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Ph.D. Program

photo of multitasking readerThe doctoral program in English prepares students at the most advanced stage in the interpretation and composition of texts. The program emphasizes rigorous critical study in the fields of rhetoric, composition, critical theory, cultural studies, pedagogy and literary studies. Rather than offering separate tracks, the program allows the student in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and the student's dissertation committees to design a program of work that best suits their particular scholarly interests and career goals. The combination of a diversity of course offerings, required and elected courses, and the requirement that each student define a focus that reflects his or her intellectual and career interests provides students with the flexibility to adapt to changes in English studies. Specifically, the English doctoral program prepares students for careers in writing, including electronic and technical writing, as well as in teaching in community colleges, small colleges or regional state universities. The department trains students for college-level teaching several ways, but most importantly, by offering graduate courses in the teaching of literature and the teaching of composition. Doctoral students in English present papers at scholarly conferences, publish essays in scholarly journals and participate in other professional activities.

Admission Requirements:

  1. A minimum GPA of 3.5 in the student's M.A. in English or a very closely related field. (If the M.A. is not in English, we will consider the undergraduate GPA as well as that of the M.A. Moreover, if the M.A. is not in a very closely related field, the prospective student will be admitted to the M.A. program in English, not the Ph.D.)
  2. GRE scores (must be within last 5 years): a minimum of 550 on the old verbal scale or at least 156 on the new verbal scale and a score of 4.5 on analytic writing. We will not consider the math scores. We do not require the English subject test.
  3. A writing sample of 15 to 20 pages that demonstrates a sophisticated prose style, the ability to engage in intellectually rigorous modes of analysis, and a strong knowledge of rhetoric, composition studies, literary studies, cultural studies, or interdisciplinary critical theory.
  4. Letters of recommendation that attest to the student's intellectual and scholarly potential. At least two of these must be from former professors; at least one must be a professor from the student's Master's program. All criteria are considered together, in a holistic way. No single factor will eliminate a prospective student from consideration. However, not all qualified students will be admitted as our capacity is limited by faculty and student financial support.

Degree Requirements:

  1. The Ph.D. requires thirty semester hours of coursework beyond the M.A., followed by a minimum of 9 hours of dissertation work (ENGL 6999).
  2. 5300: Theory and Practice in English Studies is required. It must be taken within a student's first 12 hours of study unless they have already taken 5300 while in the M.A. program and received a grade of B or higher.
  3. All students are also required to take 5311: Foundation of Rhetoric OR 5359: Argumentation Theory as early in their programs as possible.
  4. Students are allowed to take 9 hours of coursework outside the English department.
  5. The Ph.D. track in English requires basic proficiency in translation in one natural language other than English.

photo of hand holding globeStudents must consult with the Graduate Advisor and the chair of their dissertation committee to carefully construct a coherent focus for their coursework and comprehensive examinations. Students are allowed to take 9 hours of coursework outside the English department. During the first year of coursework all students must pass English 5300 with a grade of B or higher in order to remain in the program. After a student completes the first year of coursework, the Graduate Advisor, in consultation with the graduate faculty, will determine whether the student has demonstrated the potential to successfully complete the program and, consequently, whether the student will be allowed to continue in the program.

The Ph.D. track in English requires basic proficiency in translation in one natural language other than English. The language must relate to the student's dissertation research and career goals. Some committees may require an additional language, depending on the student's area of specialization. After completing coursework and satisfying the foreign language requirement, the student will take a written comprehensive examination. While studying for the comprehensive exams, students may enroll in English 6391: Graduate Readings, supervised reading for the Ph.D. exam, graded R. By the end of the first semester after successfully completing the comprehensive examinations, the students must submit a dissertation prospectus to their committee. The dissertation must be an original, substantial and significant contribution to a scholarly field. Students should work closely with the chair of their committee while researching and writing their dissertation. While researching and writing their dissertation, students must enroll in dissertation hours (ENGL 6399, 6699 or 6999). In the final semester of dissertation work, students must enroll in ENGL 6999. Once the student, the chair of the committee, and the primary readers agree that the dissertation is sufficiently completed, the student may schedule the defense. The student must furnish each committee member with a copy of the dissertation, including notes and bibliography, at least three weeks prior to the defense date. The defense of the dissertation is oral. The defense is open to all members of the faculty, graduate students and invited guests of the university community. Questioning of the candidate will be directed by the student's dissertation supervising committee, but any person attending the defense may participate. Committee members may request that the dissertation be further revised and may withhold final approval of the dissertation until the revisions have been made. For more specific information regarding degree requirements, please consult the Graduate Handbook of the Department of English.