View Full Version : Graduate Studies in Literature

05-07-2005, 12:34 PM
Hello hello!
I thought I'd open a thread where we can share our MA/PhD plans. Let's post information concerning the rest of our applications here! E.g. programs we're going to apply to, our research interests, specific questions concerning literature applications (writing samples etc.).
Let's increase our chances of success by sharing what we know!!! :D

05-07-2005, 12:48 PM
I'll get things started!
I'm going to apply to MA/PhD programs in Comparative Literature. Since I don't have a literature MA yet, I will probably have to get that one first, but I want to start an MA only to be able to continue towards a PhD, since I already have an MA (in American Studies) and a Master in International Business, and I don't want to start collecting Master degrees! My broad focus will be in American and Italian literature. My research interests are extremeley varied (Commedia dell'Arte, Theater of the Absurd, Psychoanalysis (applied to specific author's work, e.g. Sylvia Plath), Suicide, Jewish-American literature, Antonio Tabucchi, Italo Calvino, representations of beauty and pain, immigrant literature in general, and, actually loads of other things) and I'm trying to narrow them down for my SOP, so far, without any luck.
I'm going to apply to a large number of universities, since I really want to get started because I'll be 25 this year and I'm sick of doing jobs my heart isn't really in while waiting to get in. I'm dreaming of Ivy League, so I'll probably apply to a couple of them, but I'm also going for decent top-30 state schools. I am having trouble deciding on my safe option, since I want it to be good enough to worth attending, while giving me enough certainty that I'll get in...
So, as you can see, the usual worries!
How about the rest of you?

05-17-2005, 10:11 AM
I'm interested to do my PhD in post-colonial literature. Any idea where I can get information on witing abstracts in this area? I also don't which universities to apply? Can any one tell me if the following universities are suitable for me? Emory/ Boston/ Michigan--Ann Arbour/ Indiana Bloomington/ George Washington/ Iowa

05-17-2005, 04:20 PM
Hi manusrat!
Post-colonial literature is definitely very popular at the moment and there are a lot of interesting research angles there. Tell us about your undergraduate studies, did you study literature? Which focus did you have? English literature? Or already post-colonial? And which programs are you interested in at these universities? Would it be in the English Department? I think you will have a large advantage over other students wanting to study post-colonial literature because of your mother tongue and because you have (probably) lived in the surroundings where post-colonial literature has been/is being written. Make sure to use your nationality and personal experiences to your advantage in the Statement of Purpose! So, let us know some more details about your research interests and background, maybe also your TOEFL score.

05-18-2005, 09:21 AM
Thanks Cridamour for the useful advises! I did my undergraduate in English Lit but I did not focus on postcolonial Lit then. In Masters I wrote my dissertation on Anita Desai but from the stylistics point of view ( applied linguistics, took some ELT courses as well but did not focus on any particular lang/lit area, thats how it is in my country). It was then I realised how interesting my dissertation would have been if I could use postcolonial theories in it. So I'm thinking of pursuing postcolonial literature for my PhD, especially on the women writers of the subcontinent.
I got 613 in my TOEFL but I have to write it over since its time has expired. I was wondering if I have to write it again since I am a foreign student and English is my second language (though I have majored in English)?
I am OK with preparing for the subject GRE in English which makes sense but it seems to be very difficult for me. I should have been more serious in my undergrad. The study load is higher than Mount Everest!And I don't have much time for studying for both the GRE exams. But what about the math part in general GRE? Do I have to get a decent score in math for admission in an English Department? Don't you think it's a waste of time, isn't it wiser to score well in the vocabulary section? Can you please suggest any useful method how I can memorise all the words from the Barron's book? If I can get a good score like 700 or more in the vocab section why bother the math section? Would I be eligible for admission in some reputed university with a low score in math? I'm pretty bad in math!

05-20-2005, 07:32 AM
I think you'll have to retake the TOEFL. I know in general some countries get you out of it, but I don't know if yours does. I think it'll only be an advantage that your English is excellent and you'll be able to score very high on that one and impress the admission committees! I managed to score 297 out of 300 with about one or two weeks' preparation.

