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Admission Chances English Lit. PhD Programs


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Hi Luke,

I wish I knew more about your field. I hope someone else can flesh out my answers a bit. And/or correct me.

Your AW writing score could be important for Eng Lit? That you have a conference publication is good, and that you have some outside work is good too.

You have a lot of schools in mind. You might want to focus it a bit more. Find out which of those schools have professors who do "Modern and Contemporary Drama", I doubt all of them on the list do. Maybe consider writing to them, or at least the admissions officers to get more information about the programs. Location is (for some) another way of filtering out schools. And see if you can find out average GRE admit scores, so you have a mix of 'reach', 'safe' schools etc.

Hope that helps?

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  • 1 month later...

First things: anything less than a 700 on the GRE verbal is going to look very bad, when applying to top programs in the humanities. English is notoriously competitive, with the big dogs admitting in the area of 1-2% of applicants. I know the Iowa Writer's Workshop's rate was under 2% when I applied, two years ago. They didn't provide any details about breakdown by field, but I would assume it's pretty evenly distributed. Either way, that's an MFA program (probably the top MFA program, 'tis true, but my point is valid); I would assume PhD programs have even more room to discriminate.

My advice would be to vary your targets when applying. Find the places where you have profs. whose research interests fit your own, and don't just apply to the best schools.

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hi luke...it is important, first and foremost, to narrow your choices down. most of the top univs will have a strong faculty in modern & contemporary drama but it is important to find profs who are doing the kind of research you are interested in...trawl through the faculty list & their research interests & email them for further information. This is really important as the information that you glean should also show in your SOP. The universities are looking, along with other things, for a "fit".

The importance that univs, even top ones, attach to General GRE scores varies considerably. What is important, however, is to have a strong all-round application. Speak to the people who are giving you recos, update them on your academic history, your extra curricular activities, and discuss motives for applying to grad school. Another important element is your sample writing, which must show a strong potential for academic work & research, and an ability to contextualize, question & explain.

Did you do the GRE in Literature? High scores in that may also lend a helping hand!

I'm applying too & understand how overwhelming it all seems...but just focus & give it your best shot :)

all the very best!

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Thanks so much for your responses!

I have narrowed it down now (even changed some schools) and definitely kept "fit" in mind.

I took the GRE Subject in November, so I'm still waiting for the scores, but in the General verbal I'm in the 91st percentile.

Also, I have started on "alleviating the stress." ;)

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I'm glad I went into an obscure sub-field that doesn't require the subject test. The general test stressed me out enough, and I aced that thing. I know I wouldn't do nearly as well on the Lit. portion, so the "alleviation" might get a little carried away after that one. lol

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