Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue
Outdoor classroom, UTK

Funding Opportunities

Departmental Financial Support

Graduate students in the department have access to several kinds of financial aid, some from sources at the university level, other from within the department.

The Department has a number of ways of supporting graduate students while also contributing to their professional development. Our teaching, research, and editorial assistantships and associateships are all designed to provide financial assistance and valuable professional experience. The University and College of Arts and Sciences also provide a limited number of fellowships to outstanding students.

  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship  (first-year MAs and MFAs)
    • Pays a stipend and waives tuition for Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.
    • Teaching duties are assigned for Fall and Spring semesters only.
    • Assistants normally devote three-fourths of their time to graduate study and one-fourth to departmental duties related to teaching.
    • Each teaching assistant is assigned to an experienced instructor for five hours a week, observes at least one class regularly, reads student papers, holds student conferences, and teaches a freshman-level class under supervision at least one week each term.
    • Teaching assistants are assigned to the Writing Center for five hours per week. Permission from the Director of Graduate Studies is required for any outside employment.
  • Graduate Teaching Associateships (second-year MAs and MFAs and all PhDs)
    • Graduate Teaching Assistants at UT who have completed satisfactory work and eighteen semester hours of graduate English courses will be promoted to teaching associates in their second year.
    • Pays a stipend and waives tuition for Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.
    • Teaching duties are assigned for Fall and Spring only.
    • Graduate Teaching Associates serve as instructors of record for first-year composition courses. Advanced PhD students may have the opportunity to teach courses in their area of specialization. MFA students typically teach one course of creative writing in their second year.
    • Permission from the Director of Graduate Studies is required for any outside employment.
    • For new program applicants there is no separate application for a teaching assistantship or associateship. Simply complete your application form to the program and indicate that you wish to be considered for funding.

Note: The PhD program is considered a three-year program for candidates working full time on their doctorates. PhD candidates who hold teaching associateships are expected to complete their doctoral work within four to five years under normal circumstances.

The department has instituted a number of awards for graduate students that draw on special departmental endowments, especially the Better English Fund, established by John C. Hodges, and the John B. Emperor Fund. The following awards are currently available to our graduate students:

  • Richard Beale Davis Editorial Assistantship — Founded in honor of a former member of the department and distinguished scholar in American literature who was one of the original editors of Tennessee Studies in Literature. Each assistantship reduces the teaching load of the student selected and obligates the recipient to assist in editing the department’s publications: A.S.A.P., Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, International Journal of Nuclear Security, Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Institute Journal. The assistantships are awarded competitively. Ordinarily, Davis Fellowships are not awarded to first- or second-year students.
  • Percy Adams, John Hurt Fisher, Alwin Thaler, and Nathalia Wright Research Assistantships — Founded in honor of distinguished scholars and former department members. These assistantships are awarded competitively and reduce a student’s teaching load to either a 1-1 or 2-1 and assign him or her to a professor for a research experience commensurate to the released time. Students typically assist the professor in his or her research for ten hours per week during one or two academic semesters, depending on the award. The professor and graduate student should be clear from the outset about mutual responsibilities.
  • Research Assistant for John C. Hodges Chair of Excellence — Normally, for this three year research position, the recipient will receive one class release time each term of the first and third year and two classes release time during the second year. Chosen from among applications by the hold of the Chair of Excellence in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • John C. Hodges, First-Year MA and PhD Fellowships: Several fellowships of varying amounts to support first-year graduate students in the MA and PhD programs. These may be held in addition to a graduate assistantship or associateship.
  • Bain and Irene Stewart Fellowship: Awarded to two top-ranking first-year PhD candidates. The recipient will receive the full stipend amount, a teaching load of 1-1, and remission of tuition and fees for one calendar year (except charges for activities).
  • W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship: Named in honor of the humane man of letters and African American scholar who taught in the rural countryside of Tennessee during his years of undergraduate study in Nashville, this fellowship of $2,500 annually is available to US citizens and permanent residents of scholarly talent to pursue graduate studies in African-American literature, culture, rhetoric, and/or linguistics. This fellowship may be renewed upon demonstration of solid performance and progress toward a degree. This award may be held in addition to a Graduate Teaching Assistantship or Associateship.
  • John C. Hodges Award for Exceptional Scholarship: A candidate for this award of $1,500 is nominated by one or more professors in March. No student may win this award more than once.
  • V. Carolyn Martin Summer Fellowship: Founded in honor of a former member of the department, these fellowships pay part of the tuition fees of Tennessee high school and community college teachers who wish to attend summer sessions and either work for advanced degrees in English or otherwise increase their knowledge and expertise. These awards are made only for courses taken for graduate credit. Applications should be mailed to the Director of Graduate Studies before March 3.
  • Roscoe Parker Linguistics Fellowship: Founded in honor of a former member of the department and scholar in Medieval literature and the English language, this grant enables students to travel to the Linguistic Institute of America. Normally this award is made to a student committed to a career in linguistics who is well advanced in a program of doctoral study.
  • F. DeWolfe Miller Graduate Student Travel Grants: Travel support is available for full-time graduate students to attend conferences to present their scholarly or creative work. Students may receive a maximum of $1,000 of such funding per academic year.
  • Edward Bratton Summer Stipends for Hilton Smith Fellows: These stipends provide full tuition support for Hilton Smith Fellows who wish to take summer school courses in the summer following their fellowship year.
  • Internships/Fellowships for International Students: Small stipends are occasionally available for academically well-qualified students not yet qualified for teaching assistantships or associateships.
  • Hodges Excellence in Teaching Awards: Two Hodges Teaching Awards of $1,500 each, one for an experienced graduate teaching associate and one for a first-year graduate teaching associate, are given each year to recognize excellence in teaching.

