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).
By the end of the second year, PhD students should have their committee established and have filed a degree plan with the OGAPS Degree Plan System. The degree plan must be approved before the student can advance to preliminary exams. OGAPS requires that the degree plan be approved 90 days before the preliminary exam. Students must also get their preliminary exam lists approved by all committee members and by the Director of Graduate Studies at least 30 days before the exam.
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 12 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 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 should be taken in the fall of the third year.
- The prospectus should be filed by the spring of the third year.
- Students should take the Pulbication course (695) in the third or fourth year.
- Students should take Placement (681) in spring of the third year, in preparation for going on the market the following fall.
- PhD funding expires in the fifth year, so the student should defend the dissertation no later than summer of the fifth year.
We have recently revised our preliminary exam structure. Students who entered the program in Fall 2017 or earlier can choose to follow the old procedure or the new procedure.
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).
The preliminary exam covers two areas: a major field and a focus defined by the student in consultation with the advisory committee. Students will sit for a 2-hour oral field exam, followed by a 72-hour take-home written exam on the student’s area of focus.
The reading lists. Together the readings lists should include 70-90 texts; a minimum of 45 texts need to be on the field list. No text should be included on both lists. The field list should be constructed with an eye to what kind of job the student plans to seek; the focus list should be constructed with an eye to the dissertation project.
1) A field list. This list should contain major works in the student’s primary research and teaching area—for example, the history and theory of rhetoric; early modern literature; 20thcentury transnational literature, etc. This list should include all the works that the student and committee agree are important for anyone specializing in this field.The list can be divided into sub-areas if the student and the committee deem this useful. In addition to primary texts, the field list should also include at least five secondary works that reflect the current state of the field and/or major works in the history of that field.
2) A focus list. This list should contain works in what the student considers his or her special area—for example, representations of violence in modernist literature; gender and embodiment in medieval literature; race and ethnicity in contemporary American fiction; digital rhetorics and contemporary media theory. The list can be divided into sub-areas if the student and the committee deem this useful.
At the time of submission to the committee for approval, the lists should be headed by a 1000-word rationale the student’s choices of texts.
1) Two-hour oral field exam. Prior to the oral exam, the committee members should confer (in person or electronically) about what types of questions each committee member would like to ask. The student will not be provided with questions in advance, although individual faculty members might decide to discuss possible questions with the student in advance. Students can bring the field reading list to the exam, but no other materials. The committee will determine if the student’s knowledge of his or her field warrants moving on to the focus exam. The focus exam should be scheduled approximately two weeks after the oral. If the committee rules that the student’s performance on the oral is inadequate, a second oral will be scheduled.
2) 72-hour take-home focus exam. Prior to the exam, the committee members will discuss (either in person or electronically) what kinds of questions should be posed to the student for the focus exam. The student will be given the written questions, and asked to answer two (of how many choices the committee would like to offer). The take-home exam should be no longer than 20 pages, double-spaced, and should be considered an open-book, open-notes exam. The committee will read the written exam, and will send comments to the student, either through the chair of the committee or directly. Students should follow up with each committee member after receiving feedback.
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 prospectus should be 6-8 pages, plus a full bibliography, that lays out the dissertation project, briefly outlines the chapters, and clearly states the contribution the dissertation will make to the student’s field. The bibliography will substitute for “lit review.” This version of the prospectus would be more like what students write when applying for dissertation fellowships and grants. An oral defense of the prospectus will be held in the semester after passing the prelims, with the prospectus filed with OGAPS before the end of that semester.
Within one calendar year of the approval of the dissertation prospectus, (that is, no later than spring of the fourth year), the student will give a ten-minute presentationon the dissertation project to an audience of faculty and graduate students. The graduate office will organize one symposium for all 4th year students to present at one time.
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.