English Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Writing, Teaching, and Criticism

The Doctor of Philosophy in English with emphases on writing, teaching, and criticism is a professional degree designed primarily for those planning on or already engaged in careers as teachers and writers in four-year colleges and universities. Focusing attention less on bodies of knowledge than on the making of knowledge and on the questions that arise out of the movement between theory and practice, this program prepares individuals for positions in which particularly strong credentials in rhetoric, poetics, pedagogy, and theory are desirable. Flexible enough to be adaptable to the individual student's needs and interests, the Ph.D. program nevertheless requires that all students develop competence in the history of English studies, the teaching of writing and literature, and the interrelations among rhetoric, writing of various kinds, and literary scholarship.

In order to achieve this end, all students will participate in a number of core courses that set forth questions and debates concerning theory and practice while drawing upon students' own experience and expertise as writers and teachers. Additionally, during their second year of full-time study, all students will have an opportunity to test both what they have learned in courses and what are becoming their own convictions about the relation between theory and practice in the practicum in English studies and in the English internship, both of which are required and offered under the direct supervision of members of the faculty in English.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in English can be completed in four years of full-time academic work (or the equivalent over a longer period) beyond the baccalaureate degree. For those entering with a master's degree or its equivalent, the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree can be completed in three years of full-time academic work (or the equivalent over a longer period). A longer period may, however, prove necessary for some students. Two semesters of full-time work in residence are required.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to meeting the general University requirements for admission to doctoral study, an applicant should present, preferably, an undergraduate preparation in the liberal arts with a major in English. Applicants with preparation in other fields, however, may be considered on the condition that undergraduate deficiencies be made up. Completed applications must include transcripts of all previous undergraduate- and graduate-level work, letters of reference, a statement of purpose, and critical writing samples.  Additional creative writing samples are optional.

Program of Study (72 credits, minimum)

The program of study, planned with the Director of Graduate Studies in English, and incorporating no more than 30 credits of previous graduate study, should be directed toward the student's interests and specific career objectives. It consists of the following:

  1. Required Courses (16 credits):
    Eng 710 Textual Studies I: Survey
    Eng 720 Textual Studies II
    Eng 770 Teaching Writing and Literature
    Eng 771 Practicum in Teaching Writing and Literature

  2. Concentration Courses (16 credits):

    Four courses are to be taken in one of the following areas:
    Literature, Modernity, and the Contemporary
    Writing Practices: Poetics, Rhetorics, Technologies
    Cultural, Transcultural, and Global Studies
    Theoretical Constructs

  3. Elective Courses (40 credits): At least 8 of these 40 elective credits must be taken outside the student’s concentration area and up to 12 credits may be taken in a related discipline with advance approval from the Advisor. Students must seek approval from the Director of Graduate Studies to take courses in other departments that support but also extend their work in English. Expertise developed in a supporting field must be incorporated into doctoral examination areas.

Competence in a Foreign Language: Either on admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program or before admission to candidacy for the degree a student must demonstrate reading competency in two languages other than English or fluency in one. At the discretion of the Director of the graduate program, this requirement may be met in one of the following ways:

  1. Demonstrate reading-level competence in two foreign languages by 1) earning a C or better for two years (or the equivalent) of undergraduate-level study; 2) earning a B or better in a graduate-level foreign language reading course (or the equivalent); or 3) satisfactorily passing a reading examination administered by the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
  2. Demonstrate fluency in one foreign language by 1) earning a C or better for four years (or the equivalent) of undergraduate-level study; 2) earning a B or better in a graduate-level foreign language course that requires substantial written assignments (e.g., essays, reports, or exams) submitted in the language being studied; or 3) satisfactorily passing a fluency-level examination administered by the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Note: Foreign students whose native language is not English can meet the requirement by demonstrating reading-level competence in one language other than English or their native tongue.

Qualifying Examination: After the student completes formal coursework, including the Practicum in English Studies, he or she must pass a written and oral examination on a specific area of study. Designed in consultation with an examination committee approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in English, and directed toward the critical, scholarly, or creative project the student plans to pursue in the dissertation, the examination has three parts: Part I situates the project methodologically, focusing on how the student will explore his or her chosen subject matter; Part II situates it topically, in terms of a recognized field or content area of English Studies; while Part III focuses on the intersection of Parts I and II, and is based in particular on a draft prospectus of the dissertation the student aims to undertake.

Admission to Candidacy: Students are nominated by the department for doctoral candidacy as soon as all program requirements except the dissertation are satisfactorily completed. A student must be admitted to candidacy at least one regular session before submitting a dissertation.

Dissertation: Students are allowed considerable latitude with regard to the dissertation’s form and focus. Dissertations may take such forms as critical argument, fiction, poetry, reports of empirical research, or drama; they may also feature some mixture of these. They may focus on the imaginary, the theoretical, the historical, the interpretive, the pedagogical, or the linguistic.

The dissertation will ordinarily grow out of the student's coursework and even more directly out of the qualifying examination, and is designed so that the student can complete it within the academic year following that examination.

Continuous Required Registration: University regulations require that all doctoral students register for at least 3 graduate credits each fall and spring session until they are admitted to doctoral candidacy. Thereafter doctoral students need only register for 1 dissertation credit until they receive their degree.

Please note: This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. 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 you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.