About the GRE general: the most important part for us is of course the verbal and analytical writing. I think it is important to work hard on the verbal preparation, but also not to completely ignore the quantitative. I think you should aim for a quantitative score of about 500, it's not that hard, and it'll will not make you stand out for a very bad Q score. For funding, test scores are really important, so try to do average on the Q while doing extraordinarily on the verbal and analytical writing!

As for the Barron's list, I am not using it, so I can't advise you on that one. Maybe check the forum on GRE Verbal here at TestMagic!

05-25-2005, 06:40 PM
I did some grad work in an MA program in the early '90s. I recently completed a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and have been teaching as an adjunct (I am also a full-time college administrator). I am just beginning the search for a ph.d program. Does anyone have an idea of what scores ph.d programs are looking for on the GRE verbal and the lit subject test?

05-26-2005, 07:35 AM
I think this depends on which university you're applying to. For the GRE verbal, I think a minimum score would be 650, and I've seen it as a non-official cut-off in some programs, however, some universities also consider the percentile rank, which should be 90% or higher, and the score that corresponds with this depends on the others who took the test. The reason it should be this high is because most test takers go for a high Q score and don't care if they get an average V score, since they are applying to science or econ programs etc. This pulls down the average a bit.

I think the same score and higher would be good for the GRE general, 650 would put you in the 89th percentile (depending on the competition of course). If you're aiming for a highly ranked university, you should keep in mind that somewhere between 4 and 10 students will be admitted every year, so you'll need to score in the 99th percentile (maybe 95th will be enough) if you're aiming for a top 5/top 10 school. Again, these are just estimates, no score will automatically grant you admission, just as no score will automatically exclude you. Luckily all of those years of studying you've done before still matter and will be taken into account. ;)

05-30-2005, 06:52 AM
Thank you Cridamour! It's a pain in the neck that I need to write the TOEFL again. I also prepared for a week. I work full time so I didn't have the time to prepare and I thought it was not needed! But then I realised how the CAT works. Don't you think 615/257 and 5.5 in the writing section is OK for a foreign student? I wish I coul get waiver from writing the TOEFL.

I wanted to know why you consider not to study the Barron's word list. Is it not helpful? I am not actually memorising them, I am writing to learn them. I am also reading a wonderful vocabulary book 'All about Words' to help me remember new words in context. And I'm checking the text magic web page as well.

I would also like to get admission at some Ivy League university but I'm afraid I am not good enough! But I'll try my best.

Please let me know which edition of ETS GRE in Lit is coming up in September? Is it 4th/5th edition? I want to order one.

It's nice to know that you are doing so well, you are pursuing PhD at 25! I'm 28 and I teach Foundation English courses in a Private uni in Bangladesh. And I seriously want to get back to student life. I need to doo research and get going for some publications. At the moment I am studying for GRE so I don't have much time to think about writing samples or proposals. I will after I have written the GRES and TOEFL. But I'll get in touch with you after sometime. It's hard to work full time and study for the GREs and also plan for sending applications at the same time. I want to apply to at least 15 universities. at Least 5 will be Ivy League. Do you think that's OK or I need to apply to more universities? So when are you writing the general GRE? You must be really very good in English, getting 297 as a foreign student is certainly great!

Thanks again for encouraging each other!

06-07-2005, 10:44 AM
Finally, a reply to your questions: first of all, yes the TOEFL score you mentioned is a good score! Remember, there is no such thing as a good TOEFL score for a foreigner, since TOEFL is designed for foreigners only, so if you get 300 it doesn't mean that you speak/read/write English as a native speaker, it just means that, for a foreigner, your English is good, AND you were able to concentrate all through the test! ;)

I'm not (yet) studying the Barron's list, since I have other means of studying for the verbal GRE (Kaplan's vocab builder and "Words for smart test takers") and I feel there is so much material available that it can overload you. I need to do one thing at a time, and maybe I'll start the list later on, if I've finished the other two. I have already done the GRE once, and I got 640 for verbal (which is not bad) with little preparation, so I hope that now I can get a score in the 700s, the higher the better of course!

