Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Graduate Program Admissions


  1. Do you require the GRE?
    No, we do not.
  2. Do you require a Writing Sample?
    Yes. Both M.A. and Ph.D. applications must include a writing sample. This is one of the most important parts of the application, in addition to the personal statement and letters of recommendation. For applicants to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration, the department requests the following additional materials: 20-25 pages of prose (at least one complete piece and an additional sample preferred), or 10-12 pages of poetry. The writing can be poetry, prose fiction, creative nonfiction or hybrid/cross genre.

  3. Can the writing sample be made up of more than one piece?
    Yes, but one sustained argument is preferred.

  4. Can the writing sample be longer than 20 pages?
    We prefer that you keep it to the stated length, double spaced.

  5. What does the department look for in a successful candidate?
    The most important parts of your application are the writing components, letters of recommendation, second language competency, and range of academic interests. We take a holistic look at each applicant’s file. No single element—like transcripts or GPA— would rule out an otherwise strong candidate whose intellectual interests and strengths are a good fit for our program.

  6. How well-prepared in my second language do I have to be?
    Second language proficiency isn't tested as much as it is encouraged prior to admission. We recommend that students have the equivalent of two years of college instruction for a modern language, or one year for an ancient language. Students are expected to have done all the elementary-intermediate grammar so that they are ready to read relevant literary or critical texts in the language. If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to take the Graduate Summer Language Program, two seminars in a second language-literature, and a translation exam as part of your coursework completion. If you enter the program with low to no language preparation, it will set your advancement timeline back about a year.

  7. What percentage of applicants get accepted?
    We typically receive around 100 applications to our graduate program. Of those, our average acceptance rate is 20 Ph.D. and 5 M.A. with a target entering class of 7 Ph.D. and 3 M.A. 
  8. Can you start in the M.A. program and then go into the Ph.D. program from there?
    Typically not. The M.A. program is primarily designed for students wanting to pursue a Ph.D. at other institutions.

  9. What should I say in my statement of purpose?
    If you have a faculty member you are currently working with and who has been on admissions committees, we recommend that you request that he/she read your Statement of Purpose (SOP) and help choose/review your Writing Sample. Also, the SOP can include both academic and life experiences. It can reflect what brought you to this point in your life, and what future goals you feel can be fulfilled by graduate study in Literature.

  10. What's the process for evaluating applications?
    A committee of at least eight faculty members goes over the files, with each file read by a minimum of two members, and a long list is developed. All committee members read the long list files, producing a short list and inviting other faculty in the department to weigh in where appropriate. A final meeting is then held to determine which applicants from the short list will receive offers.

  11. What kind of support does the department offer for its admits?
    If you are accepted into the program you will receive an offer that includes five years of guaranteed funding in the form of fellowships, teaching appointments, or research positions. In our program the majority of our support comes in the form of Teaching Assistantships (one per quarter). TAships are funded opportunities to teach sections for literature courses and are technically considered employment. This funding is designed to cover resident tuition, health insurance, and university fees. We typically offer special funding packages for non-California residents that cover non-resident tuition for one year with the expectation that residency is acquired by the second year. In combination with the Division of Graduate Studies, we offer special funding packages for international students to cover non-resident tuition for a longer period. Additional information for international applicants can be found here.

  12. When is the application deadline?
    Application deadlines are kept up to date on the Division of Graduate Studies Admissions website. No late applications will be accepted.

  13. Have you received all of my application materials?
    Applicants can check the status of their application online via the portal or by contacting technical support using this online form.

  14. Can I submit my test scores or letters of recommendation after the deadline?
    Test scores and letters of recommendation can be submitted after the application deadline, but because we begin the review process immediately it is in your best interest to have them all in as quickly as possible.