Frequently Asked Questions | Department of English

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: Most of these questions are related to the MA and PhD programs. For more information on the MFA program, please click here.

Application Questions:

How do I apply for graduate school in English?

The application process for all UNCG Graduate Programs is now online through the ApplyYourself Application Network on the UNCG Graduate School website (click on Prospective Students, then click Apply Online).

For information on applying to the MA Program, click here.

For information on applying to the PhD Program, click here.

For information on applying to the MFA Program, click here.

If I have a BA in English, can I apply directly to the Ph.D. program?

Most applicants to the PhD program already hold the MA degree; some applicants are accepted directly with the BA into an MA-PhD track. If you do not have an MA degree in English, we encourage you to apply for either our MA or our MA-PhD track.

I would like to apply to the MA or PhD in English, but my undergraduate degree is not in English. May I still apply?

Most applicants to the MA program have an undergraduate degree in English, and most applicants to the PhD program have an undergraduate degree in English in addition to an MA in English. However, you may still apply if you have taken extensive coursework in English, even if your major is in a related field (such as history or linguistics). You should also have strong letters from faculty who have taught you in English courses, and your writing sample must be an essay that relates to the field of English or American literature, literary theory, or composition and rhetoric.

What is the deadline for applications to the MA and PHD programs?

For the PhD program, all applications are due by December 15 of the year prior to the year you are planning to enter (e.g. December 15, 2019 for admission for Fall 2020). For the MA program, applications are due by October 1 for spring admission and by July 1 for fall admission.

What should I include in my statement of purpose and how long should it be?

The statement of purpose is a crucial component of your application. Statements should be 1-2 pages (usually no more than 2 pages, single-spaced) and should describe your academic experiences and professional goals, including your projected course of study, specific areas of interest, and reason for applying to UNCG. If you are interested in a specific track within the MA program, for example, please include that in your statement. While it is perfectly appropriate to include personal information related to your career goals and experience, in general the focus of the statement should be your professional background and objectives rather than on personal narrative.

What kind of writing sample should I send and how long should it be?

You should subject a research or critical essay written for an English class or a class primarily focused on literature, language, theory, or rhetoric. The essay should demonstrate your ability to write clearly, read closely, and engage with secondary scholarship. Writing samples must be 10-30 pages in length (20-30 pages for the PhD). Although longer essays are preferred, you may, if necessary, submit two shorter pieces in order to meet the 10-page minimum for the MA or the 20-page minimum for the PhD.

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me? What if I have been out of school for a while?

If possible, you should first ask English faculty with whom you have taken courses to write for you. Faculty from other departments may also be good sources of recommendation letters, especially if you have taken multiple classes with them. Although recent letters are most helpful, older letters are acceptable, especially if you have been out of school for a while. Letters from employers that speak to your professional credentials are also acceptable, but you should still aim to submit at least one letter from a faculty member as part of your application package.

Do you require GRE scores?

No, we do not require GRE scores, preferring to judge student achievement by other application materials.

Is there a minimum GPA for applicants?

Yes, applicants to both the MA and PhD program must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the major. Current BA students at UNCG who are applying for the Accelerated Master’s Program must have a cumulative 3.5 GPA in at least 30 hours earned at UNCG, of which at least 15 hours must be UNCG English courses numbered 200 or above: a 3.5 GPA for these 15 hours is also required.

Where do I send my transcripts and GRE scores?

You should request that the Registrar’s office and ETS either submit your transcripts and GRE scores electronically or mail them directly to the UNCG Graduate School. Do not send these materials directly to the English Department.

What happens after I submit my application? How soon can I expect a decision?

Once you have submitted your application and all supporting materials and submitted them through the ApplyYourself system, the Graduate School will process your application and make it available to the English Department for review. MA applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Generally, you can expect a decision within 4-6 weeks after submitting your application (assuming all supporting materials have arrived). However, response time may be slightly slower in the spring (i.e. March and April), since we are reviewing PhD applications at this time as well. Once the committee has reviewed your application and made a decision, you will be notified of the results by the Graduate School.