The GRE lit book that is coming out is actually a new version of "Cracking the GRE lit test" by Princeton Review. So it's not an ETS book.

For personal statements, check www.essayedge.com (http://www.essayedge.com) , they have a full online course on writing your statement of purpose and lots of examples! (I haven't started yet either, but I used it last year, and it was very helpful)

Concerning the number of universities, yes, I think 15 is about the number I'm going to apply to. I've made a full excel-sheet with all the criteria and all the information so that I won't miss any deadlines or any application material... But I still need to select the universities. I think I will apply to around 6 or 7 top 10 universities, another 6 or so ranked between 11 and 40, and then maybe 2 ranked 60 or so. I think (and hope) that will secure me a place in a good university and get me a chance of getting some financial assistance... :)

06-09-2005, 04:39 AM
Hello all--

I'm graduating from my undergrad with a degree in English Literature, with a concentration on general lit (as opposed to creative writing). I want to get a PhD in American Literature, and I'd like to study everything from the American Romantic period all the way up through modern and postmodern poetry and lit. My second favorite would have to be stuff from the Victorian period. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but I hope I'll do well enough to get into a good PhD program. I'm graduating with a 3.9 cumulative GPA, good recommendations, and hopefully a killer application and statement of purpose (although I currently have no idea where to begin!) I'd love love love to get into the University of Michigan Ann Arbor because it's pretty close to home and they have a good program, but I've heard it's pretty competitive--does anybody know anything about this?

I'm currently studying like crazy for the GRE so I can get it over with and start studying for the GRE Subject Test, an experience which I've heard is something like being hit with a car?? I'm pretty good at math, so hopefully I'll be able to have strong scores in both the verbal and quant sections. However, I do recognize the potential of these tests to be very humbling..... But thank God for the Internet! I feel like I'm in good company here, since I don't really know anyone else going through this experience. I wish us all the best of luck!


06-21-2005, 04:28 AM
every thing is good

06-27-2005, 02:29 PM
I think I'm unique--I'm hoping to get a second bachelor's in English (my first one was in Business, years ago). While that's a very handy major (useful, practical, yada, yada, yada) plus I did well in the courses and have used what I learned a lot...it doesn't see you through life like literature.

When the tough stuff comes along (hopefully MUCH later in life, for most of you guys) you're going to find your old Norton a lot more useful than the latest copy of Fortune magazine with some grinning CEO idiot on the cover. Trust me on this one, but (if you'll pardon the expression from an old business major) you can take that to the bank.

Anyway, that's the "why" - here's the "how": My alma mater will grant 30 undergrad English credits IF you get in the 80% or above on the GRE Lit Subject Test. I started with Cracking the GRE Lit in English test by Doug McMillan, and the book basically talked me into attempting the test at all. I'm planning to get the new "Cracking" in September when it's published.

I also bought second-hand copies of the 6-volume Norton English Lit series specifically because I have to travel, and anyone would balk at lugging six pounds of Norton to zone out in the Airport Holiday Inn. Even when you're home, the physical size of these guys (also the type's a little easier on the eyes) encourages you to keep going because they don't look SO BIG.

From the library, I am using Masterplots to avoid feeling overwhelmed (biggest hazard, I think). I borrowed a big American Norton from there and am working on it, but of course I have to keep renewing it. Annoying but not fatal.

I am planning for the test that presumably will occur next December, or if I fall behind for some reason, April. But so far (month and a half) I'm surprised at how much progress I've made.

06-27-2005, 09:19 PM
pkkim, not sure about the reasons, but I think there are a number of us out there with the plan to score undergrad credits based on GRE subject test performance.

06-28-2005, 12:48 PM
I klnow my alma mater, Excelsior in New York, grants undergrad credit for the GRE Subject Tests, so Charter Oak and Thomas Edison probably do, too.

So...who else? Enquiring minds want to know!

06-28-2005, 03:52 PM
I'm a returning Excelsior student. Was enrolled in Regents College waaay.... back. BTW...I don't think Thomas Edison awards credit on GRE subject exams. Charter Oaks does.

