Graduate Programs: Admissions

Admissions

All decisions about admission to graduate degree programs offered in English are made by the Director of Graduate Studies upon recommendation by the Admissions and Standards Subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Committee. When the applicant's admission file is complete in the Graduate School, it is forwarded to the department for evaluation. The department's decision to admit, to admit with certain provisions or stipulations, or not to admit is reported to the Graduate School, which in turn notifies the applicant. Although the Graduate School has specific application deadlines for each semester (June 1 for fall, November 1 for spring, April 1 for summer), admission decisions are made on a continuing basis throughout the year upon receipt of application credentials from the Graduate School.

Requirements for Admission

Our requirements are designed to assure students accepted into the M.A. and Ph.D. programs that they are likely to succeed in their degree work.


Native English-speaking applicants

The department ordinarily expects the following:

M.A. degree:

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Minimum English course GPA of 3.2
  • Minimum verbal GRE score of 156
  • Minimum GRE score in writing of 4.5
  • Two letters of recommendation from professors

Ph.D. degree:

  • Minimum graduate GPA of 3.2
  • Minimum verbal GRE score of 160
  • Minimum GRE score in writing of 4.5
  • Three letters of recommendation from professors
  • A sample of academic writing

The Admissions Subcommittee of the department's Graduate Studies Committee examines and weighs student's credentials in light of the requirements listed above, balancing each requirement with the others in order to estimate the potential for success that the "package" suggests. Excellent letters of recommendation, for example, may compensate for slightly insufficient GRE scores, or strong GRE scores may compensate for a slightly insufficient GPA.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program who have completed an M.A. degree may request waiver of the GRE scores. However, the English Department approves these requests only when the circumstances are compelling. Students seeking entry to the Ph.D. program who hold both a B.A. and an M.A. from NIU are required to submit a formal rationale for their application to the program.


International applicants:

M.A. degree

  • Minimum verbal GRE score of 156 and written GRE score of 4.5
  • Two credible, current letters of recommendation that speak specifically about the applicant's ability, surmised or witnessed, within an English-speaking environment
  • TOEFL IBT score of at least 80 (with a spoken score of 26) or PBT score of at least 550, or IELTS scores of 8 (speaking) and 63.5 (composite.

Ph.D. degree

  • Minimum verbal GRE score of 160 and written GRE score of 4.5
  • Three credible, current letters of recommendation that speak specifically about the applicant's ability, surmised or witnessed, within an English-speaking environment
  • TOEFL IBT score of at least 80 ( with a spoken score of 26) or PBT score of at least 550, or IELTS scores of 8 (speaking) and 6.5 (composite).
  • A writing sample, preferably of academic writing

Students-at-Large:

A student may wish to take graduate courses without being formally admitted to a graduate degree program and may do so as a Student-at-Large (SAL). A student who matriculates as a Student-at-Large is subject to the regulations specified in the Graduate Catalog.

A Student-at-Large should seek advice from the Director of Graduate Studies and may register for courses in the English department. Registration for graduate courses, however, in no way implies admission to the Graduate School.

The Graduate School maintains SAL files until a student formally applies and is admitted to a degree program. Ordinarily, no more than a total of 15 transfer and SAL graduate hours may be applied toward a graduate degree. None of them will count toward a formal program of study for a degree unless approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.