Ph.D. student Matt Whitaker participates in a panel with alums Linda Garcia Merchant, Nicole Green, Erin Bertram, and Angel Garcia

Erin Chambers

Resources for Current and Prospective Students

The Department of English offers the M.A. and Ph.D. in English for students interested in Literary and Cultural Studies, Creative Writing, and Composition and Rhetoric. In addition to specializations in these areas, there are opportunities for students to obtain an interdisciplinary specialization in Ethnic Studies, Great Plains Studies, Nineteenth Century Studies, or Women’s and Gender Studies. We also offer graduate certifications in Digital Humanities and the Teaching of Writing.


Open letter to prospective students

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

We appreciate your interest in the graduate program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln! The Department of English offers a vibrant, diverse, and intellectually stimulating place to do your graduate work.

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M.A. and Ph.D. Specializations

A specialization is a well-defined area of study allowing students to focus their graduate work in a way that is noted on their official UNL transcript. Students are not required to declare a specialization, but can take advantage of both departmental and interdisciplinary specializations to enhance their course of study.

Composition and Rhetoric

The Composition and Rhetoric program prepares teacher-scholars as active contributors to their school, disciplinary, and community settings. The program offers a generalist M.A. specialization and an individually-tailored Ph.D. specialization. Students who take this specialization will gain expertise in the areas of pedagogy, composition, rhetoric, and literacy studies.

Creative Writing

Every year, the Creative Writing program accepts applications only in a specific genre—poetry or fiction/nonfiction—alternating each subsequent year. The M.A. thesis consists of creative activity and scholarship; Ph.D. students complete a dissertation that includes a book-length work of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, and a scholarly component.

Literary and Cultural Studies

M.A. and Ph.D. specializations in Literary and Cultural Studies focus on the analysis of literature within larger cultural, social and political contexts, and utilize a wide range of critical methodologies, such as textual recovery, archival work, digital scholarship, and theoretical analyses.

Graduate Certificates

A graduate certificate comprises a set of credit-bearing graduate courses representing a specific subject area. Students may pursue a graduate certificate and graduate degree simultaneously, although concurrent enrollment is not required.

Digital Humanities

UNL's Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate Program allows graduate and post-baccalaureate students to gain scholarly credentials in the digital humanities while engaging in multiple opportunities to learn about a vibrant and rapidly expanding field. Students can take part in the development of established and new faculty projects, and use innovative digital methods to pursue their own research questions.

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Teaching of Writing

The Certificate in the Teaching of Writing is designed specifically for students interested in enhancing their teaching skills in the area of writing. The certificate provides advanced coursework in rhetoric, literacy, writing, and teacher inquiry. Students often include the Nebraska Writing Project’s summer institute (ENGL 857B) in their course of study.

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M.A. with a Concentration in the Teaching of English

The M.A. with a Concentration in the Teaching of English is designed for students with established careers in K-12, community college, state college, and liberal arts college English teaching, or who envision careers in such teaching; instead of the area requirements for MA students, students take three courses focused on teaching English.

Program Details

Other Affiliated Interdisciplinary Areas

Graduate students can take advantage of coursework and faculty advising in these areas, even though formal graduate specializations are not offered at this time.

Graduate Funding

Teaching and Assistantships

We offer multi-year assistantship packages for M.A. and Ph.D. students, with competitive stipends for both research and teaching assistantships. Students are also eligible for fellowships and can obtain funding to work with the Writing Center, Prairie Schooner, The Cather Project, and the Walt Whitman Archive, among other projects.

M.A. Assistantships

Ph.D. Assistantships

TA and PhD student Jess Poli teaching her ENGL 150 Writing and Inquiry class

Graduate Student Directory

Want to know who's who among our graduate students? Browse our students' profiles and catch a glimpse of the breadth of research, writing, and teaching that takes place here.

Meet Our Students

Awards and Honors

Our graduate students are regular recipients of awards and honors for their teaching, research, creative work, and service. Recent awards include a Mellon Grant, National Creative Writing Fellowship, Fulbright Research Grant, and numerous other national, university, and college honors.

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Graduate Placement

The department is committed to training its students for life after graduate studies. The Placement Chair, appointed by the English Department Chair, assists students in preparing resumes, writing job application letters, and submitting writing samples, along with preparing for MLA and other interviews.


We are very proud of our alumni. Many of our M.A. and Ph.D. alumni have obtained tenure-track jobs in colleges and universities, while others have found excellent jobs in film, publishing, libraries, science communication, and other areas. Our alumni have earned such awards as PEN America Literary Awards, Mellon grants, National Endowment for the Humanities grants, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.

Alumni Stories

How to Apply

The annual application deadline is December 1. Students with a B.A. may apply for the M.A. or for direct admission into the Ph.D. Students with an M.A. or M.F.A. may apply for the Ph.D.

Each year, the Creative Writing Program accepts applications to the M.A. or Ph.D. programs only in a specific genre. Admissions in "poetry" or "fiction/nonfiction" alternate in each subsequent year. Visit our admissions page for details.



Paper copies of the following forms can be obtained in the main office, located in Andrews Hall room 203. If you have questions regarding the forms, email the Assistant to the Graduate Chair, Anne Nagel, at

Ph.D. FormsM.A. Forms

General Forms

Contact Information

Stacey Waite
Associate Professor and Graduate Chair

Anne Nagel
Assistant to the Graduate Chair