06-30-2005, 01:07 AM
Did you graduate from Regents/USNY before it was named "Excelsior," by any chance?

06-30-2005, 06:08 PM
Nope. I was enrolled for a few years while taking a few courses. The credit bank at Regents College was very helpful in a few early job positions and I was able to complete my third year of college, but....no degree yet.

07-08-2005, 12:01 AM
Hello everyone,

I am an English Undergrad, going into my senior year this fall. I am preparing for the GRE and starting to look at GRE subject test for literature. I am researching PhD programs at schools such as Columbia and Yale. Yet, I was wondering whether any of you know what the chances are to get into a PhD program directly after your undergrad? Do most people obtain their Master's first?

Also, have any of you taken the English subject test? I am interested in hearing more about the test and what works it covers.


07-08-2005, 07:43 AM
Hi! I think most Americans don't get an MA first. Foreigners, on the other hand, usually have an MA in order to make themselves more competitive. (as it is, adcoms compare foreigners to each other, and Americans to other Americans, because the backgrounds are usually very different.)

As far as the Subject Test is concerned, I have decided not to take it, since I'm applying for Comparative Literature programs, and most don't require it. I have checked out the test, however, and I think your background will help you a lot. For me, the test seemed nearly impossible and would've taken a lot of time to prepare, since i have a background in languages and American Studies and I've only taken 7 literature courses, most of which were graduate course on specific topics. For the Subject Test, you'll need to know a lot of basics, not many details. You need to know the basic plots and characters of a wide variety of books (mostly classics), and you need to have some experience with the main poets as well. So, if you have an undergrad degree in Eng Lit, you will probably have done most of this in your courses, so you can take out your notes from previous courses and review them as a preparation for the Test. For standardized testing material, you can search this section of the forum, since we've been posting a lot of information about that here. GOOD LUCK!!! :tup:

08-30-2005, 03:12 PM
hi cirdamour and everyone!

i haven't registered for the exams yet; thinking of doing that by next week. will u plz help me ? i am thinking of writing the exams according to this schedule: 1. subject gre -- 10 december 2. toefl and tse -- last week of december 3. general gre -- first week of january. do u think scheduling of exams will be too late to apply to universities with deadllins ranging from 1-15 february? will there be enough time to receive scores and send applications in time?

i am thinking of applying to these universities in the usa: washington state university, tulane university, southern illinois university, st. louis university, university of rochester, nothern illinois university, florida state university, university of delaware, university of connecticut, baylor university,arizona university, university of alabama
I am also applying to some canadian universities: queen's university, university of ottowa, victoria university, mcmaster university, western ontario university, dalhousie university

plz give me your opinion of this selection so that i get some confidence to register for these exams and be mentally prepared to apply to these universities latest by next week.

waiting for a prompt reply from someone....

09-07-2005, 02:32 PM
hi cirdamour and everyone!

i haven't registered for the exams yet; thinking of doing that by next week. will u plz help me ? i am thinking of writing the exams according to this schedule: 1. subject gre -- 10 december 2. toefl and tse -- last week of december 3. general gre -- first week of january. do u think scheduling of exams will be too late to apply to universities with deadllins ranging from 1-15 february? will there be enough time to receive scores and send applications in time?

i am thinking of applying to these universities in the usa: washington state university, tulane university, southern illinois university, st. louis university, university of rochester, nothern illinois university, florida state university, university of delaware, university of connecticut, baylor university,arizona university, university of alabama
I am also applying to some canadian universities: queen's university, university of ottowa, victoria university, mcmaster university, western ontario university, dalhousie university

plz give me your opinion of this selection so that i get some confidence to register for these exams and be mentally prepared to apply to these universities latest by next week.

waiting for a prompt reply from someone....

