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English, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s Ph.D. in English provides students with advanced scholarly training in a variety of literary fields and in the study of rhetoric and composition. Students in our program receive training in pedagogy, research, writing, and theory. The Ph.D. prepares students for careers in higher education as well as in non-academic fields including publishing, editing and secondary education.

Curriculum Overview

The Ph.D. in English requires 24 credits of coursework beyond the M.A. Students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one language other than English. After completing coursework, Ph.D. students prepare for a series of written and oral examinations based on a list of texts in their chosen field of concentration. Students then write and defend a dissertation prospectus, write a dissertation, and present the dissertation in a public defense.

Graduate Handbook

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

Saint Louis University's English department is affiliated with the Walter J. Ong Center for Digital Humanities. In addition to participating in various writing programs, including University Writing Services, the English faculty and graduate students participate in departmental research colloquia and reading groups. SLU also hosts the journal African American Review.

Careers

Recent graduates with a Ph.D. in English from SLU have accepted tenure-track faculty positions at Creighton University, University of Central Florida, University of Detroit-Mercy, Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla), Truman State University and University of North Texas, Dallas.

Ph.D. graduates who pursued non-academic paths have accepted positions such as document analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, corporate training manager at Enterprise Holdings and the director of research communication at Washington University's School of Medicine.

Admission Requirements

Most admitted students meet the following criteria:

  • An M.A. in English or related field
  • High levels of academic distinction at well-regarded colleges and universities with rigorous B.A./M.A. programs.
  • High GPA (3.7 and above in English).
  • Identified fields/areas of intended study, possible thesis/dissertation topics, and specific faculty in the department with whom students might wish to work.
  • A professional goal statement that aligns well with the curricula the department offers. The statement should be no more than 750 words and should lay out professional and intellectual goals as well as the interest in graduate studies in English. While plans may change, this statement will help the department assess the grasp of the field and the ability to describe ideas coherently and compellingly. The statement should address:
    • The specific field of English studies of interest to students 
    • How students would like to contribute to existing research and criticism in an area of interest
    • The critical and scholarly approaches to literature students have found most productive
    • The faculty members with whome students would prefer to work with.
  • Sufficient TOEFL score (for international students).

Transferring into the Doctoral Program

Applications by SLU M.A. students seeking to transfer into the doctoral program are made by separate petition at the end of the fall semester of the master’s candidate's second year following a protocol described in the English Department Graduate Handbook.

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation assessing potential in graduate studies
  • Résumé
  • Writing sample (10 pages demonstrating competence in analyzing literary texts; this can be an excerpt taken from a longer piece)
  • Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application Deadline

Completed applications are due by January 18. Students cannot begin the program in the spring semester or a summer session. 1818 instructors seeking a graduate degree should consult with the director of graduate studies in English.

Please do not forward any application materials directly to the Department of English. All application materials must be submitted through the Office of Graduate Admission.

For application forms and more information, contact the Office of Graduate Admission.

Review Process

Members of the department’s graduate committee examine applicants' materials and make admission and funding recommendations.

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

For more information, visit http://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  1. Graduates will be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of literary histories, aesthetics, cultures, and emerging areas of inquiry, including an awareness of cultural diversity within literary traditions.
  2. Graduates will be able to demonstrate proficiency in formulating written and spoken arguments situated within a historical or methodological field of study, as defined in the sections of the department’s Graduate Handbook covering Ph.D. exams.
  3. Graduates will be able to demonstrate the ability to write and present papers or their equivalent within professional contexts.
  4. Graduates will be able to demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, develop, and bring to successful completion an original, sustained, and coherent independent research project (e.g., the dissertation) that contributes to one’s field of specialization.
  5. Graduates will be able to demonstrate the skills necessary for teaching at the undergraduate level.
  6. Graduates will be able to demonstrate an ability to generate degree-appropriate job search materials.

Students are required to take a minimum of 24 credits in English course work beyond the M.A. Six credits may be taken at the 4000-level. ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research (3 cr), ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr), and ENGL 5110 Literary Theory (3 cr) are required of all students who have not taken equivalent courses in another program as part of their prior training. 

Distributive Requirements

Beyond these courses, Ph.D. candidates who have taken course work in four of the five following fields as master’s students need only take 9 of 24 required credits in three of the five fields as part of their doctoral course work. Doctoral students who have not met the threshold master’s level criterion must take 12 credits in four of the following five fields:

  • Medieval Literature
  • Renaissance/Early Modern Literature (ca. 1500-1800)
  • Literature of the Long 19th Century (ca. 1789-1914): British, American, African American, or Transatlantic
  • Modern and/or Contemporary Literature: British, Irish, American, African American, Transatlantic, or Postcolonial
  • Rhetoric and/or Composition exclusive of ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr)

In addition, all Ph.D. students, after their first year, must distribute registrations for 12 credits of ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research over several terms.

Non-Course Requirements

Language Requirement

Before taking their comprehensive exams, all Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate reading proficiency in one language other than English relevant to their research. 

Doctoral Competency Exam

Ph.D. candidates take a Doctoral Competency Exam that has written and oral components and is described in the English Department Graduate Handbook.

Public Defense

Completed dissertations are assessed by the student’s committee and are formally accepted after a public defense.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.30 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Spring
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Year Two
Fall
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Spring
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Year Three
Fall
Critical course:  Preparations for Exams and Dissertation Prospectus  
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 3
Critical course:  Foreign Language Course (see Program Notes) 0-3
 Credits3-6
Spring
Critical course:  Completion of Written & Oral Comprehensive Exams & Dissertation Prospectus Approval  
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 3
 Credits3
Year Four
Fall
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 3
 Credits3
Spring
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 3
 Credits3
Year Five
Fall
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 0
 Credits0
Spring
Critical course:  Completion of Dissertation Defense  
ENGL 6990 Dissertation Research 0
 Credits0
 Total Credits36-39

Program Notes

Students who have taken graduate coursework in four of the five following fields as master’s students, beyond completing ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research (3 cr), ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr), and ENGL 5110 Literary Theory (3 cr), need only take 9 (of 24 required) hours in three of the five fields as part of their doctoral coursework. Doctoral students who have not met the threshold master’s level criterion must take 12 (of 24 required) hours in four of the following five fields:

  1. Medieval Literature (3 hrs.)
  2. Renaissance / Early Modern Literature (c. 1500-1800) (3 hrs.)
  3. Literature of the long 19th century (c. 1789-1914): British, American, African American, or Transatlantic (3 hrs.)
  4. Modern and/or contemporary literature: British, Irish, American, African American, Transatlantic, or Postcolonial (3 hrs.)
  5. Rhetoric and/or Composition exclusive of ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr)

Prior to taking his/her qualifying examinations, every student in the doctoral program must certify a reading competence in scholarship drawn from one modern foreign language relevant to his/her literary study. 

There are four ways to demonstrate reading competence in a foreign language:

  1. By documenting reading competence as an M.A. student.
  2. By performing satisfactorily in an accelerated reading course by the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures.
  3. By successfully completing a 4000-level course in the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures.
  4. Through a two-hour examination administered by the English department and graded by the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures.

For additional information about our program, please contact

Rachel Greenwald Smith
Coordinator of Graduate Studies in English
rachel.g.smith@slu.edu