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Prospective Students

Applying to the English Program

General guidelines, requirements, deadlines and forms can be found on the Graduate Center Admissions Website.

The Admissions Committee

The Admissions Committee is made up of sixteen professors and four doctoral students. The Committee meets regularly from January until mid-April to review completed applications. Admission to the Ph.D. Program in English is extremely competitive. Committee members study each candidate's credentials looking particularly for five key strengths:  

  • Solid academic record
  • Excellent references 
  • Strong test scores 
  • Articulate personal statement 
  • Writing sample that demonstrates critical and analytical acumen 

Acceptance Decisions

The Office of Admissions notifies students when the Committee reaches a decision. These notifications begin in February and continue through April.

Fellowships and institutional Aid

The Graduate Center makes every effort to provide financial support for its students. All of our students are afforded the opportunity to be considered for Graduate Center fellowships and/or to apply for sufficient aid to finance their graduate education. This may involve a combination of support that is provided directly from the Graduate Center's financial resources, from federal aid programs, and from additional sources. As of Fall 2013, the Graduate Center has significantly increased the stipend and decreased the service requirement for its Five Year Graduate Center Fellowship, the primary way our students are funded.

For more information visit the Financial Assistance Page.


Most students in the English Program get training as adjunct instructors in CUNY college classrooms. Graduate students in English usually teach composition, although they are often invited to teach literature as well.

Adjunct teaching positions are not Financial Aid awards; they are positions created and paid for by the colleges where the student teaches. English Departments on each CUNY campuses make hiring decisions. Students are chosen by - not placed in - a department and students may apply directly for teaching positions anywhere in the system. The Academic Program Officer (APO) can provide you with a list of CUNY English department chairs.

Adjunct Pay Rates, Policies and Benefits

CUNY adjuncts are paid according to a an hourly rate scale. The hourly pay rate is multiplied by the number of credit hours a course carries (which varies from three to six), then multiplied again by the number of weeks in the college's semester (14 or 15 weeks at all but Kingsborough and LaGuardia Community colleges).

In any given semester, adjuncts may teach as many as three courses totaling no more than nine credit hours at one CUNY college; they may also teach one course, for no more than six credit hours, at a second CUNY college. Most students in the English program find that teaching two courses per semester, in addition to their responsibilities taking classes, preparing for exams, or writing a dissertation, keeps them very busy.

Adjuncts who teach at least six credit hours within CUNY for each of two consecutive semesters are eligible, after the second semester, for health insurance benefits. This provision does not apply to students employed as a Graduate Assistant A.

Graduate Assistant A Positions (Grad A)

Grad A positions are available at Hunter and Queens colleges, ordinarily for a nonrenewable three year period. Students apply by sending a letter and curriculum vitae to the appropriate chair of the English Department, requesting to be considered for the position. Applications should be submitted in the Fall Semester, usually for review during the spring and possible appointment the next academic year. Pay begins at $16,616 for teaching two courses per semester, which may not total more than 240 hours per academic year.

The Practicum (ENGL 79000: Teaching College English)

Most CUNY colleges have a practicum, ENGL 79000, that is tailored to that campus's student body and composition philosophy. It is taught by a composition specialist at that college. Participants discuss theories of teaching composition and their actual experiences. Readings and course requirements vary, but all students are trained in writing pedagogy. The practicum carries four credits which count toward the Ph.D. degree (letter grades are assigned). It is a requirement for all students in the English Program who are first-time instructors at a CUNY college. Students who accept a teaching position at a second CUNY college are not expected to enroll in a second practicum.

Practicum courses are offered only during the Fall Semester. Students who wish to teach for the first time at a CUNY school during a Spring or Summer semester should take this into consideration.

Adjunct Teaching and the Internship Program

The Ph.D. Program in English assists its students locate teaching positions through the Internship Program, directed by Professor Ammiel Alcalay (DEO).The Internship Program seeks to provide four specific services:

  1. To give inexperienced students an opportunity to teach one or two courses per semester as an Adjunct Lecturer at a CUNY college, with the understanding that this position will remain available for at least three years, so long as the student/department relationship is mutually agreeable and the CUNY budget allows;
  2. To train new CUNY teachers through ENGL 79000: Teaching College English;
  3. To advise students with teaching-related questions;
  4. To assist experienced adjunct teachers in finding information about positions as Graduate Assistants (A and C) and Writing and Technology Fellows.

Transfer Credits

The English Program will accept a maximum of 24 credits earned in another graduate program. The following restrictions apply to these transfer credits:

  • The course(s) must have been completed with a grade of B or higher;
  • The course(s) must have been taken in English literature (courses in creative or professional writing are not acceptable for transfer credit) or in areas of study that the Program deems directly relevant to a Ph.D. in English;
  • The course(s) must be comparable to courses offered by the GC Eng. Dept.

A designated faculty member evaluates each entering student's work from other graduate program(s) and sends written notification, usually before the end of the student's first year of study, regarding the amount of credit that will be accepted in the English Program. Only course work recorded on official transcripts is considered for transfer credit. Students transferring credit from outside the CUNY system may need to furnish the Program a university catalog or class syllabi.


Beginning with the Fall 2011 semester, the Graduate Center will offer affordable housing to doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and members of the faculty. The eight-story complex, located at 165 East 118th Street, will provide easy access to bus and subway lines and a quick commute to The Graduate Center. For more information, visit the housing website

Off-campus housing assistance is run by the Student Affairs office.  Information on housing (rooms or apartments/ shares/ sublets/ rentals) in the metropolitan area is posted regularly at The Graduate Center. A bulletin board at The Graduate Center lists both available apartments and students' requests for shares or other particular housing arrangements. Entering students interested in obtaining housing assistance should contact the Student Affairs Office at 212-817-7400.