Please note that the Department of English's Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature program (post code 1087) has a different set of requirements and admissions process.

The following instructions apply to the Ph.D. in Literature program (post code 382).

  • When to apply

    Applications are due December 1 for entrance in the fall. Applicants who wish to compete for university-wide Provost’s fellowships (including diversity fellowships) or College fellowships must have their applications fully complete by December 1

    For more information on Provost’s and Provost’s Diversity Fellowships, see

  • How and where to apply

    One online application is now sufficient to be considered at both the university and departmental levels for admissions and fellowships. Please upload all application materials electronically onto the USC system through the "ApplyYourself" application at

    Both the general GRE exam and the subject test in English Literature are required for admission. For information about the GRE exam, please see

    GRE school code: 4852
    GRE department code: 2501

    Official transcripts and GRE score reports are sent directly to this address:
    University of Southern California
    USC Office of Graduate Admission
    3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

    If you have specific questions about the online application process, please contact Graduate Admission at

    If you have any questions regarding supplemental materials, please contact the graduate coordinator at the Department of English:

    Flora Ruiz, Graduate Coordinator for Student Affairs
    Department of English, University of Southern California
    3501 Trousdale Parkway, Taper Hall 404
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354

    Phone: (213) 740-3728
    Fax: (213) 741-0377

  • Materials to be submitted

    The following items should be included in an application you submit online to USC's Graduate Admissions; the English department's admissions committee will access them online. Please upload them as "Supplemental materials."

    1. Unofficial transcript copies of all undergraduate and graduate work, both completed and attempted.
    2. Unofficial copies of GRE scores, both the general and English Literature subject test.
    3. Your statement of purpose (two to three pages).
    4. Three letters of recommendation*.
    5. Two writing samples (one if you wish to combine both) totaling no more than 20 pages.
    6. A one-page resume.

    *Note: Upon submitting your online application, an email is sent directly to each individual you have listed to write a letter of recommendation. Specific instructions are given in the email on how to upload each letter of recommendation.

  • Criteria for evaluation

    Evidence of rigorous and original work as an undergraduate or master’s student and a considered statement of purpose are as important for admission to USC’s Ph.D. program in English as high grades and GRE scores. You are encouraged to make yourself familiar with the program and faculty resources in the Department of English at USC ( and to mention briefly in your statement of purpose how the program fits your interests. The two writing samples should give a sense of your range of interests and critical strategies, and your letters of recommendation should include at least two from professors who have taught you in English courses or courses in closely related fields.

Notification of decisions

The admissions committee will announce decisions by late February.

Graduate alumni publications pictured above:
James Penner, Pinks, Pansies, and Punks Indiana UP 2010; Peter D. O'Neill and David Lloyd, The Black and Green Atlantic Palgrave Macmillan 2009; Molly Engelhardt, Dancing out of Line Ohio UP 2009; Amy Newlove Schroeder, The Sleep Hotel Oberlin College Press 2010; Bonnie Nadzam, Lamb Other Press 2011; Alexis Lothian, Futures of Feminism and Fandom Aqueduct 2012.

  • USC Dornsife Department of English
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Taper Hall of Humanities 404
  • University Park
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354
  • Fax: (213) 741-0377