Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. Program

Admission to the Ph.D. program is open to qualified candidates with a B.A. or M.A. degree, preferably in English. Any applicant whose ultimate goal is a Ph.D. should indicate the Ph.D. as their “primary degree objective” on the application.

The aim of the doctoral program is to encourage graduate students to become informed teachers and scholar-critics capable of significant original literary scholarship. Students work in close consultation with the Graduate Advisor to map a course of intensive study including seminar work, fulfillment of the foreign language requirement, the successful completion of two qualifying exams, and the dissertation.

There are a variety of funding sources available for students in the Ph.D. program, including teaching assistantships and fellowships, which pay student fees as well as offering a substantial stipend. Hourly positions as graders and research assistants are also available.

The English department offers graduate seminars across a wide variety of fields vital to the contemporary discipline of English, including the full range of British and American literature, media and cultural studies, and theoretical approaches. Students normally take two four-unit seminars per quarter. Students entering with a B.A. will take a total of 16 seminars. These will include English 200 (Introduction to Graduate Study), taken in the first quarter. Those who enter with an M.A. will take at least nine seminars. Students with an M.A. in another field will normally be required to take additional coursework.

The foreign language requirement is intended to insure that students develop necessary research skills and intellectual breadth. Students are required to demonstrate reading ability in two languages. The department offers three alternatives for fulfilling the second language requirement. For details, write to our graduate student services advisor at

As students progress through course work, the Qualifying Examinations offer two important opportunities to demonstrate their developing mastery of their chosen areas of specialization. Students who have entered the program with a B.A. become eligible to receive an M.A. upon completion of the Qualifying Exam I at the end of their sixth quarter in the program. This exam includes both a written portfolio, containing three student essays and a self-commentary, and an oral examination. Students who have entered the program with an M.A. from another institution are normally exempted from Qualifying Exam I.

When students enter their final year of course work, they work in consultation with the Graduate Advisor to select primary and secondary fields of study and to identify a third, more specialized area related to a dissertation topic. Once coursework requirements are satisfied, all students take the Qualifying Exam II, which includes both a portfolio examination presenting work in the three fields and an oral examination.

Dissertation research follows the successful completion of Qualifying Exam II. The dissertation should be related to the individual course of study preceding it and should demonstrate the best research and critical talents of the candidate. The normative time to the Ph.D. degree is 18 quarters.

We look forward to receiving your application.