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Graduate FAQ

Questions about the admission process?  Contact the Graduate Coordinator


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Penn keep GRE scores on file?

A: Yes.



Q: I submitted my application for the Department of English Graduate Program last night and was wondering: would it be possible for me to remove the writing sample I provided and submit another one?  I had one specifically chosen for University of Pennsylvania and accidentally selected the wrong file.

A: You can send me a hard copy for your file in case there is further problem by email attachment to

In the mean time you can also send this to Pat Rea <>,  the Associate Director of Admissions, and request that she try to upload it into your application.  If you have any questions, please let me know.



Q: You ask for an unofficial transcript. Would a scanned copy of an official transcript also be acceptable?

A: Yes




Q: I had taken the GRE Subject exam in Literature early this November, but received notification that my scores will not be sent until December 23rd. All other GRE scores will be in by the December 15th deadline. If I note that my scores are forthcoming on my application, is that all right?

A: That is perfect.  Official scores are always confirmed later.




Q: I have applied for the English Ph.D program but wish to be considered for the free-standing MA program should I not qualify for the Ph.D admissions. Do I have to submit a separate application for the MA program with a separate application fee?

A: No, you should not submit a separate application.  Please call our graduate coordinator, 215-898-3669



Q:  I read that there is no foreign language requirement for admission but to complete the PhD two exams in language proficiency must be taken.  Are language classes provided as part of the program or would language classes need to be taken at one's own initiative?

A: Two language exams are required and you would be able to enroll in a undergrad language course as an audit if you wish to refresh your language skills.  What most grad students do is register for the summer language courses offered by the Grad School each summer.

Students taking the French, German, Spanish, or Latin summer classes that the Grad School offers for free to PhD students may request a similar exam from their summer language professors.

These courses are offered each summer in summer session one.



Q:  I am applying to the Master of Arts program. Do I submit an online application through CollegeNet, which is used for Ph.D. applicants, or is there another website for students applying for the M.A. program?

A:  Yes, when applying to the MA your would complete an online application through CollegeNet.  The site is open for applications each year beginning on October 1 and ending on December 15.  Decisions will be sent out in mid March.



Q:  Does the English department accept recommendation letters from Interfolio for the PhD in English application?

A: The University of Pennsylvania uses CollegeNet software and CollegeNet does not accept letters of recommendation from Interfolio.  The letters should be uploaded directly into your application.  If this is a problem, the recommender can email the letter directly to Graduate Coordinator Ann Marie Pitts ( to be manually added to your application. 


Q:  For the PhD program, is there funding for students - even if international students - or is there an opportunity to work as a TA, assistantships, etc.?

A: Our Ph.D. students are accepted with five years of funding, including international students.  The details of our funding can be found on our Admissions website.




Q: My school does not use GPAs.  In we use CGPA or SGPA and a numerical total of the marks received, for example 143 out of a total of 200.  On the application for UPenn, under 'GPA scale', the options listed are '4.0', 'Other' and 'No GPA'. How should I convert my SGPA or CGPA score?

A:  Select “Other GPA Scale" and place 200. Then, next to that the GPA would be 143.



Q: Do I have to have an M.A degree to be eligible to apply? If there is a link to the eligibility requirements for the Ph.D program?

A: You do not need to have an M.A. to apply to the program.   All requirements and information is listed in our web site:



Q:  For the writing sample portion of the application, is it permissible to submit an excerpt of a longer work, or must the writing sample be a self-contained essay?

A: Your writing sample should not be longer than 20 pages not including Works Cited and should  provide an up-to-date portrait of your critical writing and thinking.




Q:  I am applying to the English Ph.D. program.  How can I receive a fee waiver?

A: These requests must be made to the Associated Director for Admissions, Pat Rea <>, in writing.  You cannot submit your application until it has been approved and you have received a code from Ms. Rea.  The instructions for this are found on the Graduate School’s website.

"Fee waiver: A fee waiver may be considered for U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. In order to apply for a fee waiver, the applicant should enclose a brief letter stating the reason for the request. This letter should be sent with your Application for Admission. Please be advised that the applicant must demonstrate a clear and compelling case of financial hardship."


Q:  Can the deadline for letters of recommendation can be extended beyond the December 15th deadline?  Must they be on file with the rest of the application at the time of submission?

A: Your letters of recommendation can come in beyond the deadline of December 15 as long as your application was submitted before midnight of the 15.  Supporting documentation such as letters and GRE scores can come in beyond that date.


Q: If I apply for the terminal Masters program and am accepted, would it be possible to pursue a ph.D. upon completion of the Masters?

A:  It is not possible to pursue a Ph.D. after completing the terminal Master program without having applied to the PhD program and then accepted to that program.  If you apply directly to the Ph.D. program and are accepted you would attain your Masters en route to your Ph.D. 



Q:  Does your university recognizes three year Indian bachelors degree to be eligible for postgraduate study and if there is any exception for an accredited institute?

A:  Yes, the three year Indian BA is accepted.



Q: Is it necessary to submit transcripts for a community college even if those courses appear on my university transcript as transfer credit?

A: When applying it is always better to include all unofficial transcripts uploaded into your application.  If this is not possible then the transfer credit on your uploaded transcripts will be fine.


Q:  I am filling out the online application on CollegeNet and am having an issue with submitting writing samples.  I know it is suggested to only submit one 20 page paper, but I am submitting 2 papers of about 12 pages each.  It is only allowing me to upload one paper.  How do I get it to upload the second one?

A: There is no way to upload a second writing sample, the software is designed to accept one writing sample of approximately 20 pages.  You should just submit your best writing sample that provides an up-to-date portrait of your critical writing and thinking.