Graduate Studies

The Department of English offers graduate programs spanning the full range of English studies. Our world-class faculty's extensive research and publication record is matched by award-winning teaching and mentoring.

The English department's graduate programs offer intensive study in the analysis and production of texts. Areas of specialization include English literature in all its thematic, historic, and cultural variation; rhetoric and composition; film; English education; and professional and creative writing.

We support innovative approaches to the study of literature, language and media by offering:

  • Critical understanding of the methods and theoretical approaches to the study of language, texts and media.
  • Knowledge of literary genres and traditions.
  • Engaged study of issues of feminism, multiculturalism, gender identity and social justice.
  • Interdisciplinary research opportunities.
  • Opportunities to use and master technologies for writing and new media production.
  • Training in the teaching of English.

Programs of Study

On the M.A. level, we offer seven concentrations: British and American literature, film and literature, literature and rhetoric/composition, rhetoric and professional writing, English education and TESOL.

The Ph.D. program accommodates specialized study in literary genres and periods, language and rhetoric.

Financial Assistance

Many of our graduate students receive teaching assistantships that provide a tuition waiver, a stipend and invaluable professional experience.

Job Placement

Our graduate students go on to a wide variety of professional careers. Our department has established connections with industry professionals across the Chicagoland area, where you'll find positions in writing, editing and technical communication. For students specializing in secondary education, graduates of our program are hired to teach in school districts across the northern Illinois region and beyond. For students seeking faculty positions in higher education, graduates of our Ph.D. program find academic positions in colleges and universities. We offer regular professionalization workshops on topics such as abstract writing, presenting at conferences and publishing in scholarly journals. The Job Placement Advisor in the Department of English offers hands-on assistance for job seekers developing application materials and preparing for interviews. Visit our Job Placement page for more information.

Graduate Program Highlights

Our faculty includes nationally renowned scholars of literature, language, English education and rhetoric. Programs are designed to support you through faculty mentoring as well as research and fellowship opportunities. A variety of research collaborations, colloquia, lecture series and informal reading groups enhance classroom learning.

  • English Graduate Student Association – Our thriving graduate student association plans social and academic events, including our Graduate Colloquium series.
  • Midwest Conference on Literature, Language and New Media – Our graduate students organize and host an annual academic conference that attracts presenters from across the nation.
  • Newberry Library – You'll find research, fellowship and presentation opportunities through our departmental affiliation with the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies in Chicago.
  • Study Abroad – Graduate students and faculty participate in the NIU at Oxford Program.
  • English Department Brown Bag Series – Faculty and graduate students share research in progress in a lecture series.
  • Diversity and Social Justice – With affiliates in the Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality and the Presidential Commissions on the Status of Women and Persons with Disabilities, the English Department participates in research and programming on a range of diversity issues.
  • Technology Resources – Our department's Networked Writing and Research Lab supports teaching assistants using technology in the teaching of writing.
  • Style – The English department is home to an internationally recognized academic journal.
  • Graduate Student Awards – You can apply for a range of departmental awards including the Arnold Fox Essay Awards, the Harlan Teller and Gustaaf Van Cromphout Dissertation Completion Awards and the Schriber Scholars in Women's Literature and Language Awards.
  • Digital Humanities – Graduate students and faculty participate in campus-wide initiatives on cutting edge topics in the digital humanities.

For More Information

For admissions criteria and information on how to apply for graduate study in English at NIU, visit our Admissions page.

Questions? Contact the director of graduate studies, Alexandra Bennett, at 815-753-6602 or