you craft your essay, you should keep a number of points in mind:

  • Your essay should be approximately 700-1000 words.
  • In writing your essay, you may draw on your professional knowledge, your reading, and/or your general understanding of adult learning..
  • This essay should be written in a more formal voice, as if you are already writing a paper for an academic assignment.
  • You will not be judged for your opinion. You will be evaluated for the ways in which you construct and sustain a coherent, well-organized argument.
  • Avoid clichés and meaningless generalizations. Be specific and thoughtful.
  • If you use secondary sources in your essay, use standard bibliographical forms.

Quote A:

What we want to do, what we must do, is ensure that every person currently in the workforce or approaching working age has access to the resources to achieve employability on his or her own terms. That is, all must have not only the skills and competencies to fulfill the needs of their present jobs but the ability, flexibility, and means to learn new skills and competencies as required.

-Pamela Tate, “Forward,” Barry Sheckley, Lois Lamdin, and Morris Keeton, Employability in a High Performance Economy (1993)

Quote B:

We lived in the country where roads were not paved … Every day it seemed we complained about the long walk to the little white wood-frame schoolhouse and our father told us again and again about the many miles he had walked to attend school. Generations of black people have known what it means to see education as the practice of freedom … Growing up in a community where I would be sent here and there to read the Bible to Miss Zula because she does not know how, to read this and that, a letter, words on a detergent box – to read – to write for others. How could I not understand the need for literacy? How could I not long to know? And how could I forget that fundamentally the purpose of my knowing was so I could serve those who did not know, so that I could learn and teach my own – education as the practice of freedom.

– bell hooks, Talking Back (1999)

Quote C:

The resource of highest value in adult education is the learner’s experience. . . . Therefore all genuine education will keep doing and thinking together. . . . Experience is the adult learner’s living textbook.”

-Edward Lindeman, The Meaning of Adult Education (1929)

Two essays required

  1. In a coherent and well-organized essay of approximately 600 words (typed, double-spaced), provide a statement purpose, indicating your specific goals for the program, academic and/or professional preparation, and your ideas for a potential topic for your final project.
  2. Submit a small sample of work using one or more digital tools (provide link to the electronic sample as part of this essay), and a brief reflective essay (approximately 600 words, typed, double-spaced) on the intended purpose of the sample, and critique of the final result which would include thoughts of what you would change or do differently to improve it.

The faculty are interested in seeing an applican’s capability and potential, and they understand the possible range of experiences and proficiencies that individuals may bring to the MALET program. Particular attention will be paid to the brief essay of critical reflection on the purpose, design and potential of the chosen sample.

Examples of possible digital samples include, but are not limited to:

  • Blog
  • Personal Website
  • Portfolio (or portions of)
  • Podcast
  • Social networking page
  • Photo gallery
  • Video segment
  • Customized form/template/brochure
  • Customized flowchart/mindmpa/wireframe
  • Virtual world avatar (profile)
  • Machinima clip
  • 3-D creation
  • (or other)

Thinking clearly about issues and expressing these thoughts in writing are important aspects of graduate study at Empire State College. So that we can learn more about your interest in becoming a teacher, we would like you to discuss the following question in a coherent, well-organized essay of 600-800 words, typewritten, double-spaced pages.

What is your motivation to become a middle or high school teacher and what do you think will make you a successful student in this program?

Your essay might include some of the following points:

  • Your interest in changing careers and pursuing a teaching certificate;
  • Your understanding of the challenges of teaching;
  • Any expertise you have acquired on the job that might transfer to a teaching situation;
  • Any experiences that have helped you develop your insights and expertise in working with middle and/or adolescent youth; and
  • The personal attributes and characteristics which enable teachers to work effectively with students between the ages of 12 and 17.

In a 600-800 word essay (typed and double-spaced), respond to both questions.

Discuss your position on the inclusion of special needs students in general education classrooms and how you would respond to a situation in which parents of some of your students are complaining that a student with a disability is holding back the learning and progress of the rest of the class?

In this essay, please respond to Question 1 and choose either Question 2 or 3. The essay should be 600-800 words per question (in one document), double-spaced and appropriate use of APA 6th edition formatting.

    1. What teaching experiences led you to decide to seek specific training and expertise in special education?

      And,

    2. As a general education teacher, in what ways have you collaborated with special education teachers and/or other service providers to address the learning needs of exceptional students in your classroom?

      OR

    3. Describe your experience working with English Language Learners, gifted, or special needs students in your classroom and the types of instructional strategies you employ to support their learning.

In a 600-800 word essay (typed, double-spaced), explain why you are interested in the M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning, and how you will contribute to the learning among your peers in the program. What do you hope to achieve as a result of earning this degree?

Graduate Liberal Arts and Science

Two essays required

The M.A. in liberal studies is especially designed for those who wish to explore a particular question, theme, problem or issue from multiple points of view. Unlike a vocationally focused degree or a degree in a single discipline, it allows you to explore the various ways in which your area of interest can be approached and analyzed.

For example, a narrowly defined vocational degree in health care management might look at health care from the legal, administrative and financial framework alone. An interdisciplinary master's degree in liberal studies, on the other hand, would understand health care as an arena for contending social interest and political ideologies and view health as a cultural preoccupation, a theme of literature and a spiritual and philosophical concern.

Similarly, a typical professionally-oriented master's degree in education might focus on applied teaching methods in a particular discipline, age group or student population. Thus, the focus might be on "teaching science in elementary school," for example or on "teaching developmentally challenged adults." An interdisciplinary master's degree in liberal studies requires a different approach, one that views teaching within a broad framework of history and social relationships and might explore the meaning of such concepts as childhood, pedagogy, normalcy and difference and encourages students to think broadly about their interests and to explore them from a variety of perspectives and viewpoints.

