Department of English


With the help of extensive advising, Ph.D. students chart their way through our graduate curriculum. Students are only asked to complete two course requirements, E384K: Disciplinary Inquiries, an introductory “cohort course” for incoming students, and RHE 398T: Supervised Teaching, a pedagogy course focused on how to manage a classroom and respond to student writing. Our students spend the first two-plus years of their graduate career completing course work, both in and beyond the Departments of English and Rhetoric and Writing. The Graduate Studies Committee generally authorizes between 20 and 24 graduate seminars in English per year, but many of our students take courses in adjacent departments and programs.

There are five key milestones for Ph.D. students in English:

  1. M.A. Report
  2. Field Examination
  3. Prospectus Examination
  4. Doctoral Candidacy
  5. Final Oral Defense 

B.A. holders generally submit the M.A. Report at the end of year two. Often students expand a seminar paper into a larger, more ambitious essay (usually 30-60 pp), one that can later be revised, we hope, into a publishable piece. M.A. holders generally do not submit an M.A. Report.

Field Examinations test a student’s knowledge of a list of primary and secondary texts constructed in consultation with three faculty members. These examinations are oral and administered by the three faculty members. B.A. holders are encouraged to pass the Field Examination by the end of their third year in the program, M.A. holders by the end of their second year.

The Prospectus Examination grants students an opportunity to receive formal feedback from three faculty members on their proposed dissertation project. Students work closely with faculty to write and revise a 15-20 pp prospectus. Once the faculty members are ready to sign off on the document, an oral Prospectus Examination is scheduled. B.A. holders are encouraged to pass the Prospectus Examination by the end of the fall semester of their fourth year in the program, M.A. holders by the end of the fall semester of their third year.

Doctoral Candidacy is achieved when students have successfully completed the Field and Prospectus Examinations; fulfilled the foreign language requirement (see below); and identified a dissertation committee of at least four faculty members, one of whom needs to be from another graduate program or institution. All students must spend at least two long semesters in candidacy before earning their degree.

The last milestone for the Ph.D. is the “Final Oral Defense,” otherwise known as the dissertation defense.  In general, faculty will not schedule a defense until the dissertation is completed and ready for critical engagement.

Foreign Language Requirement

The minimum requirement for any student receiving a PhD in English at UT is two years of college credit for a foreign language, or its equivalent.  This means a sequence of four or more semesters of a language other than English (with a grade of B or better in the last semester) at the college level, or its equivalent.  Students may have completed this coursework as part of a BA or other degree.

If this requirement is not met before enrolling at UT, the student can complete it in several ways.

  1. Completion of a UT 301 translation course with a “Credit.”  (Course may be taken repeatedly.)
  2. Coursework at UT: A sequence of four or more semesters of a language other than English, or intensive foreign language coursework covering the content of a four-semester sequence, passed with a grade of B or better in the last semester.

This foreign language requirement must be met before the student advances to PhD candidacy.

The requirement can also be met with compelling evidence of literate knowledge of a language other than English, such as a high school degree from a school in a non-English speaking country, or course work taught in a language other than English at a foreign university.

Please note that this outlines the minimum requirement for English PhDs.  Some students will need greater language proficiency for their scholarship, and they will need to pursue more credited or uncredited language study to meet those goals.  Students should consult with advisors and faculty in their area early in the program to assess and plan for their foreign language needs.