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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.

Autumn 2018 Admission

Deadline for 2018 Autumn admission:  Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

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

Application Requirements

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 (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.

  • Official Transcripts:  Transcripts are required from all prior college level schools attended for at least one year.  A scanned copy of the official transcript is submitted as part of the online application.  Please do not mail transcripts to the department.  Our department will only be asking students offered admission to submit transcripts.  If you are offered admission, we will request that you provide two official transcripts in a timely manner.  We will also accept official electronic transcripts, sent directly to, from your degree granting institution.

  • 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.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): General Section (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) as well as subject test scores in Literature. Tests must have been taken in last five years, and are required of all applicants - no exceptions. The Stanford University score recipient number is 4704. Individual department code numbers are not used.

  • 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

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

Start Application

Knight-Hennessy Scholars 

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the Ph.D. in English. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by September 27, and separately apply to the English department by November 15, 2017.