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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature

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About Graduate Study

The graduate program in English at the University of South Carolina enjoys a long and distinguished history, dating back to the 1890s, when it granted the first graduate degree in the state. Today, the department is leading the way into the future of literary studies, the critical study of rhetoric, and the arts of creative writing.

A Proud Tradition, A Bold Future

In recent years, the department has often been described, by students and outside observers alike, as home to a consistently high level of intellectual energy and excitement. That energy stems, we believe, from our commitment to scholarly rigor and the creation of a collegial environment. Because we house one of the nation's most theory-intensive rhetoric programs, students in all areas of study are exposed to the kind of complex and sophisticated scholarship that occurs at the leading edge of literary and rhetorical study.

At the same time, we are a friendly department, and we are housed at a university that has been especially proactive about promoting interdisciplinary collaboration. English faculty and students are comfortable with sharing ideas both within and among different areas of specialty, and many also work collaboratively with scholars in other disciplines. The result has been innovative research and teaching that serves both the university and the larger community. With unique opportunities and outstanding resources, students from all over the country and the world are attracted to the USC graduate program in English.

Quick Facts

Our large and diverse faculty includes over 60 tenured and tenure-track scholars. Together, the faculty engages in scholarship and teaching that meets the needs of an intellectually diverse graduate student community.

Our broad range of degree programs allows graduate students to explore a wide range of interests and develop various areas of expertise. The Department offers courses and degrees in fields ranging from British and American literature to Composition and Rhetoric to Creative Writing to Speech Communication and Rhetoric, along with opportunities in a number of affiliated programs, including African-American Studies, African Studies, Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, Jewish Studies, Linguistics, and Women's and Gender Studies.

The department awards six masters and two doctoral degrees. Students in all fields of study are eligible for teaching and research assistantships, which provide substantial tuition abatement. In addition, the department offers several graduate fellowships, including a recruiting fellowship in American Literature, a recruiting fellowship in English Literature, a recruiting fellowship in Composition and Rhetoric, and the Dickey Fellowship in Creative Writing. Many of the graduate students in the department also go on to win university-wide fellowships.

In addition to teaching freshman composition, Graduate teaching assistants in the department also enjoy the opportunity to teach a wide range of undergraduate courses, including upper-level courses in both literature and writing. The department offers extensive training and ongoing mentoring for its graduate instructors, many of whom have been recognized with department and university teaching awards. The department also offers research and editorial assistantship that allow student to work with faculty on significant new scholarship; graduate students can also participate in community outreach via several unique and innovative programs administered by the English department, including The Poetry Initiative, Split P Soup, and The Open Book.

Graduate students in English at USC have over the years found employment in a wide range of fields. While the majority of our graduates seek work in secondary or higher education, others have gone on to become technical writers, novelists, arts administrators, corporate trainers, and editors at both academic and commercial presses. In recent years, our graduates have secured tenure-track positions at institutions such as CUNY, the University of Houston, Louisiana State University, New Mexico State University, SUNY-Binghamton, and UT-Austin. See this page for details about recent PhD placement.

The campus environment at the University of South Carolina is particularly hospitable for graduate students, who make up one third of the student population. The university is centrally situated in a pleasant and affordable medium-sized city, putting a wide range of amenities and opportunities for entertainment, arts, and outdoor recreation in close proximity to campus.

For information about admissions, click here.


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