Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Department of English Graduate Studies

Overview & Programs

The graduate program in English at Washington State University supports students working toward advanced degrees at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels. Students may elect to concentrate either in Literary Studies or Rhetoric and Composition. The English Department also offers graduate certificates in TESOL, Digital Humanities and Culture, and participates in WSU’s interdisciplinary American Studies Program. Along with courses in English, students are free to take specialized seminars in related disciplines such as History, Women’s Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science.


Graduate Programs in English

WSU’s English graduate program is one of the few programs in the nation that fully funds almost all of its M.A. and Ph.D. students. As a consequence, ours is a relatively small program: the total number of students at any given time ranges between 40 and 50, and the normal admission rate is roughly ten M.A. students and five or six Ph.D. students per year. Virtually all of our students receive support in the form of a Teaching Assistantship, which comes with a full tuition waiver and a nine-month stipend to cover room, board, and related expenses. M.A. students are guaranteed their Teaching Assistantships for two years, and Ph.D. students for five years. We also provide students with annual funding for travel to conferences, and opportunities exist within the Department for internships with our academic journals (ESQ and Poe Studies) and our computer lab.

Our time-to-degree figure for doctoral students is significantly lower than the national average. Our job placement rate, meanwhile, is significantly higher than the national average (see our Alumni & Job Placement page for details). We attribute our relative success in this regard to the fact that we provide rigorous academic and pedagogical preparation while simultaneously offering forms of mentoring and pre-professional training that enable our students to compete successfully in multiple postgraduate career paths.


If you are interested in learning more about our program, our faculty, or the opportunities afforded by graduate study in English at WSU, we encourage you to follow the links in the left-hand sidebar on this page. You are also welcome to contact Kristin Arola, the current Director of Graduate Studies ( or Ms. Tanya Gonzales, our Graduate Program Coordinator (, for additional information. We would be happy to help you contact current graduate students or faculty members, and we can also assist you in arranging a visit to campus.

Degrees offered:

Master of Arts (M.A.) Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Areas of concentration:

Rhetoric and Composition, Literary studies (British, American, and post colonial Anglophone literature)

Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes for the English graduate program (both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees) include the following:

  • Broad understanding of contemporary English Studies and its various sub-disciplines (as demonstrated and assessed by the successful completion of ENGL 501 and all other seminars that students take during their tenure in our program). Seminars typically require six or seven different forms of student accomplishment, including critical essays, literature reviews, oral presentations, pedagogical reflections, and multimedia projects. All of these assignments provide material for evaluation – material which in turn offers opportunities for the assessment of learning goals.
  • Substantial knowledge of more specialized areas within English Studies, accompanied by the ability to locate and synthesize scholarship in such areas (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by annotated bibliographies and literature reviews, along with the successful completion of qualifying exams). Ultimately students are expected to write essays of publishable quality which persuasively defend original theses and incorporate
    important research in primary and secondary sources.
  • Ability to conduct original research in such sub-disciplines as literary studies, rhetorical theory, composition studies, digital technology, second-language learning, etc. (as demonstrated and assessed by the successful preparation of theses, portfolios, and dissertations). These documents are not approved in our Department until committee members are satisfied that they do indeed represent original research and thinking.
  • Ability to present original research findings to appropriate academic audiences (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by delivering conference papers, presenting material at Departmental colloquia or at WSU’s annual “Academic Showcase,” etc.). Graduate students routinely give oral presentations in their seminars, so they have ample opportunity to learn and practice the skills involved in such presentations. The Department, moreover, provides annual stipends to graduate students whose papers have been accepted for presentation at regional, national, or international conferences.
  • Ability to write scholarly essays or to create texts of other kinds which articulate new claims and present the results of original research and thinking (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by the submission of scholarly essays to peer-reviewed journals or edited collections, or by the dissemination of academic or creative texts in other appropriate venues). Graduate students in our Department can still earn their degrees without having published essays or books, but they are encouraged to submit their scholarship for publication, and faculty members often confer intensively with them as they develop and revise their written work.
  • Ability to teach a range of courses in English Studies, including, for example, Freshman Composition, Writing Research Papers, introductory courses in literary or rhetorical study, etc. (as demonstrated and assessed by successful work as a Teaching Assistant in our graduate program). Graduate student teaching evaluations are read both by the Composition Director and by the Chair. And all members of the Department, including graduate students, are expected to examine the numerical scores in their evaluations within the broader context of summary scores across the Department.