Course Requirements

The PhD requires a minimum of 12 courses (36 credits) for students entering the program without an MA. This includes three required courses. All coursework must be completed with a minimum of a 3.6 GPA (see Satisfactory Progress). Students are required to take ENGL601: Literary Research and Critical Contexts; ENGL602: Critical Theory and Literary Criticism; and ENGL611, Approaches to College Composition as part of their 12 course requirement.  In addition, students will select a minimum of 9 additional graduate courses, at least five of which must be seminars, which are usually 700 level courses. The degree assumes conversance with the major body of English and American literature as well as familiarity with bibliography, research methods, and other necessary tools of the trade. 

Students may take up to two independent-study courses to fulfill 600-level electives. Students interested in taking an independent-study course for elective credit should collaborate with their professor in writing up an intended course of study and file it with the Graduate Office for approval by the DGS before the first day of classes each semester. (Please see the required Independent Study Form here). Students may also make special arrangements to do additional work in their 600-level courses to have those courses count as a seminar/700 level course. Students wishing to take a 600-level class as a seminar must provide the Graduate Studies Office with the required seminar credit form and syllabus detailing the additional work that will be undertaken in order for the course to be counted as a 700-level seminar at the beginning of the semester. Students may not take an independent study for seminar/700 level credit except in extreme circumstances and only after receiving permission from the DGS.

Newly admitted PhD students entering the program with an MA from another institution should meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to have their academic record evaluated; the DGS will establish what courses taken during the previous MA can count toward the PhD distribution requirements or recommend courses that will enable their completion. Students who begin the PhD program having earned an MA in English from another institution would be expected to complete a minimum of 9 courses (27 credits) of coursework, but may be required to complete more at the DGS’s discretion. All PhD students should select courses with two primary goals in mind: 1) filling in gaps in their knowledge of literary history, and 2) developing an area of scholarly expertise and professionalization.

The DGS will help students select courses and act as the general advisor for students entering the program and during the first semester of graduate study.  A faculty advising team will be assigned in the second semester in consultation with the student (see Advising). Students will consult their advising teams before registering for a course and all selections must be approved by the DGS. In consultation with their advising teams, students must complete a self-evaluation form after every semester of coursework.

During the course-work phase of the program (from the first through the fifth semester), each student will meet with his or her advising team and the DGS in order to assess academic progress and to discuss his or her intended degree track and plans for professionalization.  Students whose GPA for the first completed 15 credits of coursework is 3.0 or lower will be offered the option of pursuing the terminal MA degree or of resigning from the graduate program altogether.

A note on Incompletes: Students are generally discouraged from taking Incompletes, but especially so at the beginning of their coursework, in order to ensure that academic progress can be accurately assessed. If an incomplete is necessary in the first 15 credits of coursework, the DGS must be consulted in addition to the instructor of the course. (The required incomplete contract form can be found here.)