How to Apply

The Graduate School at Northwestern now requires all prospective students to apply for admission using our online application.

Program Codes

Look for the following codes when searching for the correct degree program:

E25PH is the program code for the Doctoral program

E25MA is the code for the Master's program

E25ND is the code for Non-Degree students


All supplemental application materials must be submitted online in electronic form. Please do not send, or have sent, paper copies of any documents. If you or your recommenders are having difficulty submitting any component of the application online and ApplyYourself help isn't able to resolve your problem, please contact the Graduate Program Assistant.

Application deadlines for Fall 2016 matriculation

Submission must occur by midnight the evening of the day listed.

Ph.D. applications

Master's and Non-degree applications
We review applications three times each year.  All applications that are complete by a given deadline will receive a decision as soon afterwards as possible.

Sunday, November 1st (2015)
Sunday, January 31st (2016)
Friday, April 1st (2016)

Supplemental Application Materials

In addition to the online application, the English Department requires the following documents for application to the Doctoral (program code: E25PH), Master's (program code: E25MA), and Non-Degree (program code: E25ND) programs:

  1. One scanned copy of the official transcript from each institution you've attended. Transcripts for non-degree courses are not needed.
    NOTE: transfer credits and courses taken as part of a study-abroad program will usually be included in your degree-awarding institution's transcript. There's no need to submit separate transcripts from those other institutions;
  2. Two letters of recommendation (three are recommended for a fuller portrait of you);
  3. A statement of purpose (approximately 400-500 words), detailing your intellectual interests, strengths, and reasons for wanting to undertake graduate study. This restriction takes precedence over any other information about the statement of purpose found either on the Graduate School's website or on the ApplyYourself site itself;
  4. Official verbal, quantitative, and analytical GRE test scores sent directly from ETS to the Graduate School (the Literature in English subject test remains optional). The institution code for reporting scores to Northwestern is 1565. For scores to be considered official, the text must have been taken no more than five years before the intended quarter of entryand must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS);
  5. All non-native English speaking applicants are required to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS exam. TOEFL scores should be reported on the online application, and will be verified by the department when ETS submits scores electronically. IELTS results will be reported directly to the department by the testing service. To be considered official, the scores from these exams must have been taken no more than two years before intended quarter of entry. Because of the level of English fluency required of students in our program, we will only consider applications with a TOEFL score of at least 100/250/600 (from the internet, computer, or paper versions of the exam, respectively) or IELTS score of at least 7;
    NOTE: Rules to qualify for exemption from this requirement can be found in our FAQ
  6. A sample of your writing--ideally a critical essay-between 12 and 25 pages, on a literary topic that includes scholarly citations. Please do not submit creative writing samples of any kind.

Additional details from Northwestern's Graduate School about the application (including further details on the TOEFL/IELTS requirement, transcript submission, application fees, etc...) can be found on The Graduate School's website.

PhD Applicants

Notification of the admissions committee's decisions will most likely occur by early February. Once our offers of admissions have been made, we will invite those prospective students to campus for a Visiting Weekend at the beginning of March. This is a chance for you to meet with faculty and current graduate students, discuss future projects and hear about current doctoral work, tour the department and the campus, sit in on graduate seminars, and to enjoy some of the many restaurants and cultural events that Evanston and Chicago have to offer.

MA and Non-Degree Applicants

Applications for the Master's degree are accepted throughout the academic year, and reviewed three times during that period. Students admitted to the Master's program currently average GRE Verbal scores of 600. We offer only a full-time Master's Degree Program in English; applicants interested in a part-time degree should contact School of Professional Studies for information about its Master's in Literature, in Creative Writing, and in Liberal Studies.

NOTE: Applications will only be considered for matriculation in the following Fall quarter.