Frequently Asked Questions
Does UNC offer an M.A. program in English?
As of autumn 2010, UNC's Department of English will offer only doctoral programs in English or Comparative Literature. We do, however, offer an MA in Literature, Medicine, and Culture (More details and application information
If I want to apply for the Ph.D. program but do not have a M.A., am I still eligible to apply?
Yes. Applicants who have (or are currently pursuing) a B.A. degree are eligible to apply to our Ph.D. program. We plan to admit candidates with M.A. degrees as well as those who do not.
If I already have an M.A. from another institution, will I get credit for my M.A. work at UNC?
Applicants with an M.A. degree will not get full credit for their M.A. work. In certain circumstances, students admitted to our doctoral program with an M.A. will be credited up to three courses (nine credit hours) for graduate coursework at other institutions. The credited courses will be determined in consultation with our director of Graduate Studies.
What kind of funding do you offer for the doctoral program?
We offer various funding opportunities for first-year doctoral students: merit fellowships from the Graduate School, departmental research assistantships, internships in our SITES lab for instructional technology, positions as graders, and (for those entering with prior college composition experience) teaching fellowships. In most cases, these funding packages offer a living stipend and also include tuition remission and health insurance. After the first year in the program, all doctoral candidates are funded through teaching fellowships, which are renewable annually for at least five years, and in certain cases six years. Teaching fellowships also include tuition remission and health insurance.
What supporting documents do you require?
We require at least three letters of recommendation, a transcript from each school you have attended while working towards your B.A. (and/or M.A.) degree, a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and an official report of your scores on the GRE general examination.
Applicants who hold M.A. degrees and who are applying for teaching fellowships should also include 1) a one-page teaching statement indicating their educational background, pedagogical training, and teaching experience as well as 2) an additional letter of recommendation, if possible, testifying to their experience and potential as a teacher. Teaching statements should uploaded directly with the rest of the application.
How do I submit my application materials?
Submit your statement of purpose and your writing sample through the Graduate School's online application program. Provide the names and email addresses of three recommenders through this online application program. Upload all transcripts electronically; we will request official transcripts should you be admitted.
You must submit all application materials through the Graduate School application site, Apply Yourself. The Graduate School will not accept materials from organizations such as Interfolio.
Application fee: You may pay your fee by credit card as part of the online application. If necessary, you may instead send the fee by check (made out to UNC and mailed to the Cashier, Suite 2215 SASB N, CB 1400, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1400).
Transcripts: One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. Please do not mail transcripts as that will significantly delay the processing of your application. If offered admission, one paper official transcript for each university attended will be required at a later date.
GRE Score Report: You should order an official score report from ETS to be sent to UNC Graduate School. Our institutional code is 5816.
On my application, do I need to list the names of faculty with whom I'd like to work?
On the Graduate School Application, you do not need to list the names of faculty with whom you would like to work. You may list the names if you wish. If there are specific faculty with whom you would like to work, you can include that information in your Statement of Purpose. English and Comparative Literature faculty encourage you to contact them regarding your interest in our programs and their work.
What should I send as my statement of purpose and my writing sample?
Your statement of purpose should provide our admissions committee with an overview of your intellectual interests and development, both past and future. The statement need not, and in fact should not, provide a general biographical sketch but should instead focus your scholarly skills, inclinations, and aspirations. It is appropriate in the statement of purpose to discuss any significant research projects you have already undertaken (for example, an honors thesis, independent study, or M.A. thesis), any additional skills that will enhance your ability to conduct scholarship at an advanced level (foreign languages, training in paleography or bibliography, related work experience), and the directions in which you anticipate developing as a scholar during your years of graduate study and beyond.
Your writing sample should ideally be 10 to 20 pages in length, and it should demonstrate your critical and analytic skills as a reader and researcher in a field of literary study. Your writing sample should not be a work of creative or journalistic writing; instead, it should be a piece of expository writing or scholarship similar to that which will be expected of you as a graduate student and a professional scholar. Please be sure to include your full name on both the writing sample and the statement of purpose.
When should I take the GRE?
In order for scores to reach us by the application deadline, we urge applicants to take the GRE examination before the end of October in their application year. Please note that from the 2006-07 application year onwards, applicants to the Department of English will no longer be required to take the GRE Subject exam.
What is the average GPA of students accepted to your program?
For the 2011-2012 application cycle, the average GPA for admitted students was 3.9.
For the 2010-2011 application cycle, the average GPA for admitted students was 3.8.
What is the application deadline?
The deadline for all materials for 2016-2017 applicants is December 13, 2016.
