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Graduate Studies

Our MA program offers two concentrations: Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies; and Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics.  Our PhD program offers three concentrations: Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies; Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics; and English with Creative Dissertation. 

Students enrolled in these concentrations also have the option to pursue Graduate Certificates in such fields as Africana Studies, Digital Humanities, Linguistics, Medieval Studies, Online Teaching and Learning, Quantitative Research Methods in Education, and Social Theory.

Our graduate students have access to a nationally and internationally recognized graduate faculty and to a superb research library with special collections in British and American literary and cultural history. They also benefit from the presence and resources of the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the University of Tennessee Center for the Humanities.  Students have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on advanced research and on journals such as International Journal of Nuclear SecurityASAP/JournalVictorians Institute JournalJournal of Victorian Culture, and Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts; to teach and design undergraduate courses; and to participate in our active Graduate Students in English organization.

We offer financial support for MA, MFA, and PhD candidates.  All funded students receive a tuition waiver (including summer courses), a teaching assistantship that pays a stipend, and a generous annual allowance for travel to conferences.  MA and MFA students who receive funding are funded for two years, while PhD students are funded for a maximum of five years. Other awards fund travel to archives, participation in summer institutes, creative writing submission and prize fees, interview transcription, and miscellaneous research expenses. For a complete list of the department’s funding opportunities, see the Graduate Handbook.

Our students regularly present their work at major conferences and publish in refereed journals, and our graduates teach in universities and colleges across the United States. 


Visit Graduate Admissions to apply for the MA, the MFA, or the PhD program in English. All materials should be submitted to the Graduate School through the online application; more detailed instructions may be found in the application form itself.

Required Application Materials:

  • Online Graduate School application.
  • Statement of Purpose  (2-3 pages describing your reasons for applying to a graduate program in English and the kind of study you wish to pursue, including your area(s) of interest.)
  • A $60 nonrefundable application fee.
  • Transcripts for all colleges and universities previously attended.  Copies of unofficial transcripts (not web-based academic histories) should be uploaded into the online application prior to submission of the application.  Do not send hard copies of official transcripts until you have received notification of admission from the Office of Graduate Admissions.  After you have received such notification, hard copies should be mailed to: The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Office of Graduate Admissions, 201 Student Services Building, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A critical writing sample of up to twenty pages with works cited (longer works discouraged). Applicants for the MFA concentration and for the PhD with Creative Dissertation must also submit a creative writing sample of no more than twenty-five pages of fiction or creative nonfiction, or fifteen poems.
  • Copies of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores. Note: Due to COVID-19 quarantines and cancellations, GRE scores are optional for this year’s applications.  If you decide to submit GRE scores, you must abide by the deadlines listed here.  All applications will receive equal consideration, and applications will not be harmed by not including GRE scores. In order for your GRE  scores to reach us by the deadline, you should take the test no later than the middle of October for the December 1 deadline and middle of November for the January 15th deadline.
  • International students must submit TOEFL scores as required by the Graduate School.

Here are some frequently asked questions or for more information:

Office of Graduate Studies in English
Ph: 865-974-6933

Office of Graduate and International Records and Admissions
Ph: 865-974-3251