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 graduate programs can petition for exemptions.

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

No, 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 the scores by the end of January.

Do I need to take the Subject Test in Literature?

Yes – unless you are intending to concentrate your studies in the Rhetoric and/or Digital Literacies fields of our program, or are applying to the M.F.A. program.

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 to get in to the Ph.D. program?


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 (and related) 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.  

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 retyping 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?

No. Please visit the My Status page.

Can I submit a longer Writing Sample?

Yes, but excess length is often read as a symptom of imprecise argumentation and/or poor writing. Less really can be more in a writing sample.

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 full funding, which includes a mix of teaching assignments and research fellowships. In addition to our basic funding package, students can apply for further support -- including professional development opportunities and competitive fellowships -- while in residence.

Must I have three recommendation letters or is two be acceptable?

Applicants will be at a severe disadvantage with only two letters of recommendation.

What is the application deadline date?

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

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, personal statement, writing 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?



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 interest and 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?