Skip to Content

Department of English Language and Literature

  • Professors Byron Hawk teaching with a very busy whiteboard behind him


Our graduate programs in English are dedicated to advanced study in a number of fields, including literature, rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. The department awards the MA, MFA, and PhD degrees.

A Proud Tradition, A Bold Future

The English department has often been described, by students and outside observers alike, as home to a consistently high level of intellectual energy and excitement, a fact signaled by our high standing in the National Research Council’s most recent ranking of PhD programs. Graduate students at all levels and in all areas of study are exposed to the kind of sophisticated scholarship that occurs at the leading edge of literary and rhetorical study. At the same time, we are a collegial department located within a university that has been especially proactive about promoting interdisciplinary collaboration. English faculty and students are comfortable 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 our graduate program in English.


Our Programs

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.



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.


Fellowships and Assistantships

Students in all fields of study are eligible for teaching and research assistantships, which provide substantial tuition abatement. The department offers several graduate fellowships itself and many students in the department go on to win university-wide awards.

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 assistantships 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.


Professional Development and Student Organizations

Our department cares about what happens after you earn your degree. We offer professional development and encourage you to become involved in graduate school organizations to expand your skills and network.

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.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.