Applying to the Program

Applying to the Program

You may apply to the program any time during the year. In fact, if you apply during the summer and are accepted, you may begin classes in the fall. Along with the standard application form, the admissions committee would like to see supplementary material supporting your application. Please include the following in your application dossier (see below for additional information):

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a brief statement of purpose
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a short writing sample
  • official academic transcripts
  • GRE scores (optional)

You can apply online or download the appropriate forms and submit application materials directly to the graduate admissions office.

Every year, a few assistantships are available for graduate students. You can apply for an assistantship by including this Graduate Assistantship Form with your application.

Brief Statement of Purpose
Because our community is relatively small and decidedly close-knit, it’s important to ensure a good fit. So before applying, please take the time to look over our program. Write a concise essay (no more than two pages) that explains to us why you want to pursue the M.A. in English and why you are drawn to KU. Tell us about your background. Contextualize your application materials. Give us some insight into your ambitions. Let us see what you will bring to our community of scholars.

Three Letters of Recommendation
Your letters of recommendation are an important part of your application dossier. You will want to seek letters from people who know your intellectual work well and can speak objectively to the likelihood of your success in graduate study.  The most common letter writers are professors from your undergraduate institution. However, some applicants may be returning to graduate school after some remove from the undergraduate experience, which can make soliciting letters difficult. In such cases, employers or other people with whom you have worked closely may speak to your academic promise. It is not a good idea to have friends or family members write on your behalf.

Short Writing Sample
While transcripts and test scores can be revealing, such data does not give an applicant the opportunity to demonstrate what they can really do. Thus, we ask applicants to submit a brief sample of academic writing. The Admissions Committee wants to know that you have the skills necessary to succeed in our program, and those particularly include writing and analytical ability.  Your sample should be from 8-10 pages in length, double spaced. It should be a single piece of writing, and it may be excerpted from a larger work. Students come to our program from various backgrounds, so we do not necessarily expect to see the traditional undergraduate English term paper, although that is an option. What we’re really looking for is a representation of your facility with language, a demonstration of your skills at organizing ideas, and some insight into your ability to work with evidence, especially textual evidence. Although there are opportunities to explore creative forms in our program, we ask that you show us your analytical side in this sample.

Academic Transcripts
When looking at academic transcripts, the admissions committee hopes to see evidence of sustained academic success in diverse areas of study. In some cases, individuals may have blemishes on their academic record. If necessary, use your statement of purpose to contextualize your academic record.

The GRE is a reliable measure of academic ability. However, the test can be expensive, and some individuals do not perform to their highest abilities in testing environments. Therefore, we do not require applicants to submit GRE scores. Applicants who are returning to graduate school after a prolonged period, or individuals who may be carrying a somewhat uneven academic record may wish to supplement their application dossier with strong GRE scores.

General Advice
Compiling an application dossier may seem daunting, but it can also be seen as an opportunity to reflect upon your choice to pursue something that will be both challenging and meaningful. While we believe that we have an ethical obligation to only admit individuals who we believe will succeed in our program, we also understand that individuals follow many and various paths in life. With that in mind, the application committee wants your application dossier to represent you in the best possible light. We want to get a sense for the total package. We want to get a sense for unique perspective that you will bring to this community. Think about it, and then tell us your story.