HMNSS Building

How to Apply


Admission to the Ph.D. program is open to qualified candidates with a BA or MA degree. Your previous coursework should support your plan of study and interest in a range of disciplines. Faculty in our department have degrees and expertise in a range of fields, including American and British Studies; Cinema and Media Studies; Asian American, Black, Indigenous and Latinx Literatures and Cultures; Literature and Literary Theory; and Rhetoric. We welcome applications from students with degrees in these and related fields. An MFA may count towards the Ph.D. if it includes substantial training relevant to the applicant’s proposed plan of study.  UCR does not allow the duplication of a Ph.D. degree: if you already have a Ph.D. in English or in a closely related field, please do not apply to our program.


The deadline for applications is December 15, 2023. All admitted students will start in Fall 2024.

Application Requirements
  1. Online Application      
    Applications for fall admission open in September of the previous year. Start your online application as soon as you can, once that application cycle has started. Opening an application allows us to keep in touch with you and remind you of the deadline. You can work on your application at your own pace by saving your application as you go. 

    You will find UCR’s online application for Graduate Admission here: You may work in stages, saving your work between sessions. You must click “Submit My Application” in order for your file to be evaluated for admission.  Be sure to do this before the deadline.
  2. Application Fee
    Please pay the application fee or request a waiver. To request a fee waiver, contact the Admissions Office at as soon as possible.

    A non-refundable application fee is required, and payment can be made using (Visa, MasterCard or Discover) when you submit your online application.  For domestic applicants (US Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Undocumented Applicants), the fee is $135.  For international applicants, the fee is $155.

    Fee waivers are available to qualified domestic applicants only. Waivers are not automatically granted and need to be approved prior to submission of your application. Only one fee waiver is allowed per student, per application period. We cannot issue refunds for any application fees already paid. 
  3. Transcripts, GPA and Test Scores
    List every institution you’ve attended since graduating from high school. Please upload unofficial transcripts with your application (as “additional information”) or send unofficial transcripts to Perla Fabelo at We require official transcripts only from students admitted to the program. Admission is contingent upon receiving official copies of transcripts for all schools you attended.

    The most important GPA is that determined by your last two years of undergraduate coursework.  We do these calculations, but signaling a high GPA during this period in your Statement of Purpose can help make your file stand out. This should be encouraging information for any applicant who had a difficult first year: uneven GPAs are very common, especially for students who change majors.

    Test Scores
    The graduate program does not require GRE scores.  The admissions committee will not view or evaluate GRE scores when reviewing graduate applications.  Please do not submit GRE scores as part of a graduate application, they will not be considered.

    TOEFL or IELTS scores
    If you are an international student and your degree is not from a university where the primary language of instruction is English, you must submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores.  More information for international students can be found here.

  4. Specialization/Research Interests
    Select one area specialization that corresponds with your interests as a scholar. This is required. Select no more than three areas of research interest. Educate yourself about the faculty working in these areas: these are the people most likely to read your application.  In addition to our departmental areas of specialization, some of our faculty are affiliated with four Designated Emphases (DEs) in which you may be interested:
  5. Statement of Purpose (SOP) 
    In your SOP, describe your main research interests. Connect these interests to the work of faculty in our department and, if appropriate, to faculty in other departments at UCR (for example: Black Study; Dance; Ethnic Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; History; and/or Media and Cultural Studies). Address the relationship between your writing sample and your areas of research. Describe your accomplishments as a scholar — essays you’ve written, courses you’ve taken or taught, publications, campus/community-based service.

    Lead your self-statement with where you are in your work (now) and where you want to go. Avoid developmental narratives and generalizations. Be specific. Name the kinds of scholars you admire and the texts that most engage you. A good statement of purpose can be up to 3,000 characters (including spaces).  However, if the statement of purpose is slightly longer, upload a PDF copy of the statement when submitting the application.
  6. Writing Sample
    The writing sample targeted length is 12-20 pages (inclusive of the words cited) and should constitute a double-spaced single essay. The topic of your essay should reflect your research interests as described in the statement of purpose. Sometimes people applying to English Department Ph.D. programs hesitate to share writing not based on literature: if you want to pursue topics in visual art, performance, media or sound studies, etc., you should share writing in these areas. We are very interested in applications that engage a variety of subjects and methodologies. Sometimes the best sample for applicants applying, especially from BA programs, is in a field other than what they are interested in pursuing in graduate school. If this is the case, please explain your choice of essay in your SOP. This will help us to better appreciate it. This situation may, for example, reflect the fact that your BA program did not offer the chance to work in the area you want to pursue with our department. We find that this situation is sometimes the case for students coming from smaller campuses that do not have enough (or any) faculty working in areas that interest them. Some of the most impressive applications come from students who have had to carve out their own areas of specialization. 

