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Graduate Academic Life

Graduate Academic Life

Penn State, the flagship university of Pennsylvania, is a few hours’ drive from Pittsburgh (2.5), Philadelphia (4), Washington D.C. (4.5), Buffalo (3.5), Baltimore (3), and New York City (4). Our students make use of numerous archival collections in nearby cities and states, including the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the New York Public Library and the Schomburg Center in New York City, the Rosenbach Museum and Library and the Library Company in Philadelphia, the University at Buffalo Library’s Poetry Collection, and the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University in New Haven.

Penn State’s library system is consistently ranked among the top ten research libraries in the country. Its extensive holdings, distributed across fifteen campus libraries, include a vast number of academic research collections in a variety of formats.

The main library is located next to our recently renovated Burrowes Building, which houses all English faculty and graduate student offices, as well as the classrooms in which most graduate seminars are taught. Each graduate student is assigned to a desk in a bright, up-to-date, shared office space; students may share a desk with one other student to begin with and may have the opportunity for an individual desk later in the program.

Reading Groups

English graduate students host several long-standing reading groups, including the Modernist Studies Workshop, the Asian American Reading Group, the AEIR Rhetoric Reading Group, the African American and Diasporic Reading Group, and the Early Period Studies Group. Students have initiated short and long-term groups for individual topical studies, such as French naturalism, poetry and poetics, Marx and Marxism, Ulysses, and spooky literature. The English Graduate Organization maintains a list of active reading groups on their website:

Graduate Student Organizations

English Graduate Organization

The English Graduate Organization (EGO), is a student-led collective that advocates for program transparency and graduate student involvement in department activities and governance. EGO officers represent graduate students on the Graduate Studies Committee, Anti-Racism and Equity Committee, and in faculty meetings. EGO also hosts workshops for major program benchmarks and processes, including seminar paper writing, dual-title degree program applications, MA-to-PhD applications, and comprehensive exam preparation. In addition to academic and departmental support, EGO also organizes social events for graduate students, including welcome back picnics, Halloween parties, chili cook-offs, and a bake-offs, group hikes, and bar nights.

Graduate Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (GADI)

The Graduate Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (GADI) is a student organization within the College of the Liberal Arts that is focused on developing community and broadening opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. GADI offers regular activities, including social, educational, and professional development events. The alliance also advocates for causes related to diversity and inclusion around campus.

Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSA)

The Graduate Professional Student Organization (GPSA) is a university-wide graduate student government that represents the interests of both graduate and professional students to administrative, departmental, and external groups. GPSA advocates for student needs on many governing bodies, advisory boards, and committees around the university. In addition to policy intervention, GPSA hosts social activities and professional development opportunities.