With these examples in mind, tell us about your area of interest in the following essays:

  1. In a 700-1000 word essay, explain what question, theme , problem or issue do you wish to explore? How have you come to have this interest? What has shaped your curiosity? How do you see using the breadth and freedom of interdisciplinary study to organize your studies to achieve your goals for your master's degree?
  2. According to the following quotes, our minds and our bodies, our attitudes and dreams, are molded by experience and by the cultures in which we live. Those cultures strongly influence not only what we know about also what we value and, indeed, who we are. We invite you to use one of these quotes as a basis for your essay.

As you craft your essay, you should keep a number of points in mind:

  1. Your essay should be approximately 700-1000 words.
  2. In writing your essay, you may draw on your professional knowledge, your reading, and /or your general understanding of culture and society.
  3. You will not be judged for your opinion. You will be evaluated for the ways in which you construct and sustain a coherent, well-organized argument.
  4. Avoid cliches and meaningless generalizations. Be specific and thoughtful.
  5. If you use secondary sources in your essay, use standard bibliographical forms.

Quote A:

The body – what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to the body – is a medium of culture. In no case is this more strikingly true than in that of anorexia nervosa and bulimia, barely known a century ago, yet reaching epidemic proportions today. Far from being the result of a superficial fashion phenomena, these disorders reflect and call our attention to some of the central ills of our culture.

-Susan Bordo, Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body

Quote B:

We lived in the country where roads were not paved. Every day it seemed we complained about the long walk to the little white wood frame schoolhouse and our father told us again and again about the many miles he had walked to attend school. Generations of black people have known what it means to see education as the practice of freedom. Growing up in a community where I would be sent here and there to read the bible to Miss Zulu because she does not know how, to read this and that, a letter, words on a detergent box – to read – to write for others. How could I not understand the need for literacy? How could I not long to know? And how could I forget that fundamentally the purpose of my knowing was so I could serve those who did not know, so that I could learn and teach my own – education as the practice of freedom.

-Bell Hooks, Talking Back

Quote C:

The various disciplines that make up the arts and sciences are the cultural frames in terms of which attitudes are formed and lives conducted. The interpretive study of culture represents an attempt to come to terms with the diversity of the ways human beings construct their lives in the act of leading them.

-Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge

Two essays required

  1. In 250 words or less, describe your personal and career goals and explain why you believe this program will help you achieve them.
  2. In a 600-800 word essay, respond to the following senaerio: You are the mayor of an economically distressed city of 45,000 in upstate New York that has decided to hire a consultant to help plan the city’s community and economic development. You are thinking about questions you will ask prospective consultants when you interview them next week.

Once a thriving manufacturing center, your city is now in decline. Major employers have left the area, leaving only a hospital which is itself struggling because of the high number of uninsured patients that it serves. Though there is a county community college nearby, many of the city’s youths leave for 4-year colleges and end up re-settling elsewhere. In the last ten years, this outflow has been stemmed only by immigrants entering the city. As you might expect, with business tax collections down, the remaining population bears an increasingly heavy burden just to keep the town running. Roads and bridges are deteriorating; the schools are also crumbling and classes are becoming larger as public funding declines. To make matters worse, the student population consists of a disproportionate number of special needs children. The population is aging rapidly and the decline of middle class life, once taken for granted, is reflected in a shrinking median income and a poverty rate that exceeds the national average.

Please indicate what qualities you will seek in your consultant and the top five priorities that you would expect him/her to address in the interview.

Two essays required

  1. Explain how the graduate program-with specific reference to its policy emphasis and your chosen area of study-will help you achieve your purposes for pursuing a master's degree. Please include any other information about your needs and goals that might give us insight as to why our program will serve you well.
  2. Focusing on your area of academic, social, or professional interest, choose a current issue facing social policy. What debates surround this issue? What positions do the various "sides" take? Once you have examined these various positions, make a case for a particular approach that you believe would help improve the situation. In what ways would that approach provide a solution?

Essays should be approximately 600-800 words, typed, double-spaced.

Two essays required

  1. Explain how the graduate program-with specific reference to its policy emphasis and your chosen area of study-will help you achieve your purposes for pursuing a master's degree. Please include any other information about your needs and goals that might give us insight as to why our program will serve you well.
  2. Focusing on your area of academic, social, or professional interest, choose a current issue facing labor  policy. What debates surround this issue? What positions do the various "sides" take? Once you have examined these various positions, make a case for a particular approach that you believe would help improve the situation. In what ways would that approach provide a solution?

Essays should be approximately 600-800 words, typed, double-spaced.

Graduate Nursing

M.S. in Nursing (Education and Administration) Admission Essay - The MS in Nursing degree prepares graduates to advance nursing practice and education in a complex and evolving healthcare environment. Please address your personal and professional goals in pursuing graduate education. In addition, provide examples of how you have exemplified professionalism as a registered nurse in at least four of the following subject areas, delineated by the AACN (2008) Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice:

  • Leadership
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Information management
  • Healthcare policy
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Clinical prevention and population health
  • Professional values

Your essay should be a minimum of 500 words. Feel free in this essay to write in a personal, informal voice.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2008). The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. Washington, DC: Author.

Questions?

We’re here to help.

SUNY Empire’s admissions and financial aid staff is ready to work with you to make earning your degree possible and affordable.

800-847-3000

Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.
Back to top