Graduate Studies Admissions

How to Apply

To apply, please submit all application materials to the NIU Graduate School’s application system.

When the applicant's admission file is complete in the Graduate School, it is forwarded to the department for evaluation. All decisions about admission to graduate degree programs offered in English are made by the director of graduate studies upon recommendation by the Admissions and Standards Subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Committee. Prospective students will be notified of admissions decisions by the NIU Graduate School.

Application Deadlines

All application materials must be received by the deadline below to ensure priority consideration.

New students seeking funding through a graduate assistantship should apply by March 1 (assistantships are ordinarily given for fall admission only). Applications for graduate assistantships should be submitted to both Dawn Sibley (dsibley@niu.edu) and Scott Balcerzak (sbalcerzak@niu.edu).

M.A. and Ph.D. Application Deadlines
Deadline Fall admission Spring admission Summer admission
To be eligible for graduate assistantship funding (for priority consideration. We will consider late applicants.) March 1 -- --
U.S. students (for priority consideration. We will consider late applicants.) April 15 October 10 April 15
International students (for priority consideration. We will consider late applicants.) March 15 September 15 --

Admissions Requirements

Our requirements are designed to assure students accepted into the M.A. and Ph.D. programs that they are likely to succeed in their degree work.

The department ordinarily expects the following:

M.A. degree:

  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended (Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0/Minimum English course GPA of 3.2).
  • Two letters of recommendation (ideally, from professors who know the applicant’s work well).
  • A goals statement (explaining the nature and purpose of your interest in the area of English studies that you wish to pursue in our program).
  • A writing sample (an example of quality work, ideally in the area of English studies you wish to pursue, in the range of 1,000 to 3000 words [excluding Works Cited and notes, if applicable]).

Ph.D. degree:

  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended (Minimum graduate GPA of 3.2).
  • Three letters of recommendation (ideally, from professors who know the applicant’s work well).
  • A goals statement (explaining the nature and purpose of your interest in the area of English studies that you wish to pursue in our program).
  • A writing sample (an example of quality work, ideally in the area of English studies you wish to pursue, in the range of 2,000 to 6,500 words [excluding Works Cited and notes, if applicable]).

The Admissions Subcommittee of the department's Graduate Studies Committee examines and weighs student's credentials in light of the requirements listed above, balancing each requirement with the others in order to estimate the potential for success that the "package" suggests. Excellent letters of recommendation or writing sample, for example, may compensate for slightly insufficient GPA.

M.A. degree:

  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended (Minimum GPA of 3.2).
  • Two letters of recommendation (Two letters of recommendation, ideally, from professors who know the applicant’s work well, and who can speak credibly and specifically about the applicant’s ability, surmised or witnessed, in an English-speaking environment).
  • A goals statement (explaining the nature and purpose of your interest in the area of English studies that you wish to pursue in our program).
  • A writing sample (an example of quality work, ideally, in the area of English studies you wish to pursue, in the range of 1,000 to 3000 words [excluding Works Cited and notes, if applicable]).
  • TOEFL or IELTS test scores [TOEFL IBT score of at least 80 (with a spoken score of 26) or PBT score of at least 550; or IELTS scores of 7 (speaking) and 7 (composite)].

Ph.D degree:

  • Transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended (Minimum graduate GPA of 3.2).
  • Letters of recommendation (Three letters of recommendation, ideally, from professors who know the applicant’s work well, and who can speak credibly and specifically about the applicant’s ability, surmised or witnessed, in an English-speaking environment).
  • A goals statement (explaining the nature and purpose of your interest in the area of English studies that you wish to pursue in our program).
  • TOEFL or IELTS test scores [TOEFL IBT score of at least 80 (with a spoken score of 26) or PBT score of at least 550; or IELTS scores of 7 (speaking) and 7 (composite)].
  • A writing sample (an example of quality work, ideally, in the area of English studies you wish to pursue, in the range of 2,000-6,500 words [excluding Works Cited and notes, if applicable]).

The Admissions Subcommittee of the department's Graduate Studies Committee examines and weighs student's credentials in light of the requirements listed above, balancing each requirement with the others in order to estimate the potential for success that the "package" suggests. Excellent letters of recommendation or writing sample, for example, may compensate for slightly insufficient GPA.

A student may wish to take graduate courses without being formally admitted to a graduate degree program and may do so as a Student-at-Large (SAL). A student who matriculates as a Student-at-Large is subject to the regulations specified in the Graduate Catalog.

A Student-at-Large should seek advice from the director of graduate studies and may register for courses in the English department. Registration for graduate courses, however, in no way implies admission to the Graduate School.

The Graduate School maintains SAL files until a student formally applies and is admitted to a degree program. Ordinarily, no more than a total of 15 transfer and SAL graduate hours may be applied toward a graduate degree. None of them will count toward a formal program of study for a degree unless approved by the director of graduate studies.