You have now targeted schools where you'd like to complete your graduate study,
and you've done your "homework" by reading as much as you can about the graduate
program(s) and reviewing publications by the potential faculty mentors you've
identified. Now what?
Consider writing to appropriate faculty at your target
schools.Tell them about your academic interests (or interests in creative
writing), and read their published works. Without being overbearing
or a pest, try to maintain
some dialogue with prospective faculty mentors. This way, you become more than
just another name on
a list of applicants.
Request letters of recommendation from faculty members who know you
well enough to discuss
your work and your potential in detail. Otherwise, admission committees
"meaningless" letters that say "Janelle did well in my Victorian literature class.
She earned a 3.7."
Graduate admission committees need to see letters that speak specifically to
your accomplishments as an undergraduate, your potential as a graduate student,
and your potential for fitting into and
contributing to a community of scholars in English language and literature. Good
recommendation are an important component in admission decisions.
For more information, see the section on requesting
letters of recommendation.
Work hard at perfecting your statement of purpose. Your statement
of purpose is an extremely important component of your graduate admission packet.
Ask peers, faculty, or advisers
to review what you've written, and plan to make multiple drafts. English Undergraduate
Advising offers Statement of Purpose Workshops every autumn quarter. Watch
announcements. There are workshops on statement of purpose writing available
through the UW Women's Center (open
to both women and men), and there are also many publications available through
bookstores that address this topic. Click here for English Advising's online
information about statement of purpose writing.
Polish your writing sample. Your critical writing sample should represent your
best work in an area related to the academic interest(s) you want to pursue in your graduate study.
Continue to revise and refine. Work with faculty whenever possible on your revisions. Prepare to
turn in an absolutely clean copy (don't turn in a sample that has been graded or commented upon)
that has been edited thoroughly. Your creative writing sample should consist of your best work in
either poetry or fiction. Again, seek faculty help and guidance in your revisions, and prepare to
turn in clean copies (not graded or marked up) that have been edited thoroughly.
Take the appropriate GRE tests well in advance. For
MA/PhD, often both the General Aptitude Test and the Literature in English
required. (Most MFA programs
do not require the Subject Test.) The GRE (Graduate Records Exam) General Test
has sections that test your verbal, analytical, and quantitative ability. (Your
verbal and analytical scores will be
most important for graduate study in English.) The GRE Literature in English
Subject Test consists of approximately 230 questions on poetry, drama, biography,
the essay, the short story, the novel, criticism, literary theory, and the
history of the language. For information about the tests, sample questions,
and registration, visit the GRE website.
Fill out all of the application paperwork completely and submit all
requested information (personal statement, GRE scores, recommendations, etc.)
on time. Most schools have an
application checklist. Make sure that there's nothing missing. If you have questions
about any of
the materials, contact the graduate program adviser for the targeted program(s).
Apply for teaching assistantships and other available fellowship programs. There
is usually a separate application for these funding opportunities. Most schools can direct you to
other funding opportunities outside their own departments as well. For information about graduate funding
sources from the UW Graduate School, click here.