Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 48

Required Courses:

Core Courses
ENG 9001Introduction to Graduate Study3
One course in Concentrated Textual Analysis with a focus on a single author or single text 13
Two courses covering Periods and Periodization 16
Two courses in Genre Studies 16
One course in History of Criticism and Theory 13
Select 7 courses in consultation with the Graduate Director and, in the final year, the student's dissertation advisor21
Non-Didactic Courses6
ENG 9994
Preliminary Examination Preparation
ENG 9998
Pre-Dissertation Research
ENG 9999
Dissertation Research 2
Total Credit Hours48

At least one of the core courses must also be in Pre-1800 Literature, and at least one must be an advanced-level seminar. The latter requirement can be satisfied for all Teaching Assistants by taking the required ENG 9087 Composition Practicum.


At least 2 of the 6 credits must be in ENG 9999 Dissertation Research.

Language Examination: Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language.

Culminating Events:
Optional Master's Degree:
Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program who do not already possess the M.A. degree may acquire the optional M.A. degree while continuing on to the Ph.D. Students who leave the Ph.D. program for any reason also can apply for the M.A. degree. In either case, the student qualifies for the M.A. by successfully completing 30 credits of coursework; passing the foreign language requirement; and writing a Qualifying Paper that demonstrates the student's ability to write perceptively, lucidly, and at length (4,000-6,000 words) on a literary subject.

Preliminary Examination:
The preliminary examination, together with successful completion of coursework, should demonstrate special competence in two areas. Students define these areas by writing a protocol and constructing two reading lists, one for each area. The protocol is an explanation and justification of the two reading lists in terms of professional aims. It demonstrates competence in generally recognized areas of teaching and scholarship and explains how the fields chosen will advance the student's research.

The preliminary examination should be completed within one year of finishing coursework. Students preparing for the exam must register for ENG 9994 Preliminary Examination Preparation. They should also confirm a time and date with the Chair of their Preliminary Examinations Committee and register with the Graduate Coordinator. The student and Chair receive confirmation of the time, date, room, and proctor for the examination.

The subject areas are determined, in advance, by the student and the Preliminary Examinations Committee. The exam consists of written and oral components. The written exam is normally taken in two sessions. The questions for each session generally do not exceed five, from which the student chooses two. Members of the student's Preliminary Examinations Committee write the questions for the preliminary exam. All members of the Preliminary Examinations Committee read the entire written examination and issue a grade of Pass or Fail. The essays are judged on the basis of their demonstrable mastery of the material on the list and their analytical strength. If two members of the committee grade the exam as failed, the student does not pass the written examination. Students failing the exam retake the entire exam no later than the following academic term. Students who fail the written examination twice are dismissed from the program.

After passing the written exam, the student proceeds to a one-hour oral exam. The oral must be held no more than three weeks after taking the written examination. At the oral, students should demonstrate their competence in both exam fields. They have the opportunity to discuss their written essays. The exam must be graded Pass or Fail. If the student fails the oral exam, it may be retaken once no later than the following academic term. Students who fail the oral examination twice are dismissed from the program. If the committee finds that the student’s combined performance on both the written and oral portions of the preliminary examination is exceptionally meritorious, the committee may acknowledge this by including the designation Preliminary Examinations Honors.

Dissertation Proposal:
The dissertation proposal should:

  • identify the key issues to be investigated;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the relevant scholarship in the field; and
  • provide a detailed outline of the proposed dissertation.

The dissertation should demonstrate the student's ability to conceive, research, and write a scholarly project of at least 150 pages. The student's doctoral research is overseen by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, which consists of at least three Graduate Faculty members. Two members, including the Chair, must be from the English Department. Committee compositions must be approved by the department's graduate committee. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress; coordinating the responses of the committee members; and informing the student of her/his academic progress.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense, including the student's ability to express verbally her/his research question, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications. This committee comprises the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the English Department. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the term in which the student will defend the dissertation. The committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

If a student wishes to change a member of a committee, the new member must be approved by the department's graduate executive committee and registered with the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate School.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Dissertation Examining Committee and register with the Graduate Coordinator at least 15 days before the defense is to be scheduled. The Graduate Coordinator arranges the time, date, and room. After the Graduate Coordinator has made the arrangements, the student must send to the Graduate School a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” at least 10 working days before the defense. The department posts notices announcing the defense.