I wrote a reply a couple of days ago, but my connection broke down and I lost it. So, a quick summary of what I wrote: whether you'll have enough time or not will depend on how many universities have a 15 Feb deadline and how many have a deadline before. For the four universities to which you can immediately send your scores, there will not be a problem. For the other scores, you need to take into account that it might take up to a month, sometimes a month and a half, after your test for your score report to arrive, and you are only able to request more scores to be sent once you have your score report. If you live in the US, the report will reach you on time, if not, you'll have to hope it arrives early enough. Otherwise, you always fill in your Q and V scores on your application forms, send them, and phone the university to give them an approximate date of the arrival of your official score report and ask them whether it's OK if it arrives after the official deadline. I have done this with one university with an early deadline, and they said it was OK. After all, they can already start evaluating your file if they have the V and Q scores, and just wait for confirmation by your official score report...

About the universities, I cannot tell you much, since I'm only applying to one that is on your list (UConn) and I'm not familiar with the programs of the other universities...

But maybe someone else here can give some information about your list...

09-10-2005, 05:24 AM
Thank you Cridamour! You've been a very good adviser. I wish I could help others like you. I think I can help the forum better after I have sat for the exams.
Wish everyone in the forum the best in the exams!
:tup: :grad:

09-28-2005, 01:05 PM
Dear friends,:tup:

Hope u r all studying hard and pacing yourself well to your destination. So am I, but once in a while am stressed out when I think I am nearing the final date. 10 December 2005 is just a little over two months. It is such an uncanny feeling. Am I the only one who feels this way? May be I'm over excited to take this exam. How do I calm down myself? Can anyone give me some tips to remain peaceful during and before the exam. I know I am always trying to view that I am doing well in the exam and be positive all the time and make others feel the same, but yet it does not seem enough. I hope and pray questions of this test is easy for all of us . I am trying my best and so is everyone. Please God help me and everyone in this forum.
Wish you all the best.:grad:

09-28-2005, 01:51 PM
I guess the best thing to do is to keep focused on the questions and not on the implications of the outcome of the test. You can't start guessing or worrying about the score you're going to get, all you should do, is take it one question at a time. If a question is too difficult, skip it and come back to it later if you've got time left. It's important to try to get into this way of thinking before the test, practice staying calm and visualize yourself being calm when taking the test. Other things that help you stay calm, are of course being well-prepared, well-fed (but not too much), making sure you are prepared for any temperature in the test center, and most importantly, making sure you had a good night sleep the night before the test. It's a good idea to start going to bed at the same hour you'd like to go to bed on the night before the test, say about a week or so before, otherwise you risk lying awake if you're not used to the hour. These things seem might obvious or silly, but they can really help, believe me! The diet you should be keeping to contains: fish (great brain-food), nuts, fruit, vegetables, and loads of water! Food that contains a lot of fat and /or sugar will make you feel tired or will give you a short energy boost and then leave you flat, so avoid those even in the days before the test. Also avoid cafeine, since it can make you feel too agitated. If you do need a little boost, try some green tea with gingko. I hope this helps! I feel as if I'm giving advice to someone who's going to run a marathon! But a lot of the advice is similar! :D Take away from it what you think might work for you and try it before the test! Most importantly, stay happy and upbeat! If it doesn't work out, there's always a plan B! GOOD LUCK!!! :tup:

05-18-2006, 07:01 AM
hey..m new here..and really clueless on how to apply for my masters in english..any help with how to apply..wat should i begin with?wat are the basic requirements?

05-18-2006, 03:59 PM
hey..m new here..and really clueless on how to apply for my masters in english..any help with how to apply..wat should i begin with?wat are the basic requirements?

Hi Puja, the best way to start is to have a look at some university website and see what their requirements are. At www.princetonreview.com (http://www.princetonreview.com), you can search for programs by field and you'll then get a list of universities who offer these programs. Just pick one, check out their website for requirements and keep on checking others to see which university offers the best program for you. (You'll probably find you'll have to take the GRE and TOEFL (if you're a foreigner), unless you've already taken those. Other general things they usually require are: transcripts from your undergrad grades, 3 recommendation letters from professors who taught you, an essay describing what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you prepared for it, and some other things.) So, start off surfing and gathering information. For more questions, be sure to pass here! :) It's a long process, but very satisfying in the end!!!!! Best of luck to you! :tup:

07-17-2006, 09:23 PM
I'm going to apply to a large number of universities, since I really want to get started because I'll be 25 this year and I'm sick of doing jobs my heart isn't really in while waiting to get in. I'm dreaming of Ivy League, so I'll probably apply to a couple of them, but I'm also going for decent top-30 state schools. ....

