Prospective Graduates

Welcome to English.

Studying English at the graduate level is a rich experience. University of Colorado at Boulder offers three graduate programs in English: an MFA in Creative Writing, and an MA and a PhD in English Literature. Each of these enable students to develop their critical and creative skills to an advanced level.

Some of the benefits of studying at CU-Boulder include:

  • A cutting-edge faculty
  • Fellowship and grant support for research projects, conference travel, and dissertation writing, including the chance to research at the British Library in London through the Center for the Humanities and the Center for British and Irish Studies
  • Pedagogical and professionalization seminars on both the MA and PhD levels
  • PhD candidates teach undergraduate literature courses (as opposed to composition courses or courses outside of their areas of specialization)
  • English reading groups and a graduate student council that organizes graduate student conferences, colloquiums, and a guest lecture series
  • The Creative Writing Reading Series, which brings innovative writers to the University of Colorado for a free, on-campus reading. Past readers include National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes, Susan Steinberg, CAConrad, Ronaldo Wilson, Brian Evenson, Lynne Tillman, Claudia Rankine, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Pulitzer Prize winner Rae Armantrout. Visit the events calendar on the English Department’s website for reading locations, dates, and times!

The University of Colorado is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution; the department encourages applications from minority and under-served students.

Application deadline

The application process for Academic Year 2015-2016 will open July 1, 2015.  Deadline for the fall semester is midnight Thursday, December 31, 2015.  Questions? Contact the Graduate Program Assistant, Cynthia Ocken, at

What our graduate students say

2013_Haynes-138x150Christopher Haynes, PhD program: “Graduate students are the English Department’s greatest asset. Nowhere in my wanderings through the academe have I seen such a collegial, collaborative, compassionate, and genuinely collective group of peers. Nowhere to be found is the competitiveness, the secrecy, or the isolation that all too frequently marks graduate study in the humanities. Everywhere there is mutuality, support, constructive challenge, and critical engagement.”

RebeccaSchneiderRebecca Schneider, PhD program: “When I applied to PhD programs, the University of Colorado was high on my list from the beginning. On a purely selfish level, I thought Boulder was one of the most beautiful places I could choose  to spend the next five years of my life. Then there’s the program itself, which, combined with the graduate community and the limitless opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors, makes an epic trifecta of awesomeness. The faculty, especially the Romanticists, have impressive reputations that extend internationally. When you meet them in person you find they are just as invested in developing individual grad student talent as they are in leaving a lasting mark on their respective fields. I look forward to every day of work ahead and I feel like my research, my writing, and my community here at the University of Colorado are each contributing new knowledge that is relevant and exciting.”

DevenParkerSMDeven Parker, PhD program: “The Department of English’s Graduate Program not only provides me with rigorous coursework, resources for professionalization, and early job market preparation – everything I’d expect from a competitive program – but also a supportive network of faculty and peers who feel more like family than colleagues. From approachable advisers to group writing sessions, from weekly happy hours to seminar paper swaps, our Program’s close-knit community has ensured that my graduate experience thus far has been profoundly happy and successful.”

StephanieCoueyStephanie Couey, MFA program: “This past spring I took a Creative Nonfiction workshop with Noah Eli Gordon and eight other exceptionally cunning, perceptive writers. Somehow, within a space of trust, both intellectually and emotionally, we experienced a workshop unlike any we’d had before. By consistently bending and challenging genre to capture our individual truths in writing, we bent and challenged ourselves to create and recognize new, bright truths within us. Some of my strongest pieces came, and continue to come, from the voice I was able to claim from this class. We laid out our barest experiences and ruminations each time we met, and became more sensibly unbridled as artists. I will never, ever forget this class and the individuals I was able to share it with.”

Frequently asked questions

How many students do you accept in your masters-level program? In your doctorate-level program?

Each year the department receives over three hundred applications, and we are able to enroll around thirty MA students and four PhD students.

How many students are currently in the program?

The department consists of approximately 117 students, and maintains a student population of around 39 PhDs, 53 MAs and 25 MFAs.

Do you have funding opportunities available?

Yes! Most MA and MFA candidates receive at least one semester of funding to work as teaching assistants. PhD candidates usually receive funding as research assistants during their first year and begin teaching literature courses in their second year. All students are also applicable for a range of funding through university fellowships and departmental grants.

Do you offer teaching opportunities?

Yes! MA candidates may work as teaching assistants in a range of literature courses, and most TA work includes leading weekly recitation sections. PhD candidates work as instructors for 1000-3000 level undergraduate literature courses and the department strives to match doctoral students with teaching assignments in their field of interest.

Is there a foreign language requirement for graduate students?

Yes. All MA and PhD students must pass a written exam in a second language of their choice. Language tests are given in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Latin each semester, and other language tests may be specially arranged.

Does the department require a specific GPA to apply to a graduate program?

Yes. Students applying for graduate study must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 (per Graduate School rules) or higher to be considered for any program.

Do I have to take the GRE? Does the department have minimum score requirements?

The department requires all applicants to take the general GRE exam but no longer requires them to take the GRE English Literature subject test. While the department does not have minimum score requirements, most successful applicants receive verbal scores in or above the 85th percentile and analytical writing scores of 4.5 or higher. The institutional code for sending GRE scores is 4841.

How do I apply?

For detailed instructions regarding the online application process, please see the application instructions located on the main university website.