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Doctor of Philosophy


Program of Study


The doctoral program in English at the University at Albany places emphasis on the making of new knowledge, rather than the extraction of knowledge from existing bodies of work. Strengthen your confidence around subjects of study, such as rhetoric, poetics, pedagogy and theory. Experienced faculty will guide you from abstract theories to practical implementations of advanced literary scholarship.

You will explore theoretical concepts in the classroom, and then put that knowledge to the test in your dissertation. Work with a UAlbany faculty mentor to choose a dissertation form and focus that is relevant to your professional interests and challenging enough to strengthen your expertise.

Required Courses

(16 credits)

  • Textual Studies I: Survey
  • Textual Studies II
  • Teaching Writing and Literature
  • Practicum in Teaching Writing and Literature

Concentration Courses

At least four courses (16 credits) must be taken in one of the concentration areas.

Elective Courses

At least two courses (8 credits) must be taken outside the area of concentration


The dissertation will ordinarily grow out of your coursework and even more directly out of the qualifying examination. It is designed so that you can complete it within the academic year following that examination.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

Graduate Student Handbook

Visit our Schedules and Course Descriptions page to view the Graduate Course Description Archive.

For more information, contact Director of Graduate Studies Erica Fretwell at [email protected] or 518-442-4054.

Concentration Areas
Literature, Modernity, and the Contemporary

This concentration provides a dual framework for considering the history of literature: the study of texts’ singular or innovative relation to the past—a measure of their modernity—as well as the exploration of their complex, sometimes contentious, relation to other discourses of the same historical moment—a measure of their contemporaneity. This double perspective can apply to Europe even before the advent of the so-called “early modern” period during the Renaissance, charting a history of various modernities or modernisms, but it can also serve as the occasion to investigate the limits of considering any literature “modern” or “contemporaneous.” This concentration includes a broad range of courses investigating problems of periodization or genre, questions about aesthetics or creativity, and issues concerning literary form, the history of authorship and readership, and the teaching of literature.

Writing Practices: Poetics, Rhetorics, Technologies

This concentration combines the disciplined practice of writing with a rigorous course of study in the formal, institutional, and material frameworks for understanding that practice. The area provides coursework in creative writing, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction prose, drama, and hypertext, as well as in various kinds of persuasive and argumentative writing. It also examines these writing practices in the context of poetics, rhetoric, technology, and performance as frameworks that are both productive and analytic. The study of poetics and rhetoric therefore provides the basis for shaping a writer’s own aesthetic or persuasive discourses as well as for reading and analyzing them. The technological or material framework serves both to comprehend the history of text production (whether illustrated manuscript, printed page, filmic cell, or digital image) and to test the limits of “written” communication through bodily performance or new media. These poetic, rhetorical, technological, and performative elements also pose diverse intellectual and disciplinary perspectives for studying the teaching of writing in its various forms.

Cultural, Transcultural, and Global Studies

This concentration engages the multiple, changeable, and sometimes volatile elements of a broad range of cultural texts, particularly by employing a variety of interpretive strategies that have emerged in English studies. Work in this area recognizes that the study of culture in English is transnational, particularly given the intellectual pressures of colonialism, postcolonialism, and Anglophone literatures. In accounting for the shifting historical realities of global culture, this concentration also promotes the study of the effects of globalization, cross-cultural exchange, class relations, and the formation of cultural identity on discourse broadly conceived. Courses in this concentration include topics such as class, gender, race, and sexuality; the public sphere, popular culture, and pedagogy as cultural practice; trans-Atlantic, comparative, and diaspora studies.

Theoretical Constructs

Reading and writing in the discipline of English now demand a measure of reflexive awareness of the conditions that make the interpretation of texts possible, as reflected in various perspectives that include poesis, semiosis, ideology, mimesis, and performativity. Courses in this concentration inquire into the history and dynamics of the aesthetic categories that shape interpretation, consider the relation of experience (literary, aesthetic, social, pedagogical, or other) to conceptual explanation, and examine the relation of such concepts to history. They invite students to consider the differences and interfaces among interpretive frameworks and strategies, to inquire about the tensions and dislocations in texts, or to probe the social relations that inform reading, writing, and teaching. Some courses focus broadly and comparatively; others address particular problems, traditions, and theories, or investigate emerging approaches.

