Department of English at Illinois State University

FAQ: Academic Life


When should I choose my advisor?

When you begin the program, you are automatically assigned the Director of Graduate Studies as your advisor. However, once you have completed 18 hours you should choose a permanent advisor from the graduate faculty. More information is available in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Who should I choose as my advisor?

Generally, you should choose an advisor with expertise in your area. Typically, graduate students become familiar with faculty in their area through their classes.

Should I enroll as a part-time or full-time student?

Whether you should attend part time or full time is a decision you should make in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. Generally speaking, however, doctoral students enroll full-time.

What is the significance of course numbers?

Our graduate course numbers range from 300-level to 500-level classes.

  • Classes at the 300 level are open to both graduate students and upper-division undergraduate students.
  • Classes at the 400 level are limited to graduate students; both Master's students and Ph.D. students can enroll.
  • Courses at the 500 level are limited to Ph.D. students.

Classes at the 100 and 200 levels are offered for credit only to undergraduates.

What is the class size?

Graduate classes at the 400 and 500 level range from 6-12 students, while those at the 300 level range from 12-25 students. There are exceptions for introductory composition and technical writing courses, which often meet in a computer lab with a maximum of 16 or 17 students.

Department Support

What does the Department offer to help graduate students present at or attend conferences?

Limited funds are available for travel by graduate students to conferences. For more information, please visit the Professional Travel page.

In addition to funds, the Department offers workshops that help students prepare conference presentations. Many faculty members assign papers in their courses with the intention of having students present them at conferences or place them for publication. In those cases, the faculty member is available to help students who wish to present these papers or submit them for publication.

What support programs are in place for graduate students?

In addition to the more formal monthly forums on topics of interest for graduate students, graduate students in the English Department meet regularly in informal social settings. Social activities are often arranged by faculty or other graduate students.

The Graduate School offers Grants-in-Aid for Research and Professional Advancement and also hosts an annual Graduate Research Symposium.

What support does the Department offer for preparing for the job market?

In addition to the services offered by the ISU Career Center, tthe Department offers a year long job mentoring program for students entering the job market.

To learn more, see our Job Mentoring page.

What is your placement rate?

90% of our Ph.D. alumni are employed full-time in secondary or higher education. For details on where our Ph.D. students have found employment, see the Ph.D. Alumni page.

University Services

Where can I find information on university services for students with disabilities?

The Disability Concerns Office assists students in functioning independently and provides assistance so that all of campus life is available.

Is childcare provided?

The ISU Child Care Center offers developmental child care services for ISU students’ children aged 3-8 years.

Is insurance provided?

The University Student Insurance Office provides a health coverage plan for students who register for 9 or more hours of credit during the Fall and Spring semesters (6 hours during Summer semester).

Is there university housing for graduate students? How do I apply for it?

Apartment living is available to graduate students at the Shelbourne Drive apartment complex. Many of our students live in this community.

In addition, dorms on campus provide limited space for graduate students. For more information, visit University Housing.

Does the University offer support for graduate students who are just beginning to teach?

The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology is a University unit that assists beginning and experienced teachers with improving their teaching skillls through a variety of programs and workshops.

For more information, visit the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology website.