PhD in English Studies

English Studies

In English Studies, multiple and interdisciplinary perspectives are used to examine and produce texts for audiences communicating in English: How do cultures shape language and how does language shape culture? How do intersections of cultures affect communication across borders? What forms can we create to connect and enter into dialogue with each other?

Children's Literature, Creative Writing, English Education, Linguistics, Literary and Cultural Studies, Rhetoric and Writing (including New Media Studies, Professional Writing and Rhetorics, Rhetoric and Composition, and Teaching Writing), and TESOL offer our community of students and researchers the means of examining how we teach, learn, and understand ourselves and others through the stories we tell and the ways in which we tell them.

University Admission Requirements

A student applying to a doctoral program must:

  • have earned a master's degree or equivalent in a discipline appropriate to the specific doctoral program
  • have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work (approximately the junior and senior years)
  • have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for all graduate-level coursework
  • provide official scores from the GRE general exam (use institution code 1319)
  • present official transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. Transcripts can be emailed from the university to or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Office of Admissions, 201 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 2200, Normal, IL 61790-2200

International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.

Additional Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to this program must:

  • submit a statement of purpose that indicates 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 and graduate 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. Since the Ph.D. in English Studies requires that students be aware of both pedagogical theory and the intersections of the subfields of English Studies (composition/rhetoric, linguistics, literature and cultural studies), successful applicants will demonstrate their awareness of and interest in both pedagogy and English Studies. Successful applicants also demonstrate how their credentials fit with this department's particular set of faculty expertise. We use the statement of purpose 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. The statement of purpose should be in PDF form.
  • 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 ten to fifteen 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. The analytical sample and portfolio must be uploaded in a single document.) The writing sample should be in PDF form.
  • submit a current curriculum vita or resume in pdf form
  • indicate from the following list the primary area for which you are applying:
    • Children's Literature
    • Creative Writing
    • English Education
    • English Studies (Cross-disciplinary studies)
    • Linguistics
    • Literary and Cultural Studies
    • Rhetoric and Writing (including New Media Studies, Professional Writing and Rhetorics, Rhetoric and Composition, and Teaching Writing)
    • TESOL
  • submit names and email addresses of three references for letters of recommendation within the online application

International students are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum TOEFL score required for graduate admission is 100 (internet-based testing), 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.

Learn more about the English Ph.D. application process.

Admission Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline
Fall (August)  January 15 
Spring (January)  No applications accepted for Spring 
Summer (May/June)  No applications accepted for Summer 

Graduate Assistantship Information

The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.


To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,

  • be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
  • be in good-standing
  • be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).


Graduate assistants receive

  • monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
  • a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
  • a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment

Cost & Funding

See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from continuous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.

Graduate Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Angela Haas  Stevenson 409  (309) 438-3651