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In 2020, more than 535 words, including on-brand, sesh, and inspo were new additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Indeed, hundreds of new words are being added to the English language every year! There’s also the fact that the number of people who consider English as a foreign language and a second language exceeds the number of native English speakers.
So, who says there’s no need for a doctorate in the English language and, by extension, literature? As long as the English language grows in its breadth, use, and influence, there’s always a need for its advanced study!
Quick audio summary:
The Doctor of English Language and Literature degree is an advanced academic degree that prepares students to become experts in the English language, literature, and culture. This program is best suited to students who already have a strong background in English and are interested in pursuing a career as a professor or in the areas of publishing, editing, writing, or research.
Prospective students in this program will have the opportunity to work closely with experienced faculty members and learn up-to-date approaches to literary theory, style, and trends. With this degree, students will have the knowledge and skill set to become successful in their chosen field and have the opportunity to be leaders in the literary and academic community.
Students in Ph.D. in English language and Literature programs are already proficient in its written and oral forms. For these students, the goal is to think more creatively and critically about the English language and its literature. The professional ability to analyze theories and practices, critique everyday language and works of literature, and analytically think about them comes as second nature.
Note that the terminal degree may have an equal focus on the language and literature aspects. However, some programs specialize either in the English language or in English literature and its aspects. Check the program’s title since it’s a dead giveaway and, thus, is crucial in your decision to enroll.
In an English literature program, students focus on literary texts from several periods in recorded history. The vast range of literature written in the English language makes it an exciting field of study. Students can read the works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Lord Byron, as well as Virginia Woolf, J.K. Rowling, and Dr. Seuss. There’s an emphasis on relating their works to the social, cultural, and political contexts of their time, too.
For students in English language programs, the focus is on the dynamics, evolution, and English language in non-literature settings. These can include casual face-to-face conversations, virtual interactions, and specialized medical and legal jargon. The in-depth analysis translates to a deeper understanding of the English language and its impact on individuals and society.
Would you like to use your degree to become an Editor? Check out this informational video to find out more:
These are on-campus Ph.D. in English Language and Literature programs selected based on the following criteria:
- Valid accreditation from any of the six US Department of Education-recognized regional accreditation agencies
- A proven reputation, both in terms of quantitative and qualitative measurement, for academic excellence
- A roster of credentialed faculty members, preferably with pertinent terminal degrees in the English language and literature
- Presence of satisfactory student support services, which may include a writing center and career placement
- Large libraries and other research facilities to conduct research activities and complete the dissertation
- With financial aid services
BEST DOCTOR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE (GENERAL) STUDIES
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
LSU may have started as a seminary and military academy in 1853, but it has since evolved to become the most comprehensive institution in The Pelican State. Its beautiful Baton Rouge campus is its brilliant Ph.D. in English program, where students gain a more profound understanding of the English language.
- Earning the terminal degree means completing 48 credit hours of the required coursework, the foreign language requirement, and the general examination. Students must also submit a dissertation prospectus, a dissertation with at least 150-175 pages, and undergo a dissertation defense.
- There are three phases – coursework, exams, and research, including dissertation – that serve as the milestone markers in the program. The coursework phase involves three courses every semester, the full load, in English literature. During the exams phase go through their chosen reading list and take the General Exam. The dissertation phase includes the development of a prospectus, the writing of the dissertation, and finally, its defense.
- Candidates with appropriate bachelor’s or master’s degrees can apply. The program of study will differ depending on the highest academic level achieved and the number of credit hours that can be applied toward the degree.
- Students with a master’s degree are required to complete the requirements within four years after admission.
- The Academic Course Plan committee evaluates the prior graduate-level credits applied towards the degree during the student’s second semester.
- Students must become teaching assistants and teach one course every semester during their stay in the Ph.D. program.
Students train to become experts in research as well as respected teachers, editors, and writers. The rigorous program of study includes the production of ambitious and innovative scholarly works across diverse areas of study.
LSU’s library is considered a general-use library and a library for the federal government’s collections, known as a US Regional Depository Library. Documents from the American Patent and Trademark Office and the United Nations are also housed here.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn’s strong emphasis on multidisciplinary research and teaching and learning is woven into every academic program, as is its focus on academic flexibility and freedom. Undergraduates even have access to many of the graduate courses under the One University policy! Students in the Ph.D. in English program may then learn alongside younger counterparts resulting in both cohorts enjoying the benefits of intergenerational learning.
- The minimum required number of course units for completion is 20.
- The program of study includes a proseminar in the fall, a series of seminars throughout the program, language exams including a second language exam, and an oral exam.
- Students must become teaching assistants and graders in their second year. Teaching assistants conduct a weekly recitation activity while graders assist professors in grading undergraduate courses.
- The dissertation proposal and field exams are conducted in the third year. From years four to six, students focus on their dissertation, from research and writing to defense.
- Students are well-advised to enroll full-time in the Ph.D. program to earn the degree as early as possible. Students get an individualized program of study for this purpose.
