Admissions Procedures

Application for Admission

Applications can be found on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) website. The deadline for applications to the PhD Program in English is December 15 during the academic year before desired enrollment. The deadline for applications to the MA Program in English is May 1 of the academic year before desired enrollment.

Only complete applications uploaded on-line through the GSAS website will be considered for admission.  Please do not include your social security number anywhere in your supporting materials.  A complete application consists of the following:

  • A completed application form, including the Statement of Academic Interests (called the "Personal Statement" in the on-line application form).
  • Unofficial transcripts of all previous undergraduate or graduate coursework.  (Official transcripts will later be required of all admitted applicants.  Please do not send official transcripts in advance of receiving an offer of admission.)
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation.
  • Results of the GRE 3-part general test.  Results of the GRE subject test in English literature are recommended but not required.
  • Results of the TOEFL for international applicants whose first language is not English.
  • A writing sample of 15-25 double-spaced pages (including notes). The writing sample should be in a 12-point font, preferably Times New Roman.
  • The $85 non-refundable application fee.

International applicants, if accepted, must submit the international applicant financial statement. Students admitted to the PhD program may submit the University's letter offering financial aid as documentation along with the form.

Applicants to the PhD program may request in advance that, if not admitted to that program, they be considered for admission to the MA program. Please see the application for instructions. The University of Virginia's MFA is an entirely separate program, for which candidates must apply separately.

Graduate Record Examination

Students should order a copy of the results of the GRE to be sent to the University (code 5820). These tests are given at various times during the year by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Princeton, New Jersey. Application to ETS should be made well in advance of the desired examination date. We require the three-part general aptitude test; we recommend but do not require the subject test in English literature. Generally, action on applications will be postponed until the GRE scores are received. Testing should be done in time to allow for official reporting of scores to the University.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants should request letters of recommendation from at least three English professors who are well acquainted with their recent work. Letters from instructors in other departments are less relavant, and letters from non-academic sources will not be considered. Applicants who have done graduate work elsewhere should request at least two letters from instructors familiar with their graduate work.

Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a critical writing sample of 15-25 double-spaced pages (including notes). Applicants may submit an excerpt from a thesis or longer paper but should send no more than 25 double-spaced pages in total. Your writing sample should be chosen with special care, since it provides the Admissions Committee with our most direct evidence of your abilities and constitutes the most important part of the file. We recommend that your writing sample address the subdiscipline in literary studies that you intend to concentrate on in your graduate work.

Completion of Applications

Since the Department receives a very large number of applications, it is impossible to notify an applicant that a file is incomplete. The applicant must therefore assume responsibility for making sure that the application package is complete.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

The application deadline for work-study eligibility and other financial aid is March 31; prospective students should apply without waiting for an admission decision.

Admission Policies

The formal deadline for PhD applications is December 15, 2018, and the deadline for MA applications is May 1, 2019. Authority to admit students to graduate work in English rests with the Dean of the Graduate School; the English Department acts in an advisory capacity by reviewing applications and making recommendations. In general, a candidate should have had twenty-four semester hours of undergraduate English courses above the introductory level. The Department is also happy, however, to consider applicants with distinguished undergraduate records in fields other than English. Most students admitted for graduate work in English have at least two GRE scores in the ninetieth percentile or higher.

Admission is not granted for the start of the spring semester.

In accordance with federal law, the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the policies of the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, the University of Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family and genetic information, in its programs and activities as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Governor’s Executive Order Number One (2014), and other applicable statutes and University policies. The University of Virginia prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment, including sexual assault, and other forms of inter-personal violence. The University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Procedural questions should be directed via email to the Director of Graduate Admissions, Andrew Stauffer.