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Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about Applications:

What is the deadline for applications?

February 1

What are the requirements for admission?

All applicants must have:

  • B.A. from an accredited college or university

The following materials are required for application to the program:

  • Online Application
  • A brief personal statement in the form of an intellectual biography: Why are you seeking an advanced degree in English? What have you studied? In what eras, authors, and approaches do you have particular interest? Why do you want to pursue your studies at Clemson? (this statement can be completed in the Online Application or mailed to the program director)
  • A writing sample: Please submit either (1) a critical essay of ten to twelve pages from an English course, or (2) two shorter essays from English courses. Writing samples should best demonstrate your critical and creative writing abilities.
  • GRE scores for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections. We do not require the English subject test. We have no “cut-off” for required GRE scores, but rather look at the scores as a part of the entire application packet.

The admissions committee gives preference to students with:

  • Strong writing skills demonstrated through writing sample and statement of purpose
  • Focused reasons for pursuing an M.A. in English at Clemson
  • At least 12 hours of coursework in English literature, or other background that prepares them for the M.A.E. program.

We encourage you to contact the program director for further information. You may check the status of your application online here.

How do I submit my application to Clemson?

Submitting your online application

How do I apply for an assistantship or fellowship?

Graduate Assistantships

The M.A. in English program offers 10 graduate assistantships for new graduate students, including a stipend of $11,374 and tuition reduction. First year G.A.s typically perform fifteen hours of research assistance, administrative support, or writing tutoring per week. 

Graduate Teachers of Record

Graduate students have the chance to be Graduate Teachers of Record once they have completed 18 graduate credit hours, generally in their second year of study. GTRs teach two sections of first-year composition each semester, with moderate supervision from the Director of First-Year Composition. GTRs receive a stipend of $13,724 and tuition reduction.

Graduate Fellowships

Strong applicants may be considered for a variety of fellowships supported by the English Department and the Graduate School. Consideration for these fellowships requires submission of the same materials used for applications for assistantships.

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for university awards and fellowships. For information regarding student loans, please contact:


For the most up-to-date information about the cost of attending, please see the Graduate School page on tuition costs or the Bursar’s Office page for information on payment options. 

Do I need to submit a writing sample?

If you wish to be considered for an assistantship, then yes. Please submit either (1) a critical essay of ten to twelve pages from an English course, or (2) two shorter essays from English courses. Writing samples should best demonstrate your critical and creative writing abilities.

What GRE scores do you require?

We require scores for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections. We do not require the English subject test. We have no “cut-off” for required GRE scores, but rather look at the scores as a part of the entire application packet.

Can I apply for Spring admission?

No, we currently require all students to begin their studies in the Fall.

What should I address in my personal statement/statement of purpose?

This is probably the most important part of your application, as it conveys your reasons for pursuing an M.A. in English at Clemson and it gives us a sense of your writing skills. You should be as specific as possible in your answer, giving us a real sense of your reasons for applying, your intellectual biography, and why you want to study here. Furthermore, if there are aspects of your academic record that may seem deficient, you could address them here.

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Questions about Navigating the Program:

Why are we required to take a course in literary theory (ENGL 8100)?

As students who have taken the course will tell you, this may be the most useful course you take, as the ideas, approaches, and themes from ENGL 8100 can be used in every other course you take. Theory also engages with historical aspects of reading, publishing, and writing that matter across literary studies. In short, it is a great entry point for the English degree.

What should I expect from a 6000-level course?

These courses combine a few graduate students with a large group of undergraduate students. In order to receive graduate credit, graduate students are expected to complete all the requirements for the undergraduate course as well as additional requirements specified in the course syllabus. These additional requirements might include (but need not be limited to) a longer research paper, additional theoretical or secondary readings, leading class discussion, etc.

What should I expect from a graduate seminar (8000-level course)?

Graduate students are expected to bring a great deal to seminars, as these courses are almost entirely discussion-based, with discussions frequently initiated by students. For graduate seminars, you should expect significant readings for each week, both in traditional literary texts and in secondary criticism and theory. It is not unusual for faculty to recommend additional readings not on the syllabus, as a means of supplementing required readings. Similarly, if you find that there are important historical movements, theoretical or literary issues, or background texts with which you are not familiar, you should remedy these lacks yourself. (Faculty can be helpful in guiding you to supplementary reading.) Seminars usually require a longer seminar paper (typically approximately 12-15 pages in length), rooted in the concerns of the course but requiring significant individual research. Additional assignments might include annotated bibliographies, pedagogy projects, shorter papers, regular response papers, etc.

How do I fulfill my language requirement?

Students are encouraged to satisfy the foreign language requirement during their first year of graduate study by demonstrating reading competency in an approved foreign language. Languages commonly accepted are French, German, Spanish and, in some cases, Italian or a classical language. Upon the recommendation of the chair of the Department of Languages, knowledge of another language may be approved, provided that adequate justification can be presented, that the language is not native to the student, and that a proper testing procedure can be established. The student must pay any expense incurred in obtaining assistance for such testing.

