Prospective MA Students

Information for Prospective Students

Admissions Requirements for the MA Program

  • Graduate School application and statement of purpose
  • Three academic letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample (2500-3000 words)
  • Transcript from each college attended

The application deadline is January 30th for students beginning in the following fall semester.

Neither the GRE General Test nor the Subject Test are required. We offer fall start dates only. Access the Online Application via the Graduate School’s website.

Financial Aid

We are happy to say that all full-time, enrolled graduate students receive financial assistance. Candidates do not need to apply separately for financial assistance. Funding packages are decided by the graduate admissions committee at the time of application.

Many accepted students are supported by non-taxable tuition scholarships. Some students receive Graduate  Assistantships, which require several hours of weekly work for the University Writing Center in exchange for an additional stipend. A few additional students receive Graduate Assistantships with a Departmental Fellowship, which require several hours of weekly work for the English Department in exchange for an additional stipend.

Other Financial Opportunities

As an incentive to encourage students to present papers at academic conferences, financial support to defray the costs of travel and lodging is available competitively from the Alumni Student Travel Awards program of the Graduate School. Our students have recently presented their research at a broad range of academic meetings, including, most recently, the conference of the North Eastern MLA, the Conference of the Group for Early Modern Culture, and the North American James Joyce Symposium.

Funds to underwrite travel and scholarly research towards the thesis are also available competitively through the Graduate School’s Richter Awards.

MA Program FAQs


How competitive is the application process?

We typically receive between 30-40 applications and offer admission to 18-20 students. In recent years, our entering class has been between 8-10 students.

The overall average GPA of admitted students is about 3.6. The average GPA in English Major is 3.8. The average GRE in verbal is in the 85th percentile or higher.

By far, the most important pieces of your application are your writing sample (2500-3000 words, or 10-12 double-spaced pages) and your personal statement (ideally one-and-a-half pages and no longer than two pages). As for the writing sample, we are looking for a critical paper that demonstrates evidence of literary analysis (close reading of a literary text), scholarly research (by engaging secondary criticism and situating your analysis within a relevant context), and an explicit or implicit awareness of critical methodology. Ideally, your writing sample would dovetail with your personal statement’s interests. If, for example, you express an interest in British Victorian literature, your sample would focus on an author, text, or problem pertaining to that area and period. As best as you can, make your application all “of a piece,” so that the different parts dovetail with and speak to one another.

Do I need to take the GRE Literature in English Subject Test?

Neither the GRE General Test nor the Subject Test are required.

What if my letters of recommendation arrive after the priority application deadline of January 30th?

As long as your application is submitted by January 30th, it is permissible for your letters of recommendation to appear after the deadline. Ideally, your letters should be received no later than February 15th, when the graduate admissions committee reviews applications.

What are the requirements to fulfill the degree, including coursework, the thesis, and foreign language requirement?

The Current MA Students page on this website includes details about degree requirements, links to our course listings, and the Graduate Handbook. You may also find information about the structure of the program and the thesis in the Graduate Bulletin.

What kinds of resources and events does the MA program offer?

We hold regular colloquia for graduate students including how to apply to doctoral programs, how to apply to and attend academic conferences, how to develop strategies for teaching and pedagogy, a series of “thesis writing seminars” for second-year students beginning the thesis prospectus, and how to use your MA education to your advantage when applying for jobs after graduation.

The MA program has also had a robust series of speakers through collaboration with the Creative Writing Program, the English Department, and the Humanities Institute. Recent speakers have included Wai Chee Dimock (Yale), Lauren Berlant (U of Chicago), Ben Lerner (Brooklyn College), Chris Abani (Northwestern), and Joshua Clover (UC Davis). There is no shortage of excellent speakers to see and hear in the Department.

What is life in Winston-Salem like?

Winston-Salem has been on the “up and up” in the past ten years, with a vibrant arts scene, live music, several breweries, local sports teams, restaurants, and bookstores as well as plenty of outdoor and recreational activities. You can learn about life in Winston here, including housing, restaurants, things to do, bookstores, and more.

What have students done after graduation?

Our students have taken diverse paths after graduation. For instance, our graduates have taught at the community college and secondary levels, pursued careers in publishing and marketing, worked in the private sector and nonprofit organizations, and entered doctoral programs. We do our very best to tailor-fit the MA experience to your professional desires and needs.

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