Steps on preparing to apply to grad school in literary studies

General Education
If possible, elect literature courses for General Education Categories 2-A (Minority Cultures or Multiracial Women's Studies) and B (International and Multi-Cultural Studies), as well as E (Humanistic Studies).

Choose courses that will give you range as well as depth of experience in literary types and periods.

Try not to take 200-level courses which are all of the same type: e.g. all American literature. Experience with a variety of British, American, multi-cultural, and international/western literature will better prepare you to make the most of advanced courses and to succeed in graduate studies.

Sophomore/Junior Years
Take English 301 (Foundations for Literary Studies) as soon after declaring the major as possible. The course can help you to understand literary genres and provide you with methods for reading, discussing, and writing about literature.

Begin to build variety into your course choices: do not load up on one type of literature (e.g. fiction), one period (e.g. 20th century), or one cultural perspective on literature.

Junior/Senior Years
Depending on when you became an English major and what courses you have already taken, you may want to consider filling in gaps in your knowledge by taking additional 200-level or 300/400-level literature courses as general graduation electives (even though they may not count for the major).

To prepare for graduate studies, consider taking general electives that concentrate on areas related to literary studies--especially foreign languages, philosophy, history, linguistics, etc. Tailor these elective choices to your own special interests.

Be sure to take English 355 (Critical Theory) when it is available. The best time to take this course is after you have built up some experience with literature, so that you bring a base of knowledge to the class.

At the beginning of your junior year, begin to plan for your application to graduate schools.

Consult with the English Department Graduate Studies Adviser:

Dr. Susan Crutchfield 
433A Wimberly Hall 

Prepare for taking the GRE general and literature exams. The GRE is usually taken in the fall semester of the senior year, either a conventional exam or electronically. Information on the GRE is available at the UWL Counseling and Testing Office, 1st floor Wilder Hall.

English Department faculty can assist you with strategies for preparing for the GRE.

Begin collecting information on graduate programs and financial assistance (teaching assistantships, fellowships, etc.). The English Department maintains a file on graduate programs in Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, Creative Writing, and other areas of emphasis. This is kept in the English Department mailroom, next to 433 Wimberly Hall.

There is also a bulletin board outside the mailroom which posts current information on graduate programs. Finally, you can find Web site URLs for schools you are interested in by going to the American Universities site.

Establish a portfolio or file of writing you have done for your courses, from which to select writing samples for the applications.

Maintain contact with professors in the English Department who might write strong letters of support for your applications.