Admissions FAQ

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:

General Information about Applying for Graduate Admission can be found here:

Frequently Asked Questions – Admissions Process Ph.D. Program

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

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

Q: What does the online graduate application consist of?


Q: Is the GRE required?

A: Yes, both the GRE general and subject tests are required for all applicants.

Q: Is there a GRE Fee Reduction Waiver?

A: ETS offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Vouchers on a first-come, first-served basis to U.S. citizens or resident aliens who are college seniors or unenrolled college graduates who meet eligibility requirements and are planning to take a GRE test in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam or U.S. Virgin Islands.

Q: How important is my GRE score for my application?

A: 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. The GRE score is important, but will not be the only measure in considering your application for admission.

Q: I am not sure if my GRE scores will arrive in time. What should I do?

A: Please contact  ETS to find out if your scores will get to the English Department in time.

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

A: Please get in touch with the English Department Graduate Office at 510-643-2494 to discuss.

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

A:  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.

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

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

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

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

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

A:  The department is not in charge of the application fee. The form to request a fee waiver is included in the payment section of the online application.  To be considered, applicants need to select the waiver payment option before submitting the online application. Please follow this link to find out if you are eligible for a fee waiver:

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

A: The English Department is happy to answer your questions about the application process in person, via email (, or phone (510-643-2494), but can’t reply to detailed questions regarding the content of individual applications. Thank you for your understanding.

Q: Will I get funding upon admission?

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

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

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

Q: How much does living in Berkeley cost?

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

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

A: 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.

Q: How can I find out about GSI salaries?

A:  Graduate Student Instructor Appointments are 50% time appointments. Please review the current rates for GSIs at UC Berkeley HR website:

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

A: 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.

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

A: We do not offer graduate courses online.

Q: Can I get credit for prior course work?

A: 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.

Q: How long does it take to finish the program?

A:  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.

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

A:  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 the Graduate Division Support for Student Parents website: