PhD Program

To our Admitted Graduate Students: Please know that our priority during this challenging time is the well-being of our students and ensuring their ability to fulfill their academic program requirements. This applies to our current students as well as you, our incoming graduate students. Due to the growing impact of COVID-19, all prospective and accepted student days, interview days, and individual student visits will be moved to a virtual format. 
We are also aware of the increasing concern around delayed visa appointments for our international students and delayed air travel for both our domestic and international students. Please be assured that we are currently working on alternative enrollment options for admitted students who are unable to make it to campus by the start of classes in September. You will be contacted via email with updates as they become available. Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.  



Requirements for the PhD

In the PhD Program, students move toward specialization in a particular area of study. The requirements include:

  • Sixteen graduate-level courses, including a required eight courses taken in the first year.
  • A successful review by the Graduate Committee upon completion of the first year.
  • Demonstration of a reading knowledge of one foreign language at an advanced level or two foreign languages at an intermediate level – including one language completed as part of the first year.
  • Completion of a Qualifying Oral Examination
  • Submission and approval of a Dissertation Prospectus
  • Completion and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation

Please note that successful completion of requirements in the first year earns each Ph.D. student an M.A. degree as a matter of course.

Satisfactory Academic Progress for PhD Students

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English guarantee five full years (12 months each) of financial support for PhD students who maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. This support will be in the form of Teaching Fellowships or Graduate Fellowships. All requirements for the doctorate, including dissertation, must be completed within seven years (exceptions require a petition to GRS). A leave of absence of up to two semesters is permitted for appropriate cause.

Given these time constraints, students should work closely with their advisers and dissertation readers to devise an efficient schedule for meeting all benchmarks. Faculty and students share responsibility for adhering closely to this schedule.

The following achievements are required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress:

Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, have no more than 2 failing grades (lower than B- or an incomplete grade older than 12 months), and pass qualifying exams and other milestones on the following recommended schedule:

Year 1:      Eight graduate courses – for the M.A. degree / first foreign language requirement.

Year 2:      Continue course work and study toward the completion of the language requirement.

Year 3:     Complete course work and language requirements. In the fall of the third year, students take the pro-seminar (EN794), in which they develop their Qualifying Oral Examination rationale and reading list, and form an oral exam committee.

Year 4:      Fall: Students should take the Qualifying Exam early in the Fall semester.

Spring: Prospectus submitted and dissertation writing begins.

Years 5+: Dissertation.


Additional departmental details regarding all stages of the degree can be found in the graduate handbook

For GRS college policies and general information please see the Graduate Bulletin