Graduate Studies

Description of the Graduate Program in English and Comparative Literature

The graduate program in English and Comparative Literature is a six-year course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree.  We offer no separate M.A. program for English and Comparative Literature. (An M.A. concentration is available for those interested in Literature, Medicine, and Culture.) We welcome applicants with B.A.s and/or M.A.s to the PhD only program.  Students who enter the program with an M.A. degree may transfer in up to 9 hours of graduate course work. 

Doctoral students in English specialize in fields ranging from British and American literature to critical theory and cultural studies to rhetoric and composition--to name a few areas. At any given time, the Comparative Literature graduate program has between 30 and 40 students, working in various languages and disciplines integrated by a common core of courses. The Comparative Literature program offers great flexibility, yet retains a commitment to grounding literary study in the knowledge of the language in which a text was originally written, as well as in a broad grasp of the range of potential theoretical approaches and historical contexts.

During the first two years of the Ph.D. program, students advance general knowledge of that literature while defining their scholarly interests.  By the end of their second year, they begin intensive work in their special fields of interest, which may include a historical period, a genre, composition studies, or literary theory and criticism.  By the end of the third year, they complete the greater part of course work.  They ordinarily take written and oral examinations in their major and minor fields in their seventh semester.  Students present a dissertation prospectus the semester following their Ph.D. exams, and devote their fifth and sixth years to writing the dissertation.