All English MA Program applications are processed through the UAB Graduate School. To get started, just go to the Graduate School website and click the big "Apply Now" button.

A typical English MA application will present the following elements:

The application itself—an online form you'll find when you click the "Apply" button. Do note that the English MA program does not at present distinguish between formal "concentrations." (We have several "themes," but they all lead to the same degree: a Master of Arts in English.) As such, in the "Concentration" field, simply select the "Not Applicable" option.

Transcripts from all previous colleges from which you earned undergraduate or graduate credits. These transcripts typically document that you have a BA in English or a closely related field (or some substantial evidence of success in college-level English classes) and that you have a GPA of at least 3.0. If you do not meet these criteria, please explain in the essay (or see below regarding the Non-degree path). There are instructions on the Graduate School application system explaining where to send the transcripts.

An essay describing your background and your reasons for applying to the UAB English MA program. This need not be too extensive—approximately 500 words should suffice—but it should be carefully and clearly written.

A writing sample. This is typically a five- to ten-page paper written for a previous college class that demonstrates your ability write clear, well-formed prose. Even if you intend to focus your studies on Creative Writing, this essay should present an example of your abilities as a writer of academic English rather than a poem or short story. (Incidentally, the essay you include need not be specifically from an English class – we have seen some excellent history papers, anthropology papers, journalism papers, along with the more familiar literature papers.)

Letters of Recommendation. Ideally, there should be three letters of recommendation written by people who are familiar with and qualified to assess your academic abilities. In most cases, these will be letters from undergraduate professors who can offer a candid appraisal of your work as a student. In some cases, letters from bosses, co-workers, or others who can comment on issues of character can be helpful.

Optional: CV/resumé. If you have a CV or resumé that you wish to include, we would be happy to review it as one element of your application.

Optional: Test Scores. We do not require applicants to take a standardized test such as the GRE or MAT. However, if you have taken such a test and would like us to consider your scores, we will be happy to include them in you application. For the GRE, our Institution code is 1856.

These are the key elements of a MA program application. Clearly, it will take some time to collect and submit all these materials, so it pays to keep one eye on the application deadlines which you can find on the Graduate School website. Once the application is complete and submitted, it typically takes about two weeks for the relevant English department committees to review and render a decision on whether to accept or decline the applicant.

student on a laptop

We accept new students into the program at each semester—Fall, Spring, and Summer—according to the deadlines listed in the Graduate School pages. Do note, however, that graduate assistanships begin each Fall semester. If you wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship, it is helpful to submit the application by mid-February for the fullest consideration. We have only a limited number of these assistantships at our disposal, and the first set of offers for the following academic year is issued on or about 15 March.

As always, if you have any questions about the application requirements or the application process, do not hesitate to contact the Director of Graduate Studies at englishgrad@uab.edu.


The application procedure described above presents the most typical case, and it is perfectly appropriate for undergraduate English majors who wish to continue their studies in the graduate program. The discipline of English, however, sometimes attracts non-traditional students—persons who have been out of school for some years but who are going back to pursue some new interest or career path, creative writers who have "day jobs" but want to finally finish that novel, secondary school English teachers who want to gain some additional credit hours and insights to use professionally, etc. Such students may well fit into the MA program, even without some key elements of the "typical" application. Such returning students may need to take a different path: the non-degree application.

The non-degree application is much simpler, and it is managed entirely through the Graduate School (we do not even see the application here in the English department), but non-degree graduate students are perfectly free to register for graduate level courses in the English department. Then, assuming the courses taken as a non-degree student have been satisfying and the student has performed well, it is possible to submit a complete program application for admission as a regular English graduate student. It is permissible subsequently to transfer as many as 12 non-degree graduate credit hours into the degree program thus insuring that those non-degree credits are not "wasted."