FAQs for Prospective Applicants 

What is the application deadline for the MA and PhD programs? For fall semester matriculation, your complete application must be completed online by January 15. This deadline remains the same everyyear.  We also offer a second admissions cycle for the MA program only; applications for spring semester matriculation are due October 1. 

Can the department give me a sense of my chances of acceptance before I apply? No.  In addition to looking over all of your application materials, your application will be ranked in relationship to others who apply.  Because we do not know what the applicant pool will be, we cannot assess your chances in advance. 

Do I need to submit a separate application for funding?  No.  You may simply indicate that you are interested in a TA position on the application itself.  Please note that we typically offer funding (a tuition waiver and stipend) to all students accepted into the PhD program. We are not able to offer such funding to our MA students, but these students have applied for and received campus employment in the past.

How should I submit my application? Please consult these instructions.

Who has to take the iBT (Internet-based TOEFL exam)? Students who are not native or primary speakers of English must submit scores from the iBT. Native or primary speakers of English have been raised or educated in an English-speaking environment. Native or primary speakers may speak a language other than English at home but speak English exclusively outside the home in social and/or educational contexts. For more information, please consult the Graduate School's FAQs.

Who has to take the GRE?
 Anyone applying to an academic program: MA and PhD applicants.

Does the English Department require a minimum GRE score?  No.  Although most admitted students have a verbal score of 500 (MA students) or 600 (PhD students) or above, we are interested in the entire admissions package.  A low score is not a bar to admission; a high score will not guarantee acceptance.

Do you require the Literature in English subject test? No.  We only require the general GRE.

What if I haven’t taken the iBT or GRE exam yet?  We need to have the results in our office no later than January 31 for fall admission and October 31 for spring admission.  If your score is not received on time, it could jeopardize your admission to the program.

What sort of writing samples do I have to send? Samples of written work such as a research paper submitted for an undergraduate class or a master’s thesis.Submit essays in research, analysis, or criticism that demonstrate your ability to carry out scholarly work in English. The papers, typically generated in prior course work, should be approximately 10 pages (for applicants to the MA program) and 20 pages for applicants to the PhD program in length and should contain a bibliography. 

Is a campus visit necessary? No.  If you will be in the area and would like to visit the department, please email the Graduate Director.  Such visits do not, however, increase the chances of admission.  Admitted students are encouraged to visit before deciding whether to accept our offer.

How does the Department decide whom to admit? Admissions decisions are based primarily upon the admissions committee’s estimation of the student’s potential for scholarly achievement and the ability of the Stony Brook faculty to support the student in his or her intended field of scholarly study. Although no one factor will determine an outcome, the committee is particularly interested in applicants’ statements of purpose and writing samples.

When does the Department decide? We send out admissions letters after the file review is complete. Offer letters are generally sent out in March. There is only one person processing all these letters, so please do not call to find out about the status of your letter.

What if it’s April, and I haven’t received my letter yet? If you have not heard anything by April, please email the Graduate Program Coordinator with your full name, and the degree you applied for. We will look into it and get back to you.

Can I call for your decision? Results are only given in writing. Please do not call for your result.


Department of English, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5350 - Undergraduate: 631 632-7400 | Graduate: 631 632-7373

Login to Edit