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Ph.D. in English


The Ph.D. in English literature is a specialist degree that prepares students for teaching in postsecondary education as well as for literary interpretation and scholarly pursuits. Upon completion of the degree, graduates should be aware of the richness inherent in literature written in English and to have honed to a high level both interpretive thinking and oral and written competencies.

Minimum Total Credit Hours: 54

Course Requirements

The requirements for the Ph.D. in English include 24 hours of course work beyond the master’s degree (additional courses may be required by the Graduate Admission Committee on an individual basis); 18 hours of dissertation; successful completion of an Advanced Candidacy Examination (comprehensive); an approved dissertation prospectus; and successful oral defense of a dissertation. The course work must include Engl 600 during a student’s first fall semester and Engl 601 during the first fall semester after defense of the prospectus. Course work must also include 6 hours in English or American literature before 1800; 6 hours in English or American literature after 1800; 3 hours of literary, critical, cultural, rhetorical, or composition theory; and up to 6 hours of graduate course work in related disciplines and/or independent study. All course work must be completed before a student may submit any section of the Advanced Candidacy Examination. Graduate instructors teaching in the composition program are required to complete Engl 617 (Teaching College English).

Students may receive a Ph.D. with specialization in Renaissance and Early Modern studies by completing 21 hours of graduate course work in Renaissance and Early Modern studies, including a minimum of 9 hours in the Department of English and a minimum of 9 hours outside the department, and submitting a dissertation on a Renaissance or Early Modern subject. With the exception of the 6-hour requirement in literature after 1800 and the 6-hour limit on graduate course work in related disciplines, students pursuing this specialization must also satisfy all other general requirements for the Ph.D. in English.

Advanced Candidacy–Admission to advanced candidacy follows the successful completion of the Advanced Candidacy Examination, which is both a written and oral examination. See the Department of English Web site for further detail:

Dissertation prospectus–Soon after admission to advanced candidacy, the candidate is expected to submit a dissertation prospectus to the Ph.D. committee and an outside (extradepartmental) examiner.

Dissertation–The candidate is required to complete a book-length research project that makes an original and significant contribution to the field of literary studies. Candidates must successfully defend their dissertation before the Ph.D. committee and the outside examiner.

Other Academic Requirements

Each student is expected to demonstrate evidence of proficiency in one foreign language, usually Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, German, or Italian, before the dissertation defense. See the Department of English Web site for further detail:

Ph.D. Committee-Each student, working in collaboration with the director of graduate studies, puts together a Ph.D. committee, composed of three members of the Department of English graduate faculty. The student and his or her Ph.D. committee design an individual program of study. The responsibilities of the Ph.D. committee include supervising foreign language study; setting, administering, and evaluating the Advanced Candidacy Examination process; evaluating the dissertation prospectus; supervising and approving dissertation work; conducting and evaluating the oral dissertation defense; and recommending the conferral of the degree. A fourth (extradepartmental) examiner works with the committee to evaluate the candidate's work from the prospectus stage forward.

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