How to Apply

Program Eligibility

Candidates who hold a Bachelor's degree, or who will complete a Bachelor's degree by the start of the admission term, are eligible to apply. Many but by no means all of our applicants also have a Master's degree in English or a related field. Please note that program requirements are identical for those entering with Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

Applicants with previous degrees in majors other than English literature are eligible to apply, although a substantial background in literary/cultural study is recommended.

In general, applicants should have a 3.0 (B) grade point average, or the equivalent, in their undergraduate work.

Application Requirements

The following materials must be submitted by the application deadline to be considered for admission:

  • Plan of Study: Briefly describe your intended area of study, including a particular subdivision of the major field in which you wish to specialize and specific faculty members with whom you hope to work. Please limit your response to 300 words or less.
  • Statement of Purpose: Please upload a statement that concisely and accurately describes your philosophical interests, motivations, and aspirations. Please include any discussion on scholarly research, writing, or similar research that you have done or are currently pursuing. The statement should briefly discuss reasons for applying to the department specifically, such as interest in a particular faculty member’s work. Statements should be no longer than 900 words.
  • Research & Publications: list any articles, publications, or creative work.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): A CV should include a comprehensive chronological listing of your professional achievements including academic credentials and employment. Please include the title of any publications or research projects
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation: you will be asked to list their name, organization, title, relationship, and email address. Rice uses an online recommendation service (Interfolio). Recommenders named in the application form will be sent an automated email requesting that they complete an online evaluation and upload the letter of recommendation. We advise applicants to make sure recommenders know to expect this email and to give them sufficient time to complete this task ahead of the application deadline. Letters of recommendation should be from individuals best qualified to testify to the applicant’s capacity for graduate work in English. Academic references representing the applicant’s major field are preferred. If this is not possible, individuals who can comment on qualities relevant to the applicant’s academic goals and research will be accepted.
  • Writing Sample (15-25 pages): any research paper from your undergraduate or masters program or another work that reflects your critical thinking.
  • Transcripts from each college attended. Applicants will upload unofficial transcripts and supporting documents to the online application system. Hard copies of official transcripts are not required to apply. If admitted, applicants will be required to send official transcripts to complete the admissions process.

Once a completed application is submitted, the applicant will be able to pay the application fee and monitor the status of their application on the Application Status page.

Application information and supporting documents cannot be edited after final submission. However, applicants are able to upload updated versions of their CV and unofficial transcripts via the Application Status page.

Incomplete applications will not be considered for admission.

Please note that the GRE is not required.

The deadline to apply for fall 2024 has passed. Applications for fall 2025 will open in September 2024.


For more information about Rice University's graduate program qualifications, visit Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies


Frequently Asked Questions:

1.) Is the GRE required?
The GRE is not required to apply to the PhD program in the Department of English

2.) Do you offer a fee waiver?
Rice University will automatically waive application fees for doctoral applicants who are graduates of institutions in Texas and bordering states Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico or who have a permanent address in these states. Learn more:

Application fee waivers are also granted to graduate applicants of:

  • The Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Fellows
  • EducationUSA Mentees
  • Fulbright Scholars
  • Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers
  • McNair Scholars
  • Mellon Mays Fellows
  • National GEM Consortium Fellows
  • Opportunity Fund Scholars
  • Vietnam Education Foundation Fellows

3.) What if I do not have all of my materials ready by the applications deadline?
In order to be considered for admission, you must submit all application materials through the online application by the deadline. Late applications will not be considered.

4.) I'm an international applicant, do I have to submit proof of English proficiency?
Applicants who are foreign nationals and those whose native language is not English must provide evidence of English proficiency. This can be shown by any of the following:

  • Proof of degree from an accredited U.S. high school, college, or university.
  • At least a 90 on the iBT TOEFL or iBT Home Edition.
  • At least 7 on the IELTS.
  • At least 115 on the Duolingo test of English proficiency.
  • Proof of completion (or expected completion) of a post-secondary degree from an institution where the official language of instruction is in English (for a list of countries, please visit

​​​​For 2023, Rice will not accept the ITP Plus test to evaluate English language proficiency, but scores/interviews are able to be reported to Rice as a supplemental material via Vericant.

For more information, please visit:

5.) When will I be notified about the admissions decision?
Candidates will be notified of admissions decisions in early February; communications will be sent to the email address provided by the candidate on the application form.

Other frequent inquiries:

  • Applications are for the PhD program only; the Department of English does not accept students seeking a terminal Master’s degree.
  • Applications are accepted annually for Fall matriculation only; there is no Spring matriculation.
  • The PhD program in English is a full-time, funded program and does not offer online or distance courses.

Questions about the graduate program may be directed to Humanities Graduate Admissions: