The department requires all graduate students to take thirteen courses, including:
- at least two courses in literature before 1780
- at least two courses in literature after 1780
- Introduction to Graduate Studies
- Practicum in Teaching Writing
At least six courses must be taken as 500-level seminars. With the start of the third year of full time study, students begin to register for research units and directed readings in order to meet the Graduate School's required 72 credits for the Ph.D. Students are also eligible, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, to take independent studies
The timetable for those entering the graduate program is as follows:
- Fall semester: three electives and the Introduction to Graduate Study.
- Spring semester: three electives. No teaching in either semester.
- At the end of the Spring semester: First-year review by the Graduate Committee
- Summer after the first year: language study, if needed.
- Fall semester: three electives
- Spring semester: three electives. No teaching in either semester. Declaration of the major field and selection of the major field advisor at the end of the spring semester.
- At the end of the Spring semester: Second Year Review by the Graduate Committee
- Summer after the second year: further language study, if needed. The minimum language requirement should be fulfilled by the end of the summer after year 2.
- Fall semester: Students take the Practicum in the Teaching of Composition and teach one section of Writing I.
- Spring semester: Students begin directed reading in their major field (taken on a pass/fail basis; 6 credits per semester) and teach one section of Writing I.
- Fall semester: Students continue their major field reading, now in the specific area of their projected dissertation; they teach one section of Writing I.
- Spring semester: Students take their major field exam by early March. Students may now be Teaching Assistants in undergraduate English Department literature courses or in courses in other programs such as American Culture Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Film and Media Studies, or they may teach a section of Writing I. By the end of the Spring semester all students will submit a dissertation prospectus and participate in a follow-up interview with their dissertation committee and two members of the Graduate Committee.
- By the end of the 4th year, in accordance with GSAS guidelines, students shall have completed all the pre-dissertation requirements including the minimum language requirement. By August 15 they shall submit to the Department Academic Coordinator a formal Title, Scope, and Procedure Form for the dissertation, to be signed by Major Field committee members and forwarded to the Graduate School.
- Fall and Spring semesters: Students work on the dissertation and teach or assist in one course each semester. They apply for a Dissertation Fellowship for year 6 by submitting the DF application to the Graduate Committee by March 1.
- Funded by a Dissertation Fellowship, students complete and defend their dissertation by April; students do not teach while on Dissertation Fellowship.
Foreign Language Requirement
The English Department requires a minimum of competency in one foreign language, ancient or modern, for all doctoral candidates. “Competency” is understood as a basic comprehension of the grammar, structure, and core vocabulary of a language. Native speakers of another language or students who have had two full years of undergraduate language study with a grade average of B+ or better will be considered to have satisfied the competency requirement. Other students may demonstrate competency either by taking an introductory reading course designed for graduate students or by passing a translation exam administered by the appropriate language department.
Given the academic demands of Years 1 and 2, introductory language courses are usually best taken during the summer after the first or second year of graduate study. All graduate students who do not enter the doctoral program having already satisfied the competency requirement may expect funding for one summer language course whether or not it is directly related to their proposed field. Students may elect to take additional summer language courses, but to be eligible for full funding such courses must be field-related. Students may also take languages courses (on a fully funded basis) during the academic year.
The minimum competency requirement is precisely that: a minimum. Students working in certain historical periods or pursuing particular dissertation topics may need to build upon basic competency in depth (by studying a single language further) and/or in breadth (by studying multiple languages). In some cases, additional language study might be pursued in the 3rd and/or the 4th year as the requirements of a student’s field or dissertation topic come into greater focus. The degree of language study appropriate in a particular case will be determined by the student and his or her advisor according to what is judged necessary or desirable for the student’s professional development as a scholar and teacher. Students in fields with unusually heavy language requirements may need an additional year to complete the Ph.D. Funding for a 7th year is at the discretion of the Dean, but students who are progressing satisfactorily toward their degree may expect the strong endorsement of the Department.