Admissions - Frequently Asked Questions
1. When are my applications materials due? What is required?
Applications to the graduate program are due December 1. We require the application itself, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a writing sample of 15-20 pages. Further information can be found here.
2. Which is the most important part of the application?
We do not have a set formula for evaluating applications to the graduate program. We give each part consideration, and try to arrive at a sense of the candidate's ability to succeed in our program. We are looking for a record of past success, but also a sense of the intellectual energy that the applicant will generate in the future. Given the size of our entering cohort -- 7-9 students per year -- we have to make some difficult decisions.
3. How important is it to make contact with an Emory faculty member before applying?
Not important at all. We give the materials you send us full consideration regardless of whether you have had contact with a member of our faculty.
4. Does Emory hold an "open house" for applicants?
We invite a select group of applicants to campus before making our final admission decisions. This visiting program gives us a chance to get to know the finalists better and gives them a chance to see both Emory and Atlanta in person. Invitations are extended by the Department individually by email and well in advance of the actual event.
5. What is funding like?
At Emory, every graduate student receives full funding. Currently, all of the entering students receive fellowship packages that include five years of guaranteed funding: stipends, tuition remission, and partial health insurance. In addition, there are many competitively awarded funding opportunities for graduate students in their sixth and even seventh years. No student, however, is admitted without a fellowship. Our stipends are competitive with those being offered by other leading programs.
6. How long does a Ph.D. in English at Emory take?
We have recently implemented a five-year program that is outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook. While we believe that many students, especially those who enter with Master's degrees, will be able to finish in five years, we recognize that it takes some students longer. Currently, the average time-to-degree for students in our program is approximately six years. While funding is not guaranteed for a sixth year, most of our sixth-year students have found internal fellowship support comparable to or superior to their five-year stipend levels.
7. I am finishing my Master's degree. What will that mean for my program at Emory?
It will mean that you will take less coursework here -- about a year less -- which in turn makes it more likely that you will finish in five years. Students who have completed a Master's Degree elsewhere enter our program with "advanced standing," and the Graduate Handbook has more details on what that status means.
8. What about funding to attend conferences, to conduct research during the summer, or to attend external seminars or professional development programs?
The Graduate School’s Professional Development Support Funds guarantees $7500 of support for each graduate across her or his time in the program. These funds are divided evenly among three categories: conference travel, research, and training not available at Emory. In recent years, the Department has funded studying at the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell, the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth, and the Yeats Summer School at Sligo. For more information, see the Professional Development Support Funds web site.
9. How much do graduate students teach?
The English department works to give its students pedagogical training and experience without placing on them so many teaching responsibilities that their progress toward the degree is impeded. Students do not teach in their first year of the program, and in the second year they serve as teaching assistants for one class per semester. In the third year, they teach their own courses in first-year writing. The fourth year is free of teaching responsibilities, and graduate students teach one course in their final year of their fellowship. All graduate students participate in a university-wide teaching training program called TATTO, and then in a two-semester pedagogy colloquium on the teaching of composition and the teaching of literature, which is run by the department. Additionally, each student selects a faculty teaching mentor prior to the first primary teaching assignment.
10. How successful are Emory graduate students on the job market? What does the department do to help them?
Graduates of the Emory English Department have enjoyed a high rate of success in recent years, with an average of approximately 65% of students finding tenure-track jobs. As anyone considering graduate school should know, the academic job market is highly competitive. At Emory, as in any graduate program, job-seekers sometimes take more than one year to land their first tenure-track job, or accept a temporary position first. While we are always striving to improve our placement, we believe that Emory students have been successful in the past because of several factors: a serious emphasis on training graduate students both as researchers and as undergraduate teachers; the opportunity to work closely with faculty in developing a scholarly profile; and strong departmental support during the process of seeking academic employment.
The department appoints two faculty members each year to serve as job placement officers. These professors hold workshops, counsel students individually, and arrange mock interviews for graduate students who are on the market. Students traveling to MLA for interviews receive financial support as well through the Graduate School’s Professional Development Support Funds. The department invests heavily in its students and works hard for their success at this stage. Our students find positions in departments across the country, in a variety of institutions, from large, research universities to small liberal arts colleges.
Moreover, the department has recently added components to its graduate program that it believes will help students on the job market long before they are actually ready to begin looking for positions. A brown-bag luncheon series on topics related to professionalization provides all students a forum for understanding how academic careers (as well as non-academic careers in which the PhD is relevant) take shape; the colloquium on the pedagogy of composition and literature helps students to prepare the teaching materials required for academic employment; and colloquia on the dissertation process and the teaching of literature will give students an added edge in learning how to talk about their research and teaching to a group of academics outside of their specialization.