All PhD students are supported by assistantships and tuition waivers. We also offer research assistantships, dissertation fellowships, and funding for travel and research.
The PhD in English requires 96 credit hours, which includes 36 hours (or four full semesters) of coursework. This total can be achieved through full-time registration for five academic years (fall and spring) plus two six-week summer terms at some point(s) during those years.
Once students are done with their coursework, they register for research hours (ENGL 691) as they work toward preliminary examinations and work on the dissertation. Graduate assistants must remain registered full time (9 hours).
Required Coursework: To fulfill degree requirements, Ph.D. coursework must include ENGL 602: First-Year Seminar and ENGL 603: Bibliography and Research Methods (if the student has taken no comparable course at the M.A. level). Students must also fulfill 15-hours of distribution requirements. Distribution requirements are as follows:
- One course in any literature, pre-1800
- One course in any literature, 1800-the present
- One course in theory (of any kind, including linguistics and rhetoric)
- One course organized around concepts, issues, or themes (as opposed to courses organized primarily according to chronological period)
Courses in each distribution area are offered every semester. A single course is often eligible to satisfy more than one of the distribution requirements, in which case a student has the choice of which one it will fulfill for him or her. Ph.D. students entering with an M.A. will normally have already met some of these requirements during their M.A. work; this is certified case-by-case at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies. All distribution requirements must be fulfilled prior to or concurrently with the student’s First-Year Review process, which occurs in the third semester.
PhD students must demonstrate competency in a minimum of one foreign language. Find out more about the Foreign Language Requirement.
Recommended Coursework: All Ph.D. students should take ENGL 695: Publication and Professionalization (3 credit hours) in the spring of the third year. All those who intend to pursue an academic career should take the ENGL 681:Placement Seminar (1 credit hour) in the spring prior to their entry into the job market; on the 5-year schedule to degree, this means the spring of the fourth year. ENGL 697: Pedagogy is offered each fall. This course is not a degree requirement but must be taken in order to hold a teaching assistantship if the student has not already had a comparable course at the M.A. level. It is taken prior to or concurrently with the first semester of teaching.
No more than 6 coursework credit hours in other departments, and ordinarily no more than 6 hours of ENGL 685: Directed Studies, can be counted toward the total coursework hours. Exceptions to the Directed Studies limitation may be made and certified by the Director of Graduate Studies.
PhD students cannot take undergraduate courses without permission from the Graduate Director, the Undergraduate Director, and the Instructor. Only 400-level courses are eligible, and those will only be approved if the student can establish that no graduate courses in a similar area are ever offered. In general, PhD students are discouraged from taking undergraduate courses.
Graduate Certificates: M.A. students can opt to earn Graduate Certificates in Women’s and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, Digital Humanities, and Film Studies. Interested students should consult their advisor and the director of the relevant program.
The preliminary exam covers three areas: a major field and two supporting fields defined by the student in consultation with the advisory committee. Each of these fields should be a separate teaching field. Students compile their own reading lists, in consultation with the advisory committee. The three lists together should have 75-100 works.
The major field should be the field in which the student plans to seek a job. The student and the advisory committee agree on a reading list that will give the student a solid grounding in that field, not only in terms of the dissertation but also in preparation for future research and teaching.
The supporting fields need to be specified in such a way that they’re intelligible as “fields” not only to the student, but within the profession. Like the reading lists for the major field, these lists should give the student a solid grounding in two additional research and teaching fields or sub-fields. One of the supporting fields is typically a theoretical or critical or methodological field. This list should enable the student to achieve mastery of the theoretical and/or criticial methodologies that will be most useful in writing the dissertation, in preparing for future research and teaching. The third field is often a second literary field, a second theoretical or methodological field, a genre, or a subfield within the primary field.
The reading list must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies at least 30 days before the exam. Students should pick up the scheduling paperwork from the Graduate Office at least two weeks in advance.
The Advisory Committee schedules, writes, administers, and evaluates the exam, which should be taken near the end of the semester immediately following the completion of coursework (normally November of the third year).
After passing the Preliminary Exam, students submit a formal dissertation proposal to the Advisory Committee. After the proposal is approved by the committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Office of Graduate Studies, the student is accepted to candidacy for the Ph.D.
The dissertation is a substantial work of original scholarship written under the close supervision of the Advisory Committee, particularly the chair. Dissertations must follow the guidelines in the Thesis Manual. Address questions to the Thesis Office.
We are at present not offering the option to write a Creative Dissertation to incoming students, as the Creative Writing track in the department is being redesigned.
For more information on PhD policies and procedures, please consult the English Graduate Handbook.