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Graduate Program - Admission & Requirements

Applying for Admission

Application Deadline: December 31. All materials must be received by the deadline for consideration for Fall semester. The department does not admit new incoming graduate students for Spring semesters.

The English Department does not accept applications after December 31st.

Early submission of applications for fellowships and graduate teaching assistantship is highly desirable. We urge candidates to submit all their materials early for fellowship and/or GTAship consideration. All materials must be received by the December 31st deadline. This includes supplemental items such as GRE scores, letters of recommendation, etc. See below for a list of required supplemental materials.

GRE score reports will be delayed because of the GRE testing format revisions. Please click here for information on the score reporting schedule.


Online Application Form

In addition to the application itself, please submit the following supplemental materials:

  1. A resumé or curriculum vitae.
  2. A statement of approximately 500 words describing your interests, training, experience (including teaching experience), academic ability, and goals.
  3. Letters of recommendation from three professors. Recommenders are strongly encouraged to submit their letters electronically through ApplyWeb. Paper letters must be submitted on the institution's letterhead, in a sealed envelope, addressed directly to the Graduate Director. A signed copy of the waiver form (http://www.english.ku.edu/graduate/pdf/RecommendationLetterWaiver.pdf) must accompany all paper letters of recommendation. Letters without a signed waiver will not be considered as part of a complete application. Letters should, if possible, speak to potential as a teacher, although they should primarily be focused on academic and scholarly ability.
  4. Copies of G.R.E. scores in the General Aptitude Test, taken within five years of application date. These tests should be taken well in advance of the application deadline of December 31. The English department does not require applicants to take the GRE Subject Exam. To submit scores to us, use university code 6871, department code 2501. Score reports will be delayed because of the GRE testing format revisions. Please click here for information on the score reporting schedule.
  5. One official transcript from each university previously attended. Scanned or electronic copies of official transcripts are acceptable for the application. Advising reports, web-based grade report forms, or other documents that say "Unofficial Copy or Transcript" are not acceptable. If you are uncertain what constitutes an official transcript, please contact the Graduate Secretary, Lydia Ash (lash@ku.edu).
  6. M.A. and PhD literature track applicants must submit two examples of academic writing. MFA candidates must submit thirty total pages of prose (fiction or nonfiction)--multiple stories or a longer piece are acceptable. Poetry writing candidates should submit about fifteen pages of poetry. Screen- or Playwriting candidates should submit at least one one-act play. Creative Writing PhD applicants must submit one example of creative writing (prose, poetry, or a one-act play), and one example of academic writing. Please upload writing samples with your online application (preferred), or mail hard copies to: Department of English, Graduate Applications, 1445 Jayhawk Blvd Rm 3001, Lawrence, KS 66045.

Note: The English department accepts all supplemental materials in electronic format, including transcripts and letters of recommendation. Materials may be attached to the application or emailed to the Graduate Secretary (lash@ku.edu). If you have questions about submitting materials electronically, please contact the Graduate Secretary (lash@ku.edu).

International Applicants

Before you submit your application, there are several matters you should consider carefully. Entering graduate students are expected to have a thorough familiarity with English and/or American literature and also with accepted modes of literary criticism and analysis. Students without adequate background, whose previous work in English has dealt chiefly with learning and translating the language, will find themselves seriously handicapped as they attempt the demanding coursework required for completion of the M.A. or the Ph.D. Further, graduate students must have an effective command of English. This means not only an ability to understand lectures and participate in discussions, but also the necessary skill to write frequent essays and examinations at a sophisticated level.

Most importantly, foreign students must be prepared to finance their education at the University through their own means. Very few foreign students are able to compete successfully for graduate fellowships or teaching assistantships. For this reason, the University requires of all foreign applicants a financial statement affirming that you have adequate resources to underwrite tuition and living expenses while you are here. That amount is currently $15,331.60 per year. A well-prepared student with a Bachelor’s degree in English or American literature can expect to study at least a year and a half for the M.A. and considerably longer, of course, for the Ph.D.

In addition to the forms listed for domestic applicants (see Applying for Admission, above), your application must include:

  • Evidence of adequate skill in English, normally TOEFL examination scores of 600 or higher. Additional evidence will be required for those who apply for graduate teaching assistantships. If you do not have sufficient training and skill in English to be admitted as a regular degree-seeking student in the Department of English, you might consider applying as a "special" student in the Applied English Center at this University, a separate program designed to increase foreign student proficiency in the English language through full-time study and practice sessions. Please address inquiries to the Director, Applied English Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, U.S.A.
  • One copy, in English, of official records (transcripts) of all previous university work.
  • A certified bank statement or fellowship award letter, as outlined on the reverse of the application form.

International students are not eligible for English GTAships their first year of study at KU.

Non-Degree Applicants

We ask that non-degree applicants please contact the graduate coordinator before applying.

Master's Program

The English department offers three options for M.A. candidates. M.A. students enrolling for the first time must choose one of the four options listed below.