I feel the same way! I am 25 and definitely ready to start on the Ph.D. path, toward my real dream of becoming a scholar and professor. Hurray for choosing Brown! That is one of my favorite schools, and I would be thrilled to live in Providence. You can also take courses from the fabulous Rhode Island School of Deisgn as a Brown student, I think!! I think its really important to stay as well-rounded as possible during graduate programs, for sanity and enjoyment purposes. :):D:)

07-22-2006, 05:13 PM
Hi Scraggle! You have a fabulous background, so aim high! Duke has such a great reputation for literature, oh, and you got a law degree as well. It sounds a bit like my situation (I had to get a Master in Business to realize I didn't want to do anything with it!) with the main difference that your BA is from a well-known university.
If you need any help or feel you need to talk about anything, just post it here or send me a personal message.
I guess the main difference between law school and grad school applications for our fields is the writing sample, on which you should spend enough time. (if you already have a great paper on a topic you'd like to continue working on, even better!) It's also important to find professors who work in your specific area of interest in the schools you apply to. As most applicants have great profiles and all for different reasons, they will usually take out the ones with too low test scores and GPAs somewhere at the beginning (but this really means very low!) and then they'll look what you want to work in and see whether they have professors who specialize in the field. This also means that, sometimes, you don't get admitted for the stupid reason that they admitted someone in your area the year before and want to admit someone with a different interest. So, there are a lot of elements you don't control. There are, however, many elements you DO control and it's your job to work hard on those and then sit back and let them make the decisions.
I'm babbling... anyhow, as I said, any questions... :blush:

07-24-2006, 02:53 PM
Wow, thank you, that advice helped already! I've been fretting about studying for the GRE and GRE English Lit, but there was the bubble of thought at the back of my mind that I need to also focus on the writing sample and matching my interests with the school's professors' interests. Your advice definitely helps me turn to those things.

I'm a little worried about the writing sample because the ones I have are from (gulp) years ago, in undergrad. I want to articulate my interests as being cross-disciplinary, making use of some of the analytical knowledge I gained in law school...and my essays from undergrad don't talk about this stuff. I wrote plenty of essays in law school about issues that are intertwined with literary topics though. Does anyone write a new piece, specifically for admissions purposes? That might be my best bet.

Thanks so much for replying! I'm sure I will have more questions. Brown is such a fabulous school, its on the top of my list from the research I have done so far!! Yeay Brown!!!! :):):)

I'll post again soon!! :):):)

07-26-2006, 07:33 PM
Hi there! Good to hear that I'm making myself useful.
About the writing sample, I actually wrote a new one, especially for the applications. The Belgian educational system doesn't require a lot of papers and I studied foreign languages rather than literature in college, so I didn't have any useful papers from that period. I had some from my MA in American Studies but all in subfields I really had no interest in continuing to work on. So, I contacted one of my professors from that program who had a PhD in comp lit from Harvard (a rarity in Belgium, I can tell you!) to ask him for a couple of suggestions for a 20 paper. I gave him some general areas that interested me and he sent back some suggestions of authors and directions in which to think of taking the papers. He afterwards also proofread my paper, gave me some suggestions and that was that. I spent quite some time on the research, but I had decided not to work between September and January in order to focus on my applications (yes, all 16 of them and a couple of independent scholarship applications).
I know that for Brown, I was lucky that my interests perfectly matched one of the professors whom I had also contacted beforehand. (this can be a good idea) It's really hard to say what makes the difference between an admission and a rejection and there is no one single reason, but at Brown (for comp lit), they told me they spent a lot of time going through the SOPs and that that is really a crucial part of the application.
So, if you have got the time and you don't have a paper you think is adequate, it's not too crazy to write a new one. If you think you might want to continue using legal history and such in your research, you can work on one of the papers from law school and change the focus to make sure it's a lit paper. Doing this, however, does put you immediately in a certain catergory of interest, that of "law and literature" (instead of e.g. "medicine and lit", "psychoanalysis and lit", "philosophy and lit", ...), which means you'll have to start looking for professors with an interest in this subfield.
Just some more food for thought.
Talk to you later!

