Students have successfully passed the qualifying exam and have advanced to candidacy. Upon advancing to candidacy, students are expected to file a dissertation progress form with the Graduate Office each semester. PhD candidates are expected to file an approved dissertation prospectus within four months of passing the qualifying exam.  At least three of the four members of the student’s dissertation committee are expected to meet annually with the student to review progress. A successful defense of dissertation is the final requirement for the degree.Students must graduate within four years of advancing to candidacy. All graduate students must register for courses and pay associated tuition and fees each semester, not including summer and winter sessions, until the degree is awarded. We encourage all students to seek in-state student status within two years of entering the program.

Dissertation Committee

The PhD student should be thinking about assembling a Dissertation Committee while still taking courses and identifying areas of specialization for the Qualifying Examination. In many cases, the dissertation committee is the same as the Qualifying Examination committee.  A Dissertation Committee consists of four faculty members (one of whom may be University of Maryland faculty outside of the English department), who advise the student on his/her dissertation.  One member serves as the student's dissertation director. All members of the dissertation committee must be members of the University of Maryland's Graduate Faculty. If a student wishes to include in his or her dissertation committee a person who is not currently a member of the University's General Graduate Faculty, that person will have to be nominated by the Department as Adjunct or Special Member of the University's Graduate Faculty and approved as such by the Graduate School. The nomination by the Department is made on the recommendation of Department's full Graduate Faculty by simple majority.

The PhD student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies and his or her advising team concerning the selection of the Dissertation Committee.

Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus is to be submitted within four months of passing the qualifying exam. The prospectus establishes that the student has defined a research question that is worth pursuing and is in a position to do a good job of pursuing it. The prospectus should be developed in consultation with your committee.

The prospectus should demonstrate that the student:

- has defined and delimited an interesting research question
- can explain the importance of the research question and the contribution that it will make to the field
- is familiar with the existing scholarship related to the research question and can describe the relationship of the dissertation project to that scholarship (review of the literature)
- has developed a theoretical framework for the argument and a methodology for your project.

The prospectus should be between 8-12 pages in length. It should be written in clear prose and include a bibliography. The prospectus, including a one-page abstract and the completed prospectus form (signed by the all four committee members), should be turned in to the English graduate office.

Dissertation Workshop

We urge students to take the Dissertation Workshop (1 credit of ENGL 898) in the semester following successful passage of the Qualifying Examination.   Taught by members of the department’s faculty and convened weekly as a seminar, usually during the fall semester, the Workshop concentrates on helping students advance their work on the dissertation, whether they are developing a prospectus or writing individual chapters.

Dissertation Template

Please refer to the Graduate School instructions for dissertation templates here (full dissertation template available here) for clarity and guidance in constructing your dissertation for submission and committee review.

Dissertation Defense Committee

When the dissertation is nearly complete and the major advisor has approved moving on to this penultimate step, the PhD candidate 1) submits to the Graduate School a request to appoint the Dissertation Oral Committee and 2) schedules the dissertation defense. Consisting of five faculty, this Committee normally includes the four members of the candidate's Dissertation Committee and an additional member of the University’s graduate faculty serving as the Graduate Dean's representative.  In accordance with Graduate School regulations, that representative must be from outside the department. All members of the Defense Committee appointed by the Graduate School must attend the defense. Students must submit their final draft of their dissertation to their committee at least two weeks before the defense date. Students should discuss with their directors the format of the defense. Typically, the defense is a two-hour discussion of the dissertation. The defense usually begins with a statement from the student on the experience of writing the dissertation (key discoveries, important changes in critical perspectives, main critical contributions, etc.). Four of the five members of the Dissertation Defense Committee must approve the dissertation in order for the student to pass.  Students are frequently asked to make revisions to the dissertation before submitting it to the Graduate School. Upon satisfactory completion of the oral defense and the electronic submission of the dissertation to, and its approval by, the Graduate School, the candidate is awarded the PhD.

Please see the Dissertation Policies here

Submission of Dissertation

The approved dissertation must be submitted electronically to the Graduate School by the deadlines posted for graduation in a given semester (see the Graduate School Deadlines). Information about all aspects of electronic submission of the dissertation is available on the Graduate School's website.