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I’m a 2018 cycle casualty. I applied to nearly 20 schools and came up empty. Trying to figure out where I went wrong but as we all know that’s not the easiest thing to do. I’m going to apply to fewer schools this time, around 12, some of which I’m gonna reapply but most will be new most likely. Luckily this time I got an IRT scholarship so I hope that will be the difference. 

I’m applying as an African Americanist with a focus on postbellum to WWII narrative and trauma. I have decided to not bother with the Subject test and am not retaking the GRE, so having already spent a year working on my sample and SoP, my main focus is researching schools and making sure I am picking them wisely. Still working on my list, currently have about 25-30 that I want to cut down (I’ll post them later in case anyone has any specifc advice).

Good luck to everyone!

 

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here! took the gre twice, not bothering with subject. currently in undergrad with may graduation, narrowing down my school list and starting to get SOP outline going. i'm primarily applying to comp lit programs with a handful of MA programs. my interests are russian/slavic literature and aesthetics/formalism, modernist studies, historiography... all sorts. i am terrified. 

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?‍♀️Here! I'm going into my second year of my MA in the Fall (and first year of teaching!!), so I spent the majority of this summer just researching/narrowing down PhD programs, creating a study guide for the Subject Test, and drafting the bones of my SoP. I'm not retaking the GRE. For my writing sample, I'm bringing in a completed seminar paper to a Fall publication class for revision and feedback, so I didn't prioritize it this summer (although I did present a section of it at a conference for feedback and CV points). I'm currently looking into programs for 20th century American gender & sexuality, with bonus points for faculty with queer specialty/interests. I'm also really enthusiastic about the American South, but I'm willing to apply that interest to whatever program I can attend, rather than hold the South as a deal breaker. 

Honestly, I am just constantly worried that I'm not doing enough. The deadline for applications seems so close. ?

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I'm applying again this year, after being (thankfully) shut-out in 2016. I've taken the last two years, post MA, to teach, research, and present papers. Though not ideal, being an instructor has given me so much more freedom than I thought with incorporating my research and teaching. It helps that my chair (along with a shit ton of composition courses) has entrusted me with upper-level undergrad World literature, Romantic lit, and Victorian lit courses. Teaching these upper-level courses just cemented in my mind why I want to continue studying and teaching at the college level. 

I'm in the process (post-peer review) of having one of my thesis chapters published as a stand-alone article, which is going to be my writing sample. It's in my field and fits all of my chosen programs' W.S. page limits (except for one, and I'm contacting them about what they suggest I should do about the 4 pages above their requested limit). I've had my CV looked at by too many faculty members (ironically their comments often contradict one another), and so I'm feeling good about that document. My statements of purposes are coming along a bit more slowly, because I'm determined to individualize them for each program. With any luck, I'm hoping to have another draft soon. After SOP, I need to work on my "personal history statement" that a few schools require (in addition to the academic SOP), where they want to know what "in my personal and life experiences motivates my decision to go into a PhD program." I'm torn on how pathos-heavy this document should be, though. Any notes?? 

I've decided to apply to 12 programs. My interests are in long-18th and 19th century British literature, history and culture, so many of my chosen programs explicitly encourage interdisciplinary projects. I'm also interested in Digital Humanities, and have done a bit of work with DH and the Victorians in my MA, so I'd like to continue with that work at the doctoral level. At least half of my programs have DH graduate certificates, which will be helpful. My GRE scores were..so-so, but good enough for the schools that require the GRE at all (especially since I probably won't be able to afford to retake again). None of my programs want the subject test, so I'm not even going to bother with that one. 

 

Sorry for the book -- I've been talking about PhD applications in a bubble with people who aren't on the same path, so they can't really relate to the stress that one 2-page document causes. 

