In English Studies, multiple and interdisciplinary perspectives are used to examine and produce texts for audiences communicating in English: How do cultures shape language and how does language shape culture? How do intersections of cultures affect communication across borders? What forms can we create to connect and enter into dialogue with each other?
Children's Literature, Creative Writing, English Education, Linguistics, Literary and Cultural Studies, Rhetoric and Writing (including New Media Studies, Professional Writing and Rhetorics, Rhetoric and Composition, and Teaching Writing), and TESOL offer our community of students and researchers the means of examining how we teach, learn, and understand ourselves and others through the stories we tell and the ways in which we tell them.
Point of Pride
The Department of English was the first in the nation to establish a doctoral program in English studies.
Dr. Brian Rejack
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How to Apply
University Admission Requirements
A student applying to a doctoral program must:
- have earned a master's degree or equivalent in a discipline appropriate to the specific doctoral program
- have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work (approximately the junior and senior years)
- have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for all graduate-level coursework
- present unofficial transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. The unofficial transcript should be easily readable and clearly indicate degree(s) awarded, courses and course grades for each term. If accepted, official transcripts can be emailed from the university to GraduateAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Illinois State University, Graduate School, 209 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 4040, Normal, IL 61790-4040.
International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.
Additional Program Admission Requirements
A complete application requires:
- A statement of purpose
- Writing sample
- Area of interest
- Reference contact information
- English proficiency scores (international students only)
Statement of Purpose
Upload a statement of purpose in PDF format to the online application system.
We use your statement of purpose to assess how well you understand our department’s mission as an English Studies department. We also use the statement to assess your commitment to the professionalization of your chosen form.
If you choose, you may cast some of this statement as an intellectual autobiography describing your reading, writing, and scholarly interest through your undergraduate and graduate studies, explaining how those experiences have led you to apply to our program.
Goals: Indicate how this degree will help you achieve your goals and how our department can help you meet your intellectual goals.
Scholarly and Career Interests: Discuss what areas of English studies you would like to study and why. Describe your goals following the completion of the degree.
Pedagogy: The Ph.D. in English Studies requires you be aware of both pedagogical theory and the intersections of the subfields of English Studies (composition/rhetoric, linguistics, literature and cultural studies). Demonstrate your awareness of and interest in both pedagogy and English Studies.
Credentials: Demonstrate how your credentials fit with this department’s particular set of faculty expertise.
Upload a 10-15 page writing sample that demonstrates your analytic abilities and writing skills. Your sample can be longer if it best illustrates your abilities.
Your writing sample should reflect your best analytical writing skills in the subdiscipline for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying in children's literature, include an example of your scholarly ability to analyze children's literature.
The document must be in PDF format.
Creative Writing Portfolio (Creative Writing Option Only)
If you are interested in the creative writing program, you’ll need to submit both an analytical paper and creative writing portfolio.
Your creative portfolio should include 15-20 pages of your best writing in the genre for which you hope to be admitted. Available genres include poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or mixed genre writing.
Your analytical sample and portfolio must be uploaded in a single, PDF document.
Upload your current resume of curriculum vitae in PDF format to the online application system.
Area of Interest
Indicate the primary area for which you are applying. Options include:
- Children’s Literature
- Creative Writing
- English Education
- English Studies (Cross-disciplinary studies)
- Literary and Cultural Studies
- Rhetoric and Writing (including New Media Studies, Professional Writing and Rhetorics, Rhetoric and Composition, and Teaching Writing)
Reference Contact Information
Submit names and email addresses of three references for letters of recommendation within the online application.
English Proficiency Scores (international students only)
International students are required to submit English Proficiency scores from TOEFL or IELTS. The minimum TOEFL score required for graduate admissions is 100 TOEFL ibt or 7.0 on IELTS. For International students interested in being awarded a teaching assistantship, a TOEFL iBT speaking score of 27 or higher, equivalent IELTS score, or the Test of Spoken English (TSE), is required.
- Fall (August) Term — Friday, January 13
- Spring (January) Term — No applications accepted for Spring
- Summer (May/June) Term — No applications accepted for Summer
The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.
To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,
- be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
- be in good-standing
- be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).
Graduate assistants receive
- monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
- a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
- a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment
Costs & Funding
See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from contiguous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.
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