Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 48

Required Courses:

Core Courses
ENG 5001Introduction to Graduate Study in English3
ENG 5502Current Directions in Critical Theory3
ENG 8900Advanced Study in Literature and Culture 13
5000-level Courses
Select two from the following:6
ENG 5011
Early British Literature
ENG 5012
Early American Literature
ENG 5014
16th and 17th Century British Literature
ENG 5016
18th Century British Literature
ENG 5018
19th Century British Literature
ENG 5021
19th Century American Literature
ENG 5022
20th and 21st Century British Literature
ENG 5024
20th and 21st Century American Literature
ENG 5026
Anglophone Literatures
ENG 5501
History of Critical Theory
ENG 5720
Topics - Rhetoric and Composition
8000-level Advanced Seminars 26
Electives 321
Research Courses6
ENG 9994
Preliminary Examination Preparation
ENG 9998
Pre-Dissertation Research
ENG 9999
Dissertation Research 4
Total Credit Hours48

ENG 8900 is taken by students in their last term of coursework, after they have satisfied all 5000- and 8000-level course requirements. 


Students select two advanced seminars at the 8000 level, with the exception of ENG 8900 Advanced Study in Literature and Culture and ENG 8985 Teaching in Higher Education: Writing.


Students select seven electives in consultation with the Graduate Director.


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

Language Requirement: Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. For doctoral students, the language requirement must be satisfied before taking the first preliminary examination. No exceptions to this rule are permitted. Additional information on fulfilling this requirement can be found in the Graduate English Office.

Culminating Events:
Optional Master's Degree:
Students enrolled in the PhD program who do not already possess the MA degree may acquire the optional MA degree while continuing on to the PhD. Students who leave the PhD program for any reason also can apply for the MA degree. In either case, the student qualifies for the MA 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 should demonstrate competence in two areas. Typically, one area corresponds to a general teaching area (e.g., British 19th Century, American 20th Century), while the other represents the student's scholarly research interests (e.g.,  Ecocriticism, Ethnic Literature, Gender Studies, Literature and Visual Arts). 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. 

In preparing for the exam, students in their final term of coursework register for ENG 8900 Advanced Study in Literature and Culture. In addition, they typically register for ENG 9082 Independent Study or ENG 9994 Preliminary Examination Preparation. During the following term, with all coursework completed, students take the exam itself. The exam consists of three parts:

  • Part I is a course syllabus for each area of the exam. It is submitted by the student in advance of the exam.
  • Part II constitutes written answers to questions in each area, which are prepared over the course of three days and may be written at home or in a place of the student's choice.
  • Part III is an oral examination that is taken only after passing Part II. The oral exam is conducted on campus, no more than three weeks after the written exam.

Exams are judged "Pass," "Fail" or "Honors." Additional details on exam procedures and the criteria for passing are available from the Graduate English Office.

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 their academic progress.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense, including the student's ability to express verbally their 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.