Thank you for your interest in our Ph.D. program

The Berkeley English Department offers a wide-ranging Ph.D. program, engaging in all historical periods of British and American literature, Anglophone literature, and critical and cultural theory. The program aims to assure that students gain a broad knowledge of literature in English as well as the highly-developed skills in scholarship and criticism necessary to do solid and innovative work in their chosen specialized fields.

Current applications are considered for Fall 2020 admission only and must be submitted no later than December 16, 2019 at 8:59pm (PST).   Please do not mail any paper materials to the graduate office; the application is done entirely online: 

You will need to submit the following materials via the online application:

For general information about applying to U.C. Berkeley graduate programs, see the Graduate Division’s admissions page:

For further information about English Department admissions policies, please see below or contact the English Graduate Office at

Department of English, Graduate Office
322 Wheeler Hall #1030
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1030


The Application Process

The English Department typically receives between 300-400 applications each year and seeks an incoming cohort of 12-14 students. We make our admissions decisions on the basis of the whole application. No one factor necessarily carries more weight than the others.

The Graduate Division requires an overall GPA of at least 3.0; however, the average GPA of successful applicants is considerably higher. We consider the kinds and number of the courses the applicant has taken and how well he or she has done, especially in the junior and senior years. The Bachelor's Degree need not be in English. There are no minimum GRE scores but those admitted score, on average, in the 700s (97%) in the Verbal test and 650 (88%) or higher in the Subject test.

The Statement of Purpose should provide a clear sense of the applicant's interests and intentions in pursuing graduate study in English.  The Personal Statement should give the committee a sense of what particular qualities and experiences you would bring to the department and the university.  “This is,” as the Graduate Division’s website says, “also a good place to display your communication skills and discuss your ability to maximize effective collaboration with a diverse cross-section of the academic community.”  (For general guidance about both the Statement of Purpose and the Personal Statement, please see here.)

Letters of recommendation should come from professors who can attest to the quality and strength of the applicant's academic work.

The writing sample is an important element in our evaluation. Applicants should submit only one paper of no more than 20 pages, and it should be an example of scholarly or critical writing (not creative writing). The 20-page limit does not include the bibliography.  Applicants should not send a longer paper with instructions to read an excerpt, but should edit it themselves.

The Department keeps all applications on file for two years. If you have filed an application within the past two years but have not registered, you may reactivate your previous application (see the online application for instructions). The Department recommends that applicants submit new materials such as the Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and writing sample if the previous application was denied.

International applicants should consult the Graduate Division's web site,, for admissions requirements and estimated costs of graduate study for international students.

Dr. Alberto Ledesma is the Graduate Diversity Coordinator for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Letters & Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He works with both prospective and continuing graduate students, discussing graduate school preparation, admission criteria, the admissions process, university and extramural funding, academic issues, student life, and more.

The Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) provides support services for prospective and continuing students on the Berkeley campus in an effort to maintain a more diverse graduate student community.


The Program

In order to complete the Ph.D. Program in English, students need to take a number of required and elective courses, pass a qualifying examination, demonstrate either proficiency in two foreign languages or an advanced knowledge of one, and complete a dissertation prospectus and a dissertation.  For more detailed information on these requirements, including a link to download the Handbook for Graduate Study in English, can be found here

In addition to required department coursework, students can also apply to pursue Designated Emphases or Concurrent Degrees in a number of different fields:

Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory

Designated Emphasis in European Studies

Designated Emphasis in Film and Media Studies

Designated Emphasis in Folklore

Designated Emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization

Designated Emphasis in Jewish Studies

Designated Empahsis in New Media

Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Concurrent Degree in Medieval Studies


Fellowships, Financial Aid, and Housing

Graduate students in English are funded via a variety of university and departmental fellowships and teaching appointments.  All funding packages include full fellowship funding for the first two years of course-work and another for dissertation completion, in addition to multiple years of teaching in the English department. Additonal fellowship opportunities are also available, both within and beyond the department. 

For a list of and information about department, university, and external sources of funding see here.

For additional university information on fellowships, financial aid, and housing, please consult the Graduate Division:

The Graduate Division also provides a variety of information about the cost of living in the Bay Area, additional financial aid for students with families, housing, etc.  Please see below for some of these resources:

Graduate Fellowships and Awards

Cost of Attendance for Graduate Students

Resources and Services for Graduate Students

Support for Student Parents