Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University


The English Graduate Program offers comprehensive training in all the major periods of British, U.S., and global Anglophone literature, as well as the history of the book, literary and cultural theory, postcolonial studies, digital humanities, performance studies, and feminist and sexuality studies. One of our particular strengths is African-American literary studies, in which we have a large group of faculty and students. Our superb faculty, our comprehensive and integrated curriculum, our structured mentoring programs, and our broad range of pedagogical opportunities and training all give our students excellent preparation for work in the academy and beyond. We are proud of our many graduates who have secured jobs teaching literature at a range of institutions in the U.S. and abroad, as well as of those who have used their training to find work in fields like secondary education, digital humanities, writing instruction, public humanities projects, education consulting, libraries and archives, and more.

Our curriculum provides rigorous training in literary history and form. At the same time, we offer courses in the general area of cultural studies, as well as those that engage in historical and current debates about class, race, gender, and sexuality. Offerings are balanced from year to year to make sure students have access to the courses they most need. Students also enjoy the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies through other departments at Rutgers and though the Center for Cultural Analysis, the British Studies Center, the Institute for Research on Women, and other affiliated centers. In addition, students may take courses at nearby universities (including Princeton, Columbia, NYU, CUNY, and the University of Pennsylvania) through our graduate school consortium.

All stages of the program include workshops and individual supervision tailored to students’ evolving intellectual and professional needs. Rutgers has a nationally-recognized program in undergraduate writing that enables our students to become effective teachers. In addition to mentored teaching assistantships, we endeavor to provide advanced graduate students the opportunity to teach literature courses of their own design. And because formal training is only one part of a dynamic graduate education, the department has many structures that facilitate extra-curricular social and intellectual life. Our Graduate English Student Association (GESA) organizes social events, plans colloquia, and provides a forum for student mentorship. Our numerous interest groups sponsor reading groups and regular visitors and workshops in topics like anti-colonial thought, Americanist scholarship, nineteenth-century studies, African American and African Diasporic Studies, early modern and medieval studies, queer studies, modernism and globalization, transatlantic eighteenth-century studies, poetry and poetics, book history, and much more.

Rutgers English provides financial support for all admitted Ph.D. students during the whole course of their studies. A combination of fellowships and teaching assistantships provides students with six guaranteed years of support as they pursue their degree; in the last decade, we have been able to provide a seventh year of support for all students in good standing who required it.

A comprehensive guide to our program’s structure and policies can be found in our Redbook.  

To see some of the extraordinary writing of our graduates, we invite you to visit our Graduate Bookshelf.

Research & Interest Groups

Our program has a long tradition of training scholars, teachers, and members of the profession of literary study. The program emphasizes close attention to literary history and form, and to the cultures, societies, and politics by which they have been shaped. With a large and diverse faculty, the department has taken a leading role in defining the future direction of the discipline.

We offer intensive courses in all periods of English and American literature; in literary theory; in drama and performance studies; in film, media, and cultural studies; in feminism and gender studies; and in African-American, world Anglophone, post-colonial, and Asian-American literatures. Across these fields, the faculty share a commitment to rigorous and grounded literary work. This commitment has been rewarded with a strong record in placement. Our graduate students find leading positions at national research universities and teaching colleges.

The program is designed to ensure that a wide range of study at the beginning of a student's career will provide a strong foundation for a more specialized concentration later on.  

The Ph.D. is attained by means of the following stages of study:

  1. Course Work and Requirements - Fourteen courses (or 42 credits). This includes one semester of the Mentored Teaching Assistantship, which accounts for 3 of the 42 course work credits. It also includes one Independent Study credit for Qualifying Examination preparation, which accounts for another 3 of the 42 course work credits.
  2. Ph.D. Qualifying Examination - Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, which consists of a written and an oral exam. Six additional reading credits are earned in preparing for the Qualifying Examination, for a total of 48 credits. Admission for candidacy to the Ph.D. comes with successful completion of the Qualifying Examination.
  3. Dissertation & Defense - Advancement to candidacy through submission of the dissertation proposal.

A comprehensive guide to our program’s structure and policies can be found in our Redbook.  

Click here to view Ph.D. Degree Learning Goals and Assessment

The Graduate Program, and the system of financial aid that supports it, has been formulated so as to ensure that six to seven years for the completion of the Ph.D. degree requirements will be a realistic expectation.

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