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Hi hi! I'm applying for 2019 as well. My research interests include contemporary American lit and ecocriticism/environmental lit. I focused on Southern lit in my MA, so I'd love to continue work on Southern lit if I can make it work, but ecocrit is far more important to me at this point. I'm applying to 15ish schools – still narrowing down. I'm retaking the GRE this weekend (thankful for any good vibes sent my way) because my scores from several years ago are pretty terrible. I've chosen not to take the Subject test because f that. ☺️

I've been revising my writing sample and drafting my statements of purpose since about May but still have a lot more work to do. I feel great about my rec letters and my CV. 

I too am constantly worried that I'm not doing enough, @Scarlet A+. Best of luck to everyone with this anxiety-ridden process! 

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Hi everyone, I'm applying for 2019 also! I'm definitely very behind everyone here- I've been out of school for about 4 years, took a break to get a corporate job and make some money after my MA before my PhD. I'm struggling to study for the GRE and haven't started my SOP or my writing sample. I thought I had a shot until I found this site- now I think I'll be lucky to be accepted anywhere!

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56 minutes ago, kgras13 said:

Hi everyone, I'm applying for 2019 also! I'm definitely very behind everyone here- I've been out of school for about 4 years, took a break to get a corporate job and make some money after my MA before my PhD. I'm struggling to study for the GRE and haven't started my SOP or my writing sample. I thought I had a shot until I found this site- now I think I'll be lucky to be accepted anywhere!

I think as long as you can demonstrate:
1) A good fit with the program
2) Strong SOP/Writing Sample
3) Great LORs from previous professors
 

You'll stand a good chance. If you can demonstrate how your work has benefited you, you might even be a stronger applicant. Good luck. :)

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I’m applying this year (round 2).

I am a 20th/21st c. American Media/Cultural Studies person interested in space/place, crime, intersectionality, public memory, and seriality.

I am going to retake the GRE, as a program I was waitlisted on told me I would’ve been higher on waitlist if it wasn’t for my low scores. 

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Applying for Fall 2019, will be graduating in May with a BA. Hoping to get into a English lit PhD program because go big or home. I'd be fine with getting into a funded MA program but the eventual goal is to get a PhD and teach. Still working to narrow down my interests but I definitely know that I want to do 20th century American lit. I've noticed that most of the authors I like writing about all have ties to the west coast/California so possibly American West. But I think I'm going to do early 20th century California wilderness literature.

Still figuring out which programs that would be a good fit for me and how many I'll be applying to. Ideally, I'd like to be in California but most of the programs in CA are ranked high. My current school is not very prestigious so that's a concern. It's very small so I've been able to get to know my professors well and vice versa which hopefully should result in amazing LoRs. They've been very supportive which is great.

I really love cats and using them as pillows for my face like in my profile picture. Unfortunately, they don't love me doing that but it's ok.

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1 hour ago, GlacierPoint said:

Applying for Fall 2019, will be graduating in May with a BA. Hoping to get into a English lit PhD program because go big or home. I'd be fine with getting into a funded MA program but the eventual goal is to get a PhD and teach. Still working to narrow down my interests but I definitely know that I want to do 20th century American lit. I've noticed that most of the authors I like writing about all have ties to the west coast/California so possibly American West. But I think I'm going to do early 20th century California wilderness literature.

Still figuring out which programs that would be a good fit for me and how many I'll be applying to. Ideally, I'd like to be in California but most of the programs in CA are ranked high. My current school is not very prestigious so that's a concern. It's very small so I've been able to get to know my professors well and vice versa which hopefully should result in amazing LoRs. They've been very supportive which is great.

I really love cats and using them as pillows for my face like in my profile picture. Unfortunately, they don't love me doing that but it's ok.

Hi GP! Welcome to GC!

In terms of programs, have you looked at where the authors you enjoy writing about got their degrees from? I'd suggest searching articles you're interested in and looking up where those scholars got their degrees from. It might help get you closer to programs you're interested in. :)

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1 hour ago, Warelin said:

Hi GP! Welcome to GC!

In terms of programs, have you looked at where the authors you enjoy writing about got their degrees from? I'd suggest searching articles you're interested in and looking up where those scholars got their degrees from. It might help get you closer to programs you're interested in. :)

I probably should have said writers instead of authors here, my bad. English isn't my first language so sometimes I mix up words with similiar meaning in English when my native language only uses one word for the same concept. What I like to read for pleasure isn't always the same thing I like to write about academically so that's what I was going off on.

