Application Process and Materials

The English Department is accepting applications for admission to both the self-funded MA program and the PhD program for Academic Year 2024-2025.

There are two applications deadlines for the MA program (both for students wishing to begin the program in fall 2024): January 1, 2024 and April 1, 2024.

There is a single deadline (January 1, 2024) for applicants to the PhD program. The next PhD cohort will begin in Fall 2024.

Apply online through Graduate School

  • The University requires a $75 fee and one set of transcripts from all colleges or universities you have attended.The application fee for International students is $100. The English Department is not able to offer fee waivers. 
  • If already enrolled as a PBS student or as an undergraduate student at MU, you must file a transfer of division form with the admissions office.

Additionally, the following items are needed to complete your application for the MA and PhD programs.

  • Letters of Recommendation
    • For applicants to the PhD program, three letters are required. At least two should be from people familiar with your academic and/or creative work, such as a professor or academic advisor. 
    • For applicants to the self-funded M.A. program, two letters are required. These may be written either by people familiar with your academic and creative work (such as a professor or academic advisor) or by professional contacts (such as supervisors or colleagues) who can speak about qualities that are relevant to your success in graduate study. Such recommenders may wish to consult the "Guidelines for Writers of Recommendation Letters"  under the FAQ tab on this page.
  • CV
  • List of any previous graduate classes taken (for PhD candidates)
  • Writing Sample: One 15-20 page scholarly paper for students applying for Literature Studies or for English Language and Linguistics. Creative Writing applicants should submit one critical/scholarly paper (15-20 pages) and one of the following: a sample of your fiction (15-30 pages), creative non-fiction (15-20 pages), or poetry (15-20 pages). 
  • The Statement of Purpose is generally 500-1000 words and should present information not emphasized in other portions of your application. It should give a sense of your intellectual interests and of your academic and professional qualifications and goals. Specifically, it should include:

    • Your plans for graduate work
    • Research interests
    • Creative specialties (for Creative Writing applicants)
    • Your preparation for graduate study in the field(s) you intend to pursue.
    • Reasons you feel the graduate program in English at the University of Missouri, specifically, will help you to meet your goals
    • In addition, candidates may wish to include some of the following:
      • Past research, teaching or creative accomplishments, such as theses, conference presentations, publications or relevant professional experience.
      • A description of any other background or experience that you feel has contributed or will contribute to your development as a scholar, writer, teacher or member of the University community.
      • Resources at the University of Missouri, including specific faculty members, that could support your academic and professional goals.

Your application cannot be read until all materials have been received. Materials must be received by the relevant departmental deadline. This includes letters of recommendation. The application deadline for the PhD program is January 1, 2024. The application deadlines for the self-funded MA are January 1, 2024 and April 1, 2024.

To be admitted to the MA program, a candidate should have majored in English as an undergraduate, with at least 18 hours in upper division courses in literature or linguistics. Students with other undergraduate majors may be admitted provided their background in English studies is suitable and provided they complete an appropriate course of preliminary study.

International applicants must send a copy of their TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo English proficiency score, per university requirements.

International applicants to the PhD should note that all PhD students are funded by teaching assistantships and teach their own classes. To qualify for this appointment, applicants must demonstrate a level of proficiency in spoken English that exceeds the minimum admission requirements published by the Graduate School.

For international applicants, a score of 8.5-9.0 on the speaking portion of the IELTS, of 28-30 on the speaking portion of the TOEFL, or of 150-160 on the Conversation and Production portions of the Duolingo proficiency test is preferred. A lower score will not automatically disqualify an applicant, but applicants with significantly lower scores are unlikely to be competitive in the admissions process. 


Admitted Students

This section offers a short primer on beginning the English graduate program at Mizzou.

The Graduate School offers this page for admitted students, which details the administrative tasks that a new student needs to do in the summer before starting the program and in the first few weeks of the semester. For more information about moving to Columbia, consult the “Our Community” page.

There is a mandatory departmental orientation the week before classes start. Victoria Thorp will send a schedule with the orientation dates to incoming students early in the summer. The Composition Program sponsors a mandatory, week-long orientation two weeks before classes start for teachers new to our composition program. 

Further Information: Whom To Ask

Professor Anne Myers is currently the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). The DGS chairs meetings of the Graduate Studies Committee and serves as a liaison between the English Department and the Graduate School. Until you settle on an MA thesis or PhD adviser, the DGS serves as your academic adviser and can help with choosing courses, thinking through your program of study, and other academic or administrative concerns. Email:

The Graduate Studies Secretary, Victoria Thorp, assists graduate students with administrative tasks required by the Graduate School, including registration for graduate courses when permission of the instructor is required. Her office: Tate 114A. Phone: 573-882-4676. Email:

The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) is the officially recognized body representing graduate students in the department. A variety of questions can be answered by EGSA leadership. Contact:
President: Veda Gerlach
Vice President: Allison Wiltshire
Student Liaison: Mikey Borgard


Frequently Asked Questions

General Graduate Programs

Q: What graduate degrees does MU offer in English?

