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Graduate Program Application FAQ

Students interested in applying for Autumn 2020, please read the following

message from our Graduate Program Coordinator!

What should the statement of purpose cover?

The statement (2 pages) should define and emphasize your preparation, special skills, strengths, and goals. Let us know your main areas of interest and your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, and describe how our program in comparative literature may suit your needs.

What should I use as my writing sample?

You are welcome to use a copy of an undergraduate research paper or a piece of professional writing (you may wish to revise it first). It should reflect your writing style, analytical approach, and scholarly concerns. Writing samples are typically 10-15 pages.

Should I contact individual faculty members before applying?

If you have questions that are not answered in this section, you’re welcome to contact either the graduate program coordinator, Stephen Groening ( or faculty in your field of interest (see academic profiles and contact information). We are here to help you. Such contact will not affect the application procedure, since admissions are approved collectively by the department, which considers the written material included in your dossier.

What is the weight of each item in my dossier?

Each item helps us evaluate your suitability for the graduate program. We are especially concerned with your academic interests, writing skills, and previous experience. The Statement of Purpose, writing sample and recommendation letters should convey such concrete information and typically count more heavily than quantifiable scores.

What does it mean if I’m not admitted or am not offered financial support?

We have a limited number of available TA positions, some of which are linked to a particular teaching department. With the available resources we strive to form a graduate student body that balances various interests and fields. We make the best estimate we can of your likely happiness and success at the University of Washington. Many students we cannot admit end up in other, equally-reputable universities.

Here are some links to help identify funding resources: