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Dr. Roxanne Mountford guiding the teaching workshop


The Graduate Program

What graduate degrees does the University of Oklahoma offer in English?
The English department offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

How long does it take to take to earn either an M.A. or a Ph.D. in English at the University of Oklahoma?
The typical time to degree for Master’s students is 3 years, and for Ph.D. students, 5 to 6 years, although it is quite possible to complete all the requirements sooner.

What financial aid is available? Are international students eligible for financial aid?
Financial aid is offered on a competitive basis. Competitive offers of admission to the English M.A. and Ph.D. programs are generally accompanied by graduate support packages that include full tuition waivers, a stipend, health insurance, and access to various fellowships, awards, and teaching releases (at the Ph.D. level). Please also note that international students have to be approved by the English Assessment Office before they can have a teaching assistantship. Additional funding is available on a competitive basis for subsequent years of study. The English Department, in conjunction with the College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate College, is also committed to sponsoring students' involvement in professional activities and pays many of the expenses for research travel, summer language study, and participation in academic conferences.

What are the language requirements for the program?
M.A. and Ph.D. candidates must prove reading knowledge of one foreign language. Ideally, applicants will have language proficiency before admission, but there is sufficient time allotted for students to satisfy this requirement during their degree.

Will I have opportunities to teach during the program?
Pedagogy is an integral part of our program and we require students to participate in a pedagogical seminar in the first year. All Ph.D. students are required to fulfill a one-year teaching requirement. During the first year of graduate study, M.A. and Ph.D. students will teach one class per semester and take three courses per semester. After the first year, M.A. and Ph.D. students will teach two sections of composition courses each semester.

How can I find faculty in my areas of interest? Is it important that I contact a specific professor prior to applying?
The Faculty page on this website lists faculty both alphabetically by last name and by research area. Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty directly regarding research interests.

Is an online program of study or are online courses in English available?
The department does not offer online or distance-learning instruction in English. Students in an English degree program are expected to be in residence.

Can I attend the M.A. or Ph.D. program part-time?
Theoretically, it is possible to pursue either of these degrees part-time, but part-time students will run into the Graduate College’s degree deadline--although it is possible to petition for extensions of the deadline. Another problem, however, is that students studying part-time would not meet the enrollment requirements to hold an assistantship. Prospective students wanting to attend part-time should contact the department’s Director of Graduate Studies to explore the possibilities of this option in their specific case.

Can I start the graduate program in the spring or summer semester?
No, the department admits applicants only in the fall semester.

Can I be a visiting student in the University of Oklahoma English department?
Yes. Visiting students go through the same application process as regular students, but they can do so at any time. Visitors can take our graduate classes, but they are not considered part of our program. According to the Graduate College, “Graduate Visitors are graduate students in good academic standing, seeking an advanced degree at another accredited institution. Typically, these students plan to transfer their OU coursework back to their home institution.” As graduate visitors, students have all the rights and privileges of other graduate students, except that they are not admitted to our graduate program and thus are not considered degree-seeking students at the University of Oklahoma. Should you desire to become a graduate visitor, the following rules must be followed, as instated by the Graduate College:

  • You must be a degree-seeking graduate student in good standing at another accredited university.
  • You must complete the University of Oklahoma online application.
  • No academic credentials are required for this type of admission.
  • You must provide OU's Office of Admissions with a letter of good standing from the dean of your home institution, or from the dean's academic designate. 

Is it possible to transfer into the OU graduate program from another graduate program?
A student in the M.A. program may transfer a maximum of 6 credit hours for coursework done at other institutions. These transfer credit hours must be approved by the student's advisor as well as by the Director of Graduate Studies. Any plan of study approved for an M.A. student requires a minimum of 33 credit hours beyond the completion of the baccalaureate degree. The Ph.D. degree requires 57 hours beyond the 33 hours of the M.A., or 90 hours beyond the B.A. For the Ph.D. degree, a student may transfer up to 6 credit hours of coursework done at other institutions; the transfer must be approved by his or her advisory committee as well as the Director of Graduate Studies. In addition, the Director of Graduate Studies may request transcript, syllabi, and/or other course materials before approving these transfers.

Prior to Applying

May I request information about your program?
The most up-to-date information about English at the University of Oklahoma can be found on this website, including faculty and graduate student interests, courses currently offered, and degree requirements.

Can I arrange a visit to the English department?
Yes. If you wish to visit the department, contact our graduate liaison, Sara Knight (, or our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Amit R. Baishya ( In your email, please indicate which department members you are interested in meeting and when you wish to make your visit.

The Application Process

How do I apply and how much does it cost to apply?

The University of Oklahoma uses an online application system; click here to begin the process of U.S. or international application. The application fee is $50 for U.S. citizens and $100 for foreign citizens. The application website applicants to save data and work on their application from any computer on multiple occasions. There is a University-wide fee waiver application process for qualified US Citizens/Permanent Residents. Important: Requests for fee waivers must be received at least 15 business days prior to the departmental deadline to apply.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for applications to be submitted is January 5. 