Looking at articles to check where the authors got their degrees is a good idea, thank you! I've been just googling various terms + research interest and finding programs that way. I found some articles along the way but I only looked at where the author was at currently so I'll have to backtrack a little.

The biggest thing I'm unsure about is if I should apply for programs outside of California or west coast if I want to do California literature. Not that I'll let that deter me from applying broadly but I don't want to waste my time if programs outside of the region wouldn't be interested.

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Hi! I thought I'd throw my hat in this ring here for 2019 applicants. My summer has been nowhere near as productive as I would have liked it to have been. But, I'm hitting the ground running this past week in terms of creating a few outlines for my SOP and finishing a third draft of my WS! Being as broad as possible with my interests, I intend on researching multi- cultural and multi-ethnic U.S. literature, music and film, among other mediums, with a focus on their relationship to legal and de facto citizenship (or, more broadly, membership). I'll post my list of schools once I'm completely certain; as of now, Duke's Literature program, Rice's English department and USC's ASE are at the top of my list.   

Edited by lyonel_

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Hello! Retaking the GRE in October and I’m about to enter the second year of my MA. My main research interest is African American motherhood in slave narratives and into popular culture, but my other interests are kind of all over the place. Super into ethnic literature, so looking for programs that appreciate that.

I’m looking into American Studies programs as well as Lit programs that are open to a more interdisciplinary approach (my BA is in political science). No TA-type teaching experience (a long story of how I had one and then didn’t), but I have private sector experience. I’m hoping my writing sample and SOP make up for that.
 
I only actually applied to one school for my MA (the one I’m attending), so I’m kind of a newb when it comes to the chaos of the cycle. I will definitely be looking in here to make sure I’m pacing myself correctly. 

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i'm finally taking the plunge and publicly announcing my phd application ambitions for this year!

i've just graduated with a distinction from oxford in an eighteenth century/romanticism masters; my interests broadly revolve around the interaction between the french revolution and the rise in expatriate writing, and the concept of girlhood and adolescence in  life-writing of the era, and i'm spending the summer doing a lot of reading in these areas to flesh out and refine my current research ideas. i'm also just about to move and start a new job so everything is very calm at the moment, as you can imagine!!

i'm an international applicant (from england) so am quite daunted by the sheer number and diversity of american schools, but i have a massive spreadsheet and am slowly but surely whittling down my choices - i'm aiming to apply to 5/6 schools in america, and then a couple in the uk as well.

GOOD LUCK to everyone on the thread, and if anyone ever wants to chat/scream/question mark about the application process, i am here for it.

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On 8/1/2018 at 2:04 PM, dangermouse said:

i'm finally taking the plunge and publicly announcing my phd application ambitions for this year!

i've just graduated with a distinction from oxford in an eighteenth century/romanticism masters; my interests broadly revolve around the interaction between the french revolution and the rise in expatriate writing, and the concept of girlhood and adolescence in  life-writing of the era, and i'm spending the summer doing a lot of reading in these areas to flesh out and refine my current research ideas. i'm also just about to move and start a new job so everything is very calm at the moment, as you can imagine!!

i'm an international applicant (from england) so am quite daunted by the sheer number and diversity of american schools, but i have a massive spreadsheet and am slowly but surely whittling down my choices - i'm aiming to apply to 5/6 schools in america, and then a couple in the uk as well.

GOOD LUCK to everyone on the thread, and if anyone ever wants to chat/scream/question mark about the application process, i am here for it.

Hi there! Would you mind elaborating on why you're looking at American schools for your PhD? I'm in the opposite position - an American student about to begin my MA in the UK and hoping to do my PhD in the UK as well. Just curious as to your preferences/motivations... ?

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21 hours ago, onerepublic96 said:

Hi there! Would you mind elaborating on why you're looking at American schools for your PhD? I'm in the opposite position - an American student about to begin my MA in the UK and hoping to do my PhD in the UK as well. Just curious as to your preferences/motivations... ?

