Graduate Study in English
This document is intended as
a resource for students interested in graduate study in English. All students
regardless of major or year are encouraged to contact faculty members for more
information (see “Who to contact” below). Also, students are encouraged to
consult the “Timeline for students Interested in Graduate Study in English,”
available from the departmental homepage.
Reasons for graduate study
- Further study in particular area of English language
- Interest in research
- Desire to teach
- Interest in writing or editing
Types of programs and
full-residency and low-residency (USC-Columbia/Warren Wilson College)
USC-Columbia alone (M.A., M.A.T., M.F.A., Ph.D.)
M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. For the most
part, M.F.A.s and Ph.D.s qualify one for a tenure-track position at a college
or university, where tenure refers to that status that a professor attains when
her/his appointment is secure rather than provisional. Those holding M.A.s often teach at
colleges and universities as well, and their positions may be full-time,
continual, and include benefits.
- Standardized tests: Most programs will require the General Record Examination (GRE), and
many require the Subject Area Test in English. Like the SAT, preparation for the GRE and Subject Test is
helpful, and these can be taken more than once. Coordinate tests with your application. See the Educational Testing Service
Website: http://www.ets.org/gre/ .
- Due dates:
Most applications are due in December or January, especially if you’re applying
for financial aid; interviews are not always necessary, but they can be
valuable as a means of gaining information about a department and putting a
face to your application.
Applications are often to the graduate school and may require an application
essay, a writing sample, recommendation letters, transcripts, and test
scores. Your application essay
should demonstrate your motivations for graduate school and your familiarity
with the program, your writing sample should demonstrate quality work relevant
to the program, and your recommendation letters should come from professors
familiar with you and your work.
The University of South
Carolina at Columbia provides a good example of a variety of degree
options. Even if you don’t plan to
apply to USC, their website provides information relevant to most programs.
What to do while at Wofford
to prepare for graduate study
- Vary course work: Familiarity in a variety of areas
(our categories) will help prepare you for the English literature subject test
if you need to take it; knowledge of literary theory has proven particularly
valuable to those pursuing a graduate degree; some find courses in English
grammar and education (Education 200) valuable as well.
- Get to know your professors: Whether through
departmental lunches, seminars, or advising, Wofford encourages you to find
faculty members who can serve as mentors; these relationships can lead to
persuasive recommendation letters demonstrating familiarity with your
- Consider special programs or opportunities: Whether in
studies concentrations (for example, African-American studies or gender
studies), Community of Scholars, the Writing Center, Sigma Tau Delta, or
various Honors options, locate opportunities that increase and demonstrate your
skills and engagement.
- Research schools for program information, funding
opportunities, graduate student statistics (average GRE and GPA of incoming
students), acceptance rates, and job placement rates: Compile a portfolio of
programs that interest you. As with selecting college, consider a range of
schools—from those where your admission is questionable to those where your
admission is certain. Consider options like an M.A. if you think you need to
gain more experience before enrolling in Ph.D. program or transferring to
Who to contact for more information
- If you are an English major or minor interested
in graduate study in English language or literature, you might consult your
advisor about programs and the application process.
- If your interest stems from a particular course,
you might consult the professor teaching that course.
- A committee within the English department is
responsible for reviewing the department’s preparation of undergraduate
students for graduate study. Students should feel free to contact any member.
Current members include professors Amy Sweitzer, John Ware, and Kim Rostan.