How to Apply

To Apply for the Graduate Ph.D. Program:

1. A personal statement of approximately 1,000 words. Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

Your personal statement should also address your particular interest in our program, including professors with whom you would hope to work. There is no foreign language requirement for admission.  But we are much more interested in candidates who have a deep interest in at least one non-Anglophone literary or representational tradition, and who have already achieved high levels of competence in the relevant language or languages for their desired area of study. Please comment on your linguistic training in your personal statement.  If you are not linguistically ready to begin working in your chosen area, our program may not be the right fit for you.

2. A critical writing sample of approximately 20 double-spaced pages. The writing sample should be relevant for your current scholarly interests.  Although we will accept two papers adding up to 20 pages, we strongly prefer a single, 20-page paper. Font size and style do not matter. Please make sure your name is on each page. Writing samples may be uploaded online via College Net.

3. Three letters of recommendation. These should be written by professors who know your work and can attest to your academic ability. Please do not submit more than four recommendation letters; personal recommendation letters are strongly discouraged. Three letters of recommendation may be uploaded via College Net. Alternately, hardcopies can be mailed to: The University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences Admissions, 3401 Walnut Street, Suite 322A, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228. Note: your recommenders will be able to upload or mail their letters for a brief grace period after the December 15 deadline for the main application.


The TOEFL/ Duolingo/ equivalent is required of international students who have not grown up immersed in an Anglophone speaking and writing environment.  If you are unsure if the test is required for your specific case, please contact the Chair to check.


5. Electronic versions of your academic transcripts must be submitted with your application. You can scan an unofficial copy of your transcript to the application. If accepted, you will then need to provide a final, official paper copy of your transcript before you matriculate.




More About Graduate Admissions and the Application

Applications are accepted only for full-time work in the  Ph.D. program beginning in the Fall semester. We do not offer part-time programs, nor do we offer Spring admission. Ph.D. applicants with an M.A. will have an opportunity to transfer a limited number of their M.A. credits once they have been accepted to the program. These credit transfers will need to be approved by the Graduate Chair and the Dean.

Any technical issues with the online ApplyYourself application should be addressed to Technical Support on the ApplyYourself application system and not to the Graduate English Department.

The application fee is $90. We do not have paper applications—all applications are submitted online.

We generally conduct Skype interviews for a short list of applicants.  You will be notified by email if you have been short-listed.  Please ensure that your email on your application is correct!

Admissions questions that are not answered by this web page should be directed to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Department at (215) 573-5816.

The Graduate School of Arts and Science Web link is:  Note: Individuals who are abroad must make payment by US check, international postal money order made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania or credit card. Please enclose this form to complete the application.

Fee waiver: A fee waiver may be considered for U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. In order to apply for a fee waiver, the applicant should enclose a brief letter stating the reason for the request. This letter should be sent with your Application for Admission. Please be advised that the applicant must demonstrate a clear and compelling case of financial hardship.


For International Applicants & Admittees

International Students admitted into the program should apply for their Social Security number as soon as possible so that they don't experience a delay in receiving their stipend.

For more information please contact:

JoAnne Dubil, Program Coordinator
720 Williams Hall 
Philadelphia, PA 19104 
phone: 215-898-6836
fax: 215-573-9451