[I am too much afraid to ask this question becuase I think most of you will say that I am too stupid to understand meaning of "Summary of Accomplishments".]

So, I am applying for a PhD position which is asking for "Summary of Accomplishments" letter. What things should be included in it?

Is it about my accomplishments other than my research work or research work itself is an accomplishment? I was teacher assistant in many courses, it is an accomplishment? Should it be written in a list form or in a paragraph form?

In short, what does "accomplishments" mean when PhD hiring committee ask for it?

I am asking this question here becuase I could not find any appropriate answer from Google.

  • I would advocate writing in proper sentences rather than a bullet point list in any formal writing.
    – astronat
    Jun 25 '18 at 16:05

In making any kind of application, applicants typically know what they want and why, whether the application is for admission to a program, for research support, or for a job.

However, in making this application (or others later), you should consider the reasons the program (funding agency, or employer) would want to select you. Then, within the bounds of reasonable modesty, you must go about the task of satisfying them as much as possible as to each of those reasons.

Specifically, what reasons might the PhD program to which you are applying have for accepting an applicant? Here are a few fairly obvious items. You may have information about your field or the specific program that would generate more items. But it is crucial for you to think about this application from their point of view.

(1) They want to be sure you have the necessary native ability, background in the field, and perseverance to do the work to finish your PhD in a reasonable length of time. Of course, they are allowed hope you will do important publishable research that will enhance the reputation of their program. So you should mention anything that involves success in your previous studies or allied intellectual pursuits. (@JaganMohan has listed some items.)

(2) Possibly they will be guaranteeing you some financial support. This may involve your being a teaching assistant (eventually possibly lecturer) or a research assistant. So you should mention any work you have done reading student homework or exams, any work helping students (US 'tutoring'), any proficiencies for literature searches for research projects, experience using relevant lab equipment, and anything that gives evidence of relevant computer or programming skills.

(3) Work toward a PhD is not for everyone who does reasonably well as a BS or MS student. Not everyone stays with it. They are limited as to how many people they can admit, and they'd prefer to admit people who can stand stiff competition, can successfully manage a demanding workload, and who do not get panicky or discouraged the first time things go wrong. So, mention of nonacademic jobs you did to help with expenses, and any long term projects you have finished (even if not exactly in your field).

It is probably best not to speak directly to their motivations. They know what they are looking for without your instruction. Simply give them information that will allow them to be satisfied on each point. Just lists of facts, don't exaggerate or psychoanalyze yourself. If something seems too much like bragging (especially something difficult to document), maybe one of your references can do the bragging for you.


Accomplishments that most potential employees, guides, student application reviewers, etc are looking for are positions, rewards, recognitions, etc that indicate achievements and are demonstrative of work culture, personal capability of setting and achieving goals, intellectual level, skill development, attitude and knowledge, specialization, tenacity, continuity, etc.

The rough rule of thumb is that 'anything won in a competition is an accomplishment'.

Accomplishment is also attainment of certain position or degree or diploma or certification gained through some labour, study, test or recognition.

Hope this helps.

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