Department of English College of the Liberal Arts Penn State University Park

Department of English College of the Liberal Arts Penn State University Park

University Park, PA
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student ratio
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total students
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average amount to complete degree
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fall application deadline
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acceptance rate
3 Degrees Offered
degrees offered


Graduate Programs in English at Pennsylvania State University

The graduate programs in English at Pennsylvania State University prepare students for leadership positions in their respective areas. These robust and challenging programs have the following features:

- Extensive study of contemporary culture, literature, rhetoric, and writing

- Fifteen areas of specialization

- Award winning faculty members known worldwide for excellence in their fields

- Small seminars that provide close interaction between students and teachers

- Extensive teacher training at the beginning and intermediate levels as well as in areas of specialization

- Excellent research training

They have received national recognition from organizations like the National Research Council (NRC) and, which ranked the doctoral program in English within the top 10 programs in the country.

Master of Arts (MA) in English

The MA in English degree is usually completed within two years. Its curriculum has 10 courses including a writing project and foreign language requirement in French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Latin, or Classical Greek. It includes six required courses:

- A course in contexts, materials, and methods of literary study

- A course in rhetoric or literary theory

- Two courses in English literature before 1800

- Two courses in English literature after 1800

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in English

The PhD in English program generally takes four years beyond the MA in English degree to complete. It doesn't contain a set number of courses or credits, but it does include the courses required for the MA (listed above), or equivalent graduate coursework completed at another university.

It also includes a comprehensive exam, a doctoral thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis.

BA/MA in English/Creative Writing

The Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Master of Arts (MA) in English program consists of 30 credits of coursework including a creative writing concentration in poetry or prose. This full-residency program is completed in two years (the senior year of the BA program and an additional year in the MA program).

Student Life

Pennsylvania State University offers graduate students a supportive and resource-rich community. Students have access to affordable housing within walking distance of campus. They can participate in student activities, intramural and club sports, clubs and organizations, and recreational programs. Plus, graduate students in English can participate in the department's graduate student group, the English Graduate Organization.

Exceptional Job Prospects

The Department of English at Penn State has a reputation for placing students in jobs at universities that the Carnegie Foundation designated as "research very high." Graduates have obtained tenure-track positions at top universities like Drake University, Loyola University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, and University of Connecticut - Stamford.

Furthermore, several of its alumni are notable writers including Sarah Blake, Cary Holladay, Geffrey Davis, and Cathleen Miller.

Full Financial Support for Graduate Students

The Department of English provides six years of funding for MA-PhD students. It also offers both continuing and incoming students a number of supplements to funding. Students may qualify for awards, fellowships, graduate assistantships, and grants.

Distinguished Faculty Members

English professors at Penn State are excellent teachers, researchers, writers, and mentors who help students "publish early and often." Professor of English Hester Blum, PhD is one example of the English department's accomplished faculty members. She specializes in American Literature Before 1900 and Book History and Textual Studies. She has written and edited books and written book chapters and journal articles. Several organizations have supported her work including the Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Humanities Center.


The English Department provides many opportunities for faculty members and graduate students to conduct quality research. Students receive extensive support from faculty members in conducting research and getting their work published in journals like "Modern Language Review," "Journal of Modern Literature," and "Journal of Medical Humanities."

Faculty members engage in innovative research on numerous topics including trans-Atlantic literary modernism, multilingual writing, postcolonial studies, Renaissance literature, and international modernism.

The department also has three research centers: Center for American Literary Studies, Center for Democratic Deliberation, and Digital Culture and Media Initiative.

Pennsylvania State University

Established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University teaches 100,000 students how to become leaders in a global society. It also facilitates research that improves lives and helps communities, and it adds millions of dollars to the state's economy.

As a leader in higher education, Penn State consistently receives top rankings. For example, "US News & World Report" ranked several of its graduate programs among the best in the nation, "Times Higher Education World University Rankings" placed it among the top 100 universities in the world, and "Kiplinger's Personal Finance" designated it as one of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges.

Campus Locations

Pennsylvania State University has 24 campuses throughout the state of Pennsylvania, situated in the northeastern region of the United States. Its largest campus is located in State College.

This vibrant campus includes historic buildings like Old Main and modern facilities like the Life Sciences Building. It also has many attractions like Berkey Creamery, Palmer Museum of Art, Zoller Gallery, and Shaver's Creek Environmental Center.

A town of about 40,000 residents, State College provides a variety of recreational options including eateries and shops, nightlife and movies, music and festivals, and arts and culture.

Since the university is located near beautiful natural spaces like Mount Nittany, students can enjoy nature and use it to enrich their studies. Its location is also within close proximity of leading repositories like Beinecke Library at Yale, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, thus giving students access to excellent archival collections.

Location & Contact

Department of English

College of the Liberal Arts
Penn State University Park

201 Old Main
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Dr. Susan Welch


Phone: 814-865-7691
Fax: 814-863-2085

Ms. Lori Stania

Director, Graduate Student Services

Phone: 814-867-5278
Fax: 814-863-4627

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • English Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Arts (MA)
      Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? Not reported
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? Not reported
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported



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