I am applying to doctoral programs in the US.

I would like to use my master's thesis preprint as my writing sample because it was written in English and is in the field on which I intend to concentrate in my possible doctoral studies.

Though my advisor, who is not a native speaker too, feels it is okay for my thesis to be my writing sample, I am afraid, because I did not make the English in my thesis polished by native speakers, that using it as my writing sample would backfire.

  • 3
    Is it acceptable to present something which was "polished" by others as your writing sample? It seems odd to me...
    – fkraiem
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 9:18
  • Even if you write a new one, you wouldn't be confident about your language, right? If yes, it is better to seek peer review for your old work.
    – user41235
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 12:27
  • @RenaeLider: Thanks so much for your attention :) Indeed, I think my problem is not that I am not confident with my English in professional writing, but that I am not sure how rigorous would the admission committees at top schools would be. I say that my professional writing is okay because, due to my past several experiences in submitting my papers to serious international journals, no editor nor referee has criticized my English, so...
    – Yes
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Yes. If an applicant to a doctoral program has written a master's thesis, it will be assumed that the thesis is the applicant's best work. Therefore admissions committees will expect to receive the thesis as the writing sample. If your thesis is long, you may wish to send a polished excerpt; the expected length may be field dependent.


English language proficiency is important for any PHD candidate and a writing sample can help them. Since you mentioned the language of the pre-print not upto the mark, you could get it reviewed form someone who has strong english language. It is important to clearly and concisely state your goals and language plays an important role at that. Send in your best writing sample.

  • 2
    You seem to be confusing "writing sample" and "statement of purpose."
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 9:11
  • Oh my! I have. Apologies, will edit my answer accordingly. Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 9:16

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