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Candidate Qualifications

Master's Programs

We enroll approximately 12–15 new students in the master's programs in composition/rhetoric, creative writing, and literature each year. Admitted students hold bachelor’s degrees from a range of undergraduate institutions within the region (e.g., Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University) and beyond it (e.g., Boston University, Seattle University, Wisconsin) and both large (e.g., University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh) and small (e.g., Lipscomb College, Mt. Holyoke).

Particular degree concentrations seek particular qualities in their master’s candidates. For the Creative Writing concentrations in fiction or poetry, the quality of the materials an applicant submits, demonstrating aptitude for and further potential in creative work, is the crucial determining factor for admission.

For the concentration in Composition and Rhetoric, faculty look to the critical writing sample, seek previous experience in the teaching of writing or a related endeavor, and evaluate potential for excellence in research as vital qualities in successful applications.

And for the M.A. in Literature, a solid background in literary history and some exposure to contemporary literary theory, a well-written and well-researched analytical essay, and a statement of intent that shows a clear understanding of the nature of graduate training in literature weigh equally with the faculty members who evaluate applications.


Doctoral Programs

In keeping our total graduate population relatively small, we must accept only a small number of highly qualified students whose interests and abilities match our program, with about 6-8 new doctoral students enrolling each year.

New students join us from such diverse institutions as California Polytechnic State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, North Carolina Central University, University of Louisville, University of Akron—and Miami University. Nearly all successful applicants have already earned the M.A. degree in literature, composition and rhetoric, or another cognate field, and demonstrate their skills as readers and writers through the application materials they submit.

Successful doctoral applications in either concentration have many qualities in common. Faculty from each program look for evidence of excellence in a candidate’s undergraduate and graduate record. They evaluate the writing samples applicants submit in accord with the norms of current research standards within their disciplines. Those applicants with previous teaching experience or demonstrated interest in the theory and practice of teaching composition and/or literature are highly prized, and candidates for admission should include some discussion of teaching in their personal statements. Finally, an applicant who can demonstrate a clear set of related research interests throughout the different elements of her/his application will have a real advantage in the admissions process.

Students who have met the requirements for the Master of Arts in English, in either a thesis or non-thesis plan, may apply for admission into the doctoral program. Anyone whose master’s degree is in another field is also welcome to apply. Only those applicants who can be funded with a graduate teaching appointment will be eligible for admission.

The departmental Admissions and Awards Committee takes into consideration courses, grades, foreign language preparation, the applicant’s personal statement, the three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Students with an M.A. will be considered for admission to graduate study at the doctoral level.

Frequently Asked Questions

for Graduate Program Applicants

When does admissions begin and end?

The application deadline for MA, MFA, and PhD programs is Dec 15. Admitted students typically matriculate in the fall semester, following admission. In addition, full-time students on teaching assistantships must arrive at least one week before fall semester classes begin for orientation workshops regarding their teaching duties.

Is the tuition really 100% waived?

Yes, but on the Registrar website, tuition is called ‘instructional fee’ and this is confusing to students. Please note that tuition fees are 100% waived. But there are instructional fees in addition to tuition, which are approximately $1,000 a semester. Students pay these instructional fees, but not the tuition-instructional fees.

How much are teaching assistants paid?

The amount of the stipend will be stated in the official letter offering an assistantship. This year (2022-23), the stipend for MA and MFA students is $17,138 and the stipend for PhD students is $23,730, covering late August to early May.

Is health insurance required?

Yes, Miami University requires all students to have health insurance. An Aetna student health insurance plan is available through the university if you do not already have coverage. There are two payment options. The first option is to pay all of it up front; the second option is to have it come out of your stipend in monthly payments over the course of a semester. Go to Miami student health insurance for cost and coverage info.  

How do I apply to waive the application fee?

You are eligible for a fee waiver if you meet any of the following conditions:
  1. You have earned a graduate degree (masters or higher) from Miami University. 
  2. You are a Ronald E. McNair Scholar or alum. 
  3. You are from a low income country designated by the World Bank.
Please contact for any questions.

What is the teaching load for graduate assistants?

MA and MFA students typically teach two courses in the second semester, unless they have prior teaching experience, in which case they will teach one each semester. In the second year, students typically teach two courses during the fall semester and one course during the spring semester. PhD students normally teach one course during the fall and two during the spring, although this order can be reversed beyond the first year. And the teaching load would change if you apply and are selected for an administrative position or for a dissertation fellowship.

What courses will I have the opportunity to teach?

All first-year graduate students teach English 111, our introductory Composition & Rhetoric course. As you move through the program, you have opportunities to teach other kinds of courses. For MFA students, the spring semester of the second year will likely include teaching English 226, the Introduction to Creative Writing course; and MA and PhD students will have an opportunity to teach an Advanced Composition course such as English 225. In addition, Literature PhD students will be able to apply for the Literature Apprenticeship program, which prepares them to teach a literature course, and Composition and Rhetoric students can request to teach a course from this list

In addition to teaching, are there administrative assistantship positions?

Yes. We have positions for both MFA/MA students and PhD students in the Howe Center for Writing Excellence. This could give you experience advising undergraduate students and running a writing center.There are several other positions available for PhD students, including Assistant Director of Composition and Coordinator of the Portfolio Project.

Do you require the GRE?


What are the supplemental materials required for applying?

Each of our programs require three letters of recommendation. Each program requires a CV, a personal statement, and a sample of written work.
  • The length of the personal statement is typically 2-3 pages.
  • The writing sample varies in length, but is typically between 8 and 15 pages. If the sample is longer, it will still be accepted but please keep in mind that the admissions review committee values quality over quantity. 
  • Unofficial transcripts are sufficient for the initial application process, but once you are accepted, official transcripts will be required. 

ENG Graduate Application Requirements

Will I be allowed to work an outside job or more hours?

In order for you to do this, the Director of Graduate Studies will need to submit a petition on your behalf to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.

What is the acceptance rate?

Please contact Sarah Broome at for this information.

Does your department or university offer any fellowships?

Yes, we have fourth-year and fifth-year dissertation fellowships. The application procedures are sent out prior to the deadline, which is typically in March.