English, PhD

The PhD program seeks to train students to be productive scholars and teachers in the fields of both literary studies and rhetoric and composition. In course work, students read and analyze the important texts, current issues, and critical methodologies of the discipline. Drawing on the breadth of this preparation, students demonstrate their ability to recognize and produce scholarly arguments in designing the three comprehensive field papers in areas of scholarly interest and competence corresponding to recognized and emerging fields of study. Finally, the dissertation offers students an opportunity to design a focused research project in consultation with a dissertation advisor. Throughout the program, faculty works closely with doctoral students to develop their scholarly and professional identities in preparation for careers in academia.

Academic Standing/Progress

To be considered in good academic standing, PhD students must be making progress toward their degree requirements, including maintaining a 3.500 minimum cumulative grade-point average (GPA) and completing the comprehensive examination within one year of finishing course work.

Doctoral Degree Candidacy

Students entering with a relevant BA must complete 48 semester hours, complete the language requirement, and pass the comprehensive examination.  

General Regulations

Program requirements are described in the CSSH Graduate Programs General Regulations and the Graduate Program in English PhD Guide. Both documents are updated annually. 

Bachelor's Degree Entrance


Annual progress review
Two languages
Comprehensive exam
Doctoral degree candidacy
Dissertation prospectus
Public prospectus/dissertation work-in-progress presentation
Dissertation defense

Core Requirements

ENGL 5103Proseminar4
Writing and the Teaching of Writing
ENGL 7392Writing and the Teaching of Writing4
Theories and Methods
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
Topics in Criticism
Topics in Literary Study (selected topics only)
Topics in Literature and other Disciplines (selected topics only)
Topics in Digital Humanities
Theorizing Gender and Sexuality
Directed Study (GCWS Consortium, selected topics only)
Writing and Rhetoric
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
ENGL 7111
ENGL 7112
ENGL 7121
Topics in Rhetoric
ENGL 7391
ENGL 7393
Topics in Writing
ENGL 7396
ENGL 7397
ENGL 7398
Literary Periods
Literature Pre-1700
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
Topics in Early American Literature
ENGL 7261
ENGL 7262
ENGL 7263
ENGL 7271
ENGL 7274
Topics in Medieval Literature
Topics in Renaissance Literature
Topics in 17th-Century Literature
Topics in Criticism (selected topics only)
Topics in Literature and other Disciplines (selected topics only)
Literature 1700–1900
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
ENGL 7212
Topics in 19th-Century American Literature
ENGL 7233
ENGL 7264
ENGL 7266
ENGL 7275
Topics in 18th-Century Literature
ENGL 7285
ENGL 7286
ENGL 7291
Topics in Literary Study (selected topics only)
ENGL 7352
(selected topics only)
Literature Post-1900
Complete 4 semester hours from the following:4
ENGL 7211
Topics in 20th-Century American Literature
African-American Novel
ENGL 7251
ENGL 7287
Topics in Literary Study (selected topics only)
ENGL 7355
(selected topics only)
Topics in Literature and other Disciplines (selected topics only)
ENGL 7359
(selected topics only)
ENGL 7361
ENGL 7362


Complete 20 semester hours of ENGL courses.20


Exam Preparation
Exam Preparation—Doctoral (Only needed for PhD students who have completed coursework but have yet to complete the comprehensive exams. Not repeatable.)
Complete the following (repeatable) course twice:
Dissertation Continuation
Following completion of two semesters of ENGL 9990, registration in the following class is required in each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is completed:
Dissertation Continuation

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

  • 48 total semester hours required
  • Minimum 3.500 GPA required