Teaching Assistantships


Each year, the graduate program awards teaching assistantships to 6-10 incoming PhD students. Assistantship stipends for incoming students are $19,000. In addition, assistants have the benefit of a 12-credit, full-time tuition waiver, and health coverage. Assistants are also eligible to apply to the GSEU for professional development grants, which are periodically offered to cover expenses such as textbooks, computer software, and travel to conferences or research archives.

Unlike many other PhD assistantship programs, UAlbany English does not require you to teach during your first year of study. Instead, you will be trained and mentored by faculty members in your fields of interest so that you can begin teaching just one course per semester, in the second year of funding.

During your PhD studies, you will create and develop courses in your expertise and interest across all levels of the undergraduate program, and are given the opportunity to create a teaching portfolio impressive in its breadth and scope. 

Doctoral students who enter with an MA receive a 3-year assistantship; those entering with a BA receive a 4-year assistantship, after which you may apply for an additional year of funding which is contingent upon your successful completion of doctoral exams and admission into doctoral candidacy, and University budgets. At the end of assistantship funding, those students making good progress toward their degrees are eligible to apply to continue to teach as part-line instructors in the English Department, with health coverage and other benefits.

Career Outcomes

UAlbany PhD English graduates go on to become professors in a wide range of university settings. They also find work in the publishing field and well as other administrative positions in higher education. 

Over the past 7 years, 92% of our PhD graduates (23 out of 25) were immediately placed in post-doctorate fellowships, tenure-track professorships or full-time renewable employment.

PhD Academic Job Placements
Mari Christmas 2020 Assistant Professor, Alleghany College
Skye Annica 2019 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Full-time Lecturer
Daisuke Kiriyama 2018 Ibaraki University, Full-time Lecturer
Joshua Bartlett 2018 Bilkent University, Turkey, Assistant Professor of Language and Literature
Darcy Mullen 2017 Georgia Tech, Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow
Joel Sodano 2017 Keele University, UK; Visiting Lecturer
Conchitina Riboroso Cruz 2016 University of the Philippines, Diliman, Creative Writing; Assistant Professor
Robert Faivre 2016 SUNY Adirondack, Faculty Tutor, Center for Reading and Writing
James Belflower 2015 Siena College, Teaching Assistant Professor
Erin Casey-Williams 2015 Nichols College, Visiting Assistant Professor of English
KellyAnn Fitpatrick 2015 Georgia Tech, Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow
Steven Weber 2015 Capilano University, Instructor in the English Dept of the School of Humanities
Rebekah Bale 2015 Testing Coordinator & Instructor Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University, Damman, Saudi Arabia
Thomas Cook 2015 Mount Saint Mary's University, CA
Anne Jung 2015 Liberal Arts Chair, Maria College
Brian Whalen 2015 Technical Writer; CorVel Corp; technology wing
Amy Mallory-Kani 2014 Assistant Professor, English, Mississippi State U
Janelle Adsit 2014 Simon Fraser University, BC; Postdoctoral Fellow
Sarah Giragosian 2014 Writing and Critical Inquiry Program Lecturer, University at Albany, SUNY
Jonas Casey-Williams 2013 Editorial Assistant, Science Publishing Network, USGS
Anna Eyre 2013 Adjunct Professor English; Bunker Hill Community College
Lucas Hardy 2012 Assistant Professor, Youngstown State U, Ohio
Peter Monaco 2012 University at Albany, SUNY Writing and Critical Inquiry Program Lecturer
Iuliu Ratiu 2012 Georgia Tech, Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow
Angela Pneuman 2012 Lecturer, Stanford U, Novelist, with new book from Harcourt
Jennifer Marlow 2011 College of St Rose; Assistant Professor; School of Arts and Humanities
Katsuya Izumi 2011 Colgate University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese
Bethany Clerico 2011 University at Albany, SUNY Writing and Critical Inquiry, Visiting Assistant Professor
Alisa Scapatici 2011 The Albany Academies; English Instructor and Department Chair
Scott O'Callaghan 2011 Columbus State Community College (Ohio)
Heewon Kang 2011 Kyung Hee University
Charmaine Cadeau 2010 High Point University, NC; Assistant Professor
Richard J. Bower 2010 Cayuga County CC, Auburn, NY; Professor
Bonghee Oh 2010 Kyung Hee University
Naoko Selland 2010 Conference & Deposition Interpreter, STA Corporation
Kelly Secovnie 2009 Borough of Manhattan CC; Assistant Professor
Alexander Chirila 2009 Thomas Nelson CC & Christopher Newport CC; Adjunct Professor
Shari P. Goldberg 2009 Franklin and Marshall College; Assistant Professor
Matthew Pangborn 2009 Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, IA; Associate Prof. English & Writing, Chair, Modern Languages Dept.
Randall Horton 2009 University of New Haven; Associate Professor
Robert Michael Ficociello 2009 University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, NE; Assistant Professor
Ronald Nesbitt 2009 Adelphi College's University, College for Working Adults; Adjunct Faculty
Michael Jonik 2009 University of Sussex; Lecturer


