1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Graduate Program

The graduate program in English at the University of Virginia has long been a distinguished one.  At a time of rapid transition in the field of literary and cultural studies, we are intent upon sustaining our offerings in traditional historical periods, elaborating those in diverse world literatures, and engaging fully with the spectrum of current theoretical concerns.  The University of Virginia is also widely recognized as a leader in digital humanities, an area for which much of the initiative comes from faculty and graduate students in the English department. 

We take pride in offering a plan of doctoral study superintended by an internationally renowned faculty.  At the same time, persistent economic constraints on higher education require all of us to recognize that not everyone interested in graduate study should necessarily do so at the doctoral level, with the goal of teaching as a college or university professor.  For a large number of students, the most desirable plan is a rigorous course of study at the MA level.  The MA may be completed in three full semesters, though students opting to write an MA thesis often take a fourth semester.  In addition to our regular MA, we offer an interdisciplinary MA in English and Medieval Studies as well as one in Law and Literature (in cooperation with the Law School).  Our BA/MA program enables selected UVa undergraduates to take graduate courses in their fourth year and go on to complete the MA degree the following year.  Many bring their MA training at Virginia to jobs in secondary teaching, technology, the public sector, business, publishing, or higher education administration.  Those who wish to pursue doctoral degrees regularly gain admission to other fine programs.  The MA in English is a terminal degree; Virginia MA students who apply to the PhD program compete with other transfer applicants.  Interested MA or PhD students may choose to earn a certificate in Comparative Literature. The department also offers an MFA in creative writing.

The PhD program, with its coursework, exams, guided dissertation research, and training in teaching aims to place graduates in post-secondary teaching positions.  Financial support, including health insurance and tuition remission, is awarded to all PhD students from the first through the fifth year of study.  As part of their package, PhD students teach one course per semester beginning in their second year.  Government loans and work-study funding are also available. Students typically complete the doctoral degree in six to seven years.  Virginia makes every effort to place its students and has a good record of doing so.  Recent recipients of the PhD have found teaching positions at such institutions as Illinois, Ohio Wesleyan, Harvard, Virginia Commonwealth University, Iowa, McGill, Nevada, MIT, Dartmouth, Bowling Green, New Mexico State, Penn, North Carolina, Rutgers, Fordham, Tufts, Wake Forest, and Berkeley.

 The University library system is a resource of many dimensions. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library holds a number of remarkable collections of American and British literature. Most noteworthy is the Barrett Library, one of the finest research collections in the world for American literature, including rare books and manuscripts of Cabell, Cather, Crane, Cummings, Eliot, Frost, Harte, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Holmes, Howells, James, Twain, Wharton, and Whitman. Manuscripts in the collection include The Red Badge of Courage, the 1860 Leaves of Grass, and The Sun Also Rises. Other collections of note include the William Faulkner Collection, the unique Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Novels, the Wagelin Collection of American Poetry, the Taylor Collection of American Fiction, and the Tunstall Collection of Poetry.  Alderman Library, the largest circulating library on Grounds, is an excellent research facility with a standard working collection suitable for advanced studies across the humanities.  The library's online holdings and well-staffed Scholars' Lab provide access to a large collection of literary works and advanced computer techniques for working with the texts.  In addition, Clemons Library holds an abundant collection of video material and a well-equipped media center. The Department itself is the home of three prize-winning journals: New Literary History, an internationally respected journal of theory and interpretation; Studies in Bibliography, the premier international journal of analytical bibliography and textual study; and Meridian, a student-edited journal of writing.

Students with physical or learning disabilities which may require reasonable accommodation at the University should contact  Brad Holland, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.  Information about the larger University and Charlottesville communities may be found here.