Master's Admissions

Applicants to the Linguistics Master's Program apply through the NCSU English Department. Information about the application process for the English Department is provided below.

Admission Requirements

Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants should submit GRE scores (General Aptitude Test); two official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work; three letters of recommendation; a personal statement; and a writing sample. Creative writing applicants should submit both a creative and a critical writing sample.

Admission Deadlines

Fall Semester Enrollment: Feb. 1 with aid, June 15 without.

Spring Semester Enrollment: Nov. 1 with or without aid.

You may also apply to start in summer, but we do not recommend doing so. There are usually no TAships available and very few graduate English classes are offered in the summer sessions, because many professors are away from campus. If this is your only option the due dates are: Apr. 15 for Session I, and June 1 for Session II.

No matter when you aim to enroll, the complete application--online forms, 2 copies of transcripts, GRE general test scores, writing sample, statement of goals, 3 letters of recommendation-- must be uploaded by the date listed to have the best chance for admission.

Deferred Enrollment: Should you be accepted, but unable to enroll in the term to which you were officially admitted, you may defer your enrollment by up to one year. To do so you must email or write the Graduate Director explaining why you need to defer.  The Graduate Director then sends the request to the Graduate School. Such requests typically are granted.

General Information

The successful applicant to the M.A. program is typically an undergraduate English major with at least a 3.0 in all courses -- but especially in English courses -- and competitive GRE scores. However, promising students from other undergraduate disciplines are encouraged to apply. Indeed, some excellent graduate students have entered the program with degrees in areas such as Political Science, Accounting, Psychology, Philosophy, and Art History. Typically, there are around 80 M.A. students in the program.

Am I Qualified?

Those most likely to be accepted will have a minimum overall undergraduate GPA (grade point average) of 3.0. If your GPA is below 3.0, you may only be admitted if the Graduate Director indicates to the Graduate School that there are significant compensating factors indicating that your chance of success will be good. These can include: a higher GPA in the major; a higher GPA in your final 2 years of undergraduate work.

In most cases, those with a GPA under 3.0 are only granted provisional admission. In all cases Provisional Admits are not eligible for the Teaching Assistantship in English, our department's primary form of financial assistance to graduate students. Anyone admitted as Provisional must earn a 3.0 or higher in the first 9 graded credit hours taken in order to be promoted from Provisional to Full status.

Applying to the Program

School-level Materials

NC State University accepts only online applications. To apply, you must have a valid e-mail address. These are available for free at a number of websites, such as Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail. The cost to apply is $55. The online application form is available here through the Graduate School's Apply Yourself service. This form will also ask if you are applying for admission only, or for admission and aid (e.g. assistantships). If you are applying for aid, for first choice click "Teaching Assistantship." The department offers no Research Assistantships, and any Fellowships received are added to the stipends that teaching assistants receive.

The Personal Statement is a part of the online application process, submitted with your application form. A good statement will have something to say about these topics: why you want to earn a graduate degree in English; what your intellectual interests are; what your research interests are; whether you have any teaching experience and interest in teaching; whether there are particular faculty here with whom you would like to study. Explain your interest in the M.A. program, what you offer us, and whether you have specific interest in teaching. If you have been working and wish to send a résumé please do so.

Please note: the online application service allows you to submit your letters of recommendation directly to the graduate school via the Apply Yourself service.

All of the pages of the online application will go straight to the Graduate School, and they in turn will send the forms to the English department, or make the files available to us online.

GRE Scores

GRE scores are sent directly by ETS (the Educational Testing Service) to the Graduate School. You will need to take the Graduate Record Exam general test unless you've taken it within the past 5 years. For more information about the 3 parts (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytic Writing) see the ETS website at: There are no absolute minimum cutoff scores, but our recent average for the GRE Verbal is 590.

The test can be taken once in any calendar month. It can be retaken as well on the same schedule. We will keep your highest scores, and scores remain valid for 5 years. Designate that your scores are sent to NC State University. We do not require the Subject test in English. In some select cases, as when candidates already hold a graduate-level degree, we can waive the GRE, but you must specifically request this waiver and submit a letter of explanation to the Graduate Director supporting your case for exemption.

Departmental Requirements (sent by Applicant)

Letters of Recommendation: Via the same application website, direct your recommenders to the instructions in ApplyYourself for submitting a recommendation letter fully online. The interface allows recommenders to either write directly online, or to upload a text file (we recommend the latter for the letter portion of the recommendation).

Select three qualified recommenders, preferably people able to speak to your reading, interpreting, and writing talents, as well as your general academic aptitude. Ask that they submit a letter along with the cover sheet, since those sheets have scoring grids but very little room for the more helpful extended comments about candidates.  At least two of the three letters should be from academic professionals.

One Copy of Unofficial Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts from any undergraduate or graduate institution you have attended should be uploaded with your application. If the department recommends that you be admitted, you will then be asked to submit official transcripts to the Graduate School. Only upon receipt of official transcripts will your admission be official.

