This is a one-credit course designed as a workshop for people intending to apply to graduate school in English literature. We will discuss how to investigate and identify an appropriate list of departments to which to apply: what kinds of departments might offer programs to suit your individual ambitions? should you investigate Comparative Literature or Cultural Studies programs as serious alternatives to English Literature? how should you "balance" the list to insure admission without sacrificing opportunities? do you have to be admitted to a "top-ten" graduate program in order to stand any chance of getting a teaching job one day in a college English Department? what role do GRE scores play in graduate admissions?

We will then discuss strategies for presenting yourself as a candidate: in particular, effective strategies for writing personal statements and developing ideas in writing samples. How "theoretically sophisticated" do you have to appear to admissions committees? How specialized should you appear? Should you identify individual faculty with whom you wish to work as a graduate student in your admissions statement? Should you offer a plausible reason why you would be well-suited to study at a particular place? How do you make yourself seem "unusual"?

In addition, we will discuss the research tools, computing competence, and background preparation you will need as you enter a Masters or Ph.D. program in English.

Although the syllabus below is set for the published time of Fridays, 3-5, we can change the day and time after the first meeting if you wish.

Date Topic
1/24, 3-5 pm What programs should I investigate? How do I get information? What about GRE's?

Assignment #1
1/31, 3-5

Review lists. Read and discuss sample personal and writing samples. Download them from Webboard and bring copies to class on 2/8.

Assignment #2

2/7, 3-5

The personal statement. Download your classmates' personal statements from Webboard and bring to class on 2/15.

Assignment #3

2/14, 3-5 Review personal statements
2/21, 3-5 The writing sample. Download your classmates' writing samples from Webboard and bring to class on 3/8.
2/28, 3-5 Review writing samples
3/7, 3-5

Review writing samples

Assignment #4

4/4, 3-5 Background preparation: what does a graduate student beginning a Masters or Ph.D. program need to know? Language preparation, computing competence, course background, etc.


Revised: 11/7/02