For travel

  • Thomas Wheeler Traveling Fellowship: Founded in honor of a former member of the department and scholar of Renaissance literature, three competitive fellowships, normally $1,000 each, are available each year to students who need to travel in this country in pursuit of research on the dissertation, or two competitive fellowships of $1,500 for students who need to travel abroad.

For released time

  • Durant da Ponte American Literature Fellowship: Founded in memory of a former member of the department and scholar in American literature, this award will be granted to an outstanding student writing a doctoral dissertation in American literature. This award provides one course release during an academic year and may be held in conjunction with other released-time awards.
  • Norman J. Sanders Dissertation Fellowships: Up to ten PhD teaching associates who reach ABD (‘all but dissertation”) status within three years of the first date of matriculation will receive a two-course reduction in their teaching load for their fourth year to speed work on their dissertations. Reaching ABD status will depend on successful completion of the meeting to discuss the prospectus draft, verified by the signatures of the Departmental dissertation committee members. Those GTAs who reach ABD status in two or two and one-half years of the first date of their matriculation will likely be able to begin this fellowship in the next Fall semester. The specific distribution of their load will be determined by staffing needs. If a dissertation prospectus has not already been filed when this fellowship begins, it should be submitted to the Graduate Office for approval as early in the fellowship year as possible. A recipient of this fellowship is not eligible to apply for an Emperor fellowship. The policy that any GTA may not hold other employment without the express permission of the DGS will continue in effect for those holding this fellowship.
  • John B. Emperor Fellowships: Several grants are available to doctoral students who reach ABD status within four years of the first date of their matriculation to enable them to be released from some teaching duties (one class, normally during the Spring term) to work on their dissertations. These awards are made on the recommendation of faculty members supervising the dissertations who are satisfied that their candidates have made substantial progress in research leading to completion of the dissertation. An approved dissertation proesptus must be on file in the English Graduate Office to receive this award. Not applicable during the Summer. Students may not hold a travel fellowship and a released-time Emperor dissertation fellowship simultaneously.
  • Joseph Trahern Medieval/Renaissance Literature Dissertation Fellowship: Founded in memory of a former member of the department and a scholar in Medieval literature, this award will be granted to an outstanding student writing a dissertation in Medieval or Renaissance literature. This award will provide a course release for one academic year. This award may be held in conjunction with other released-time awards.
  • Owens-Keenan Medieval, Southern, and Children’s Literature Dissertation Award: This fellowship provides $1,500 for students working on dissertations in the above mentioned areas.

Job Interview Stipends

  • A number of grants are available to help students travel to professional meetings or colleges or university campuses for job interviews. A maximum amount of $600 per year is available for this purpose.
Post-doctoral full-time instructorships are available on a competitive basis to PhD recipients who have competed their degree the previous year.