I can't speak to a Brit's motivation for doing a US PhD, but this thread has some good info on the pros/cons of UK PhDs for US-based applicants!

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I am also applying for 2019. Doing ecocriticism with a contemporary North American focus (though this will probably broaden). I will be applying to schools in the US and Canada.

I am completing my MA at Freie Universitaet Berlin in North American Studies right now and trying to finish up some papers so I can start on my SOP that has been ping-ponging around in my head for weeks now. This is at the moment my biggest concern. Being outside of the US means a lot less access to people to proofread and give advice on my SOP because fewer people have experience with the process. 

My Master's GPA is a 1.0 so far, which in US terms is a 4.0 - I am really hoping to keep it there! My undergrad is a 3.59 from UCSC all the way back in 2011. My LOR will hopefully be strong ones from current professors. I have 163V/161Q/5.5W GRE which I am happy with, but probably not high enough for somewhere like UVA from what I hear. I will not be taking the subject test. 

Which leaves my writing sample. I am trying to decide between a paper a wrote last semester which was well received, but uses a very colloquial style since it discusses the work of Rita Felski and Bruno Latour who use this style as well. Or a paper from this semester which I have not finished yet. I also have a shorter 8-10 page paper I just finished writing which I can use if they do not want a full semester paper. 

 

@onerepublic96 I second @indecisivepoet on the thread. I will also offer my rationale. Having done an MA in Germany I am immensely grateful for the free education. However, a lot of the old school clickiness is even stronger here than in the US which was surprising. In terms of not choosing the UK, I spent a LONG time deciding. My decision came down to three factors: one funding is less secure, transparent, not guaranteed; two I want a little more time to refine my interests and take a wider range of classes and PhD programs in the US and Canada are longer; three - being a teacher now - I think teaching and teaching pedagogy is important training for a professor and UK PhD programs and employers do not seem to. This last one may sound harsh or a bit flippant, but it is both gleaned from my reading of their websites, talks with people who did their BAs in the UK, and current PhD students there as well. 

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On 8/4/2018 at 4:52 PM, onerepublic96 said:

Hi there! Would you mind elaborating on why you're looking at American schools for your PhD? I'm in the opposite position - an American student about to begin my MA in the UK and hoping to do my PhD in the UK as well. Just curious as to your preferences/motivations... ? 

Just to throw in our experience, my husband (American student) originally applied to MAs in the UK and Ireland because we want to live in Europe after his PhD, and despite getting into TCD, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, he ultimately decided not to accept and instead to re-apply to PhDs in the US. This was due to funding--there was none for him at those schools, and there was no guarantee that he'd get any for the PhD that he wanted to go onto. I think we ended up making the right decision, though it was painful for him, as he's now headed to a great fully-funded PhD program.

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Fellow applicant here as well! I’ll graduate in May with a BA double major in English and Religion with a minor in History. I currently have a 4.0. I’m hoping to go into a PhD program if possible. I’m also struggling to study for the GRE (standardized tests are a bit difficult for me, especially given the weight of this one). I’ll begin writing my Senior honors thesis in the Fall. I have interests all over the proverbial map, but I’m particularly interested in 20th Century American Lit. I also have a keen love for the American South (just wrapping up a summer seminar on Walker Percy, actually). Still have yet to work on SOP, though I hope to use either my capstone paper or a part of my honors thesis for my writing sample. I’m looking at both traditional Lit programs and American Studies programs.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! I’m relatively terrified. 

Edited by theinforat

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On 8/4/2018 at 9:52 PM, onerepublic96 said:

Hi there! Would you mind elaborating on why you're looking at American schools for your PhD? I'm in the opposite position - an American student about to begin my MA in the UK and hoping to do my PhD in the UK as well. Just curious as to your preferences/motivations... ?

absolutely! for me, it came down to wanting the extra teaching experience as the main driving factor - in a lot of UK universities, the availability for teaching is a lot less secure and very minimal. the funding is also another factor - so i applied this year and got accepted and shortlisted for funding at a few places, but fell at the very last hurdle, and i much prefer the transparency behind the american system. i'm still applying for a few places in the UK but i really like the US set-up and i think the additional years of the program is much more a pro than a con :) 

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Hello!

