Application Tips

The application process can be an invaluable experience because it challenges you to identify your talents and goals, hone your writing and presentation skills and work with mentors who will support your efforts and help with your plans.

Application Tips

  • Read the application information thoroughly, noting eligibility parameters, deadlines, required components, the program's mission and profiles of past participants
  • Attend any workshops offered by the program leader on how to prepare your personal statement or project proposal. Information regarding these workshops will be sent to you by your department to your UMKC email account.
  • Give yourself time to prepare the application, including rewriting your essay, collecting transcripts and requesting letters of recommendation
  • Visit the UMKC Writing Studio for help with your personal statement

Personal Statement

Use the personal statement as the opportunity to introduce yourself to the reader, evoke a portrait of who you are and what matters to you and showcase your writing skills. The statement needs to capture the reader’s attention, be rich in detail, avoid cliché, be relevant to the program for which you are applying and flow as a meaningful narrative.

There may be prompts for specific information such as goals, important life experiences and challenges. You should also demonstrate your command of style, grammar and proofreading. 

Personal statement resources

Project Proposal

It is essential that you follow the instructions for writing your project proposal or statement of purpose exactly as the application requests and respond to all the prompts.

Whether you are asked to write an essay or respond to specific questions, you need to explain the importance of the project, your exact plans and timeline, how you propose to carry out your plan, what resources you will need and your ability to complete the project in the way you have outlined.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are vitally important to your application and provide another opportunity to draw a portrait of you and your work. Most applications require at least two letters of recommendation.

  • Identify potential writers who know you and your work well and who can speak authoritatively about you as a scholar, researcher and person.
  • Choose writers from different areas of your life so your letters show your diverse set of traits and skills.
  • Request letters as early as possible
  • Provide your writers with details about your participation in their class and the project or paper you completed for them.
  • Tell your writers about the fellowship, including your study proposal, location and any other useful information — fellowship mission, eligibility and criterion or profiles of previous recipients.
  • Include a copy of your resume and other details about what you've been working on since the last time you encountered your writers in your request.
  • Give your writers a deadline, preferably earlier than the actual final post time, and the submission information, including to whom the letter should be addressed. For online submissions, your writers will receive a prompt with sign-on instructions from the fellowship office. Send a courteous reminder a few weeks before the deadline.
  • Send thank you notes to your writers and updates on your application progress and results

Resources for asking for letters of recommendation


Fulfilling a transcript request can take time, especially if you have studied in another country. Follow your application rules — whether you submit a copy or sealed originals. Explain any deviations from a strong record, either in your personal statement or by one of your writers in a letter of recommendation.