The English Department is home to more than 100 graduate students working in a variety of areas and sub-disciplines. In addition to the degree programs of the MFA, and the MA and PhD in English, we also offer a bridge program to the Afro-American Studies Department and PhD minors in a number of disciplines, including literary studies, creative writing, and English language and linguistics.
The PhD Program focus of Composition and Rhetoric is committed to providing outstanding graduate education focused on issues and problems that matter in rhetoric, language, literacy, and learning in contemporary society. Here a nationally renowned faculty and staff work closely with a diverse group of graduate students on developing excellence in scholarship, undergraduate teaching, and professional activism. Founded in 1991, we are a stand-alone, multi-disciplinary focus inside a large, leading English Department and great university. A masters degree is required to begin the PhD with an emphasis in Composition and Rhetoric. We do not admit students who will only have a BA/BS. If you are interested in applying to the Bridge Program in Afro-American Studies to earn an MA and then move into the Ph.D. with an emphasis in Composition and Rhetoric please see detailed information on the Afro-American Bridge Program.
Founded in 2002, the Graduate Program in Creative Writing offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts Degree in the areas of fiction and poetry. Though small – we typically admit six new students each year – the MFA is just one part of a vibrant writing community including seven post-graduate fellows, former fellows and alums, PhD candidates in contemporary literature, and a host of other artists and writers living and working in Madison. Ranked third in the nation overall by Poets & Writers magazine for the past two years, our MFA is truly unique in that we have an “alternating genre” admissions policy: we accept fiction applications in the fall/early winter of odd-numbered years, and poetry applications in the fall/early winter of even-numbered years. This allows us to provide an almost unrivaled 2-to-1 student/teacher ratio that gives each class of students the full attention of the faculty in their genre for two solid years.
English Language and Linguistics offers two graduate areas of focus. The Master’s in English with a focus on Applied English Linguistics, a two-year program with broad methodological preparation, is designed to train students to think critically and knowledgeably about the English language. While the MA is not itself an intensive research degree, it provides a substantial foundation for a variety of teaching and applied research activities in fields in which knowledge of the structure of the English language is of central concern. Focusing on English Language and Linguistics in the PhD in English offers an advanced research degree. The program assumes that an entering student has a Master’s degree with a focus on Applied English Linguistics (or a related field) and has a wide knowledge of linguistics. In particular, entrance into the area of focus presumes courses in the history of English and English dialects, syntax, and phonology.
The Graduate Program with a focus on Literary Studies is a doctoral specialization program with a single trajectory towards the PhD. It is designed to give candidates the skills and the command of materials to do original scholarly work of a high order. Students pursue a rigorous course of study that begins with coursework in a range of periods, follows with focused study in their chosen subfield, and culminates in a dissertation.
The Bridge Program is an academic partnership between the MA in the Department of Afro-American Studies and the PhD in the English Department. It is designed to allow students to enter the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Afro-American Studies, and to transfer to the English Department to complete a PhD in English with a focus on Literature or Composition studies.
Students enrolled in a PhD program in another UW-Madison Department may pursue a graduate minor in an area of English (Literary Studies, Composition & Rhetoric, Creative Writing, and English Language & Linguistics).
While we do not offer a terminal degree in English as a Second Language, qualified students in related fields may pursue a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language during the course of their studies. Please consult the ESL office about how to do so.