Eastern Michigan University
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Graduate Student FAQs

Please review this list for commonly asked questions. If you need further assistance, please contact Graduate Coordinator, Prof. John Staunton, at jstaunto@emich.edu.

Click on a question below to display/close its answer.

Application and Admission

How do I apply for admission to the graduate program in English?

To apply for admission to the graduate program in English, prospective students must submit an application.

Students must also submit the following materials:

  • official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs previously attended
  • a personal statement
  • at least two letters of recommendation
  • a writing sample*

*The writing sample is optional for applicants to the Linguistics MA program and to the Language Technology certificate program. Creative Writing applicants must submit a portfolio of their creative work directly to the English Graduate Coordinator.

International students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit English proficiency test scores in addition to the above materials. Please see below for the minimum test scores required.

For more information, please see our application and admission page.

What are the categories of admission?

Degree Admission

Degree admission is granted to students who meet the department's grade point requirement of 3.0 and who have an undergraduate major or minor in the area of concentration specified in the application.

Conditional Admission

There are four conditional admission statuses:

  • Condition 1 admission is for students who have deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation—students, for example, who have degrees in fields other than English and/or who have taken fewer than 24 credit hours of undergraduate English. Students admitted with this condition may be asked to complete undergraduate courses before enrolling in any graduate courses.
  • Condition 2 admission is for students who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degree (e.g., students who apply before winter or spring graduation for fall admission). These students simply need to provide a transcript that demonstrates that they have completed their undergraduate degree.
  • Condition 3 admission is for students who are nonnative speakers of English and who score below the Graduate School and/or department minimum on the English proficiency examination(s). These students must take a placement test prior to starting classes at EMU. ESL classes will be recommended based on the student’s performance on the placement test.
  • Condition 4 admission is for students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement (3.0) and/or who graduated from a non-accredited institution. These students typically must complete nine to 12 credit hours in good academic standing before being granted regular admissions status. Students with this admission status now qualify for one year of financial aid.

 Students should let their advisors know when they have met their conditions.

Most programs do not grant Departmental Graduate Assistantships to students admitted conditionally. Students admitted conditionally are given degree status when they have fulfilled the requirements specified on the admission recommendation form.

Non-Degree Admission

Non-degree admission allows students to take courses for self-improvement or to demonstrate potential for success in the graduate program.  Students in this category must get permission from a departmental graduate advisor before registering for any graduate classes.

Students who enroll as non-degree and who decide to earn a degree must transfer to degree admission status before completing 10 credit hours of applicable courses.  Courses taken in this admission category do not automatically apply to the degree, so students should talk with an advisor about appropriate courses.

Is the GRE required for admission?

The GRE is not required for admission into the English graduate program, although it can be a useful supplement to other credentials.

What are the required test scores for international students?

International students must have the following minimum score in one of the following English Proficiency tests:

  • TOEFL PBT: 587
  • TOEFL iBT: 95
  • IELTS: 7.0 in all categories
  • MELAB: 80
  • PEARSON: 62

If the scores are lower, students may be admitted on the condition that their proficiency in English will be tested by EMU faculty prior to their initial enrollment period (Condition 3 Admission). Depending on the results of these tests, students may be required to register for appropriate courses in English as a Second Language (ESL).

What are the application deadlines?

Most MA programs in the English department have rolling admission. Priority deadlines for applications are below. But these are not strictly upheld:

  • Winter: October 15th
  • Spring: March 15th
  • Summer: April 15th
  • Fall: May 15th

The exception to this is the Creative Writing program, which only admits students for the fall semester and has a January 13th deadline for applications. For more information, please see our deadlines page.

Priority deadlines for international and non-degree students vary and can be found on the Graduate School website. Admissions are on a rolling basis so deadlines are not adhered to strictly.

How do I transfer from another department or change concentrations within the department?