- Faculty members make an effort to interact with students and provide guidance on their academics and dissertations. Their credentials include relevant terminal degrees and published authors in industry magazines on research methods, theoretical areas, and historical matters.
- Admission is among the most selective, with candidates evaluated based on their academic record, letters of recommendation, and other supplementary information.
Penn fosters inclusivity and diversity in its academic programs while promoting academic rigor that challenges students to their limits. However, student support services are among the best in a collegiate environment, not to mention that graduate students are considered valued members of the Department itself. Every graduate student has opportunities to contribute to collective knowledge and the social bonds among faculty and peers.
Students throw toast – as in toasted bread – into the field in every home football game! This is certainly tamer than the 1966 Rowbottom riots when students smashed windows and stole panties, among other mischievous deeds.
Ithaca, New York
Cornell’s status as an Ivy League institution is stronger than ever with its passionate commitment to its founder’s intention – a university where every person seeking instruction in any field of study will find it. In its 156-year existence, it has made substantial contributions to various fields, from arts and humanities to STEM. The Ph.D. in English Language and Literature program is notable where faculty and students have contributed to its body of knowledge.
- The highly selective program admits about ten students, on average, every academic year. The small class size means more benefits for students, including generous financial aid and personalized attention.
- The faculty members have diverse backgrounds, but all of them are known for their professional expertise in the English language and its literature, including their theories and practices.
- Students follow a program of study characterized by didactic coursework from their first to their third years. During the first year of residence, students participate in 6-7 courses. This is followed by 6-7 courses in their second and third years.
- The special committee decides on the suitability of every student to proceed in the program before the start of the fourth semester. The evaluation includes the results of the Advancement to Candidacy Examination.
- Formal and informal studies are allowed, but these should result in the student’s familiarity with the works of influential authors, literary theory and criticism, and literary tools and concerns.
- Students may choose from American literature until 1865 and after 1865, African-American literature, and American studies, among other topics, for their major or minor.
Students have a five-year guarantee on funding covering full tuition, health insurance, and stipend. The five-year funding comes with obligations, including a non-teaching fellowship and teaching assistantship at different times. There are prestigious fellowships, too, such as the Buttrick-Crippen Fellowship and Provost’s Diversity Fellowships.
Academic flexibility comes with relative freedom in choosing courses, exam design, and the choice of minors outside of the English department.
Kroch Library’s collection ranges from the whimsical, such as the first copies of Charlotte’s Web, to the historical like the Gettysburg Address written by Abraham Lincoln himself. Cornell’s motto has been ranked #1 by Motto Magazine, and it’s the only Ivy League motto in English; the rest are in Latin.
University of California Berkeley
UC Berkeley’s reputation as the world’s #1 Public University makes it among the most challenging universities to get into for both the undergraduate and graduate levels. With its comprehensive focus on research – it’s home to numerous scientific breakthroughs from computers to genomics – and its strong political activism, its Ph.D. in Comparative Literature program sets the bar high!
- This is recognized as among the best programs in comparative literature in the US. Students are expected to make impactful contributions to the field of study in terms of interdisciplinary research.
- Students engage in research with a multidisciplinary framework, including cross-cultural viewpoints that transcend geographical boundaries.
- Students are encouraged, if not required, to publish and present their scholarly works aside from their work in translations, literature, and theater. Individualized work is complemented by collaborative research and participation in seminars.
- Faculty members and students collaborate in the development of innovative theoretical and historical frameworks related to literature.
- Students develop advanced skills in the critical analysis of texts and the translation, editing, and writing of texts in a multidisciplinary context. The coursework includes literary works and traditions spanning several historical periods and diverse cultures, from Yiddish fiction to American literature.
- Design and instruction in diverse topics of interest are also incorporated in each student’s program of study. The on-campus emphasis programs include Jewish Studies, Critical Theory and Gender, and Women’s Studies.
- No GRE scores are required for admission. However, proficiency in at least three foreign languages is required for admission.
Students can rely on the passionate commitment among faculty members for student success! An approved doctoral dissertation must cover comparative work in at least three works of literature, including English.
UC Berkeley’s Dead Week tradition gives students a welcome reprieve from the intensive studying before the final exams. Naked students run through the Moffitt and Doe libraries while causing a 20-minute general commotion! Students who want to stay awake during their study period and exams may head to Peet’s Coffee, the national coffee shop with Berkeley roots.
New York University
New York, New York
NYU is as New York as you can get, from its founder to its motto, “Perstare et Praestare” (To persevere and to excel)! Such is its academic renown that it receives the highest number of applications among private institutions in the country, too. But with a highly selective admission, only the cream of the crop has the honor to be called Violets. This is true for the Ph.D. in English Education program offered at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
- The credit requirements are between 48 and 60 credits depending on prior coursework completed from a master’s degree. However, students without a relevant master’s degree will likely be required to complete prerequisites and, thus, complete up to 72 credits.
- Students in the Teaching and Learning programs must comply with the academic requirements of the common and core courses.
