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.

UC Berkeley Graduate Division Admissions Requirements can be found here:  https://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/requirements/

General Information about Applying for Graduate Admission can be found here:  https://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/apply/

Frequently Asked Questions – Admissions Process Ph.D. Program

How can I apply to the Ph.D. Program?

You can apply online here.  Generally, applications can be submitted from early September to mid-December for the following fall semester.

What does the online graduate application consist of?
  • Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement.
  • Transcripts of all college-level work.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A critical or scholarly writing sample of no more than 20 pages.
Is the GRE required?


Why is the GRE no longer required for my application?

The Admissions Committee uses a holistic approach when considering applicants and will examine all aspects of your application. Your application should show why you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in English as well as why you’d like to get your Ph.D. in the English Department at UC Berkeley.

My letter of reference might arrive late at the English Department. Will my application still be considered?

Please get in touch with the English Department Graduate Office if you have this concern.

My letters of reference are several years old. Can I still use them for my application?

Yes, the decision about what to submit is yours, but bear in mind that letters of reference should give the Admissions Committee a clear picture of why your recommenders consider you qualified for graduate school.

Do I have to have a MA degree to get in?

No, we admit many students with only the BA degree.

Does the English Department at UC Berkeley offer a MA program?

No, the English Department does not offer a MA program.

I can’t afford the application fee. Can the English Department waive the fee?

Unfortunately the department is unable to accommodate requests for application fee waivers. If you are a US Citizen or permanent resident of the US who can demonstrate financial need or have participated in certain programs, please consult this page for more information.

Can I meet with faculty or graduate office staff at the English Department to discuss details of my application?

The English Department is happy to answer your questions about the application process, but can’t reply to detailed questions regarding the content of individual applications. Thank you for your understanding.

Will I get funding upon admission?

We offer funding to every admitted student, but cannot guarantee funding for the entire length of the program.

Does the English Department offer additional language or conference travel funding?

The English Department offers one conference travel and one archive travel reimbursement for up to $600 each academic year. In addition, graduate students can apply for language study funding once during their academic careers in the department.

How much does living in Berkeley cost?

Please refer to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office's Graduate Student Cost of Attendance Information.

Can I work as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) while I am enrolled in the program?

Yes, we encourage students to work as Graduate Student Instructors, Graduate Student Researchers, and Readers if they are eligible to do so and working as a GSI does not interfere with their academic progress.

How can I find out about GSI salaries?

Graduate Student Instructor Appointments are 50% time appointments. Please review the current rates for GSIs at the UC Berkeley People and Culture website.

Can I work full time off or on campus while I get my Ph.D. in English at UC Berkeley?

Working full time while going to class full time (12 units per semester) is not recommended. The Graduate Division asks students to not work over 50% time on campus. If you must work over 50% time you need the Head Graduate Advisor’s approval. If you must work over 75% time you will need the Dean’s approval.

Can I take some or all of the graduate classes for the UC Berkeley English Ph.D. program online?

We do not offer graduate courses online.

Can I get credit for prior course work?

Students who have completed graduate-level course work at other institutions may submit a written petition to the Graduate Chair requesting that specific courses be considered for credit (transferred) toward satisfying course and breadth requirements.  The petition should provide a brief description of the course(s) to be considered.  In no case will such credit be given for more than three courses.

How long does it take to finish the program?

The normative time for the program is 6 years. The first three years are considered “time to candidacy,” during which students satisfy course and language requirements and take their qualifying oral examination. Having passed the qualifying exam, students “advance to candidacy,” and proceed to the prospectus and dissertation.. For more information, please refer to our Handbook for Graduate Study in English found here.

I am a parent. Does the university offer additional financial support for graduate student parents?

The University offers various sources of support for graduate student parents. While working as GSIs, for example, graduate students can be reimbursed by the university for some of their daycare expenses. The university also offers affordable family housing. For detailed information, please refer to this page.