If you are transferring from another department or changing concentrations within the department, you must fill out en Enrollment Change Request form through the Graduate School forms library. Be sure to talk with the relevant program coordinator first to make sure that you qualify for admission to the program into which you are transferring. Remember, students transferring programs must submit a new personal statement that describes their interest in the new program. Some programs will also require a new writing sample.

Advising and General Program Information

What does an advisor do, and how do I get one?

You are assigned an advisor when you are first admitted into the program. This advisor usually is the program coordinator for your MA program. In some cases, the program coordinator will assign you an additional advisor.

Your advisor directs you through the selection of required and elective courses for your program. He or she also helps you complete the program of study form for your concentration. See the Forms Library. Your advisor will help you proceed through your graduate studies in a manner that will enhance your intellectual and professional development. Your advisor can also help you select an appropriate faculty member to direct your thesis or project.

Which forms do I need to complete for my program of study?

All of the departmental forms that you require are available in our Forms Library.

You must have a Program of Study Form on file with the Records and Registration to transfer credits or to graduate from the program. A program of study is a form that records the classes that you intend to take or have taken. The form is kept in your file in the English Department and is also sent to the Registrar. All graduate assistants are also required to have programs of study on file. You should see your advisor as soon as possible after you begin the program to start preparing a program of study.

The program of study is a contract between you, the department, and the Graduate Records Office. It is signed by your advisor. A copy is then filed with the Registrar. If you decide to change the courses you had planned to take, you should revise the program of study in consultation with your advisor.

If you apply for financial aid, that office will ask for a program of study. When you apply for graduation, the Graduate Records Office will check the courses on your program of study against your transcript to make sure that you have completed all the listed courses. If there are discrepancies, you will be contacted to update or revise your program of study.

You can use the Program of Study Form as a worksheet when planning your courses. Your advisor will enter the approved program in the department's master file. You should also be sure to keep the most up-to-date copy in your own files.

How do I maintain good academic standing?

You must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to remain in good standing in the English graduate program. Grades below B may be compensated for by higher grades in other courses. Students on probation will be given a semester to improve their average and avoid dismissal. For graduation, you must have a 3.0 GPA both overall and in your area of concentration. Students on probation or with a GPA below 3.0 may not begin a thesis or master's writing project, nor take a comprehensive examination.

What are the guidelines and procedures for theses and writing projects?

Please see the theses and writing projects page of the site for detailed information.

How much time do I have to complete my degree or certificate?

You have six years to complete a master's degree and three years to complete a graduate certificate.

Classes and Credits

How do I determine whether I have a full-time or part-time status?

At EMU, what is considered full- and part-time status for graduate students varies. For students with graduate assistantships, six credit hours each in fall and winter and one in spring/summer is considered full-time. For students with fellowships, scholarships or federal loans, eight credit hours each in fall and winter and four in spring/summer is considered full-time. International students must take eight credit hours each in fall and winter and four in spring/summer to be considered full-time. To receive financial aid, part-time students must take a minimum of four credit hours each in fall and winter and two in spring/summer.

How do I transfer credits from another institution?

Students may transfer up to six graduate credits earned at another institution as long as those credits are recent and relevant to the student's degree program. If you wish to do this, you should complete a Transfer of Credit Form and have it signed by your advisor. The Graduate School also requires a transcript and an up-to-date program of study, to be completed with your advisor.

What should I know about course offerings?

The department offers a range of courses in all concentrations in fall and winter semesters, and some courses during the spring and summer terms. (Fewer faculty members are available during spring and summer, so fewer courses are offered during those terms.) Faculty leaves or other departmental obligations affect patterns of course offerings, so you should always check with your advisor about when certain courses are likely to be offered.

You should take required courses early in your program to ensure that you can meet your degree requirements. Your advisor will inform you of any special sequence issues. For instance, LITR 510 Critical Practices in Literary Studies and LITR 511 Literary Criticism provide critical and theoretical positions for literary studies and should be taken early in the literature program. ENGL 621 Research in the Practice and Theory of Writing prepares students for the thesis or master's writing project and so should not be taken until the end of the Written Communication program.

