English, PhD

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field of Study: English

Program Overview

The Department of English offers programs in American and English literature and language.


Candidates for graduate work in English should present an undergraduate major in English or a minimum of 18 semester hours of English (or its equivalent) beyond the freshman level. In some cases, students will be required to make up deficiencies without graduate credit. The department requires all candidates for admission to submit their scores on the aptitude sections of the Graduate Record Examination. Candidates are also required to submit a writing sample, consisting of at least 15 pages of academic writing.

Graduate Assistantships

New and continuing graduate students are normally supported with graduate assistantships providing tuition remission and a living stipend. Assistantships are awarded by the Dean on the recommendation of the department. All graduate assistants are required to take university- and department-level teacher training courses in their first semester of work at the university.

Teaching is viewed as an essential part of the education of graduate students aspiring to academic posts, and is required of all students working under assistantships. The department provides opportunities for graduate assistants to gain teaching experience in a variety of courses and in the Writing Resource Center.

Creative Writing Coursework Practicum

The creative writing coursework practicum addresses not only the production of creative writing but also its contemporary theory, history, and pedagogy, beginning with ENGL 504. Students who pursue this practicum will be able to focus on their own creative work in the context of two or more advanced workshop courses, explore the connections between that work and contemporary scholarship, and prepare to teach creative writing at the college and university levels. Their selected courses will ideally be a mixture of practicum and focused literary scholarship that provide a wide range of marketable skills, preparing them for an academic job market that calls on them to teach in more than one area.

English PhD students who pursue the creative writing coursework practicum work closely with the creative writing faculty to pursue writing and teaching in several genres. The practicum is satisfied by the completion of the following:

  • ENGL 504 and two 400-level workshop courses with a grade of B or better
  • An approved experience in or around Writers House (serving on a program committee, leading a writing group, engaging in community writing, etc.)
  • A portfolio that includes a syllabus for a college-level creative writing course, a collection of the student’s own creative work, and a critical introduction

The practicum’s guidelines need not be completed in the first two years of coursework (the Fellowship Course Option can be used to supplement regularly required courses), and there is no expectation that students include creative writing as part of qualifying exams or subsequent dissertation work. On the other hand, students who wish to pursue further scholarly work in the theory and history of contemporary creative writing may do so under the guidance of an approved doctoral committee. (Please see the doctoral program’s guidelines for constituting committees and preparing for exams.)

PhD Policies

For PhD policies and procedures, please review the School of Graduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.