MA/PhD in English Language and Literature


Program Overview

Our MA/PhD in English Language and Literature is an integrated program that allows students to earn an MA on the way to the PhD. We do not admit students for a terminal MA degree. The program receives over 250 applications of admission each year and typically enrolls an entering class of 10-14 students, all of whom receive funding.   

The MA/PhD program offers two tracks: one in Literature and Culture, the other in Language and Rhetoric. Within each track, students will develop individualized programs of study in close consultation with faculty mentors. Intellectually, there is substantial connection between work in these areas of the department: faculty teaching in the Language and Rhetoric track are certainly thinking about matters of culture, just as faculty teaching in Literature and Culture clearly attend to the nature and politics of language. Students in either track can and do take courses in the other.

However, these two tracks offer distinct forms of professional training and accreditation: students in the Literature and Culture track are trained to conduct research and to teach in literary and cultural studies (e.g., in fields such as Victorian literature, ecocritism, or contemporary speculative fiction). Students in the Language and Rhetoric track are trained to conduct research and to teach in areas broadly related to language-in-use (e.g., in fields such as composition studies, rhetoric, history of English, applied linguistics, literacy, and writing pedagogy). Their research might study practices in the composition classroom or might address topics in discourse analysis, language policy, and translingualism. On completion of the PhD, Literature and Culture students are qualified to apply for jobs teaching in their area of literary or cultural study; students in Language and Rhetoric are qualified to apply for jobs in rhetoric and composition studies, applied linguistics, or writing program administration. When applying to the program, applicants must choose between these two tracks and may not apply to both simultaneously.

Department faculty work across a range of historical periods (Medieval, Early Modern, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries) and methodological frameworks with a focus on the study of discourse, literacy, textuality, genre (including speculative fiction and SF), gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, postcoloniality, indigeneity, disability, environment, media, and public culture. For a fuller snapshot of the work we do, please consult our faculty profiles

Application Information

Application materials are due December 1. (If December 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the deadline is the following Monday.) Offers of admission are usually made by mid-March. 

For frequently asked questions, please see our MA/PhD FAQ page. 

Funding Opportunities

We offer a funding package to all admitted MA/PhD students. The funding package includes a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a monthly stipend during the academic year through an Academic Student Employee position. In general, duties include teaching one English class, assisting in a large lecture and leading quiz sections, or assisting in program administration.

PhD students also have opportunities to compete for fellowships and scholarships offered through the Department of English.

MA/PhD Degree Requirements

MA/PhD degree requirements can be found here: PhD Degree Requirements.

Students who enter our PhD program without a related master’s degree will be required to complete an MA in the first two years. More information can be found here: MA/PhD Degree Requirements: Master's Degree.

Placement & Alumni

A recent survey of our graduates from 2008-2018 showed the following employment rates:

  • 43% in tenure-track positions
  • 43% in other academic positions (not tenure-track)
  • 8% in professional careers
  • 6% no data

Dissertation abstracts from recent graduates can be found here: Graduate Research.

Check out our PhD Alumni Spotlight page where recent alumni have shared their current job placements, highlights from their time at UW, and advice for current and prospective students. 

Contact an advisor