Certificate of Graduate Study Teaching Composition


Gain experience teaching first-year writing to undergraduate students in the CGS Teaching Composition program. This program provides English doctoral students with significant teaching experience, professional development, and scholarly engagement in rhetoric and composition beyond your primary area of specialization.

Through coursework and research, you will understand the theory and analysis behind recommended pedagogical practices in composition. Extensive teaching experience, mentoring and training will prepare you to become a teacher of composition on a variety of levels including, Lecturer, Professor or Assistant Professor, Faculty Tutor, and Instructor.  You will be evaluated while you teach and receive actionable feedback to help you improve your skills and techniques.

Program of Study

Required Courses

  • Teaching Writing and Literature
  • Practicum in Teaching Writing and Literature
  • One of the following courses:
  • History and Theory of Composition
  • History and Theory of Rhetoric
  • Current Trends in Rhetorical Theory and Research
  • Special Topics

Additional Program Requirements

  • Teach at least two semesters of Writing and Critical Inquiry in the Humanities
  • Participate in the WCI (Writing and Critical Inquiry Program) professional development opportunities, including any instructor orientation and staff meetings
  • While teaching Writing and Critical Inquiry in the Humanities, have your teaching effectiveness documented through student evaluations and through observation by the WCI program director or designated English faculty liaison
  • Work at least one semester as a tutor in the Writing Center and participate in all Writing Center professionalization activities and staff meetings during that semester

Teaching Portfolio

Prior to graduation submit a teaching portfolio to the WCI director or designated English faculty liaison between English and the WCI program.


See the Graduate Bulletin for details.


For more information, contact the English Department at 518-442-4055.

Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: Rolling
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Goals
  • Critical Writing Sample
  • Creative Writing Sample (Optional)
Special Notes

Applicants who apply for a funded assistantship position along with doctoral admission will be granted admission only if a funded position is available. Any student who would consider enrolling without assistantship funding--that is enrolling as a self-funded student--should indicate this willingness on their Assistantship application and in the Statement of Purpose. We will consider such students for funded positions first, and will extend an offer with funding if available. Only after all funded assistantship positions have been filled will we offer admission on a self-funded basis. 

You will need to upload your writing sample with your online application at time of submission. You cannot append the application after initial submission. Critical writing samples should be researched and thesis-driven, and be approximately 8-12 pages; longer works such as a chapter from an Honors thesis are also acceptable. Recommendation letters should, wherever possible, be written by instructors able to comment on the applicant's academic abilities.

This program requires an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience requirement. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions.  If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Students will learn to make critical or theoretical arguments as demonstrated by:
    • The ability to make an original point about a topic or text, and describe accurately an argument’s relevance to published debates in the field.
    • The ability to research, summarize, and articulate major arguments of a field of study.
  • Students will learn to make oral presentations and evidenced by the ability to present literary, critical, or theoretical ideas and respond spontaneously to questions from peers and faculty instructors.
  • Students will develop effective pedagogical skills as demonstrated by:
    • The ability to design an effective introductory-level undergraduate course in literature or writing.
    • The ability to describe and position one’s pedagogical practice within larger disciplinary fields, theories, and approaches.
    • The development of effective course assignments, and the ability to evaluate and provide effective feedback on students’ work, design appropriate lesson plans, and lead effective class sessions.
  • Students taking writing workshops will develop proficiency in a writing genre as demonstrated by: 
    • The improvement of an original work in light of peer and instructor feedback, with a view toward possible publication or development into the dissertation project.
    • The ability to assess and propose improvements for other writers’ work by successfully taking the role of peer-as-instructor.
  • Students choosing the creative dissertation option will develop working knowledge of current excellence in the field as demonstrated by:
    • The ability to locate and assess current print and online resources related to writing and/or poetics.
    • The ability to read critically and evaluate current creative, literary, or media productions.
    • The ability to operate within a coherent critical or theoretical poetics based on a substantial intervention in the field.