- First-year doctoral students may take the proseminar, an introductory course to doctoral-level studies, including scholarship and professional development opportunities.
- Students must take two cognate courses upon the guidance of an academic adviser. Cognate courses are outside the student’s area of study but support their research.
- Two foundational courses, or equivalent to six credits, must be completed as part of the first 24 credits in the program of study. These are upper-level courses that broaden the students’ knowledge about fields of study other than their area of specialization.
- During the first year, students must also complete one quantitative and one qualitative research methodology course. The minimum total number of required research-related credits is 15, inclusive of the abovementioned courses.
- Students also complete three credits in advanced and specialized research methodology courses related to their planned dissertation.
- Candidacy requirements include written and comprehensive oral exams followed by a dissertation proposal and an approved dissertation.
Students must spend an average of 20 hours on their studies, including their academics and research experiences. Research assistantships are recommended for research experience. Every student can tailor their doctorate based on their specific career goals and interests.
The Violets take their Quidditch game seriously, and they are world champions several times over! Adam Sandler, Angelina Jolie, and Lady Gaga are Violets, too.
University of Wisconsin Madison
UW Madison’s flagship university status is well-deserved considering its numerous distinctions, from its founding member status at the Association of American Universities to its R1 and Public Ivy designations. The competitive process in its Ph.D. in English program ensures that its long-standing tradition of academic excellence applies to advanced studies, too.
- Applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fields of study aside from English language and literature may apply. However, applicants without a relevant degree must complete masters-level courses before being accepted.
- This is a face-to-face program with daytime hours, meaning there are no evening and weekend courses.
- The Composition and Rhetoric concentration has 51 credit hours as the minimum degree requirement. The English language and Linguistics track requires 63 credits for completion. The Literary Studies concentration involves completion of 51 credit hours, minimum.
- Students must complete at least 32 credits in residence. At least half of the required credit hours must be in graduate-level coursework – or 26 credits for the Composition and Rhetoric concentration and the Literary Studies track.
- Satisfactory progress means achieving a 3.00 overall GPA, minimum.
- Students must choose and complete a minor.
Students and faculty members work together to ensure that the program’s learning outcomes are achieved by the end of the former’s stay. Professional development opportunities, including workshops, seminars, and conferences, are offered as part of said thrust. Students can conduct advanced research in their fields, communicate complicated ideas, and demonstrate sophisticated knowledge and skills in their area of expertise.
Students are frequent participants in the events conducted on or near the Wisconsin State Capitol building, thanks to the university’s next-door proximity. Farmers’ markets and epic snowball fights among students in winter are among the popular activities.
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
UCLA may have started as a teachers’ college, but it has certainly evolved to become one of the world’s top research universities! Such is its worldwide renown that it receives the most number of university applications in the country, besting even NYU. But its highly selective admission policy means that few get into its programs, including its highly-rated Ph.D. in English program.
- The program must be completed in eight years, but the average time for completion is between six and seven years. If you can’t complete the requirements after the eighth year, you must file a departmental petition.
- The Vice-Chair for Graduate Studies and another faculty member act as the first-year personal advisers whose duties include approval of their quarterly study plans. Counseling services and evaluation of academic progress are also included. The evaluation process includes considering grades, performance evaluations in coursework, and satisfactory progress concerning degree requirements.
- There’s a foreign language requirement, too, which requires demonstrations of reading proficiency in French, German, Spanish, or Italian. Translations are included in these proficiency exams. Students must fulfill the language requirement before being allowed to take the series of qualifying exams.
- The program requires completing 14 letter-graded courses chosen from the department’s 200-level and above catalog and from equivalent courses in other on-campus departments. The latter includes film, art history, and women’s studies.
- Up to four letter-graded courses from a master’s degree may be counted toward the 14-course requirement upon the Vice Chair’s approval.
- Teaching experience isn’t a requirement for admission, but students can become teaching assistants for one year. These positions are offered based on merit (i.e., not automatically offered).
Innovative research, academic excellence in both coursework and dissertation and exceptional teaching skills are the hallmarks of UCLA’s Ph.D. in English graduates! Enough said.
But UCLA students also play hard, and it has resulted in 111 NCAA titles – and counting – the most of any NCAA team! Students also know how to let off steam caused by stress from intensive studying. During the Midnight Yell, students engage in scream sessions that last for a few minutes. Don’t miss the Undie Runs, too!
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
UMich, the State of Michigan’s oldest university founded 20 years before its statehood, also boasts the largest endowment of all public universities in the US. With $17 billion at its disposal, it has abundant resources to provide its students with world-class education, training, and research opportunities. Students in its Ph.D. in English Language and Literature program can look forward to the UMich way!
- This program is designed for six years of full-time study for students seeking a doctorate. The culminating document is an approved dissertation worthy of publication.
- Students choose from several specializations, including American, British, and Anglophone literature, while also expanding their knowledge of their impact, perspective, and evolution.
