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How to Apply to the Grad Program

Deadline for submission of applications for Fall 2020 is Monday, January 6, 2020.

NOTE: If you are interested in getting a PhD in English but do not already have a completed MA degree, you must apply to the MA program.

ALERT: Beginning November 10, 2014, you will only need to upload one copy of each institution's official transcript(s) when completing your online application. Please do not send paper copies of the transcripts to our office. Official paper transcripts will only be required by the Graduate School upon admission to the program.

Step 1: Please complete the online application .

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit that website at

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application at

The following items shall be submitted electronically with your online application:

For MA and PhD applicants:

  • Statement of purpose for graduate study (1-3 pages double-spaced)
  • Article-length (15-20 pages double-spaced) critical writing sample
      • an unofficial transcript (this is NOT a copy printed from the institution's website) from each institution of higher education attended, both undergraduate and graduate. Note: Official transcripts will only be required by the Graduate School upon admission to the program.
      • Results from a recent Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. Penn State’s institution code is 2660 and the department code for English is 2501. Penn State doesn't require the subject portion of the graduate Record Examination (GRE) test.


Step 2: Additionally, for all English programs you must submit three (3) letters of Reference.

Each reference that the applicant lists on the electronic application will receive an e-mail that details the reference submission portal on the Graduate School’s application website.  To avoid delays, please be sure you have entered a correct email address for each reference you supply.   No special form is necessary.

Step 3: International Students must submit the following additional items with their application:

Results from a recent Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
International applicants who have received a baccalaureate or a master’s degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following countries are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement:  Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (Except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

The fee information for the current and new application year can be found at

Graduate Studies Office
Department of English
The Pennsylvania State University 
403 Burrowes Building
University Park, PA 16802-6202

Telephone: (814) 863-3069