Application Materials

In addition to completing the online application form, the applicant should be prepared to upload the following supporting items in PDF format:

1. Reasons for Graduate Study
2. Letters of Recommendation
3. Writing Sample
4. Transcripts
5. Exam Scores
6. Resumé or Curriculum Vitae

Our Department is trying to cut down on the amount of paper we receive, so we ask that you try to submit as much as possible online using the Graduate School's web application. The "Reasons for Graduate Study" should be uploaded to the main portion of the Graduate School application, while items 3, 4 and 6 above should be uploaded to the Supplemental application in PDF format. If this is not possible, you may mail your materials using the address at the bottom of this page under "Mailing Addtional Materials."


1. Reasons for Graduate Study

A 300 to 500 word statement that should convey the applicant's interests, strengths and goals. 

2. Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be submitted by each recommender electronically. Each recommender will receive an email request generated from the online application form. The email request will contain a link to the respective application.  Recommenders should be people who have taught the applicant, and at least one should be from the student's area of interest.  Letters from employers or others who have known the applicant in non-academic contexts are discouraged. All letters should be recent -- ideally, within the last few months, and at least within the year. Applicants that utilize a portfolio service should feel free to submit letters of recommendation in paper form using that service. 

If a recommender is unable to submit a recommendation letter electronically, the appropriate Recommendation Request form below may be downloaded by the applicant, printed, filled in by hand, and provided to the recommender(s). 

• Recommendation form for MA applications
• Recommendation form for PhD applications
• Recommendation form for MFA applications

Important: Whether submitting letters electronically or in hard copy, each recommender's name should be entered on the Recommendations page of the application. 

3. Writing Sample

Applicants should provide an academic writing sample of no more than 20 pages (double-spaced, 12 pt. font, normal margins). If possible, provide the sample in the field of anticipated specialization. Applicants for the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program should provide a suitable writing sample (see the Creative Writing Graduate page for more).

4. Transcripts

Scanned copies of official transcripts from every post-secondary institution attended and listed on the application. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation.  It is our goal to significantly cut back on the receipt of paper. Applicants should not send hard copies of official transcripts until receiving notice that they have been recommended for admission.

Please note: Some transcripts list vague or generic course titles.  For example, it might be useful to know that "English II" was a course in 17th and 18th century British writers, or that "American Literature I" was a course on Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain.  Please supply such descriptions along with the transcripts, scanning them as part of the transcripts document.

*Upon notification, applicants recommended by the Department of English to the Graduate School for admission must submit original sealed and certified transcripts, as indicated above. These official documents should be sent as soon as possible for final admission consideration by the Graduate School to the following address:

Graduate Admissions
Department of English
7195H Helen C. White Hall
600 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706

5. GRE and/or TOEFL Exam Scores

Arrange to have your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or TOEFL scores sent to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Institution code: 1846) before the deadline. It is not necessary to indicate a Department code.  Literary Studies applicants may find it helpful to know that the GRE Subject Test in Literature is optional rather than a required component for application. This is a change from previous years. Incomplete applications or those received after the deadline may not be considered. Non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL or IELTS exam scores unless they have studied for one year at an all English-speaking institution. If a non-native speaker does not need to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score, then the GRE is required.

6. Resume or Curriculum Vitae [Optional]

We invite you to submit a resume or curriculum vitae to further support your application. This is optional but recommended for those applying to an MA/PhD or PhD degree program.

Mailing Additional Materials [If Necessary]

If necessary, some materials may be submitted by mail. Our Department is trying to cut down on the amount of paper we receive, so we ask that you try to submit as much as possible online using the Graduate School's web application. If this is not possible, you may mail your materials directly to:

Graduate Admissions
Department of English
7195H Helen C. White Hall
600 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706

Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline listed on the "How to Apply" page.