English Graduate Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to the graduate program?

All applications are made through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. They will collect your application materials and forward them to the Department of English.

When should I apply?

The preferential deadline for applications to the Ph.D. program is January 15. We will continue to accept applications after this period if we have not yet filled our class.

How long should my statement of intent be? What should it say? How autobiographical should it be?

The length of individual statements varies widely, but most applicants write one single-spaced page or less. The content of your statement should dictate how much you write. In general terms, your statement should indicate why you wish to earn a Ph.D. in English at SMU, what your scholarly interests are, and how our program in particular appeals to you. Biographical information of some sort is usually acceptable and advisable, so long as it clarifies your intent. We strongly recommend the following site as a general guide to statements of intent: https://career.berkeley.edu/Grad/GradStatement.stm. You should also ask trusted professors or other careful readers to look over your statement and offer advice.

When will I learn of admissions decisions?

You should have a final decision from us by the middle of April. You may contact us at any time to ask about the current status of your application.

Do I have to have an M.A. to apply to the Ph.D.?

No, highly qualified students with a B.A. in English or a closely related field who intend to pursue the Ph.D. should apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Students who have earned an M.A. or are enrolled in an M.A. program may also apply to the Ph.D.

If I already hold an M.A., can transfer credit be applied?

Those applicants coming in with an M.A. will have the opportunity, at the end of their first or second year, to discuss possible transfer of up to 12 hours of graduate credit toward the Ph.D.

Should I apply to the M.A. or to the Ph.D. program?

We no longer offer admission to the M.A. program.  

What is the minimum GRE score and GPA needed to be considered for the Ph.D. program?

Although no single piece of information will exclude your application, we expect a minimum of 160/600 (old scale) on the GRE verbal test, a 3.5 on the GRE analytic test, and a GPA of at least 3.5. (We require the quantitative test as well, although we have no set expectation.) Most years, applicants admitted to the program have had an average verbal GRE of 164/670, an analytic score of 4.5 and an average undergraduate GPA of 3.7.

Can I apply if I do not have a B.A. or M.A. in English?

Yes, we will consider applicants without a degree in English if they have done sufficient course work in English or a closely related field, such as American Studies. All applicants must be able to demonstrate the ability to write literary analysis at a high level.

How many students will be admitted to the Ph.D. each year?

We admit six students each year. This number will allow us to maintain a student/teacher ratio of about one-to-one and to teach small seminars.

How many students will be funded?

All Ph.D. students will be funded.

To whom should I speak about my interest in the program?

Your first point of contact should be the Director of Graduate Studies, Rajani Sudan or the Chair of the Department of English, Darryl Dickson-Carr. If you wish to contact a member of the faculty who works in a specific area, you can either ask the DGS or Chair for advice or consult the faculty web pages. There you will find out about the work done by the faculty and their contact information.

How can I visit the campus?

We intend to invite our top applicants to the campus before we require them to make a decision. If you wish to see SMU before that time, Dallas is readily accessible through two airports, DFW and Love Field. If you plan on visiting, let us know and we can arrange to give you a tour of the campus. We can be contacted at 214-768-2945.