- Advanced research skills are equally important as the critical evaluation and cultural knowledge of English literature through historical periods and different places.
- Students must satisfy the foreign language requirement within their first two years in the program. The requirement is either two basic languages or one advanced language.
- Course requirements include an Introduction to Graduate Studies course, three upper-level seminars, and two cognate courses.
- There’s no specific program of study that students must follow, although their first year must be dedicated to a well-balanced education in their discipline. Their second and third years are spent on their specialized areas of study.
- Application requirements include an academic statement of purpose, a personal statement, a resume, and a writing sample.
All students have guaranteed funding for six years, a way of fostering collaboration and community among students. From year one to five, every student receives a full fellowship covering tuition costs, living stipends, and healthcare benefits. Students in their later years in the program also become part-time graduate student instructors.
Wolverines don’t need mistletoe to kiss! Couples who kiss under the Engineering Arch at midnight are destined to be married, and we can surmise that Tom Brady, Madonna, and James Earl Jones may have done it, too. UMIch also has its running-naked-through-the-campus tradition known as the Naked Mile.
New York, NY
Barack Obama and Warren Buffett call Columbia their alma mater and, thus, students in its Ph.D. in English Education program are in good company. Getting into the Ivy League university’s highly selective program is an achievement in itself, too, more so when you earn a prestigious degree. Note that it’s offered at the Teachers College, with its primary purpose being to promote the body of knowledge concerning teaching and learning the English language.
- Students complete 75 credits to earn the degree.
- Mandatory courses include Research Paper: Teaching of English; Seminar in Foundational Texts; Dissertation Seminar: Teaching of English; and Dissertation Advisement in the Teaching of English.
- Students must complete 12 credits of research-related courses, such as Research in Practice, Advanced Narrative Research in English Education, and Writing Research: Methods and Assumptions.
- Electives are available in literary and rhetorical studies.
- There are two start dates – summer and fall.
- Application requirements include three letters of recommendation, of which one is an academic reference and an academic writing sample.
- Candidates must present proof of full-time teaching experience for 3-6 years.
- Transfer of credits can be as high as 30 credits from previous graduate work. The advisor approves the allowable number of transferred credits.
- Students must have the academic advisor’s approval before undertaking any course and other actions related to their program of study.
- There’s a series of certification exams conducted on specified dates, and students must file to take them at least a month before their administration.
- Students must demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language, particularly as part of scholarly work.
- The dissertation is the culminating requirement for all doctoral students.
The rigorous program of study prepares students for leadership positions as teacher-educators, scholars, and researchers of the English language. Their expertise lies in its philosophical, theoretical, and pedagogical aspects and their capacity to find answers to relevant questions.
Columbia has a cornucopia of resources for its students, with more than 12 million books and 2 million items in its digital collections. It has one of the largest library systems in the country! Check out Columbia Review, the country’s oldest college literary magazine, for ideas.
Arizona State University
The Sun Devils won’t have to feel lonely and alone! With its huge student population – one of the highest enrollment of public universities in the US – there’s always a community present. The tight-knit community of students and faculty in its Ph.D. in English Literature program is known for its academic excellence and supportive environment.
- Students complete 84 credits to earn a terminal degree in English literature. The number of credits earned in the Ph.D. program differs depending on your highest academic achievement. Students with a relevant master’s degree must earn at least 54 credits in the program. Otherwise, it’s 84 credits.
- Of these 84 credits, between 42 and 72 credits are for didactic coursework and research activities. The dissertation phase consists of 12 credits.
- There’s a series of examinations that students must pass in sequential order to make satisfactory progress. Students complete one essay, followed by a comprehensive oral exam and a dissertation prospectus.
- Students must complete the language requirement, too.
- The program is designed for completion in five years.
- Students receive funding as teaching students for the five-year duration.
- Coursework includes Approaches to Research, seminars, and electives, as well as the dissertation. Students are given academic flexibility to choose their coursework based on their areas of interest.
- No GRE scores are required for admission.
- The online application packet must include a statement of purpose, an academic writing sample, a resume, and at least three letters of academic recommendation.
The program strongly emphasizes the intensive study of literature and its historical, cultural, and social contexts. Students also study these works’ creation, distribution, and reception, including oral traditions, folklore, and pop culture. Film and digital media are studied alongside traditional literature using several modes of inquiry. Students also benefit from ASU’s partnerships with research centers like the Center for Film, Media, and Popular Culture and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
The Sun Devil Marching Band is as fierce on the field as they are off it! With the Sudler Trophy under its belt, it’s among the winningest marching bands in collegiate history.
University of Washington
The Huskies had made substantial contributions to the economic development of Seattle, its original intention when it was established in 1861, and more! Indeed, Washington’s academic and research programs and its community outreach projects have made Seattle and the State of Washington better in many ways. The Public Ivy University ensures that its academic programs are designed to better its students and the community in mind.
- The terminal degree is offered in two concentrations – first, Literature and Culture; and second, Language and Rhetoric. Each concentration has different professional training and coursework, so making the best choice for yourself is imperative. Simultaneous application to both tracks isn’t allowed.