How do I know whether UNC has received all my application materials?
You can track your application on the web once you complete your official online application through the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of each applicant to confirm receipt of all application materials. Given the number of applications received each year by the Department of English, we do not notify individual applicants if their files are not complete, and applications are not reviewed until all material is received.
How many students do you normally accept each year, and what is the normal size of your entering class?
During the 2011-2012 admissions cycle, we received 404 applications to English and 36 applications to Comparative Literature. This fall, we will have 15 new English PhD students and 1 new Comparative Literature student.
What is your job placement rate for students recently graduated?
Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for the most up-to-date placement information.
What sorts of jobs do your Ph.D. students normally get?
We have placed many of our recent Ph.D.s at major research universities such as Ohio State (Columbus), UNC-Asheville, Auburn University, University of Mississippi, University of South Carolina (Columbia), UNC-Greensboro, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Texas A&M, and Montana State University, to name but a few. We have also placed a good number of recent Ph.D.s at selective liberal arts colleges such as the University of the South (Sewanee), the College of Charleston, Lake Forest College, and Wofford College.
Does your department encourage interdisciplinary work?
Absolutely. Graduate students routinely take courses in allied departments and curricula throughout the Humanities and Social Sciences, including History, American Studies, Anthropology, Classics, American Studies, Religious Studies, Romance Languages, and Germanic Languages. UNC also boasts several interdisciplinary institutes, curricula, and research groups such as the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Cultural Studies Program, and smaller, interdisciplinary groups devoted to Medieval, Renaissance, and Southern Studies. Doctoral students may also minor in any appropriate department or curriculum, and it is not unusual for faculty in other departments to serve on Ph.D. examination and dissertation committees.
What is the program’s intellectual climate like?
We take pride in our dynamic, collegial community. A diverse array of intellectual and social groups, some led by faculty members and others student-run, allows students to share their research, to collaborate on larger projects, to develop confidence in their scholarship and teaching, and to cultivate the professionalism and camaraderie necessary to succeed in our challenging profession. The department has a vibrant, ongoing speakers series, and graduate students benefit from the hundreds of visiting scholars who each year give talks across UNC’s campus, at nearby peer institutions, and at the National Humanities Center. In addition, students may take courses and access the libraries at nearby universities, notably Duke and North Carolina State.
If I have already begun graduate work at another institution (but not completed a graduate degree), how many credit hours can I transfer if I attend UNC?
You may transfer up to 9 credit hours, or the equivalent of three courses. This includes courses taken at UNC through the Continuing Studies Program. None of your transferred courses may count towards the PhD course requirements in English.
Do you offer an ESL Program or a program for Teaching English as a Second Language?
Do you offer a graduate program in Creative Writing?
No. The nearest school offering an M.F.A. in Creative Writing is NC State University or UNC-Greensboro.
When can I expect to find out if I have been accepted to UNC?
Application decisions are made on a rolling basis. You may receive notification any time from early February up until the middle of April. The Graduate School will mail official notification letters to all applicants.
What happens after I am admitted?
We will advise you regarding payment of your enrollment deposit and will send information regarding Orientation Programs for both the Graduate School and the Department. We will also set up a New Student Listserv to answer questions and forward important emails in the summer before your arrival in Chapel Hill.
All students admitted to our graduate program are invited to campus for a long weekend to visit classes, tour the campus, and meet with faculty and current graduate students. This Visiting Weekend is tentatively scheduled for March 2015.
For further information about the Graduate Program in English, contact the Office of Graduate Studies, Department of English, CB# 3520 Greenlaw Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520 or (919) 962-1454. The Graduate Program Assistant is Sharon Brinson, 207 Greenlaw Hall.
The Graduate School office, which oversees all graduate programs at the University, is located in 200 Bynum Hall, (919) 966-2611. The Graduate School home page is gradschool.unc.edu.
Additional information regarding the University may be found in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Catalog. The Catalog is available online. Requests for purchase should be sent to the Bull's Head Bookstore, Daniels Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1530.
Faculty and staff members associated with the 2016-2017 administration of the doctoral program in English and Comparative Literature are:
Chair: Bland Simpson
Associate Chair and Director, Writing Program: Todd Taylor
Director of Graduate Studies: Jennifer Ho
Director of Graduate Admissions: Shayne Legassie
Graduate Student Services Specialist: Sharon Brinson
The Director often calls upon the officers of the Comparative Literature and English Association of Graduate Students (CoLEAGS) for advice and help. Specific questions about graduate student life in Chapel Hill may best be answered by contacting CoLEAGS.