I've been lurking around grad cafe for a few months--finally decided to make an account and start posting so I could share in the stress and anxiety over applying to PhD English lit programs for fall 2019.

I finish my M.A. in the Spring. Hoping to transition into a PhD program next fall. It's interesting seeing the people on here who finished their M.A. and then took a few years off. I'm terrified that I'd lose interest or become too lazy to go through the application process after a break from academia.

Briefly I'll mention that I'm looking to focus, broadly speaking, in ecocriticism/environmental lit. It's actually super cool to see other ecocrit people here..Environmental lit seems to feel like a small branch of English studies, but perhaps it's starting to grow? I had no idea environmental lit was even an area of study when I was an undergrad. I'm still finalizing my list of programs I'll apply to--but I think i'm aiming for about 8-10. Even 8-10 feels like a lot, especially considering that I'm not planning on applying to any top 20 schools. Still hoping I can put a lot of TLC into each application.

Anyway, looking forward to sharing in the joys of application season with everyone on here. Happy to mention any more specifics about my application stuff/background if people are curious.

And also a pre-emptive good luck to everyone. Given the fact that we're all gathered here and putting our hearts into getting into PhD (or m.a.) programs probably means we're on the right track, and I'm confident that it'll all work out in the end for all of us :).

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Hi all! 

This thread has been a bit dead for a few weeks, but figured I'd put my info in here! 

I'm graduating in May with a BA double major in English Literature and Theatre. GPA 3.99, GRE 168V/159Q/6W. I'm hoping to get accepted into a PhD program, and I'm planning on applying to 5-8 schools. Can't do any more because of finances ? The list is currently UChicago, Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford, UC Davis, and UCSB, but I have a few more I'm looking at/thinking of. 

In my graduate study, I'm looking to pursue Feminism and/or Gender and Sexuality, focusing around ideas of embodiment, intersectionality, and identity. My writing sample is a Kristevan reading of Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev, focusing on the maternal body as a site of suffering that resists sign/signifier/signified relationships, and my current research surrounds the ways in which the 'evil' or villainous body is visually coded as "other" in Western animation. Also currently pursuing a full length theatrical project utilizing the poetry of T. S. Eliot and Anne Sexton as the basis for a devised piece of poetic theatre exploring the human movement towards the divine. 

Very excited for all of us, and want to wish you all the best of luck! Also if anyone has any advice/suggestions/help, I could really use it. No one in my family has gone to grad school before, so a lot of what I'm doing is based on my own research. If anyone has applied before and has wisdom to pass along regarding writing good SOPs, contacting current grad students, determining program fit, etc, etc, etc...basically I need all the help I can get! Hope the application process goes well for everyone :)

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Seems to be quiet around here as of late, so I thought I'd throw in an updated post. After having discussions with various professors about my initial SOP drafts, I basically went back to the whiteboard, so to speak. My final list of schools is set, as my SOP has finally come together in terms of my research focus/potential project(s). I'm taking my GRE on Friday. I'm still tinkering with my WS, even though it's "technically" done, as I want to make some minor theoretical and structural adjustments to my argument.

Blah. I came into putting together my PhD application expecting difficulty, but I still underestimated how insane this whole process is! With that said, it has been, and I imagine will continue to be, equally nerve wracking and exciting! Good luck! 

Edited by lyonel_

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6 hours ago, lyonel_ said:

Blah. I came into putting together my PhD application expecting difficulty, but I still underestimated how insane this whole process is!

^THIS! I started looking at places and trying to organize myself months ago, and still feel like the last few weeks hit me like a ton a bricks (pardon the rhyme) with the amount of stuff that I have to do/research/figure out that I didn't think of previously. Plus my WS is nowhere near finished... Good luck with the SoP! And everything else.

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