- The Literature and Culture track emphasizes research and the teaching of literary and cultural studies in post-secondary institutions.
- The Language and Rhetoric track also has a research and teaching emphasis in language-in-use settings, such as rhetoric, English language history, and linguistics. Graduates are qualified for related jobs in these broad areas.
- All degree requirements must have been complied with within ten years, including the coursework, exams, and dissertation. Out-of-status are on-leave periods counted in the 10-year limit. A written statement is necessary for an extension.
- Students must earn 65 credits in coursework, of which a maximum of 10 credits may come from an appropriate master’s degree from Washington or another institution.
- The foreign language requirement is intermediate-level reading proficiency in another language except for Middle and modern English.
- Students receive funding packages covering tuition, monthly stipends
- +, and health insurance. Fellowships and scholarships are also available.
This is an integrated MA/Ph.D. program where students earn both degrees and make satisfactory progress. Due to its selective admission, a maximum of 14 students is admitted from more than 250 applications.
Washington is the home of many significant modern inventions, including vinyl, color television tubes, and synthetic rubber. You can thank the Huskies for bubble gum and the Wave, too!
The University of Arizona
UArizona, the oldest university in Arizona, offers an exceptional Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Teaching of English program. The current emphasis is on social justice leadership and pedagogy, strategies for advancing languages and literacies, and comparative technologies. This program is designed for advanced-level students with a keen interest in teaching English to diverse populations with a world-centric view instead of an exclusively Western standpoint.
- Students complete a minimum of 66 credits for graduation. The common curriculum consists of 15 credits and consists of courses like Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition. There’s a once-a-week colloquium during the first year in the program, too.
- Electives comprise 24 credits and may be applied to either a minor or the Immersive Cultural requirement.
- Students choose a minor and include their chosen courses in the GradPath.
- The dissertation courses, including its defense, comprise 18 credits.
- Students teach in the Writing Program, too, where both lower-level and upper-division courses are taught. Other professional experiences include research assistantships and small group mentoring.
- Application requirements include a resume, statement of purpose, transcripts, writing sample, and three academic letters of recommendation. GRE scores are required, but the GRE Subject Test isn’t.
Interdisciplinary collaborations are the hallmark of UArizona’s doctorate programs, and these are made possible through partnerships with other on-campus programs. Students in this program may work with students from the School of Information or the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies.
Students are also known for their published scholarly works, action-centric research, and innovative teaching practices. Many are also Fulbright, Crossroads Collaborative, and Carson scholars, aside from receiving prestigious awards. No wonder 97% of its graduates find leadership positions soon after completion!
“Bear Down” is UArizona’s motto, and its origins are as quirky as it sounds! Every day at exactly noon, the campus clock tower plays the university’s fight song, “Bear Down Arizona.”
The University of Texas at Austin
UT Austin is a hub for academic research with more than $796 million in the amount awarded for sponsored research projects (2019-2020). With 17 libraries, seven museums, and several auxiliary research facilities, there’s no shortage of graduate students’ research and professional development opportunities! Interdisciplinary collaboration underlines most research projects, too, and it’s evident in the Ph.D. in English program, a partnership between the Department of English and the Department of Rhetoric and Writing.
- The highly selective admission policy results in 12 students in the literature track and four in the rhetoric and digital literacies track. This aligns with the partnership between the two departments and their shared mission of educating students in advanced English studies.
- Applicants with either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree are considered for admission. While there’s no requirement for an English major degree, applicants will be required to complete a minimum of 15 credit hours of upper-division English.
- Applicants who haven’t graduated with their bachelor’s degree may also apply but must present proof of graduation before entering the program during the subsequent fall semester. GPA in English courses and their related courses is more important in the admission decision.
- All students must complete 39 credit hours of graduate-level coursework before their third year ends. The courses must include Disciplinary Inquiries, a minimum of one seminar on pre-1800 and one seminar on post-1800 materials, and between three and nine hours of out-of-department classes. The latter may include creative writing workshops and supervised study conference courses.
- Students must pass several milestones, including the Third Year Examination and the Prospectus Examination, which results in their doctoral candidacy status once completed. Other requirements for earning the degree are the foreign language component and the Final Oral Defense for the dissertation.
- All students receive guaranteed funding for six years through research fellowships and teaching assistantships, so there’s no need for separate applications for it.
The Ph.D. program offers its students ample opportunities for pedagogical training, research mentoring, and intensive research projects. Students enjoy the sense of community, shared purpose and collegiality, and the abundance of professional development opportunities.
Here’s hoping that you will see an albino squirrel on your way to your milestone exams and ace them!
Harvard is among the world’s most selective universities, with a 4.6% acceptance rate! Getting into its Ph.D. in English program is no easy feat either, with applicants required to demonstrate their broad knowledge of English. Equally important are excellent skills in communication, research and presentation, and critical thinking. With its strong emphasis on research, applicants must also demonstrate in-depth knowledge of editorial, textual, and bibliographic methods.
