Is there any difference between 'career aspirations' and 'career goals'?

If these two are almost the same, which one is better when writing an essay?

  • 3
    'Goals' sounds a little bit more immediate, practical and level-headed (good) where as 'Aspirations' sounds more big-picture, visionary, and dreaming. (Also good)
    – DJMcMayhem
    Jan 12, 2016 at 15:59
  • What's the purpose behind the essay? Writing to win a scholarship would be quite different than writing in an annual performance review of a job yet both could places where one's future career choices would be communicated.
    – JB King
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:09
  • @JBKing This essay is for graduate application
    – Iris Gao
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


Assuming that graduate application means applying for a higher degree in an academic institution, each can make sense depending on what you really have:

Aspirations - If you can paint this long-term vision of how getting this degree will change your life because then you'll be able to do X,Y, and Z then this would be an aspiration. Eliminating world hunger would be an example here of a big picture idea. I want there to be world peace would be another example often heard at beauty pageants.

Goal - If you can give a much more specific idea of what you plan to do after completing the program that would reflect well upon the institution. Eliminating hunger in your city by following the plans outlined in a proposal would be an example here that is fairly localized specific and would be done over the short-term. I want to end bullying in this school would be another example where the key is how specific is the objective.

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