Graduate Admissions

Graduate applications are available online through the Dietrich School and the Liaison GradCAS site. The system will be live for applications, tentatively, September 9, 2022.

If you are considering applying to our program for Fall 2023, or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Ryan McDermott ( or the Graduate Administrator.

Students considering the MA program should contact the Director of Graduate Studies before applying to discuss their application.

The submission deadline for MA & PhD applicants will be December 10, 2022 at 11:59 PM, and the submission for MFA applicants is January 7, 2023 at 11:59 PM.

General Information About Applying

Review the requirements as outlined below. Failure to follow these steps may delay or disqualify your application.

  • Complete and submit your online application.
  • Make sure you follow the instructions provided on the Liaison GradCAS website. Print a copy of the completed application for your personal records.
  • Anyone who wishes to apply to more than one degree program (for example, the MA and the PhD) should submit only one online application but include materials relevant to both degrees. Notify the department at if you are applying for more than one degree program.
  • All materials should be submitted online through Liaison GradCAS, and this service will be able to provide trouleshooting with adding, removing, and/or replacing any and all supplemental files.
  • Students apply for the Film & Media Studies PhD with English as the associated department through the Film and Media Studies program. Use the Dietrich School website's Liaison GradCAS service. Select "Film Studies-PHD" then choose English as your area of specialization on another pull-down menu. Contact the Film and Media Studies program with questions (Mark Lynn Anderson, Director of Graduate Studies), or for more information see the Interdisciplinary PhD in Film and Media Studies page.
  • MA students are not eligible for funding through the English department.
  • We only admit MA students who, in addition to meeting the admissions committee’s academic criteria, bring with them an external source of funding, such as an employee tuition benefit for University of Pittsburgh staff.

Application Materials

These materials must be submitted as part of the application:

1. Online Application Form.

Note: When listing the institutions that you have attended, please make sure that all of the information is visible on the application. If all information is not visible on the application (e.g., if the school name is too long), a separate list must be submitted. You must list your GPA, the degree you earned (BA, BS, MA) if any, and the month/year that the degree was obtained.

2. Area of Specialization.

Please select an area of specialization from the options provided on the online application form. For MFA applicants this will be your primary genre (Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry). PhD and MA applicants with primary interests in Composition and Rhetoric should make that selection. Applicants in Literature should select the Focal Area that best represents your interests. (You can learn more about the focal areas here). Applicants in Film normally apply through the interdisciplinary PhD in Film and Media Studies with English as their Associated Department. If you are primarily interested in Film and Media Studies but think the PhD in Critical and Cultural Studies may be a better fit for you, you should contact the Film Studies DGS to discuss the options.

Note: As a Department we value interdisciplinary scholarship, and we have a long tradition of supporting excellent graduate students whose work cuts across our programs and focal areas. To facilitate our review of a large number of applications we ask that you select the area that most strongly fits your interests, but we encourage you to identify additional areas of interest in your Statement of Purpose, and we expect most admitted students will work beyond the areas of specialization they select in their application.   

3. Detailed Statement of Purpose.

Two to three pages in length, single-spaced.

For MFA applicants, your statement of purpose should tell us about yourself and what brought you to this program. Why did you choose the University of Pittsburgh's MFA program? What do you expect from your time in the program? What are your aspirations as a writer?

In addition to these sorts of questions, MA and PhD applicants should also highlight your sense of direction and some of the field conversations that you might be entering.

4. Three Letters of Recommendation.

Three recommendations must be provided by faculty members or others who can write about your suitability for graduate study in the degree program to which you are applying. The site will ask you to submit contact information, including email addresses, for your recommenders, and the recommenders will be contacted electronically and asked to upload letters of recommendation. These letters can be submitted prior the submission of the application itself. 

It is your responsibility to be sure that letters of recommendation are submitted by December 10, 2022 (MA and PhD applicants) or by January 7, 2023 (MFA applicants). Please contact your recommenders directly to be sure they have received the email prompts from Liaison GradCAS and to be sure they have submitted their letters. 

5. GPA eligibility.

Full admission to any of our graduate programs requires an undergraduate overall GPA of 3.0 or a significant amount of graduate work at 3.0 or higher. Admits and students cannot be awarded a TA/TF/GSA or Dietrich School Arts and Sciences Fellowship with a GPA below 3.0. If an applicant has a GPA between 2.76 and 2.99, the applicant can only be admitted on provisional status.  

6. Transcripts.

New information as of Oct. 2013: Applicants will be required to submit digital scans of transcripts for all post-high school academic work. Applicants do not need to provide official paper or digital transcripts during the admissions process. However, all applicants who are admitted and who accept Pitt’s offer of admission will be required to submit certified transcripts and translations of all undergraduate and graduate study prior to matriculation (that is, before enrollment in autumn 2022).

7. Writing Samples.

MA and PHD applicants: The writing sample should be a critical or interpretive essay of approximately 20 pages.

MFA Applicants: The writing sample should consist of published or unpublished work in the genre for which you are applying (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry). For fiction and nonfiction applicants, the sample should be approximately 25 pages, and for poetry applicants, approximately 20 pages.

Writing samples should ordinarily be submitted through Liaison GradCAS,

8. $75.00 Application Fee or Fee Waiver Process.

This fee can be paid by credit card through Liaison GradCAS or by check or money payable to the University of Pittsburgh. The fee is the same for US citizens and International Students.

For those seeking an application fee waiverIn an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST.  To be considered for a fee waiver, please complete the following fee waiver survey for review.

9. MFA Applicants: Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by Skype or phone, and all applicants will be notified when final decisions are made.

10. As of the 2020-21 application deadline, GRE scores are not required and will not be considered by the admissions committees.

International Students

In addition to the requirements listed on the Apply and Additional Materials pages, international students must also include TOEFL and/or IELTS scores.

The required minimum TOEFL score of 90 (with at least a score of 22 in all of the four sections of speaking, listening, reading and writing) will be required for 2022-2023 applicants - the program code for sending TOEFL exam scores is 2927.  The required minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each of its four sections) will be required for 2022-2023 applicants. Applicants self-report the IELTS result and must upload a PDF of the official test result under the "Additional Information" section as part of the online application process. 

In recognition of physical and financial constraints experienced by many international applicants with regard to conventional test options, the Dietrich School will accept the Duolingo English Test as an alternative to TOEFL and IELTS for the 2022/23 application season. For more information, please visit Duolingo’s website. The minimum Duolingo score acceptable for admission to DSAS graduate programs is 110. Similar as to those submitting IELTS scores, applicants must share their Duolingo test results by uploading them as a PDF under ‘Additional Information’ in their online application.

International students whose primary language of academic instruction is English and/or those who have successfully graduated from a U.S.-based university are eligible to have this requirement waived.

Graduate Administrator: