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Have questions about studying English? Browse the list below for some of the most common questions, or explore our site for more information!

Undergraduate Program

Professor Mark Schoenfield is currently DUS of the Department of English. His office is in Benson Hall 300 and can be reached per email to make an appointment.

To declare an English Major or Minor, complete the Declaration of Major/Minor Form and submit it virtually to Sally Buck. When you turn in your form, you will be assigned an adviser who will help you plan out your major or minor. If you choose the creative writing track also include in your email whether you want to focus on fiction or poetry. Once you have your advisor assignment, submit your form to A&S if you are in the A&S college at this email 

For Registration dates, please refer to the Enrollment Bulletin.

Students must maintain a 3.6 GPA in the major to apply for the English Honors Program. Applications will open and are due in the spring of your junior year. For further information, please refer to the Honors Program page.

Please review the Immersion website of Vanderbilt University. For Immersion questions specifically related to the English Major, please contact Professor Elizabeth Meadows.

To enroll in an independent study course, please complete the following steps:

  1. Obtain permission to enroll from the instructor of your choice. Consult the instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to the opening of your enrollment window for the semester in which you wish to complete the independent study course.
  2. Complete the Request for Registration in Independent/Directed Study Course form. The form requires details regarding the nature of the project and the amount of credit to be earned. The form must be signed by your instructor and the DUS or Department Chair prior to the tenth day of classes. Contract for Registration in Independent Study Course
  3. Submit your contract for Independent study to Mark Schoenfield before the end of the change period (the first week of classes). You will then be manually registered for the course in YES.

M.F.A. Program

For technical questions regarding your online application please email

If you are applying for both fiction and poetry, our application system allows you to submit a second application for your additional genre. On the main page, where you log in, click on the link, “Start New Application,” to complete a second application. Be sure to indicate in your Personal Statement that you would like to be considered for both fiction and poetry. All other components of the application remain the same.

You may submit the same transcripts and letters of recommendation, but we encourage you to send a fresh writing sample so the faculty can see how your writing is developing.

The most important component of your application is your Writing Sample. Your GPA is a confirmation of your ability to handle the academic subjects.

We understand that sometimes the delivery of your supporting documentation (letters of recommendation) is delayed. If we have not received certain of your supporting materials and we need to see them, we will contact you so you can make sure the materials are sent.

We try to notify those who are accepted by mid-February, or no later than mid-March.

Check out The Aha! Moment, an interview with Director of Creative Writing Kate Daniels.

Yes, MFA students enroll in workshops outside their genre, with the consent of the instructor.

No. At this time, Vanderbilt’s areas of specialization are fiction and poetry. We offer one Creative Non-Fiction workshop each year in the spring, which students may take if they are interested in doing so and the instructor agrees.

Due to the large volume of applications we receive, we are unable to arrange individual meetings with faculty members in advance of your acceptance into the program. Our website is filled with information about the MFA program; if you have a question that is not addressed on our website, please feel free to email us at We invite you to campus and arrange meetings with faculty once you have been accepted.

As noted above, we invite all candidates accepted into the Vanderbilt MFA program to campus in the spring so they can meet MFA students and faculty. We do not arrange meetings before then; our MFA students have a heavy workload of writing, attending classes, studying, and teaching, and we do not want to burden them with additional obligations before then. But the visit should give you an ample amount of time to talk with students and faculty alike about what it’s like to attend the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Vanderbilt.

While there are no set requirements for those who endorse applicants, typically letters of recommendation come from creative writing professors and academics in writing-related disciplines who can speak to an applicant’s ability and potential in the genre in which that person is applying and/or aptitude for graduate study in a rigorous writing program.  Less frequently, recommendations are provided by endorsers with professional connections to applicants, including former and current employers or supervisors, editors, and mentors.

Ph.D. Program

We offer an MA en route to the PhD, but we do not admit students to earn the MA only.

We only admit for the Fall Semester. Applications usually open in August with a December 15th Deadline.

An MA is not required to apply to our PhD Program. 

Our students don't pay for tuition or fees. They are fully funded for 6 Years with a $34,000 yearly base stipend, with opportunities for University Fellowships on top of the base stipend. Health Insurance is provided as well.

Yes. Please submit your application by December 15th, and your recommendations will still come to us whenever they are submitted, even if after the deadline.

You do not need to be proficient in a foreign language to apply. There is a foreign language exam as part of our program that must be passed before Year 3. You must be able to translate a text from a language of your choosing to English. You will have oportunities to retake the exam as needed. Students usually prepare for these independently, there is no coursework to specifically prepare you for the exam.

If English is not your native language, then you must submit scores for either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing Service). If you received a degree from an English-speaking institution, let us know and we'll waive this requirement. You may self-report your scores, but must present official scores upon admission.