PhD applications are reviewed annually, in February and early March. Generally, PhD applicants can expect a decision in March or early April at the latest.

What happens if I am admitted?

For PhD students, you will have until April 15 to let us know whether you plan to enroll. You may schedule a visit while you are deciding, or you can ask us to put you in touch with current students and faculty to help you make your decision. Should you decide to enroll, we will schedule an initial orientation meeting in the spring or summer to discuss course selection, requirements, and other important information.

For MA students, please contact Ms. Alyson Everhart, the Administrative Assistant to English Graduate Programs: as soon as you have decided whether or not you intend to enroll, so that we can schedule an initial orientation meeting prior to the beginning of classes.

If I am not accepted, can I reapply?

Yes, although you will need to submit a new application through the Graduate School.

I applied to the MA (or PhD) program and did not get in. Can I contact someone for more information?

Unfortunately, we are unable to meet with students or discuss details of unsuccessful applications.

General Program Questions:

I am interested in visiting the English Department to learn more about the graduate programs. Whom should I contact?

To schedule a meeting, please contact Ms. Alyson Everhart, the Administrative Assistant to English Graduate Programs:

Does the M.A. program lead into the Ph.D. program?

Although our MA degree prepares students for doctoral programs (as well as for various kinds of employment), it does not lead directly to the PhD. Students completing the MA program must apply separately for admission to the PhD program.

Is there a foreign language requirement?

Yes, for most students. For those MA students in the Thesis Plan, the requirement is reading knowledge of one modern foreign language, equivalent to completion of the first semester of the intermediate course (usually 203): by examination OR prior course work pre-approved by the Director. A foreign language is not required for those MA students pursuing other plans (e.g. the Teaching Composition Plan or the Minor Field Plan).

For all PhD students, the requirement is a level of proficiency in one foreign language, equivalent to completion of the second semester of an intermediate course (such as 204 at UNCG), which must be documented either by previous course work completed during the last five years and approved by the Director of Graduate Study, or by course work while enrolled in the Ph.D. program, or by an appropriate score on a written examination. Native speakers of other languages can demonstrate foreign language proficiency through their graduate course work in English. Ph.D. students must fulfill the foreign language requirement before taking the preliminary examination.

How big are the English graduate programs?

Although the size of our programs varies from year to year and we do not have set quotas for graduate enrollment, we generally bring in 8-12 PhD students and 10-15 MA students, each year. The MFA program typically admits 10-12 students each year.

Can I attend graduate school in English part-time? How is full-time defined?

The Graduate School defines full-time status as six credit hours per semester. Many of our students work either at UNCG or elsewhere while completing their degrees, and most graduate seminars are held in the evening to accommodate students’ schedules. Most of our MA students, for example, are working full or part-time while taking coursework. So yes, depending on your program of study, it is certainly possible to complete your degree while holding another job. For Graduate School enrollment and employment requirements pertaining to PhD students who receive a teaching assistantship, please click here.

How big are graduate classes?

Currently, most of our graduate classes are capped at 15, although some classes are smaller.

When are graduate classes usually held?

To accommodate the majority of our students who are working either at UNCG or elsewhere, most of our graduate seminars are held in the evening. A few classes each semester are offered in the afternoon.

What kinds of funding are available for the MA and PhD programs?

For information about funding for the MA program, click here.

For information about funding for the PhD program, click here.

How much does graduate school cost?

For detailed information about tuition, fees, and other costs, please visit the Graduate School’s website here.

What is the job placement rate for PhD graduates?

Our doctorates have been extraordinarily successful in finding academic employment. Since 2006, the UNCG English Department has placed 81.9% of the students who have graduated from our doctoral program in tenure-track or other permanent positions. This is far above the national average of 41.9% as determined by the MLA. For more information about PhD placement, click here.

What if I have a question that is not answered here?

We encourage you to review the sections of our website related to the specific program (MA, PhD, or MFA) in which you are interested; your question may be answered there. Otherwise, for questions regarding the MA or PhD programs, please contact Ms. Alyson Everhart:

For questions about the MFA program, please contact  Mr. Terry Kennedy: or Ms. Jessica Van Rheenan: