Ph.D. Admissions

Thank you for your interest in our Ph.D. program, which offers an unparalleled combination of intellectual rigor and graduate support.  We are dedicated to training the next generation of scholars, and to confronting the opportunities offered by a changing job market. We look for various qualities in our applicants, including a proven capacity for advanced critical thinking and independent research.

The Department of English recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision. 

Note: Stanford does not offer a terminal Master of Arts in English. 

Autumn 2025 Admission

The deadline for the submission of graduate application forms to the Department of English for matriculation in Autumn 2024 will be December 1, 2024 at 11:59pm PST.

Read all instructions at the University Graduate Admissions website before starting the application process.

Application Requirements/Checklist:

  • Application form: Completed online through the University Graduate Admissions website
  • Non-refundable fee of $125.  For information on eligibility for fee waivers, please refer to Graduate Application Fee Waiver
  • Statement of Purpose (ideally 500-600 words, maximum 1000, double spaced, submitted as part of the application): reasons for applying, preparation, specific study and research interests (e.g., 18th century, American lyric poetry, Middle English, etc.), future career plans, and any other information to elucidate background and potential as a scholar/teacher.
  • Letters of Recommendation:  Three letters of recommendation are required from faculty members or others who are qualified to evaluate academic work and teaching potential.  Recommenders submit their letters through the online system by the application deadline.
  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts from all universities and colleges you have attended for one year or more must be uploaded to the online application.  We only require admitted applicants who accept the offer of admission to submit official transcripts that show degree conferral. Please do not send any official transcripts to us at this time.
  • Writing sample: a critical paper of approximately 12-25 pages, ideally in your stated field of interest. The writing sample is also submitted with the online application.
  • Official TOEFL and/or TSE: required for all international applicants (whose primary language is not English) sent via ETS.  To see if you need to provide this information, please check the Exam Requirements for International Applicants. Stanford does not accept IELTS scores.

Note to Stanford Undergraduates (both current and former):  

As a department we are gratified when some of our undergraduate majors decide to pursue advanced degrees in English.  To foster breadth in the students’ educational experience and also to expose our department to diverse ideas, our philosophy is that students who receive their undergraduate degrees from our department should generally look elsewhere to pursue their doctorates.

Inquiries about the Ph.D. in English should be directed to englishadmissions [at] (englishadmissions[at]lists[dot]stanford[dot]edu).

Knight-Hennessy Scholars 

Join dozens of Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences students who gain valuable leadership skills in a multidisciplinary, multicultural community as Knight-Hennessy Scholars(KHS).

KHS admits up to 100 select applicants each year from across Stanford’s seven graduate schools, and delivers engaging experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders ready to address complex global challenges. As a scholar, you join a distinguished cohort, participate in up to three years of leadership programming, and receive full funding for up to three years of your PhD studies at Stanford.

Candidates of any country may apply. KHS applicants must have earned their first undergraduate degree within the last seven years, and must apply to both a Stanford graduate program and to KHS. Stanford PhD students may also apply to KHS during their first year of PhD enrollment.

If you aspire to be a leader in your field, we invite you to apply. The KHS application for 2025 cohort opens on June 1, 2024. Learn more about KHS admission.



Start English PhD Application