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The graduate program in English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill offers a rigorous placement program, providing coaching to graduate students entering the academic job market. Each year, the department designates two faculty members to work closely with job seekers. Beginning in the spring prior to job season, these placement officers work with students individually to polish all job-related materials. Placement assistance takes place over a cycle of three semesters and begins in January of the spring term every year.

Job Placement Seminar: When students decide (in consultation with their advisors) that they are ready apply for jobs, they should attend the placement seminar, a bi-weekly meeting with the placement directors held in the spring semester. Students who simply wish to learn more about the process even if they are not planning to apply for jobs the following year are welcome to attend. Each of the meetings is focused on one or two kinds of documents that job candidates need to produce for most applications, e.g. CV, cover letter, and dissertation prospectus. Placement directors describe how to compose those documents, provide examples, and answer questions. Over the course of the semester, students draft their materials, and placement coordinators provide personalized feedback, so that, ideally, by the end of the semester, students have revised templates or drafts of all of the basic materials.

Timing: The seminar meets in the spring semester, and traditionally the job cycle begins in the fall. That means the seminar meets one semester before first-time candidates would begin applying for jobs the following fall. During the fall semester placement directors continue to help students customize their job materials.

Placement Calendar

  • Year before the market January-April attend placement seminar; draft job materials
  • July request faculty recommendation letters; sign up for MLA job list; sign up for interfolio
  • August  first fall job market meeting
  • August-October revise job materials in collaboration with placement co-directors
  • September-March  apply for academic positions, post-docs, etc.
  • November mock job interviews
  • January-April mock job talks; job offers and negotiations

Throughout the year, students can also expect a series of workshops, held in collaboration with the Director of Graduate Studies. These cover topics such as how to craft a winning cv, alt-ac career options, academic publishing strategies, writing excellent conference papers, and creating effective abstracts.

UNC-Chapel Hill, Placement Record:

This rigorous training pays off. Our department places at a rate well above the national average, and our graduate students have been hired into excellent tenure-track positions, postdoctoral fellowships, lectureships and visiting assistantships, and careers outside of academia.

Click here to view our full placement record for Ph.D. alumni since 2006.