A: You may apply to either the MA or the PhD program. The MA program is self-funded but offers a great deal of flexibility and is ideal especially for working professionals. See the “Degree Timelines” tab on the MA Program page for more details.

The PhD program is fully funded, and students must attend in-person, full-time. PhD students also have teaching duties. See the “PhD Sample Timeline” tab on the PhD Program page.

Q: How will I know which faculty members I’ll work with?

A: Before you apply, you should read through our faculty bios to see which professors’ interests and expertise match yours. You may filter faculty by areas of study.

Q: Do I need to take the GRE?

A: No. GRE scores are not required for admission to either the MA or the PhD program.

Q: My undergraduate degree is not in English. Will that affect my application?

A: To be admitted to the program, applicants should have majored in English as an undergraduate, with at least 18 hours in upper-division courses in literature or linguistics. Students with other undergraduate majors may be admitted provided their background in English studies is suitable and provided they complete an appropriate course of preliminary study.

Q: How much does it cost to apply? Are fee waivers available?

A: Domestic applicants pay a non-refundable fee of $75 and nonresident international students pay $100. Information about fee waivers can be found on the Graduate School “Admissions” page. The English Department does not offer fee waivers beyond what is covered by the Graduate School.

Q: Should I submit the same personal statement to every school I apply to?

A: You should tailor your personal statement to each individual university as schools want to know how you will fit into their program, with their areas of study and their faculty, specifically. For information on what to include in your personal statement for MU, please see the main components listed above under “Application Process and Materials.”

Q: May I fill out a paper application?

A: If you are unable to apply online, please contact the Graduate School for assistance. Their phone number and email address are listed here.

Q: How are applications evaluated?

A: Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty members from a variety of specializations. The committee considers each application as a whole.

Q: What support is offered to first-year students?

A: All incoming graduate students are required to enroll in English 8005: Introduction to Graduate Studies. During this one-unit course, students will get to know their cohort; speak regularly with the Director of Graduate Studies; and familiarize themselves with MU and the English graduate program.

Q: What is it like living in Columbia?

A: While parts of Columbia look like the typical small college town, there are also many aspects of the city that are attractive to graduate students. The downtown area, which covers several blocks, contains numerous coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, bars, theaters, and specialty shops. Near town, you will also find many outdoor activities, including local and state parks, hiking trails, lakes and rivers, and campgrounds. Finally, the city is home to a vibrant art culture. On the first Friday of each month, art galleries in Columbia host public shows; numerous venues put on events year-round, including the music festival Roots and Blues each fall; and the True/False Film Festival is a hub for documentary filmmakers and enthusiasts each spring. Please see the city website for more information.

MA Applicants

Q: How are MA students supported financially?

A: The MA program is self-funded. Students may fund their education themselves or attain funding from a third party. However, awards, some of which come with financial prizes and are available to Master’s students, are given out yearly.

Q: What are the foreign language requirements?

A: Master’s students need not complete any foreign language requirement.

Q: How long does it take to earn an MA?

A: The program is designed for full-time students to complete the degree within two years. Part-time students may determine their timeline as they see fit. A three-year timeline is typical but not required for part-time students. However, all students must complete the MA program in the eight-year time limit mandated by the Graduate School.

Q: Do Master’s students teach?

A: Since Master’s students are self-funded, they have no teaching duties.

Q: What if a recommender knows me well but is not familiar with graduate study in English?

You may wish to provide recommenders who do not commonly write letters of recommendation for academic programs or graduate study in English the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Writers of Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation should specify how long and in what capacity the writer has known the applicant. Letters that give specific examples to illustrate an applicant's qualities are more helpful than those that speak in generalities. It is useful if letters of recommendation speak to qualities that would contribute to an applicant's success in a graduate program. These may include academic achievements or skills, but they may also include such qualities as responsibility, initiative, problem-solving skills, maturity, oral and written communication, ability to balance short- and long-term goals, independence, and ability to give and accept feedback. When applicable, letters may address the applicant's professional experience in such areas as teaching, mentoring, or creating a diverse, inclusive and supportive workplace or learning environment. 

PhD Applicants

Q: How are PhD students supported financially?

All admitted PhD students are awarded a teaching assistantship for which they receive a monthly stipend and tuition waivers. Students may apply for other assistantships and awards, many of which come with financial prizes.

Q: What are the foreign language requirements?

A: All PhD students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one language besides English. For more information, please see the “Language Requirement” tab on the PhD Program page.

Q: How long does it take to earn a PhD?

A: Students who enter the program with a Master’s receive five years of funding to complete their PhD and those who enter without a Master’s receive six years of funding.

Q: Do you have to have a Master’s to apply to the PhD program?

A: No. Students need only have completed a Bachelor’s to apply to the PhD program.

 Q: If I am not admitted to the PhD program, will I be considered for admission into the MA program?

A: If you wish to be considered for both programs, you must submit two separate applications. You will not automatically be considered for the MA program if you are rejected from the PhD program.

Q: What are the teaching duties like?

A: You may read more about teaching requirements, including pedagogy courses (and other support offered to grad students) and the range of courses available for grad students to teach, on the “Teaching” page.