Dec 08, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

English, Ph.D.

College of Arts and Sciences  
Department: English 


  • Literature
  • Rhetoric and Composition


The Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Literature seeks to produce teacher-scholars who have a sound general knowledge of British and American literature and a specialized knowledge of their fields of concentration. Each student in the program must take courses in teaching college English. These courses in teaching are practicums that include actual teaching experience.

The Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition seeks to equip teacher-scholars with both a robust familiarity with critical, literary, and rhetorical theory and with the pedagogical experiences requisite for quality instruction. Students will specialize their studies toward a particular field of concentration.

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • M.A. from an accredited university
  • GPA – minimum 3.70 graduate GPA
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation, at least two of these letters should be from professors who have taught the applicant at the graduate level
  • A two-to-three page personal statement describing the student’s background, purpose for attending graduate studies, and career goals
  • A scholarly writing sample of approximately 2500 words (ten double-spaced pages) excluding bibliography or works cited; applicants may excerpt from a longer essay. Generally, the committee seeks to review academic writing from an English course.

Curriculum Requirements

The Ph.D. in English involves a minimum of 30 hours of coursework beyond the M.A. degree, exclusive of credits devoted to the foreign language requirement and additional credit hours for the doctoral dissertation. After completing the necessary course work, students must complete a portfolio. Students passing the portfolio and fulfilling the foreign language requirement are then admitted to doctoral candidacy. Upon the completion and approval of the dissertation, students will defend the dissertation in an oral examination. After successful completion of the dissertation and defense, students are awarded the doctoral degree.

Total Minimum hours: 40 hours minimum Post-Master’s

  • Core - 6 Credit Hours
  • Concentration - 9 Credit Hours (Literature) / 14 Credit Hours (Rhetoric)
  • Electives - 15 Credit Hours (Literature) / 12 Credit Hours (Rhetoric)
  • Dissertation - 10 Credit Hours Minimum

Core Requirements (6 Credit Hours)

Concentration Requirements

Students select from the following concentrations:

Literature Concentration (9 Credit Hours)

  • Select one of the following:

  • Credit Hours: 3 (May have been taken at the MA level)
  • Credit Hours: 3 (May have been taken at the MA level)

  • One theory-rich course chosen from the following:

  • Credit Hours: 3
  • ENG 6018  Studies in Criticism and Theory I (3 Credit Hours)
  • ENG 6019   Studies in Criticism and Theory II (3 Credit Hours)
  • Or other graduate courses designated theory-rich in the Department’s Graduate Bulletin or otherwise approved by the Graduate Director.


  • And then also:

  • Credit Hours: 1 (3 Credit Hours)
  • Must be taken three times. The first seminar credit is taken with the Director of Graduate Studies the first semester. One credit is taken in conjunction with a course. The final seminar is taken with a member of the student’s portfolio committee.  

Rhetoric & Composition Concentration (14 Credit Hours)

Electives (12 Credit Hours Minimum)

Students in the Literature Concentration select five (5) courses in consultation with the Graduate Director.

Students in the Rhetoric and Composition Concentration select four or five courses from the following (12-15 credit hours, dependent upon whether ENC 6745  was taken at the MA level):


Second Language Requirement

Proficiency in a second language may be required to conduct research in the selected area of specialization.  The language(s) and level of competency needed will be determined by the Major Professor, the graduate student, and Graduate Director and noted in a Plan of Study. If no additional language is needed, this will be noted in writing by the Major Professor. Determination of whether additional language(s) are required must be confirmed no later than the start of the third semester.

Qualifying Exam

For students in the Literature Concentration, the portfolio and its oral defense serve in lieu of a qualifying exam and together form a required stage to advance to candidacy. Each doctoral literature student designs a portfolio in close consultation with professors in her/his field(s) during the first and second years of the program, culminating normally in the third year in a submission of diverse written items that show the student’s knowledge, writing, and critical thinking in her/his selected general and more specific areas of specialization (by period, genre, topics, or other meaningful groupings). An oral defense of these items is scheduled soon after submission.

Students in the Rhetoric and Composition Concentration, after completing 30 hours of coursework, the language requirement, and all incomplete grades, may take the Ph.D. qualifying examination.  The standardized exam will be offered twice each academic year for all eligible students and consists of:

  • A 24-hour take-home exam divided into four written sections (1,000 words apiece), the content of which corresponds to the four core courses: Composition Theory, Research Methods, Rhetoric and Technology, and Historical Rhetorics.  Questions will be available in Canvas office at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the exam.  Questions will be digitally submitted to the exam chair by 9:00 a.m. on the following day for SafeAssign (or other software as approved by University and Department) submission in Canvas.
  • A manuscript suitable for publication in a specified scholarly journal (7,000-8,500 words) to be turned in at the same time as the 24-hour exam.  The topic of the manuscript should be based on the student’s specialization in Rhetoric and Composition.  This manuscript can be a revision of a course paper or conference paper or an extension of their project from the Scholarly Writing and Research class.  It must contribute to the discipline by advancing scholarly discussions in Rhetoric and Composition studies and offering new knowledge.

Both parts of the exam carry equal weight.  All exams will be assessed by a rotating committee of at least 3 Rhetoric and Composition faculty representing different areas of disciplinary expertise.  Every exam question will be graded by each member of the committee, although emphasis will be placed upon readers’ areas of specialization when determining the final score for each question.

Dissertation (10 Credit Hours Minimum)