07-27-2006, 04:15 PM
Thanks again for your thoughts, they help a TON!! :) I think I would like to write a paper specifically for my applications too. Its good to know that writing a "law and literature" paper will put me in that subfield, such that I will want to be able to show a match-up with a professor at the school I'm applying to. I need to investigate what the contours of that area really are, because its possible that my true interests are in another area!

Here is another question -- I've been fretting a bit about how my law degree will be received. This may sound silly, but I'm nervous they might be suspicious of my commitment to the program, or maybe they will think I am lazy for not sticking with the law. Or that I'm wishy-washy. Or shallow. These are probably irrational fears, and I feel silly admitting them. But I do wonder if they will see law school as an indicator of poor judgment, or something. :( I know its possible that they will look at my law degree and think it means I'm hard working, capable of graduate work, etc. And I know the rest of my application is far more important than this degree that keeps tapping me on the shoulder, saying, "what do you want to do with me? why do I exist?"

I feel like if I integrate my legal knowledge into my SOP I will somehow justify the fact that I went to law school, and make sense of my overall "path." But what if I actually want to leave law behind and pursue literature without using that knowledge? I will always be able to use the skills I learned in law school, and perhaps I can make my path seem smooth by emphasizing how useful those analytical / persuasive / research / editing skills can be in a PhD program -- and then not necessarily have to paint myself as a "law and literature" person. Hmm...

Did you address your business degree in your application, at all?

Thanks SO MUCH for helping me think about this! You've been really inspiring to me. :D

08-07-2006, 02:51 PM
Hi, sorry for the late reply, but here goes...
I had similar concerns about the message I was sending with my business degree when applying last year. I think you shouldn't try too hard to incorporate it in your future studies only to justify the fact that you got a law degree. If you don't want to further use law in your studies (apart from the useful skills you acquired getting the degree), then don't waste too many words on it in your SOP. Mention why you got it and why you decided not to work in the legal sector and pursue a PhD in a totally different field. It' OK to make a wrong choice in life and learn from it. Adcoms don't want a perfect profile, they are looking for something that makes you special and this will bring fresh ideas and points of view to the department. You have lived, you have done other things, and you have decided that what you really want is an English PhD. That's more than reasonable.
Don't try to second guess the adcoms too much. Think first about how things went and how you made your decision to go for an English PhD. Then think about how to explain it in the best possible way. In my case, the business degree was a mistake (in a way), I really didn't like it, I didn't want to work in the field (I found this out while getting the degree), so that's exactly what I wrote in my SOP. The only thing you need to keep in mind is not to be too negative about things like these. If you want to, send me a private message with your e-mail address and I'll send you one of my SOPs to give you an idea of how I incorporated the issue of my business degree.

01-28-2007, 01:56 AM
Is there a site online that provides information about the mean GRE general and subject test scores of students who have been admitted to specific graduate programs? I'd like to get an idea of where I would be a competitive candidate.

11-07-2007, 01:32 PM
hello everybody,

I am a BA English lieterature student. I would like to to know if GRE Subject Literature is required for a MA program.. or is it that only PhD program requires it.
i wanted to know how beneficial teaching experience would be for a MA/ PhD program.
i would like to know if research work is imp for the application.. i have asked this question because the scope for BA Eng literature student to do reserach is not much here in India.

11-17-2007, 12:56 AM

Whether or not the GRE Lit. is required depends entirely on the program. You can check program websites to find out. I would say that MOST programs (especially top-ranked ones) tend to require it, but definitely not all. I'm in a higher-ranked M.A. program, and it didn't require Subject test scores, just General scores.

Good luck!