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Admission to the MA/PhD program

Admission to the UMass English doctoral studies program is highly competitive. In recent years we have usually had about 200 applicants for 12-15 available spots per year. Admission decisions each year factor in applicants’ interests and the faculty available to work with students in those areas. 

Important note: Applying for admission to the MA/PhD and PhD programs in English, and applying for funding, are two separate processes. To be eligible for funding, applicants must apply for a teaching position in the Writing Program. MA-only applicants are not eligible for teaching assistantships in the department.


  • Personal Statement – We place great weight on your personal statement. This statement is your opportunity to articulate your interests and get the committee interested in you, in your potential as a professional and as a human being. (Recommended length: 3-4 double-spaced pages.)
  • Writing Sample – We require a writing sample which demonstrates your ability to do critical work in your chosen area of interest within English studies. It should be no more than 20 pages long.
  • Recommendations – Excellent recommendations by your professors (a minimum of two) are essential. You may want to provide your recommenders with copies of your college or university transcripts, papers you wrote for their course(s), and a brief résumé of your accomplishments, both academic and professional.
  • GPA and Transcripts – We look carefully at your course preparation and GPA. Nearly all of the students we accept have an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or better. Students entering with a Master’s degree are expected to have attained a high GPA (3.75 or better) for their graduate work.
  • Application for a graduate Teaching Associateship in the Writing Program – apply using the form linked at the bottom of the Writing Program's Teaching Associate Employment page. The completed application must be uploaded to the "Add Materials" tab in the Graduate Admissions Portal when you submit the rest of your application.
  • Composition and Rhetoric applicants – Applications are welcome at both MA/PhD and PhD levels. Applicants at the PhD level must have the MA in hand before enrolling in the program; the degree should be in English or a related discipline. The strongest PhD applications will include theoretical or research-oriented study in composition and/or rhetoric, ideally more than one course. 

Standardized Tests

International Students - TOEFL 

For international students who are not from English-speaking countries, a TOEFL score of 80 or better (on the internet-based test) is required by the Graduate School for admission to any graduate program.

All Students - GRE 

The Department of English does not require the GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test for admission to our program.

Paying for Graduate School

For the most current costs and fees see the University bursar’s website.

Teaching Assistantships are the principal source of support for English MA/PhD and PhD students. TAs are awarded by the Writing Program to teach the university’s first-year writing course, and by the English Department primarily to teach course sections in large general education classes and a handful of smaller literature classes. Students entering the program are required to apply directly to the Writing Program for a teaching position. For further details, visit Teaching Assistantships in the English Department. Please note: A full TA includes a stipend and comes with tuition and fee waivers, health insurance and other benefits.

Students in the MA-only program are not eligible for assistantships in the department. They may be eligible to apply for positions elsewhere on campus; please visit Graduate Assistantship Job Opportunities for more listing and information.

Application Deadline

The deadline is December 15.

Application Fee

The application fee is $75.00

Submit Your Applications


To apply for graduate ADMISSION, you must apply online to the UMass Graduate School. All accompanying materials that are not submitted digitally should be mailed directly to the Graduate School.

Graduate Admissions
530 Goodell Building
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003



To be eligible for FUNDING, you also must submit an application for a teaching position with the Writing Program.


Contact the Graduate Program at the Department of English

Wanda Bak, Graduate Administrator

Email: @email
Phone: 413.545.0979
Fax: 413.545.3880

Graduate Studies in English
W329 South College
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003