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English - PHD

The English program offers a Ph.D. in English which allows students to specialize in one of two tracks: Literature or Composition Studies. The aim of the Ph.D. program is to train students to be teachers and scholars in the fields of literature and language. During their work in the program, Ph.D. candidates in Literature will develop both general competence in literary study and specific areas of mastery. Candidates in Composition Studies will develop a primary area of specialization in Composition Studies and a secondary area of specialization in an area such as literature, critical theory, or linguistics.

Application Information

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Applying to graduate school has never been easier! To complete your application, you will need:

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.

Deadlines: Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: ME VT

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

Supplemental Materials: The Details


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. However, if you attended GSC, Keene or Plymouth, then you must request and submit original transcripts from those institutions.

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required

After you have submitted your online application and are assigned an UNH ID, visit our online Letter of Recommendation Request Form for instructions and to request letters from your chosen referees. Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Test Scores: GRE Required

The GRE test is required for both the Literature and Composition Studies options. In addition applicants to the Ph.D. in Literature option must also submit the GRE Subject test score. Request official test scores to be sent directly to the Graduate School by the testing service. Test scores more than five years old are not acceptable. Student copies and photo copies of scores are not considered official. Our CEEB code is 3918.

For general information about test scores required for admission into our programs please visit our Test Scores webpage.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions:

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding: 1) reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives, and 2) your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Once you have completed your statement, you can submit it:

  • Electronically, as part of the online application process (strongly recommended)
  • Via email to grad.docs@unh.edu
  • Mail a hard copy directly to our office (address at bottom of page)

Additional Department Requirements:

-Literature Applicants are to submit at least one substantial paper which demonstrates their potential to do scholarly work in literature. It should reflect their ability to read literature closely, to place it in a historical or theoretical context, and to use research materials responsibly. Length may vary, but a fifteen to twenty page paper is typical. A paper from an earlier graduate seminar or undergraduate course is acceptable.
-Composition and Literature Applicants are to submit at least one substantial paper which demonstrates their potential to do scholarly work in composition/rhetoric. Length may vary, but a fifteen to twenty page paper is typical. A paper from an earlier graduate seminar or undergraduate course is acceptable.

To be admitted to the doctoral program, a student must hold an M.A. degree.

Financial Aid requirement: All PH.D applicants are required to submit the Teaching Assistantship Application and the Department Application for Financial Aid, as part of their application, by the application deadline of January 15. See the English program Financial Aid webpage for additional information.

Important Notes:

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

Additional Details for International Applicants

Prospective international students are strongly encouraged to go through our international pre-application process and are required to submit TOEFL (or equivalent) examination scores. Please note that TOEFL scores may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.