Financial Aid

All students admitted to the graduate program are automatically considered for fellowships and teaching assistantships. All are granted financial aid, both in the first year and throughout the program, as long as they remain in good standing and make reasonable progress toward their degree. Most awards are in the form of teaching assistantships, but some fellowships are available. All awards include tuition and partial fee waivers, although students must pay some fees. Entering M.A. candidates can receive up to seven years of support, entering Ph.D. candidates up to six years of support, and entering M.F.A. candidates up to three years of support.


English Proficiency Requirement for Non-Native English Speaking Teaching Assistants

The Graduate College lists the minimum scores a non-native speaker of English must have in order to be awarded a teaching assistantship. Hence,

  • non-native speakers of English who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships — in the English Department — must provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency.

Additional information can be found on the International Applicants page.

Teaching Assistantships

Most entering M.A. and M.F.A. students teach one section of freshman composition each semester. They are given extensive preparation for this assignment, including a week-long teaching orientation before the semester begins, a semester-long seminar in the teaching of rhetoric, and mentoring by an advanced graduate student throughout the first semester of teaching.

Depending on the terms of their initial admissions letter, entering Ph.D. students may teach one or two sections per semester in their first year. In subsequent years, students ordinarily teach two sections per semester.

As students advance through the program, they have opportunities to teach literature and film classes; seminars are offered in the teaching of each. Some M.F.A. students may teach undergraduate creative writing courses. While a few teaching assignments involve assisting in large lecture courses, most students plan and direct their own classes. They may teach introduction to poetry, drama, fiction, and the short story; or introduction to British or American Literature or to Shakespeare. They may submit proposals for courses of their own design which are selected in competition. Recent offerings have included Arthurian Literature; Jazz and Literature; Beauty and the Beast; Different Desires: Gay and Lesbian Literature; and Big-Time Shakespeare: Twentieth-Century Adaptations.

Other assignments in later stages of the program include administrative, advising, or research assistantships, an internship at the University of Illinois Press, or tutoring in the Writers Workshop. These positions carry approximately the same stipends as teaching assistantships. The stipend's base rate usually increases a bit every year, and advanced students with several years of teaching experience receive an increase over the base rate.


Teaching Assistantships

  • 33% time appointment - $10,301 annually (teaching one class per semester)
  • 67% time appointment - $20,915 annually (teaching two classes per semester)
  • International Ph.D. students can receive a maximum of a 50% assistantship per government regulations, and should check with ISSS for additional rules. Campus minimum $15,608 annually.

The Tuition Waiver Policy governs waivers of tuition and fees associated with assistantship appointments and fellowship and traineeship appointments.

Assistants holding appointments ranging from 25 percent through 67 percent time are exempt from payment of tuition and the service fee. In addition, all waiver-generating appointments also waive the health service fee, the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment (AFMFA) fee and the Library/Technology fee. They also provide vision insurance, dental insurance, and partial payment of the health insurance fee.

Waiver-generating assistantship appointments are defined as appointments  ranging from 25 percent through 67 percent time (based on a forty-hour week) for three-quarters of the term, defined as the period starting on the first day of classes and ending on the last day of final examinations. Three quarters of the term is defined for spring and fall as 91 days and as 41 days for the summer term.  A teaching assistant appointment between 25 percent and 67 percent of full-time service for at least 21 days in Summer I (four-week part of Summer term) will be considered to be a waiver-generating appointment.

Assistantship stipends are taxable and taxes are withheld from monthly paychecks. The associated tuition waivers are not taxable.


Almost all of our fellowships are reserved for first-year students and students who are writing dissertations. First-year fellowships carry stipends ranging from $1,000 to $17,000. Some are given in addition to the teaching stipend; others larger than $12,000 free students from teaching. These include:

  • Departmental Fellowships:
    • Several small fellowships worth $1,000 to $6,000, offered in addition to teaching assistantship for first-year or continuing students;
    • Enhancement fellowships worth $4,000 to $12,500 per year, usually offered to first-year students.
  • Graduate College Fellowships:
    • Graduate College fellowships for under-represented groups given primarily to students who are U.S. citizens of African-American, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican and Native American descent. These are one to three year fellowships worth $15,000 per year.
    • Illinois Distinguished three-year fellowships worth $17,000 per year.
  • Dissertation Fellowships:
    • Students in good standing and making good progress toward their degree ordinarily receive at least two courses released from teaching to work on their dissertation. Some receive a year or more of fellowship support. This stipend is usually equivalent to that of teaching assistants, but an occasional student may compete with graduate students across campus for a Graduate College Dissertation Completion Fellowship which carrying a $20,000 per-year stipend.
    • Several summer fellowships with a stipend of $3,000 are available


Tuition and Fees

The chart below indicates the value of such tuition and partial fee waivers and the fees, which remain to be paid.

Tuition is assessed on the basis of a student's program of study, residency status, and the number of credit hours/units taken each term. Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Tuition and Fees for Two Semesters of Full-time Enrollment:

(As of Fall 2018) Residents Nonresidents
Tuition (base) $16,004 $31,012
Fees $2,111 $2,111
Base Total $18,115 $33,123

Students with a Teaching Assistantship or Fellowship receive a waiver of tuition and a portion of other fees. Current fees for students with financial aid are approximately $1,096 a year.

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