Department of English

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Requirements

GRE and Subject Test

Is there a minimum general GRE or Subject Test score?

No.  The University’s Office of Graduate Studies designates a minimum composite GRE score, but departments can petition for exemptions. 

Do I need to re-take the GRE if I have an M.A. degree?

No – but only as long as your score is not more than five years old.  

Can I apply without GRE scores?


Can I apply if I’ve taken the GRE but the scores will not be reported by the application deadline?

Yes, as long as we receive scores by the end of January.

Do I need to take the Subject Test in Literature?

Yes – unless you are intending to concentrate your research in the fields comprising the Rhetoric and Digital Literacies dimensions of our program.  Creative Writing applicants to the English Department’s M.F.A. program are also exempted from the Subject Test.

Can I apply if I’ve taken the Subject Test but the scores will not be reported before the application deadline? 

Yes – although we may defer a final decision if the scores arrive after the end of January.  

Course work and Major

Must I have been an English major? 


Must I have earned 15 hours of upper-division English credit by the time of my application? 

Yes – unless you are concentrating your research in Rhetoric or Digital Literacies and have earned 15 hours of field-relevant, upper-division course work. 

Do I need transcripts from schools that are not four-year colleges? 


Should I report my overall GPA or my GPA in English courses?

We are more concerned with your GPA in English courses.

Can I apply even though I have not yet graduated with my B.A.? 

Yes – but you will be required to present evidence of your graduation before you join our program the following fall.  

Do you accept transfer credits?  

Yes and No.  {Yes} When we admit students with an M.A., we accept the entirety of their degrees.  So they are only responsible for the doctoral phase of course work in our program.  And since our graduate students are required to stay registered for three courses each term until they enter candidacy – any combination of organized courses, individual instruction with a professor, or “reading” courses to prepare for exams and prospectus writing will count – they automatically accumulate more hours than actually required for the degree.  {No} We do not transfer graduate course credit for students in either the M.A. or Ph.D.-phases of our program.  

Foreign Language Requirement

If I am applying with a B.A., do I need already to have satisfied the basic 4-semester of college foreign language training requirement? 

No.  You can make up deficiencies at UT. 

If I am applying with an M.A., do I need already to have satisfied the basic 2-foreign language (each to four-semester level) requirement option or the 1-foreign language (upper-division college course work in the foreign language) requirement option for the Ph.D.?

No. You can make up deficiencies at UT.

Will sign language count as a foreign language?


Will programming languages count to fulfill the foreign language requirement?  

Yes, where relevant to the student’s research agenda.

Is foreign language training an asset to my application?

Yes – in all instances and especially in cases where it is relevant to or even necessary for a student’s proposed area of research. 

Application Procedures

Should I submit my Statement of Purpose to “Apply Texas” or as a separate document?

Instead of typing in your essay, you can just type in “See Attached Statement of Purpose” and upload it with your other documents. 

Will you let me know if something of decisive importance is missing from my file?  


Can I submit a longer Writing Sample? 

Yes, modestly – but c.f. the site description of the writing sample.  Excess length often is a symptom of imprecise inquiry formation or execution.  

Do I need to apply for a teaching assistantship (TA), assistant instructorship (AI) or fellowship as part of my application? 

No.  All admitted students receive the full support package of teaching support, summer support, and dissertation-writing fellowship.  There is additional fellowship and professional development support offered by the program, and students can compete for those opportunities while in residence.  

Must I have 3 recommendation letters or will 2 be acceptable?

We strongly prefer three, but applicants will not be penalized for having only two. 

What is the application deadline date?  

December 15th for both the Ph.D program and M.F.A. program.

Will I be disqualified from consideration if some of my materials have not arrived by December 15th

No – but only if you have properly submitted all the materials reasonably under your control (e.g. transcripts, Statement, Sample. etc.).  Of course, it is difficult for late materials – scores and recommendations, in particular – to play a role in this rather intense competition if they do not arrive before the end of January.  

How early can I submit my admission materials?

September 1.  


Do I need to take any particular courses to help my admission chances before I apply?


Is there an optimal age for a beginning graduate student? 


Can students over 30 apply?

Yes.  Applicants can be any age.  The main challenge for applicants well beyond their college careers is conveying that they possess a contemporary sense of the discipline, no matter how they have filled the intervening years. 


When will I hear an admission decision? 

Usually by the end of February. 

Why does the decision process take so long? 

Each dossier receives multiple anonymous readings from the faculty.  Once the Admissions Committee has identified those applicants who have earned the greatest faculty enthusiasm, the really labor-intensive process of building a class begins.

Does the program have an interviewing process, and if so, is it advantageous to visit UT for an interview? 

No.  In fact, we discourage faculty from developing professional contacts or mentoring relationships with applicants outside of the admission competition itself.  We prefer to work with a level playing field. 

Are flyers or brochures about the program available? 


If I’m rejected, can I get any feedback to help me improve my chances another year?

No.  And for two reasons.  First, the number of rejected applicants is too large.  Second, and more fundamentally, there is little substantive information to offer.  In a hyper-competitive situation, applicants are not typically rejected on the basis of their perceived weaknesses.  They simply garner less passionate advocacy during a particular moment’s deliberative process than candidates who are admitted. 

If I’m rejected, are my chances diminished if I choose to apply again?

No.  New year; new applicant pool; new committee conversation; new game. 

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  • Department of English

    University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street B5000
    Calhoun Hall, Room 226
    Austin, Texas 78712-1164