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Doctor of Philosophy

All PhD students are supported by assistantships and tuition waivers. We also offer research assistantships, dissertation fellowships, and funding for travel and research. For important information on PhD policies and procedures, please consult the English Graduate Student Handbook

Program Requirements

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 GPS Degree Plan System.  The degree plan must be approved before the student can advance to preliminary exams.  GPS 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.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary exam is taken in the fall of the third year. Students will prepare reading lists, in consultation with an advisory committee, toward the end of the second year, in order to start reading and studying in the summer.


Prospectus and Dissertation

The prospectus should be 6-8 pages, plus a full bibliography. The prospectus should lay out the rationale for the dissertation project, clearly identify the research questions the dissertation will pursue, and indicate how the dissertation will contribute to a field or fields. It should also include brief descriptions of individual chapters, and identify the main texts to be considered in each. A full bibliography will substitute for a review of the literature.

The prospectus must be approved by the student’s committee in a 90-minute prospectus defense, which must be scheduled in the spring of the third year. Once the committee has signed off on the prospectus, the student will file it with GPS and, thus, advance to candidacy.

When a student is ready to schedule the prospectus defense, he or she meets with the graduate office to fill out the requisite paperwork and to get instructions on which documents must be downloaded from GPS, filled out, and brought to the defense.

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 presentation on 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.

Students can write a traditional dissertation, composed of individual chapters, and introduction, and conclusion. But students can also propose and carry out alternative forms for the dissertation (with the approval of the committee). Two models for these alternatives include a written dissertation supplemented by a digital project of some kind; and a suite of articles prefaced by an introduction.

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.