Prospective Graduate Students

Successful Application Components

Even though there are different procedures for applying to the MA, MFA, and PhD programs, there are some common features of successful applications.

All applications are due January 1st.

The Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should provide the admissions committee with a strong sense of 1) why you are choosing to enter graduate school, 2) why the University of South Florida is the right choice for you, and 3) if you wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship. Strong statements help the committee understand if the USF program can help you achieve your goals and if you are prepared for undertaking a program that requires maturity, independence, and self-direction.

Successful statements from PhD applicants identify faculty that the student wants to work with and explain how that person would help fulfill their goals. For PhD students, it is important that you identify your scholarly interests with specific faculty members who work in this field.

Before completing your statement, you should peruse this site's information on faculty, students, and departmental strengths to determine if USF's program will help you achieve your goals.

Students who want to be considered for a graduate assistantship should indicate their interest in their statement of purpose.

The Writing Sample

The writing sample for rhetoric and composition and literary studies programs should demonstrate your ability to synthesize academic scholarship within an effective argument. Strong samples demonstrate the fundamentals of academic scholarship: an engaging thesis supported with compelling evidence, solid library research skills, consistent style use, and strong signposts and transitions.

The writing sample for Lit and RC degrees is your opportunity to introduce the graduate admissions committee to you as a scholar. You should showcase your ability to effectively integrate scholarship into your essay. Essays should be no more than 25 pages (including bibliography).

For the MFA in Creative Writing program application, the writing sample should represent your best work in your chosen genre. The program welcomes a wide range of genres and styles, so it's best to revise and polish the work you're most interested in and that best demonstrates your talents. The sample consists of 12-20 pages:

  • Fiction, Nonfiction, and Memoir should be double spaced. Indicate genre.
  • Poetry should be single spaced.

Letters of Recommendation

The strongest letters of recommendation often come from faculty who have taught you in upper level classes, graduate or undergraduate, because these references can often best speak to your ability to execute independent scholarship and creative projects. For example, if you worked on a paper or a creative project closely with a professor who can speak to your research and writing skills, that person would be a good choice.

The application requires three letters of recommendation.

Other references that have observed you in a role similar to that which you'd take on at USF may also help the graduate admissions committee. For instance, if you've worked for a non-profit and you're interested in pursuing scholarship on writing in non-profits, a manager's letter would be able to speak to your practical experience.

GRE Scores

The English department does not require GRE scores. They are optional and not required. Note: If you are applying for any university fellowships, the GRE may be required.

Contact Information

John Lennon, PhD,
Graduate Director

Marissa Klippenstein
Graduate Program Specialist