The English department encourages its graduate students to design individual programs of study, choosing from among a range of courses in English and in other departments. To this end, the structure of the Ph.D. emphasizes faculty guidance rather than formal requirements. Upon enrollment in the graduate program, each student is assigned to a faculty mentor; as the student’s interests take shape, she or he may choose another adviser at any time. The following sections outline the stages of the typical graduate student progress.
In their first semester, all students take English 501: Introduction to Graduate Study: Critical Methods and Practice I, a team-taught seminar which introduces them to theories and methods of criticism, as well as to major issues and debates in the profession. Thereafter they may select from the 15-18 graduate seminars offered each year in English, as well as seminars offered by programs such as Comparative Literature (COLT), History, Gender Studies, Critical Studies (CNTV), and the Program in American Studies and Ethnicity (PASE). [The “Courses” button on the main menu will take you to descriptions of current and typical graduate seminar offerings.]
During the first term of the second year, students undergo the departmental Screening Procedure. This is not a formal examination. Rather, the Graduate Studies Committee reviews each student’s performance during the first year and, if necessary, communicates concerns to the student and to the student’s faculty advisor. The Director of Graduate Studies writes a short report on each student, which is made available to the student, the faculty advisor, and is placed in the student’s file. Successful screening and the completion of 30 units of coursework fulfill the requirements for the terminal Master’s degree.
The Field Examination must be taken in the semester immediately following the completion of coursework; the completed exam must be submitted to the committee chair by no later than December 1 (for fall exams) and May 1 (for spring exams).
The committee chair is responsible for: coordinating the questions with the student and the other examiners; coordinating the scheduling with the student and the other examiners and reporting it to the Director of Graduate Studies; proctoring the examinations electronically; reporting the grade on the provided sheet to the Director of Graduate Studies by the university's grade submission deadline; writing a final report on the examinations.
Download Field Examination form.
One term before they take the qualifying examination, students should also have fulfilled the foreign language requirement. Demonstration of proficiency in an appropriate foreign language may be met in several ways, such as designated coursework or a translation exam.
Students must take the departmental Qualifying Examination in the first or second semester following their successful completion of the Field Exams. Students form a committee of at least five tenured or tenure-track faculty members, at least three of whom must be from the Department of English, at least one of whom must be tenured and one of whom must be from outside the department. (Faculty with a joint or courtesy appointment in English cannot act as outside readers.) One faculty member from English will agree to chair the committee. To take the qualifying exam, the student will first sit a three-hour on-campus examination in which he/she will be asked to produce one of the following three documents: a 500-word abstract of the prospectus; a list of three questions the student would ask himself/herself about the prospectus; a syllabus for a class as inspired by the prospectus. No more than two weeks after the completion of the written examination, the student will sit a two-hour oral examination that will be attended by all committee members. The oral exam will encompass the written exam, the prospectus, and the accompanying bibliography. After passing the qualifying examination, the student will reduce the guidance committee to three or four members, who will include the director and the outside reader. Led by the director, this committee will oversee the student’s Ph.D. dissertation. English 700: Theories and Practices of Professional Development I, offered yearly, is an elective 2-unit seminar designed for students preparing to take the qualifying exam. Its goal is to facilitate the writing of the dissertation prospectus and the creation of the reading list.
The last date in the fall semester that written exams will be given in November 15, and the last day of the spring semester is April 10. No exams will be given over the summer.
Download the Appointment or Change of Qualifying or Dissertation Committee forms.
The dissertation is a book-length manuscript that makes an original and substantial contribution to its field of study. Its substance, style, and format must meet professional standards of research. (The requirements for students in the Literature and Creative Writing track are different, since these students produce both a creative project and critical thesis. Page-length requirements are specified on the Literature and Creative Writing page.) Upon submission of an acceptable manuscript and a successful oral defense, the student will be awarded the Ph.D.
Graduate alumni publications pictured above:
Sun Hee Teresa Lee, How to Analyze the Films of Tim Burton Abdo 2011; Ava Chin, Split: Stories from a Generation Raised on Divorce McGraw-Hill 2002; Amaranth Borsuk, Handiwork Slope Editions 2012; Stephan Clark, Vladimir's Mustache Russian Information Services, Inc. 2012; Ned Schantz, Gossip, Letters, Phones Oxford UP 2008; Shefali Rajamannar, Reading the Animal in the Literature of the British Raj Palgrave Macmillan 2012.