Doctoral Program FAQs

Does the Ph.D. program in English at Boston College accept students who do not have a Master's Degree?
Students arrive in our doctoral program with A.B.'s, B.A.'s, and Master's degrees. A M.A. is not required.

If I do have a Master's degree, will I receive credit for my past work?
Since we don't have a "credit based" program for our doctorate in English, you aren't transferring course work. But having a solid background of graduate courses will enable you to move more quickly, perhaps, towards planning your sequence of oral examinations. If you have taken a course in Composition Theory or the teaching of Writing, that will normally allow you to not take *our* required course. And of course foreign language tests are credited towards your requirement here. Usually one language is transferable.

How can I apply to both the Ph.D. and the M.A. program? Are rejected Ph.D. applicants automatically considered for the M.A.?
Students who apply to the Ph.D. program who do *not* already have an M.A. are automatically considered for the M.A. program as well.

Does the Ph.D. program accept M.A. candidates from Boston College itself, and are they given any special preference?
We of course welcome M.A. applicants from our own program, and several have enrolled in recent years. But all applicants are placed in the same pool for admissions purposes.

What kinds of foreign language preparation are necessary for admission?
Since students do need to pass language examinations or complete translation courses here at B.C., strong language preparation is highly recommended.

Does the Ph.D. program in English accept students who intend to concentrate in Creative Writing?
No, while we have many excellent faculty members who are creative writers, and occasionally offer workshops in this area, we do not offer a Creative Writing concentration.

Does your program have a "minimum" level requirement for GRE scores upon application to the Ph.D. program?
No. GRE scores are considered in the overall context of the students' application.

What is a good form for the writing sample?
We much prefer having a critical, interpretive essay. If you must submit a portion of your M.A. or undergraduate thesis, please keep the length under 20 pages, and offer a page or paragraph which puts the sample in context.

When are admissions decisions made?
We try to make decisions about the doctoral program by the first week of March. Admitted students then have until mid-April to make their decision whether or not to enroll. Thus, the wait list process extends through mid-April, and sometimes shortly beyond that. We do our best to keep everyone informed of their status.

When is your application deadline, and how can I acquire an application form?
The application deadline for the Ph.D. program is January 2. For applications, both the general and subject sections of the Graduate Record Examination are required. Application forms should be accompanied by a personal statement, a writing sample (a critical essay) of not more than 20 pages, transcripts and three letters of recommendation, preferably from teachers who know the applicant's work. Requests for application to the graduate program should be sent to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Or you can write to the following address:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Office
140 Commonwealth Ave.
Gasson Hall 108
Chestnut Hill, Mass. 02460