Option 1a - Literature

  • One graduate course from Field A, English Language and Literature in Old and Middle English, and one from Field B, English Literature 1500-1800.
  • One graduate course in each of two of the following fields: C, English Literature post 1800; D, American Literature; E, Composition/Rhetoric and Literary Theory.
  • English 800, Introduction to Graduate Study in English (to be taken at the first opportunity).
  • A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. At least 15 of these, in addition to English 800, must be at the 700 level or above and must include at least one seminar passed with a grade of A or B.
  • Thesis or Exam Option: students electing the MA exam will take the final oral examination described below (page 12). For students electing the MA thesis, the thesis defense will constitute the final oral examination. Students may enroll in ENG 899 (Thesis/Exam hours) as necessary, but 899 will not count toward the 30-hour course requirement.

Option 1b - Literature & Literary Theory

  • One graduate course from Field A, English Language and Literature in Old and Middle English, or one from Field B, English Literature 1500-1800.
  • One graduate course from Field C, English Literature post 1800, or from Field D, American Literature.
  • Two graduate courses in literary theory from Field E, Composition/Rhetoric and Literary Theory;.
  • English 800, Introduction to Graduate Study in English (to be taken at the first opportunity).
  • A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. At least 15 of these, in addition to English 800, must be at the 700 level or above and must include at least one seminar passed with a grade of A or B.
  • Thesis or Exam Option: students electing the MA exam will take the final oral examination described below (page 12). For students electing the MA thesis, the thesis defense will constitute the final oral examination. Students may enroll in ENG 899 (Thesis/Exam hours) as necessary, but 899 will not count toward the 30-hour course requirement.

Option 2 - Language, Literature, & Composition

  • Courses in literature: At least 6 hours, including at least 3 hours from Field B, English Literature 1500-1800, and 3 hours from either Field C, English literature post 1800, or Field D, American literature.
  • Courses in language and composition: At least 6 hours in English Language courses (from Field A) and/or in Composition/Rhetoric courses (from Field E).
  • English 800, Introduction to Graduate Study in English.
  • A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. At least 15 of these, in addition to English 800, must be at the 700 level or above and must include at least one seminar passed with a grade of A or B.
  • Thesis or Exam Option: students electing the MA exam will take the final oral examination described below (page 12). For students electing the MA thesis, the thesis defense will constitute the final oral examination.  Students may enroll in ENG 899 (Thesis/Exam hours) as necessary, but 899 will not count toward the 30-hour course requirement.

Note on Fields: Please see Appendix A for M.A. Fields. A student may count an appropriate graduate course in a department or program other than English as meeting the requirement for Field E, subject to the approval of the Graduate Director.

Note: A student wishing to enroll in English 998 (Investigation and Conference) must secure the prior approval of the member of the graduate faculty with whom he or she intends to work and the approval of the Graduate Director, who will indicate that approval by countersigning the graduate adviser's signature on the enrollment card. Further, a candidate for the Master of Arts may apply no more than 6 hours of English 998 toward the 30-hour course requirement, and no more than 3 hours of English 998 may be used to fulfill the Field distribution requirement for the M.A. degree.


Additional requirements for M.A. degree

  • A reading knowledge of one approved foreign language.
  • Thesis (optional).
  • Final Comprehensive Exam or thesis defense.

Please consult with your advisor to confirm requirements for degree.

MFA Program

  • Total of forty-eight (48) hours of credit
  • Twelve (12) hours of writing workshop credit
  • Twelve (12) hours of literature course credit
  • Nine (9) other hours
  • Fifteen (15) hours of ENGL 899, Thesis
  • FLORS requirement
  • Thesis defense

For a full description of the M.F.A. program, please see the M.F.A. in English website.

Doctoral Program

  • At least 24 hours of credit in appropriate formal graduate courses beyond the M.A. or M.F.A. At least 15 hours (in addition to 800 if not taken for the M.A. or M.F.A.) of this course work must be taken from among courses offered by the Department of English at the 700-level and above. English 997 and 999 credits cannot be included among the 24 hours. Students may petition to take up to 6 hours outside the Department.
  • English 800.
  • Two seminars offered by the Department of English at the University of Kansas beyond the M.A. or M.F.A.
  • English 999, Dissertation (normally at least 24 hours).

Students with M.A.s or M.F.A.s earned at an institution other than K.U. may be required by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, acting on behalf of the Graduate Committee, to take additional course work.

Note on English 998: A student wishing to enroll in English 998 (Investigation and Conference) must secure the prior approval of the graduate faculty member with whom he or she intends to work and the approval of the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, who will indicate that approval by countersigning the graduate adviser's signature on the enrollment card.


Additional Requirements For Ph.D. Degree in Literary Criticism, Rhetoric and Composition or Creative Writing
  • A reading knowledge of two approved foreign languages or fluency in one.
  • At least one year of supervised quarter-time teaching.
  • At least two semesters spent in resident study.
  • Comprehensive examination.
  • Dissertation Proposal Review.
  • Doctoral dissertation and defense.
  • Please consult with your advisor to confirm requirements for degree.

Time to Degree

The median time to degree for PhD students is 6.7 years. The median time to degree for MA and MFA students is 2.5 to three years.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

If you are submitting an application for a GTAship at the same time that you are applying to the graduate program in English, you need not submit further materials. To be considered for a GTAship, simply mark the appropriate spot on the online application. If you wish, you may address previous teaching experience in your personal statement or Curriculum Vitae. To be considered for a GTAship, your entire application file must be complete by December 31.

If you are a current graduate student at KU who wishes to apply for a GTAship in English, please see the guidelines provided by the Freshman Sophomore English Program.



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