MA in English: Admissions

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Admission to graduate study is granted on the basis of evidence of preparedness to undertake advanced work and the probability of successful completion of the degree. All applicants must hold a Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution (the degree may be in progress at the time of application but must be completed before admission can be finalized). We also expect an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.25.

Applicants are expected to have extensive experience in literary studies, especially English language and literature. If you do not already have a Bachelor's degree in English, we expect you to have taken 20 to 30 credit hours in English literatures and writing so that you come into the program with a knowledge of literary history, excellent writing skills, and experience doing advanced critical analysis in upper‐division coursework. We also expect a minimum GPA of 3.25 in all English courses. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and your admission file will be evaluated as a whole such that weaknesses in one area may be offset by other strengths. The application does not require a GRE score.

Application Deadlines

The M.A. in English admits once a year, and the deadline is January 15 of each year to begin study in the upcoming Fall. There is no flexibility on the deadline. Applications must be submitted and complete with all supplemental materials by January 15.

Application Process

Applications are submitted electronically through the Graduate School.

  • For the "Letters of Recommendation" section, fill out the recommender's contact information. Click on "Submit Recommendation Request" to send an automated request via email. The recommender will then receive an email with a link that they will follow to upload your letter of recommendation.  You can send out these requests before submitting your application.  

  • After your application has been submitted, you will be able to log back in and monitor the status of your letters of recommendation. You can send a reminder to your recommenders, add new recommenders, or edit information about an existing recommender.

Required Supplemental Materials

  • Statement of purpose: Approximately 1,000 words explaining your reasons for choosing to undertake graduate work in English, your intellectual training, areas of interest, and why you have chosen to apply to Portland State.
  • Critical writing sample (15-20 pages total): A 15-20 page paper representing the applicant's best writing, often a revised essay from an undergraduate course or part of a senior project. It is ideal if the paper considers works or issues identified as areas of interest in the statement of purpose. Do not send Creative Writing such as novel chapters or poetry, but you may include an additional brief piece of analytical writing done for your job, for example, if it shows your writing skills to advantage.
  • At least 2 letters of recommendation (3 letters preferred): These should come from a professor or other professional who is qualified to comment on your academic performance and potential, or can attest to your skills as they pertain to your selected program of study.
  • Unofficial transcripts: Submit an unofficial transcript from each post-secondary institution you have attended. These transcripts must be a scan of both the front and back of each page of an official transcript issued to you, and may not be a printout of your academic record from your school's website.  If you are accepted into the program and decide to attend, you must submit official transcripts to the Office of Graduate Studies before you can register for classes for your first term of attendance.  
  • C.V. / Resume (optional): A C.V. or resume is optional but strongly recommended for applicants who would like to be considered for a Graduate Assistantship.

Funding and Graduate Assistantships

The English Department offers a very limited number of Graduate Assistantships. Graduate Assistants receive a stipend and a 9-credit tuition remission in Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. GAs are appointed for 2 years. To apply, check the box on the departmental application when you are asked if you would like to be considered for a Graduate Assistantship. The departmental application will then double as the GAship application.

See the English graduate student funding page for other funding options, including University-wide Graduate Assistantships, awards, and scholarships.

Second Language Requirement

All Master of Arts students at Portland State University are required to have experience with a second language by the time they graduate from the program. The requirement calls for the equivalent of two years of college-level study in the same language. At PSU, this is equal to courses numbered 203 or above. Options for satisfying the second language requirements can be found on the World Language and Literatures website. Students are responsible for completing the second language requirement prior to taking the General Exam.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

If the applicant's native language is not English, and the applicant has not received a baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an equivalently accredited non‐U.S. institution with instruction exclusively in English, the student must demonstrate English language proficiency. Such applicants must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 600 (100 on the internet‐based test or 250 on the computer‐based test). The International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS) may be substituted for the TOEFL; the minimum acceptable score is 7.5. For further information about the English Language Proficiency Requirement, visit the Graduate School's English Language Proficiency page, or contact International Admissions at 503-725-8410 or