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.