Application FAQ

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.

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Which is the most important part of the application?

We do not have a set formula for evaluating applications to the graduate program. No one element of the application alone will decide whenther we admit someone or not. We read applications holistically to arrive at a sense of the candidate's ability to succeed in our program. We do look 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 program, and Emory's commitment to funding everyone admitted, we often have to make some tough decisions.

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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.

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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.

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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. No student, however, is admitted without a fellowship. Our stipends are competitive with those being offered by other leading programs.

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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.

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I am finishing my Master's degree. What will that mean for my program at Emory?

Graduate students who arrive at Emory with a completed Master's degree in English sometimes are able to take less coursework once they arrive here. Please consult with the director of graduate studies about your particular case. 

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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.

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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.

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How successful are Emory graduate students on the job market? What does the department do to help them?

As anyone considering graduate school should know, the academic job market is highly competitive. Nonetheless, graduates of Emory's PhD program in English have had considerable success in recent years, with over half of those who conduct national searches finding tenure-track jobs in colleges and universities. Additionally, many of our graduates find rewarding careers in areas such as policy research, archival directorship, higher-education administration, and writing center directorship. While we are always striving to improve our placement, we believe that Emory students have been successful 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; exciting opportunities in interdisciplinary research; 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. Additionally, we have begun a program in "alt-ac" job placement for those who are seeking appointments in other higher-education fields such as administration, advising, archival work, etc. Students traveling to the Modern Language Association conference and other venues for interviews receive financial support through the Laney Graduate School's Professional Development Support Funds. Our students find positions in departments across the country, in a variety of institutions, from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges.

The department also prepares students professionally long before they are 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; pedagogical seminars on composition and literature help students to prepare the teaching materials required for academic employment; and a colloquium on the dissertation gives students an added edge in learning how to talk about their research to a group of academics outside of their specialization.

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Who is required to take TOEFL?

Emory's graduate program in English requires that all persons whose first language is not English to report TOEFL scores that are no more than five years old.

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I would like to apply to Emory's program but cannot afford the application fee. Is there any possibility of having the fee waived?

In special circumstances, we try to make accommodations for students in financial difficulty. Please contat the Director of Graduate Admissions, Dr. Deborah E. White at dwhite2@emory.edu with information about your particular situation.

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