- Completion time ranges from four to seven years, with most students earning the degree in five or six years. Only under exceptional circumstances will a student be allowed to take more than seven years to complete the program.
- Students typically follow a set program of study that allows them to complete the requirements within six years. During the first two years, students must focus on their coursework and prepare for the General exam. The second and third years are for preparations for the Field Exam and for drafting the Dissertation Prospectus. From the fourth to the sixth year, students focus on the completion of their respective doctoral dissertations.
- Students are also required to become teaching assistants starting in their third year until their graduation. Fellowships are awarded at this time.
- At least 14 courses must be satisfactorily completed by the end of the second year.
- The minimum grade requirement is B-, the honor grade at Harvard for each of these 14 courses. But note that the minimum grade for the academic year is B average.
- There are ten required seminars, of which two are proseminars.
- Students must be enrolled on a full-time basis for two years, the minimum residency requirement.
- Candidates are evaluated based on their overall presentation, writing samples, statement of purpose, overall GPA, and letters of recommendation. No GRE scores are required.
Harvard accepts ASL and other computer languages and proficiency in other non-English languages like Latin, French, ancient Greek, German, and Spanish. However, the department reserves the right to reject computer language proficiency unless it’s considered relevant to a student’s specialization.
Harvard has 92 kilometers of bookshelves, which means that graduate students won’t run out of research materials! The books are housed in 79 libraries, many of which feature the oldest collections in the US.
University of Virginia
UVA has a distinguished history, from claiming Thomas Jefferson as its founder to its UNESCO World Heritage Site, secret societies, and honor code. The Ph.D. in English Language, Literature, and Research program is also driven by the honor code, including academic excellence, collegiality, and honesty.
- Students are advised to enroll on a full-time basis to complete the program in approximately six years.
- There’s a direct link between the financial support provided and the accomplishment of milestones within set deadlines. The six-year schedule is designed according to these milestones, too.
- The 72-credit program requires the completion of at least 42 credits of graded formal coursework. There’s a set deadline for completing each course, too, so students can finish the program within six years. The required courses include Introduction to Literary Research, Pedagogy, and Dissertation Seminar and 12 courses at advanced levels from 5000 to 9000. Additional two courses must be audited, too.
- Students may be offered paid teaching assignments during their sixth year without fellowship support; proof of their satisfactory progress on their dissertation will be evaluated. Teaching assignments may also be awarded to students in their seventh year under conditions.
- Students must meet the foreign language requirement. There’s a choice between proficiency in two foreign languages or mastery of one foreign language.
Ph.D. students are expected to demonstrate their commitment to the program through full-time enrollment, the on-target accomplishment of milestones, and contributions to the body of knowledge through their dissertations.
There are no traditional designations for first-year students to seniors, particularly because Jefferson believed in lifelong learning. Instead, students are designated based on their years spent in the university, thus, the first, second, third, and fourth years for undergraduates. Nowadays, students can’t shoot their hands off the bulletproof clock, unlike their predecessors.
Northwestern’s reputation as among the world’s best educational institutions is the result of a passionate commitment to academic excellence since its founding 170 years ago. Of course, its substantial financial resources – $15 billion in endowment and a $2 billion annual budget, among the largest in the world – are also instrumental in its success. Students in its Ph.D. in English Literature program can also rely on generous financial support during their stay at Northwestern.
- The program emphasizes advanced study and research into English literature, including its history, theory and criticism, and influence on societies. Students may engage in interdisciplinary study, too, with other departments.
- The coursework covers major periods, authors, and genres in English literature, including diverse theoretical and methodological approaches.
- There are mandatory 20 graduate-level courses that students must complete within their first three years. All students must choose one course from seven categories, including literature and culture up to the 1500s, from 1800-1900, and since 1989. There’s also a course on the theories, topics, and genres in the longue durée.
- All students have full funding guaranteed that covers their tuition, stipend, and health insurance for a set period.
- The minimum number of years to program completion is five years, but most earn the degree in six to seven years. While the program allows for a nine-year stay, students are encouraged to finish the program by the end of their sixth year.
- The foreign language requirement can be satisfied by passing an exam, taking a relevant graduate-level course, or completing a summer language intensive. It needs to be completed by the end of the first year in residence.
- Graduate assistantships are typically in the form of teaching assistantships for at least an academic quarter.
Aside from the dissertation, the students’ advanced knowledge and skills are enhanced by workshops, lectures, and seminars conducted by experts, visiting scholars, and Northwestern professors. Dissertation groups, colloquia, and reading groups are also avenues for professional development.
Dance and music are an integral part of Northwestern’s culture! The Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) lasts for 30 hours, with everybody dancing to the beat. The Dolphin Club stages the largest student-run musical in the US, where Warren Beatty started. Check out the Happiness Club, too, which supports well-being among students.