    We expect incoming graduate students to be comfortable engaging with scholarship and to have demonstrable research skills. Your writing sample should show awareness of existing scholarship in your field (via citation and engagement with ideas and questions circulating in criticism/scholarship). This is true for all applicants, but it is particularly true for those applying from MA (and MFA) programs.
  7. Personal History Statement 
    Applicants have a lot of freedom when it comes to this requirement. We read the statement of purpose and the personal history statement not only for the information shared in these essays, but also for the quality and character of your voice as a writer and your experiences and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Many applicants use this forum to explain why they feel connection to their fields of interest, or why they want to become a scholar and professor. Applicants who have taught in various capacities are welcome to describe that experience in their personal history or SOP.
  8. Identify Potential Advisors
    In your application, please identify at least two faculty you see as potential advisors. You can also list potential advisors in the application itself under “previous faculty contacts at UCR” (even if you have not had direct contact with us). Awareness of faculty scholarship is very important. Review faculty profiles on our website. Use Google Scholar, or other research search engines to explore publications by and areas of expertise of current members of the department. Look at our graduate seminar offerings, learn what faculty teach, and think about the different ways faculty interests connect with yours. It is OK to have interests that cross what feel like disparate fields. Nearly all faculty work across disciplinary boundaries in one way or another.
  9. Letters of Recommendation
    Given the demands on their time, provide your recommenders with at least one month's notice before your application deadline. Share your research statement, statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, and unofficial transcripts with them.  Ideally, these letters should be recent and will be from faculty who really know your work. Some applicants apply from the workforce: if you are teaching, we welcome letters that address this kind of work experience. Archival, curatorial and editorial experience also resonates with our department. While letters from these latter professional contexts are compelling and helpful, at least two references should come from people who have been your professors. If you are applying with an MFA, please make sure that most of your letters come from faculty who have taught you in courses/seminars that correspond with your research interests.

    When you open your online application and list the faculty you’ll solicit letters of recommendation from, they will receive an email request from us. 

File Format 

Upload your Statement of Purpose, Personal History, and Writing Sample PDFs. Please let your recommenders know that we prefer this format.

Please title these files (using your name) in the following manner:


Attach these documents to the online application.

Supplemental Fellowship Information 

This part of the application form is optional and aims to solicit information about applicants’ backgrounds for funding purposes. We strongly recommend that all applicants fill this section out.

Here, applicants can tell us, for example, if they are first-generation college students if they held paid positions while they were in college, and they can describe what it means to be a member of an underrepresented community in higher education. Applicants often use this section to share their commitment to social justice and to teaching.

UCR’s Graduate Division consults these statements as it distributes additional fellowship support. The Eugene Cota Robles Award, in particular, supports applicants with a strong commitment to pedagogy who have faced challenges in their access to higher education. The award is meant to support people who come “from cultural, racial, ethnic, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are underrepresented in graduate education.”

International Applicants

We welcome applications from international scholars. We encourage applicants to consider applying through the Fulbright Program and engaging whatever funding support they might be able to access from their home countries or from organizations like the AAUW ( If you are an international student and are considering applying for a Fulbright, please visit

All applicants whose first language is not English and who have not earned an advanced degree at an institution where English is the exclusive language of instruction must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the IELTS scores. The TOEFL or IELTS must have been taken within the past two years; these tests cannot be waived. For more information, please consult UCR’s guidelines for English Language Requirements. For more information, please consult UCR's guidelines for the English language requirements (


If you have questions about the Ph.D. degree please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Michelle Raheja. If you have questions regarding the application process and admissions requirements, please contact Graduate Student Services Advisor, Perla Fabelo.