Department of English at Illinois State University

Admission to the Master’s Program

Acceptable applicants for the Master's programs will have achieved a minimum of a 3.0 GPA as undergraduates, or higher than a 3.0 during their last 45 hours. All applicants must submit the general aptitude scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Applicants must also submit a writing sample, a statement of intent and three letters of recommendation. More information appears below about each of these aspects of the student’s admissions portfolio.

Completed applications are due January 15 for fall admission consideration.

The completed application, application fee, transcripts, test scores, academic writing sample, personal statement and vita/resume should be submitted using the online admissions process at the University Admissions web site. Three letters of recommendation are required.


Requested materials for Admission to the Master's Program:

  • A completed Graduate Admission Application (application fee of $40 required).
  • A two-page statement of purpose describing your career goals – In this statement, please indicate how this degree will help you achieve your career goals and how our department can help to meet your intellectual goals. If you choose, you may cast some of this statement as an intellectual autobiography describing your reading, writing, and scholarly interest through your undergraduate studies, explaining how those experiences have led you to apply to our program. The statement should discuss your scholarly and career interests (what areas of English studies would you like to study and why?), and it should describe your goals following completion of the degree. We use the personal statement to assess how well students understand our Department’s mission as an English Studies Department, and we also use this statement to assess students’ commitment to the professionalization of their chosen field.
  • A sample of your academic writing – Please submit a writing sample that reflects your best analytical writing skills in the subdiscipline for which you are applying. (For example, if you are applying in children’s literature, please include an example of your scholarly ability to analyze children’s literature.) This sample should be at least six to ten pages long, although if it will best illustrate your abilities, longer papers may be included. The writing sample should demonstrate your analytic abilities and writing skills. (Note: Admission into the Creative Writing Option is granted upon approval of an additional writing sample called the “creative writing portfolio.” Students applying for the creative writing program should send both an analytical paper and a creative writing portfolio. Creative writing portfolios should include 15-20 pages of the student’s best writing in the genre for which the student hopes to be admitted: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or mixed genre writing.)
  • One official transcript from each school attended. (Students are expected to have a B average; a 3.0 during the last 45 hours is required.)
  • Three letters of recommendation – These letters will be most effective if they come from people who have earned the degree that you are seeking and/or who hold academic positions. There is no other specific form or format required for the letter.
  • GRE scores from the verbal, quantitative, and analytic sections. (Please be aware that we prioritize the verbal and the analytic sections of the GRE. While GRE scores matter to us, other aspects of the portfolio are weighted equally in our decision-making.)
  • International students are required to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum TOEFL score required for graduate admission is 100 (internet-based testing), or 250 (computer-based testing), or 600-603 (paper-based testing). For International students interested in being awarded a teaching assistantship, a TOEFL iBT speaking score of 27 or higher, or the Test of Spoken English (TSE), is required.
  • A resume or curriculum vita (which is an academic resume, listing only academic accomplishments and positions).
  • Complete Program Selection area of Application.
  • A completed online Application for Assistantship (if you would like a Graduate Assistantship). You must have a University Identification number (UID) to apply for an assistantship. After you have applied for admission, in one or two weeks, the University will send you a UID number. Alternatively, you can check your admission status and find your UID number by logging on to Welcome2ISU and clicking "check application status." Almost all of our assistantships are for teaching, so an aptitude for teaching is crucial to qualify for support. We strongly encourage students who are applying for Graduate Assistantships to address their aptitude for teaching in their personal statement.
  • Note: Assistantships are only available to students starting their programs in the fall semester. Normally, assistantships/stipends are only available in the fall and spring semesters; students should plan accordingly to cover summer financial needs.