University of South Florida
USF has come a long way from being an all-white school in 1956! Today, its diverse student body comes from all ethnicities, states and territories, and foreign countries, and it’s among the largest public universities in the US today. Said contemporary diversity is reflected in the student body of its Ph.D. in English program, too.
- The total minimum credit hours for completion is 42 hours for students with a relevant master’s degree. These credits include the foreign language requirement and the doctoral dissertation.
- Students must meet the coursework requirements first, submit a portfolio, and complete the foreign language requirement before being considered for formal admission into candidacy.
- Students must pass the dissertation requirements, including an oral defense and examination, before earning the degree.
- Coursework includes core and concentration courses in literature and rhetoric as well as electives. The dissertation component is equivalent to 10 credits, at least.
- There are two concentrations offered – the Literature Concentration and the Rhetoric and Composition Concentration. Each has its specific courses, such as Studies in Criticism and Theory I and II for the Literature Concentration. Studies in the History of Rhetoric and Studies in Composition Research are examples of the Rhetoric and Composition Concentration.
- The qualifying requirement differs between concentrations, too. For students in the Literature Concentration, a portfolio and its successful oral defense will suffice. Students in the Rhetoric and Composition Concentration must pass a standardized qualifying exam.
Students engage in immersive and comprehensive studies of English literature in the British and American contexts. Their chosen concentration also influences their specific program of study. Students become adept at teaching college-level English, too, through coursework and practicum experiences.
Students at the Tampa campus have access to the largest library in the USF System with over 2 million items. Plus, there are writing and tutoring services, group study rooms, and a career resource center. No wonder that USF alumni, students, faculty, and non-teaching staff hold more than 2,400 patents and counting!
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
UMD’s research projects are among the most prestigious in the country, thanks to partnerships with several federal government agencies, including NIH, NASA, and FDA. The Public Ivy is also known for its world-class quality of instruction that attracts the cream of the crop! The international student body of its Ph.D. in English program is just one proof of it.
- The expected completion time is between five and six years, with students required to demonstrate satisfactory progress in the program’s milestones. Students who aren’t eligible based on the criteria may be required to transfer to the master’s degree program instead.
- Teaching assistantships are mandatory aspects of the Ph.D. training. UMD takes pride in the high placement record of its Ph.D. holders in teaching and leadership positions.
- While students have a certain degree of academic flexibility, they must also comply with the degree requirements. These include 36 credits or 12 graduate-level courses with at least a 3.6 cumulative GPA for students without a master’s degree in English, from three to six credits in Pre-candidacy Research, and reading proficiency in a foreign language.
- Students must also pass the qualifying exam, submit an approved dissertation prospectus, and pass the dissertation defense. The dissertation must also be worthy of publication.
- Students with a master’s in English degree must complete at least 27 credits or nine courses within the program.
- Two faculty members are assigned to students in their first year in the program. Teaching assistantships are conducted in the fall and spring for each of these academic advisers.
Students with plans to teach English in higher education institutions must engage in specialized language and literary studies training. Individualized programs of study are encouraged, but these should be within the program’s parameters. Every student accepted into the highly selective program receives a guaranteed five-year funding package.
UMD has six on-campus libraries, so there’s always a research source waiting to be discovered. Students can unwind at UMD’s golf course and farm and stroll and shop at its McKeldin Mall.
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
SUNY Buffalo, the largest public university in the Empire State, is known for its comprehensive range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. With its reputation for exceptional academic instruction and research support, its Ph.D. in English program attracts many best minds. The program’s primary strengths are in poetics, contemporary theory, and interdisciplinary studies connecting the likes of poetics and psychoanalysis.
- Students must complete 72 credit hours to earn the degree. Most of these credits are fulfilled through participation in 10 graduate-level seminars.
- Choosing a minor is encouraged, and it can be in areas of study other than the English language and literature. The primary requirement is a reasonable relationship between the minor and the title/topic of the student’s dissertation.
- The oral examination is mostly each student’s design, and its contents are in three fields. One is related to the dissertation proposal. The Director must approve the list of questions of Graduate Studies with the concurrence of concerned faculty members.
- The dissertation must be original in its topic and scholarship and book-length in style and approved by a committee after an oral defense.
Students can sit in on department meetings and choose their student representatives’ voting rights in departmental committees. Such a system of parity ensures that students have an active voice in the direction of the department. The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) elects student representatives as well as help in the creation of the curriculum and conduct of professional development programs.
Students in their third year attend workshops designed to develop their educator and scholar skills, too.
Every year, the Bulls compete in a series of collegiate mud volleyball games known as the Oozfest. But the Bulls also know how to get serious with their studies, and there are nine libraries across their three campuses in the North, South, and Downtown.
University of Missouri
Mizzou, the University of Missouri System’s flagship and largest university, has numerous accomplishments in research across diverse areas. Among these are in the English language and literature through research projects conducted by students in its Ph.D. in English program.
- The program allows completion between five and six years, depending on the highest academic level the student brings into it. For students with a master’s degree, it’s a five-year program with a 30-credit hours of coursework. Students with a bachelor’s degree but no master’s degree add one more year of studies; the minimum required coursework is 72 credit hours.