The language requirement may be satisfied by:

  1. Graduate students bringing their undergraduate transcripts to 717 Strode to prove they have completed through Clemson University’s equivalent of 202 in the same language ending with at least a “B” in 202.
  2. Passing the Graduate Foreign Language Reading Exam.
  3. Passing the “Reading for Graduates” course in Spanish (SPAN 1510), French (FR 1510), or German (GER 1510), offered in the summer.

Students without preparation in a chosen foreign language may wish to audit 1010 or 1020 prior to enrolling in 1510. Students with some preparation may wish to audit 2010 or 2020 before taking the translation test or enrolling in 1510.

For more detailed information about foreign language requirements, please see the M.A.E. Program Handbook or contact Molly Greene, 717 Strode Tower, Department of Languages, (864) 656-3393,

How can I get involved in SEGS? 

The Society of English Graduate Students (SEGS) of Clemson University is an academic and social organization that aims to accomplish the following goals:

  • to enhance communication and social interaction among English graduate students and faculty;
  • to promote social interaction among graduate students outside the academic sphere;
  • to promote the professional development of graduate students;
  • to provide a voice for the graduate students within student government.


SEGS is organized and run by current graduate students and overseen loosely by the program director. SEGS has two seats in Clemson’s Graduate Student Senate.

Typical Events

SEGS traditionally offers a balance of academic and social activities over the course of a semester, including workshops on professional development and oral exams, fundraising lunches, and social gatherings. A typical semester might go like this:

  • August: SEGS Welcome to Clemson Party
  • September: Orals Workshops
    Fundraising Lunch
  • October: Workshop (in conjunction with program director) Halloween (Bowling) Party
  • December: Christmas Party

SEGS hosts regular organizational meetings to allow student input and plan future events and study sessions. 

Is there money for travel to conferences?

The answer to this question varies year to year depending on the English Department’s budgetary situation. If you have been accepted to present a paper at a conference, ask the Director of M.A. in English if there are funds available.

How many credit hours do I need before I can teach?

You must have completed 18 graduate credits before teaching. You must also have taken ENGL 8850 (Composition Theory).

How do I apply to teach English 1030 (first-year composition)?

In the spring of your first year, you will receive specific instructions from the Director of First-Year Writing. You are typically asked to submit a brief statement about your experience teaching, tutoring and/or as a first-year graduate assistant, along with a GS-2 form listing all courses you will have taken before the fall term in which you begin teaching. You must have completed 18 graduate credit hours before you are eligible to teach ENGL 1030, and you must have taken ENGL 8850 (Composition Theory).

How do I set up a directed study?

Directed studies are rare, as they require uncompensated work from faculty. If you wish to pursue a directed study, first find a faculty member to direct it. With that faculty member, devise a plan of study (a sort of syllabus), outlining the focus, goals, and work for the directed study. Then complete the approval form, available from the Director of the M.A.E. program; once the form has the required signatures, you will enrolled in ENGL 8400.

How do I select my thesis committee?

Your thesis director should be a person whose research relates as closely as possible to the thesis you would like to write. Your director might also be a teacher for whose seminar you wrote a paper that is now growing into your thesis. You might select other committee members (you should have two more in addition to your director) based on your sense of what they could contribute to your project. Perhaps their research and teaching interests are close to the topic of your thesis, or perhaps they are superb writers, and you are interested in their critique of your own writing. Your thesis director might be able to guide you in your decisions about the composition of your committee.

How long should my prospectus be?

The length of the prospectus may vary, but plan on approximately 5-10 pages. The prospectus should frame the issues and questions you expect to drive your thesis, give a sense of the structure of the thesis (descriptions of plans for each chapter), and include a working bibliography. Once your director has approved your prospectus, you should submit it to the other members of your committee and to the Director of the M.A.E. program.

What will I need to do to pass my thesis defense?

To pass your thesis defense, you will need to do two things:

  • Write a good thesis-i.e., a potentially publishable paper of 25-30 pages in length, in which you demonstrate your ability in the critical analysis of a text or texts; intervene in existing scholarly conversation in a way that extends, complicates, and/or enriches knowledge; and produce writing that is mechanically sound and stylistically accomplished.
  • Demonstrate during the defense that you have begun to acquire mastery in your part of the field of English studies, by being able to position your work in larger literary, critical, and/or theoretical conversations and discuss relationships between your thesis and your list of background works.

How do I schedule my thesis defense?

You should plan for your defense to last about 90 minutes. Write to the members of your committee to find out when they are available, and then look at their schedules together with your own to find a viable time. Then ask the administrative assistant for the English Department in 801 Strode Tower to schedule a room for you.

What are the crucial dates in preparation for graduation?

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Should I apply to a Ph.D. program in English?

That’s a complicated question, because the job market for English Ph.D.s, historically difficult, has been in freefall since the economic downturn of 2008. In part, this has happened because more and more universities are using a non-tenure-track workforce to teach required courses. Furthermore, the national average for the time from B.A. degree to Ph.D. degree in the humanities now exceeds 10 years. Many graduate students accrue significant debt during their studies. These factors combine to mean that pursuing a Ph.D. can be an expensive and long process that may or may not lead to a job. Students who decide to pursue a Ph.D. need to have a clear, serious, and well-thought-through “Plan B” in mind.