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M.A. and Ph.D. Programs

Recognizing the complex discipline that "English" has become, our M.A. and Ph.D. programs seek to ground students broadly in literary and filmic periods, genres, and major authors while also attending closely to developments in the discipline and in the academy at large. Both programs emphasize close collaboration and mentoring between individual students and faculty. Small pro-seminars, covering broad fields of study, and advanced seminars, covering specialized topics or issues, help students develop breadth and depth of knowledge while offering them intensive intellectual engagement with members of the faculty. Extensive annual programming brings graduate students together in formal and informal settings with distinguished faculty in both English and Creative Writing.

We have a diverse and distinguished graduate faculty in early modern studies, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British studies, American studies, critical theory, and film and screen studies. In the last decade they have published books and articles on everything from poetry, novels, films, and plays to translations, hip hop, TV crime dramas, and video games. These publications examine a wide variety of topics and issues, including aesthetics, diasporic literatures, discourses of embodiment and feeling, discourses of political economy, documentary film and witnessing, domestic fiction and the welfare state, historical fiction and historiography, liberalism and material culture, literature and identity, living history museums and reenacting, Marxist theory, musicals and music history, narratives of criminality and piracy, narrative temporality in new media, postmodernism, publicly engaged humanistic scholarship, reception and book history, and Shakespeare. Many of these publications also engage with histories, politics, and theories of class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality, colonialism, empire, and globalization.

For a list of faculty by areas of expertise, click here.

For a lit of recent dissertations and dissertation prospectuses, click here.


M.A. in English:  The M.A. degree encourages intellectual discovery while also preparing students for future doctoral work by training them in recognized fields of study. The degree usually requires 30 credit hours of coursework (typically, ten courses): students take an introduction to critical theory in their first semester; the remainder of their coursework consists of pro-seminars and seminars. To complete the degree, students submit and defend a dossier of three papers, initially written for their courses and revised in light of the dossier’s presentation as a culminating work. Refer to the Course Catalog for specific M.A. requirements.

Ph.D. in English:  The Ph.D. degree offers students specialized professional training in criticism, theory, research, and the teaching of literary and filmic texts, with an eye towards preparing them to instruct and research at the college and university level. We have an excellent record of placing our students in academic jobs upon graduation. Our past graduates hold a variety of tenured, tenure-track, visiting faculty, and postdoctoral fellow appointments around the country. Students may apply to the Ph.D. program after completing either a B.A. or an M.A. degree. The coursework requirements for the degree are usually 54 or 36 credit hours (typically, 18 or 12 courses) for students entering with, respectively, a B.A. or an M.A. The other basic degree requirements are outlined below. Consult the Course Catalog for specific Ph.D. course requirements.

Ph.D. Program Sample Requirements at a Glance:  

  • Introduction to Critical Theory (ENG 631)
  • Breadth requirement: Students must take at least three graduate pro-seminars (ENG 630 courses) in their first two years of coursework. Each pro-seminar offers a general introduction to a comprehensively defined field or period.
  • Students must take at least three graduate seminars (ENG 730 courses) in their first two years of coursework. Seminars focus on a particular topic, genre, movement, or critical problem.
  • Field Exam Requirement: This has two parts: first, a Field Exam Essay, submitted by April 15th of the 2nd year of coursework, which represents what students take to be their best, revised 20-30 page critical essay drawn from their Ph.D. coursework; and, second, a 3-hour written examination, typically taken during the 2nd year of coursework, that tests students’ ability to interpret, analyze, and critique texts in one of four fields connected to set, general Field Exam Reading Lists (British Literature, American Literature, Film & Screen Studies, and Theory). *Typically, students are waived from the 3-hour, written exam upon admission, conditional upon completing certain coursework. No student may be waived from the Field Exam Essay.
  • Language Requirement: Students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.
  • Qualifying Examination: A 3-hour oral examination, usually taken in a student’s 5th semester (if entering with a M.A.) or 7th semester (if entering with a B.A.), in which students are asked to demonstrate sufficient mastery in two chosen fields of study, based on reading lists students devise in conjunction with faculty advisors.
  • Dissertation Prospectus and Dissertation Defense