Long-Range Professionalization Timeline

1st Year: Exploratory

  • During the first year in the graduate program students will devote their course work to the exploration of various areas of study.  Students will be encouraged to take courses outside their proposed field. (4 courses in addition to English 706 and the Intro to Graduate Study; see below).
  • Students will take English 706 in preparation for teaching.
  • Students will submit a tentative “course of study plan” that reflects on their emerging interests.
  • Students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss their progress once a semester.
  • Students will take an “Introduction to Graduate Study” Course

2nd Year: Beginning to Focus

  • Students will begin to focus on an area of interest, taking courses (4-6 courses) in that field. 
  • Students will submit a “course of study plan” that reflects on their interests.
  • Students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss their progress once a semester.  Students will be encouraged to visit with particular faculty in their fields of interest for further advising.
  • In their second semester they will identify a potential Field and Focus and speak to the faculty about serving on their exam committee.
  • In the summer after their second year, students will begin to compile their exam reading lists
  • Students should fulfill their first foreign language requirement by the end of their second year.

3rd Year: Learning One's Field

  • Students will register in the fall semester to take their examinations in their fourth year.
  • Students will submit a “course of study plan” that reflects on their emerging interests.
  • Students will continue to take courses (2 to 4 courses) in their field and focus as they study for their exams.
  • Students will identify their potential dissertation adviser.
  • In the second semester of their third year, students will meet once a month for the “Third Year Colloquium”: these meetings will give students the opportunity to share their work and discuss the current issues in their particular fields.

4th year: Becoming an Expert

  • Students will finish courses and will have taken ENGL 814: History of the English Language if they choose to use that class to fulfill the second language requirement.
  • Students will take their written and oral examinations
  • Students will write a prospectus and hold their prospectus meeting in the same semester or no later than the semester following their examinations.

5th year: Producing an Original Contribution

  • Students will write their dissertation
  • Students will sign up for dissertation credit hours.
  • Students will be encouraged to belong to a dissertation writing group.
  • Students may wish to audit classes of interest.
  • Students should fulfill the requirements for their second language by the end of this year if not using ENGL 814 for the second requirement.

6th year: Entering the Profession

  • Students will write their dissertation
  • Students will apply for jobs in their fields.
  • Students will sign up for dissertation credit hours.
  • Students will be encouraged to belong to a dissertation writing group.


  • A minimum of 15 courses required (including English 606) with auditing and more course work encouraged.
  • We can award up to 9 hours of transfer credit.  We will welcome applicants with B.A.s and/or M.A.s to the PhD only program.

Level and Distribution of Courses


  • An Introduction to Graduate Study course: This course will provide an orientation to graduate study and should be useful to students doing historical as well as theoretical work.  Students will gain familiarity with research resources, faculty resources, and critical resources
  • English 706
  • “English Language” requirement: (depending on the student’s field and the adviser’s support, some students may substitute a theory course)
  • 2 Foreign Languages: (fulfilled by course work, testing, transfer credit, ENGL 814, or undergraduate major; these languages should be appropriate to the student’s area of study)
  • Third year colloquium (led by the Director of Graduate Studies): Third-year students meet to revise previously written essays or to work on research related to their anticipated dissertation topic. This will not be a regular course that requires registration, but a required monthly meeting set up in the second semester of the third year. 


  1. Adequate performance in graduate coursework: There is an automatic reevaluation of a student who earns 3 or more “P”s or one “L” in the first year.  Students who receive 2 incompletes in the first year will also be evaluated. The GAC and the faculty who have taught this student will meet to discuss his or her progress and determine whether they should continue in the program.
  2. Course of Study narrative:  For every year that they are still taking courses toward the Ph.D., graduate students enrolled in the English Department are required to submit a course of study plan for approval to his or her advisor. The Plan of Study is due by the end of February. It should provide a narrative account of the student’s intellectual and professional rationales for courses taken up to that point in the program as well as for those courses proposed to be taken in the coming semesters, including independent studies and other projects (including summer language study).  Although not a contract, the Plan of Study does need to be reviewed and approved each year by the advisor, the Graduate Advisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. 
  3. Incompletes: Students will be allowed to take only one “Incomplete” per semester (unless there are extraordinary circumstances; check with the Director of Graduate Studies). Faculty will accept work for an Incomplete no later than 2 weeks before the exam period in the semester that the Incomplete work is due (the Graduate school requires that work is finished within a year).
  4. Early Assessment (Third Year):
    Every spring, the GAC and the faculty who have taught or worked with the current third year students will meet to evaluate the students’ progress.  These meetings will take place following the third year student’s 1) participation in the colloquium and 2) selection of a tentative adviser.  The adviser will act as the student’s advocate in this process.

Elective Masters available for Students who choose to leave the Program early:

The Graduate School requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate course credit, 24 of which must be taken in residence. Master’s students are required to complete a minimum program residence credit of two full semesters either by full-time registration or by part-time registration over several semesters.  The student will also fulfill the foreign language requirement.  To receive an MA, students must take 3 hours of “thesis option” hours, revise a paper with the aid of an adviser, and defend the thesis in an hour oral examination.

*Transfer credit will be offered only for graduate work was done in a degree program (including UNC graduate programs).