Am I eligible to apply for the M.A. and/or Ph.D. program in English?

You are eligible for admission to graduate programs at OU as long as you have either completed a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association; or completed an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. Your B.A. must also be in English or in a closely related field. The Director of Graduate Studies can help you determine what constitutes an appropriate closely related field before you apply to the department.

How selective is the admissions process for the Ph.D. program?

We are able to matriculate about 50% of all applicants, whether M.A. or Ph.D., each academic year.

What does the admissions committee look for when reviewing applications?

In reviewing applications for our Ph.D. program, we look for evidence that the applicant will not only thrive in our graduate program, but will also go on to put the training we offer to fruitful use in an academic or non-academic career. We look for evidence of: academic potential as evidenced in past academic achievement; an understanding of, and passion for, research; and a good fit between the applicant’s interests and the interests and capabilities of our faculty. 

What kind of writing sample should I submit with my application?

A sample of critical or scholarly writing, no more than 25 pages long. This may be an excerpt from a longer work, such as a senior thesis. It should, however, be clear of grading comments and should preferably be in your expressed area of concentration.

What kind of information should I include in my statement of purpose?

We want to know what you’ve done in English or in related fields, why you want to study English and particularly why you think the University of Oklahoma is an appropriate place for you to do it. We want to know what your literary interests are, and what areas of concentration you are planning to declare. If you aren’t sure yet what you plan to do in English, that’s fine, but we want to know that you have some idea of the possibilities. Don’t repeat things that we will learn from other parts of your application, such as the courses you have taken, but do highlight things you think are particularly important, and do feel free to explain any things in your other materials that you are less proud of. We are looking for a professional self-presentation, not stories about your childhood fascination with literature. The statement of purpose should be around 250-500 words (1-2 pages).

Do I need to take the GRE?

No, you do not need to take the GRE. We do not use GRE scores when considering applicants. 

I am an international applicant who speaks and reads English. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Possibly. If you have a degree from an English-speaking institution, you may not have to take the TOEFL. TOEFL is one of several ways that applicants can meet the English proficiency requirement. Please consult the following page for more information on TOEFL: 

If I need to take the TOEFL, how do I send my score to the department?

Applicants need to arrange with ETS to send their TOEFL score to the University of Oklahoma using the University code 6879. The University downloads the scores from ETS on a weekly basis. Departments and programs access the scores electronically for the applicant's file. You will not need a code for the English Department, since the scores are sent directly to the University, not the department.

Do I need to have an M.A. before I apply to the Ph.D. program?

Yes, you must hold an M.A. before applying to the department’s Ph.D. program.

Does it matter if my undergraduate degree is not in English?

Yes. Your undergraduate degree should be in English or in a closely related field that would make sense for you to be admitted to our department. Please consult the Director of Graduate Studies to determine if your degree constitutes a "closely related field."

Can letters of recommendation be uploaded before I submit my online application?

No. The prompt to upload letters of recommendation goes out to recommenders after the application has been submitted online.

What do I do if my letters of recommendation, transcripts, writing sample, or TOEFL test score (if applicable) will be late?

All materials for admission to the M.A. and/or Ph.D. program, including letters of recommendation, must be submitted by January 5. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application materials by mid- to late February. 

I have been out of school for several years and there is no one left who can write an academic recommendation for me. May my employer write one?

The purpose of submitting letters of recommendation is to give the department's faculty an indication of your ability to do scholarly research. We recommend that you ask current or former professors in your major field to submit letters of recommendation, as they would have the best idea of your research potential. If, however, no former professors are available, you can ask someone else whom you think can give a good assessment of your potential for graduate study to write the letter.

Will it increase my chances of being admitted if I send more than the required number of letters of recommendation?

It is the quality not the quantity of letters that matters. You should submit no more than three letters. 

Can I apply to more than one department?

For information on this policy, please consult the Graduate College Bulletin, which can be found on the Graduate College’s website:

After the application is submitted

How can I check the status of my application?
Once you have submitted your application, you can check the status of your application materials through the application website.

When do you make decisions?
We make every effort to make offers of admission by the last week in February. Notices of admissions status are delivered by email. Offers of assistantships and awards will follow separately by mail.

Can I reapply if I am not accepted?
Yes, if you complete the online application again and pay the fee. Your application should include a revised statement of purpose. We can reuse your transcripts and letters of recommendation; however, you should consider submitting new letters if they could attest to your improved suitability to the program. 

Can deferrals be granted?
Yes. Accepted students can defer their admission to the following academic year. If you are offered a teaching assistantship, however, you are not guaranteed to have one the following year; you will be considered alongside the next year’s applicant pool for assistantships.