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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

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