Writing Sample: Your sample is a critical part of the application. Take time and care with it to be sure that it represents your best work. Sloppy proofreading and formatting will hurt your chances. Frequently our applicants submit college-level academic papers, but that is not the only option. What we need to see is in this sample includes facility with reading and writing about literature, care with language, ability in interpretation, and clarity in exposition and argument.  If you know your planned concentration area, aim to submit something directly relevant to that concentration, be it work in film, linguistics, rhetoric, or another sub field of English.

Once the Graduate School receives materials sent directly to them, they compile them and send them to the English Department. Consequently, if you send the sample, goals, and letters to the Graduate School they will eventually get to the department, but not as quickly as when those materials are sent to the English Graduate Director directly.

Decision Types: Your first official notification of the decision comes on a one-page letter from the Dean of the Graduate School. After receiving this you will be sent information from the English Graduate Director about Assistantships, and then registration for your first classes in the English Department.

  • Full Admission with Aid: student enters as a Teaching Assistant
  • Full Admission without Aid: student enters without an assistantship, but is eligible for one should one become available after the student has enrolled
  • Provisional Admission: student enters ineligible for aid until earning, in the first 9 letter-graded hours of graduate coursework, a 3.0 GPA or better
  • Deny: student may not enroll

If you are admitted you will receive an official letter from the Graduate School listing your Admission Status, you Degree Sought, your Curriculum, Intended Term of Enrollment, and Tuition Classification. It also says that your major department will contact you concerning any Assistantships, but you may also contact the English Graduate Director via email or phone to find out about that.

Financial Aid

Tuition & Expenses Information

As a state-supported university, the tuition and fees at NC State vary with the state budget from year to year. The University Cashier's Office is able to provide more accurate information concerning estimated tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state graduate students (link opens in a new window). Estimated costs of attendance include tuition, room & board, fees, books, and miscellaneous expenses.

Competitively based financial assistance is available for students from several different sources:

  1. English department teaching assistantships, which require teaching freshman composition during the student's second year of study.
  2. William C. Friday Endowment research assistantships for general and specialized research.
  3. Research assistantships for specific research projects funded through external agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Since 1993, 25 different students have been supported through the acquisition of more than $750,000 in external funding that includes 9 consecutive years of funding from the National Science Foundation.

NC State University sponsors an extremely useful site, entitled Types of Funding Available for Graduate Education. At this site, you will learn where to go for information about federal and state fellowships, Diversity Grants, loans, aid from foundations, and the like. These opportunities for aid in the form of fellowships, assistantships or aid are also listed in detail on this flyer provided by the Graduate School. Some specific scholarships available to M.A. Graduate Students are listed (and linked) on the Assistantships section of this page. You should also take a look at the Graduate School's page Nationally Competitive Fellowships and Other Funding Opportunities.

The Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid (2016 Harris Hall) assists students with scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment opportunities. Although its main emphasis is on undergraduate students, it provides some assistance (or at least information) to graduate students as well. Visit their web site to see what it offers.


Every year the English department offers between fifteen and twenty incoming students the opportunity to teach. Students teach their own sections of composition in their second year, after they have completed the composition training (see below) and have completed 18 graduate hours of study, a North Carolina requirement for being teacher of record in any college or university course.

TAs are provided with full tuition In-State Tuition Assistance (ISTA) and a stipend. Those entering without North Carolina residency receive Tuition Remission (TR, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates) as well as ISTA for their first year. All out-of-state TAs are required to establish official residency in North Carolina after they have resided in the state for 12 months. Once state residents, they receive ISTA only. The stipend for teaching assistantships is $9000/academic year, $4500/semester. Fees are not covered by the assistantship; they currently total $587 per semester in 2006-07. TAs also receive health insurance worth $1383/year. Health insurance also covers the summer between your first and second year as a TA. For more details please see the Graduate Student Support Plan.

Students interested in being considered for a teaching assistantship should apply by the deadline of February 1 for fall admission. TAships are rarely available for spring admission. Letters of application should indicate the student's interest in an assistantship. Selection is based on undergraduate record, GREs, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

Most TAs currently are trained to teach their own sections of the department's first-year writing course. The workload guidelines and registration requirements are outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook, under Teaching Assistantships. Linguistics TAs are often assigned to assist in large section undergrad courses. However, some may be asked to teach freshman writing.


Alumni Fellowships are non-renewable one-year awards of $2000. Selection is based on an outstanding undergraduate and (where applicable) graduate record, strong GRE scores, and outstanding letters of recommendation. Students do not apply for these fellowships directly. Each spring, Directors of Graduate Programs submit nominations to their respective college's Associate Dean.

CHASS-NEH Fellowships are available to outstanding entering master's students. The CHASS Fellowship provides an annual stipend of $3,000, renewable for two years. Students may not apply directly for these fellowships; they must be nominated by their prospective Directors of Graduate Programs.

The Robbie Knott Memorial Fellowship is offered by the Department of English. It consists of $1000 for one academic year for outstanding female graduate students. Eligible candidates are already enrolled in the MA and are nominated by the Department during their second year.

The Jerry J. Collier Fellowship provides funding to a graduate student who has earned the baccalaureate degree at NC State and who participated in a varsity sport during his or her undergraduate tenure. The annual stipend is $3,500 per academic year. The scholarship may be renewed on an annual basis for the number of years normally required for the completion of the recipient's degree.