PhD Program

The PhD program in English prepares students for a range of scholarly careers in English through a combination of literary studies with writing and rhetoric. In literary studies, we emphasize American literature, Transatlantic and Caribbean literature, Early Modern literature, and the study of gender and sexuality.

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In writing and rhetoric, we emphasize teaching and assessing writing, community engagement, diversity and identity, and empirical research methodologies. We also have exceptional offerings in the digital humanities, including digital archiving, network analysis, digital editing and encoding, geospatial analysis, and text mining.

Students in the PhD program in English undertake a program of study designed to train them to be productive scholars, teachers, and leaders in their chosen fields. In coursework, students read and analyze the important texts, current issues, and critical methodologies of the discipline. Drawing on the breadth of this preparation, students demonstrate their ability to recognize and produce scholarly arguments in designing the three comprehensive field papers in areas of scholarly interest and competence corresponding to recognized and emerging fields of study. Finally, the dissertation provides an opportunity for designing a focused research project in consultation with a dissertation advisor.

Throughout the program, faculty work closely with doctoral students to develop their scholarly and professional identities in preparation for careers in academia. As students complete their studies, the department offers strong support for the academic job search, including workshops on stages from dissertation writing to the job market itself, individual advising, mock interviews, and a departmental dossier service.

Learn more about this PhD program in English from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

  • All doctoral students receive full five- or six-year teaching fellowship funding
  • Opportunities for involvement in research and teaching in centers including the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks; the Writing Center; the Digital Scholarship Group; and the Humanities Center as well as with individual faculty
  • The department focuses particularly on the fields of American Literature; Transatlantic and Caribbean Studies; Digital Humanities; and Writing and Rhetoric


We have a high rate of placement for students conducting both local and national job searches. Our graduates have obtained tenure-track positions at four-year colleges and universities across the country and abroad, including: Columbia College (Chicago); the Florida Institute of Technology; Frankiln Pierce University; McKendree University; Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; Middle Tennessee State University; the National Technical University, Norway; Oberlin College; Park University (Missouri); Providence College; Sterling College; Rhode Island College; Wesleyan College (Georgia); and the University of Puerto Rico. Other full-time placements include positions in departments of English and in writing programs at the American University of Dubai; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Southern California; and Wheelock College (Boston). Tenure-track placements at two-year colleges include Bristol CC, Queensborough CC, and Quincy College.

Application Materials

  • Application
  • Application fee – US $100
  • Personal statement
  • Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended
  • English proficiency for international applicants
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – Optional
  • Writing sample
  • Resumé


Admissions deadline for Fall term: December 1

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