What is an independent study, and how many hours of it can I apply to my degree?

Independent study projects allow you to investigate topics not ordinarily covered in regular department courses, or to expand on a specific aspect of a course you've already taken. You should work out your project ideas with a graduate faculty member in your area of specialization.

In order to register for an Independent Study you must submit an Independent Study form with supporting documentation to the Graduate Coordinator.  You can find this form in the Forms Library.

You can apply a maximum of six hours of independent study credit towards your degree, but only if you are admitted as a degree student.

Can I take courses in other departments or English programs?

You can take courses in other programs in English and in other departments, but you should discuss these courses with your advisor prior to enrolling in them.

If I am an undergraduate or non-degree student, can I take a graduate-level course?

If you are not admitted into an English Department graduate program, you can only be permitted to enroll in graduate courses with specific permission from a departmental graduate advisor. This requirement ensures that students already admitted can enroll and that non-degree or undergraduate students have the prerequisites necessary to succeed in the course.

How and when can I get a prerequisite waived?

Occasionally graduate courses have prerequisites attached to them. In some cases it is possible to take a course simultaneously with its prerequisite or to have the faculty member waive the the prerequisite. Check with the faculty teaching the course if you know there’s a prerequisite for a course you'd like to take or if you are blocked from registering for a course because you will be taking it in the same semester as the prerequisite. The faculty member can get the department secretary to waive the prerequisite in the system so that you can register for the course.

What should I do before I register for classes?

Before you sign up for any courses, make sure that they will apply to your program. Discuss course selections with your advisor, following the requirements listed in the Graduate Catalog or in the departmental program descriptions. Be sure to get your advisor's approval for electives and cognate courses before you enroll in them.

Graduate Assistantships, Fellowships and Scholarships

What is a graduate assistantship, and how do I apply for one?

The English Department offers numerous graduate assistantships. Graduate assistants teach First-Year writing courses, work in the University Writing Center, assist faculty in large lectures, or assist faculty with various other duties. To apply for a graduate assistantship, you must submit the following documents to the English department's Coordinator of Graduate Studies January 23rd:

  • complete the department assistantship application (available in the Forms Library)
  • get two references to fill out the assistantship recommendation form (available in the Forms Library). Ideally these references should be by professors or other professionals who can speak directly to your ability to be a graduate assistant.

Assistantships typically begin in the Fall semester. The department graduate committee will evaluate all of the applications after Jan. 23rd. So it is advisable to apply to the MA program before you apply for the GAship. The committee will announce the awards in early March.

For a full list of GA opportunities, please see our Graduate Assistantships page.

Which fellowships and/or scholarships are available to me?

Make sure to apply for financial assistance from the Graduate School. Numerous fellowships and scholarships are awarded each year by the Graduate School. You can learn more about these awards and find the guidelines for applying for them here on the Graduate School website. The application for all awards is the same: You simply need to check the boxes for the awards that interest you or for which you qualify.


How do I apply for graduation?

You must complete an application for graduation and turn it into the Graduate School by the published deadline. The deadlines are the first week of the semester in which you plan to graduate. You must also pay a graduation fee of $100.

The Graduate School will send a graduation recommendation form to the department, and a copy of the form to you. This form notes any requirements that still need to be met: courses listed on your program of study, a thesis or project, or comprehensive exams. If you do not finish one or more of your requirements by the specified cut-off date for the graduation for which you applied, you can request to graduate at the next graduation. You do not have to re-apply or pay another fee. You simply need to make a written request (email is sufficient) to the Office of Records and Registration. You must indicate in this request in which semester you now intend to graduate.

EMU does not maintain a credentials file. You must ask individual professors to keep your letters on file if you want them sent subsequently to more than one place.