How do I get a Graduate Degree in English?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
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An individual may decide to pursue a graduate degree in English for a number of reasons. For example, he may take this route in preparation for a teaching or writing career. He may also choose this educational goal as he moves toward securing a Ph.D. or even preparing for a career in law. No matter what a person’s reasons are for wanting to earn a graduate degree in English, he’ll generally need to complete undergraduate school, take a graduate school admission test, and gain entrance to a master’s English program. Then, he'll usually spend two or three years completing his graduate English program.

Since schools are usually selective when it comes to accepting individuals interested in pursuing graduate degrees, a person who wants to gain admission to an English program will usually need to earn good grades during his undergraduate career. This is especially true when it comes to English courses. An individual who wants to pursue this educational path will usually need letters of recommendation from some of his professors as well. As such, a person seeking admission to graduate school will do well to get to know his professors, ensuring that they will feel comfortable writing letters of recommendation for him.


An individual who wants to earn a graduate degree in English will usually have to take a graduate school admissions examination. In the United States, for example, this exam is called the Graduate Record Examination. Doing well on this exam doesn’t guarantee a person admission to graduate school, but the scores are usually considered an important gauge of a person’s ability to succeed in graduate school. In most cases, scores on the verbal part of the exam are considered, and some schools consider scores from the subject part of the test as well.

Often, individuals who are seeking admission to graduate school English programs also have to provide a sample of their writing work or a portfolio. Such samples should be the best the student can provide. Some students ask their undergraduate professors for help with revising their work, so their samples will be as polished as possible.

Once an individual gains admission to graduate school, he will usually spend one to two years earning his graduate degree in English. This usually involves not only reading and writing about English literature, but may also include time spent teaching others about it. Often, a person pursuing graduate-level English education also has to pass exams to earn this degree, and he may have to write a thesis as well.



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