Below is a list of requirements for acceptance into the certificate program. For specific questions regarding the admissions process, contact an adviser at 312-503-2579.

Application Requirements

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required, though applicants need not have extensive experience in literary studies.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall quarter: July 15
  • Winter quarter: October 15
  • Spring quarter: January 15
  • Summer quarter: April 15

If an application deadline falls on a weekend, supplemental materials will be due the next business day. Applications are accepted year round and are reviewed by the faculty admissions committee once a quarter. Applicants will be notified of their admission status approximately four weeks after the deadline.

Application Checklist

Statement of Purpose and Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a 300-word statement of purpose explaining how the certificate program will help them meet their academic goals. Applicants who do not have a graduate degree in the humanities should explain how other experiences, academic and nonacademic, have prepared them to undertake graduate-level study in the field.

The writing sample is a brief critical paper that demonstrates the ability to evaluate and analyze a literary text. It should not exceed 10 pages and should contain the following:

  • A clearly articulated argument and a concise support for that argument.
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others.

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials, with the exception of transcripts, must be uploaded to the online application. Official transcripts may be sent to our Admissions office at or mailed to our Chicago office. Please be sure to include the name of your intended program when addressing transcripts. Applicants will be notified once all materials have been received and the application is complete.

  • One sealed copy of an official transcript from a previously attended college and/or university showing a completed graduate degree. Official transcripts must arrive in our office in the original sealed envelope issued by the institution. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via secure electronic transcript providers. Consult with your institution to see if they are part of a secure e-delivery network. All electronic transcripts should be sent to Please note transcripts are not accepted by fax or email. If you are currently enrolled, please submit an official transcript showing courses in-progress. Applicants with international transcripts must request an official course-by-course evaluation of transcripts from a NACES member such as WES or ECE. A course-by-course evaluation will translate courses, degrees and grades to U.S. equivalency.
  • One letter of recommendation focusing on academic and professional achievement and ability. Ideally, this recommendation would be from a faculty member in the applicant's graduate program.
  • Statement of purpose
  • A writing sample
  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae
Transcript mailing address:

MALit Graduate Admissions
Northwestern University School of Professional Studies
Wieboldt Hall, Sixth floor
339 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008

Application Tips

Your application will be evaluated by the MALit Admissions Committee. The following considerations will guide the Committee in their review:

  • Letter of recommendation helps build a case for your academic qualifications. A strong letter that provides detailed information about your academic ability will have a positive effect on your candidacy. The more specific the letter, the better. You should brief recommenders about the program and your objectives before requesting a letter.
  • The statement of purpose demonstrates whether or not your academic goals are appropriate to the certificate program. This statement also helps the committee determine whether you possess the necessary writing skills and intellectual maturity to succeed in the certificate.
  • The writing sample is used to evaluate your ability to engage in the academic study of literature. We recommend that the sample be a paper written for a previously completed course that focuses on a critical discussion of a literary topic. The paper should have a strong thesis and make use of close textual study to advance that thesis. The paper should follow academic conventions when citing sources and should be clearly organized and written. If you do not have such a paper to submit, you may consider taking an advanced-level undergraduate literature course that will require such a paper.
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