- Students with only a bachelor’s degree will only be admitted if they have extremely strong academic records, demonstrate maturity for a doctorate-level program, and with a good idea of their research specialization.
- For the 30-credit hours’ coursework, the mandatory program of study is at least 18 hours of 8000-level English courses.
- All students must take Introduction to Graduate Studies, Theory and Practice of Composition, and literary criticism. There are specialized courses, too, for students planning on a teaching career, such as the Theory and Practice of Teaching in English course.
- Students may be provided with a stipend for five or six years under certain conditions, including teaching assistantships.
- Comprehensive exams, a dissertation prospectus, and a dissertation defense are all integral components but are conducted at various times.
Students choose their advisory committee from the roster of faculty members and work closely with them during their stay. The didactic coursework and dissertation are designed to expand students’ advanced knowledge about their respective areas of specialization.
The Tiger Walk is a welcome ceremony for new students and an opportunity for them to check out the school organizations and make connections. The Tiger Prowl is the graduation ceremony that also involves the tiger stripe ice cream.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the typical curriculum in a Doctor of English Language and Literature program?
The curriculum depends on the focus – either English language or literature, as previously mentioned. However, there are similarities in Ph.D. programs’ curricula, such as the research project and teaching assistantships. Most, if not all, programs may be completed in 5-8 years, with the culminating project being an approved dissertation.
Students complete academic coursework that covers the specific emphasis and elective courses intended to diversify their knowledge during their first two years. The third and fourth years are for advanced research courses and their chosen research project, usually with the approval of academic advisers. Students are encouraged to choose an original subject, dive deeper into a controversial topic, or expand on existing knowledge.
The typical topics covered in Ph.D. in English language programs include:
- Studies in grammar, sentence construction, and context
- Rhetorics, including its theory and criticism
- American English and its history, evolution, and varieties
The typical curriculum for Ph.D. in English literature programs covers topics on:
- Literature across historical periods
- Shakespearean studies
- Women authors through the centuries
- Literature from different cultures, including American, British, and Native American work
- Advanced literary criticism and interpretation
What are the teaching assistantships and research requirements?
Teaching assistants are usually required to assist professors in their classroom duties and conduct classes for at least one undergraduate class. The duration depends on the program, but one to two semesters is a typical requirement.
Research is at the core of Ph.D. programs, and it’s true for Ph.D. in English Language and Literature programs. Students must submit an approved dissertation, which requires numerous revisions until final approval, as part of their studies.
What are the crucial abilities for success in the Doctor of English Language and Literature program?
Remember that Ph.D. programs are advanced studies on specific subjects and, thus, spoon-feeding in any way is discouraged, if not absent. Students must develop their understanding of the assigned reading materials, develop their own key texts, and express them professionally. Group discussions, workshops, and seminars allow students to test their ideas, share their knowledge, and engage in productive debates.
The crucial abilities that students must possess even before getting into a Ph.D. program include:
- Effective critical thinking and analytical skills
- Superb communication skills—both written and oral—particularly in communicating theories, ideas, and opinions
- Willingness to lead and participate in group discussions
- Ability to work in a team but also to work independently and motivate yourself
- Creativity in writing a wide range of materials, including essays, critiques, and research studies
- Time management skills
What are the typical admission requirements?
Programs have varying admission requirements, particularly in the minimum GPA and GRE scores, but the common ones are:
- Either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree but with the condition that prerequisite courses must first be completed, when applicable. The degree must be in a writing-intensive field of study, such as English language or literature, even in communications.
- Official transcripts with minimum GPA for either the bachelor’s or master’s degree
- Added documentation like letters of recommendation, personal statement of purpose, and a writing sample
Fluency in two foreign languages aside from English is also a typical requirement. Students who don’t possess said ability will likely be given until their second year to acquire it.
What are the career opportunities after graduation?
The wide variety of career opportunities holders of a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature degree can pursue is the best reason to pursue it! These well-paid occupations also bring personal and professional satisfaction, social and cultural influence, and satisfactory career advancement.
- Broadcast news personalities, including correspondents, reporters, and anchors
- Editors in publishing companies, newspapers, and other media outfits
- Fundraising and public relations practitioners and managers
- Technical writers
- Academic consultants
- Literary agents
- Authors of literary works, articles, and columns
- Post-secondary teachers of English language and literature, including in EFL and ESL settings
- Literary critics
Truly, it’s a versatile terminal degree that will pay for itself, so to speak, in financial and non-financial ways! While it has its costs and challenges, as is the case for every Ph.D. degree, its rewards are well worth it.
How long will a Doctor of English Language and Literature degree program take to complete?
The length of a Doctor of English Language and Literature degree program depends on the university and courses chosen. Typically, most universities require students to complete approximately 60 semester units to earn a doctoral degree. This process usually takes four to six years to complete, depending on whether students are enrolled full-time or part-time.