Feb 29, 2024
Kevin Donovan, Program Director
The Department of English offers the Master of Arts, the Doctor of Philosophy, and a minor at the graduate level.
Graduate study in English is primarily an engagement in the deep and intense study of literature and language, theory, and writing, undertaken for the special pleasure in knowledge and understanding of the world and its semiotic systems that such studies bring. It also provides preparation and training for careers within and without the academy.
The Ph.D. in English offers a generalist program that allows for specialization in a number of areas, including American Literature; Anglophone Literature; British Literature; Children’s and Young Adult Literature; Folklore; Linguistics; Literary Theory; Popular Culture and Film; and Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy. Courses are designed as seminars, and graduate students may expect highly individualized attention from the graduate faculty.
Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.
Admissions decisions are based on the department’s judgment of the applicant’s capacity, suitability, and preparation for graduate study. Admission to graduate study is not automatically guaranteed by meeting minimum admission requirements.
Candidates will be expected to have earned 15 hours of coursework at the 2000 level or above in English or in related fields when that coursework includes a significant component of literature or writing. Applicants without an M.A. degree will be expected to have completed at least 20 hours of graduate coursework in English.
All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.
Application for Summer/Fall admission must be complete by March 1. Application for Spring admission must be complete by October 1. Those seeking teaching assistantships must apply by February 1 for the following Fall semester. All application materials, including the assistantship application, should be sent directly to the College of Graduate Studies through mtsu.edu/graduate/forms.
- submit an application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php);
- submit three letters of recommendation from professors or professionals that address the applicant’s potential to successfully complete a Ph.D. program in English;
- submit official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (English subject test optional);
- submit official transcripts of all previous college work;
- submit a writing sample of 3,000 to 5,000 words;
- submit a 500-word statement of purpose outlining academic interests and professional goals.
The Doctor of Philosophy in English requires completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours.
- demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. (Committees may require more than one language.) The language requirement must be fulfilled in one of the following ways:
- completing two 3-hour foreign language courses of 3000- or 4000-level work emphasizing reading, translation, or composition;
- earning a final grade of A or B in a foreign language course numbered 5990 or in SPAN 5920;
- passing a reading examination administered by the World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department;
- earning a final grade of B or better in both ENGL 7011 - Old English Language and Literature and ENGL 7015 - Beowulf, which must be taken sequentially; or
- meeting this requirement at the M.A. level.
- successfully complete a qualifying exam, comprehensive in scope, before the completion of two semesters of coursework above the M.A. level (12 hours of 7000-level work). Ph.D. students must pass this exam in order to proceed in their program. (The examination may be taken no more than twice.)
- upon the completion of coursework, successfully complete two written Ph.D. exams in chosen concentrations from among the following areas: Old and Middle English Literature; Early Modern British Literature (1500-Milton); Restoration and 18th Century British Literature; Long 19th Century British Literature (1770-1900): 20th Century and Contemporary British Literature; Early American Literature (through 1900); 20th Century and Contemporary American Literature; Anglophone Literature; Children’s and Young Adult Literature; Composition and Rhetoric; Popular Culture and Film; Criticism and Critical Theory; Folklore; and Linguistics. An oral exam will be given upon the successful completion of each written exam.
- complete a dissertation (12 hours minimum) and oral dissertation defense.
The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements. In addition, a maximum of 21 hours of dissertation research may be required to fulfill degree requirements.
One course from each of the following groups (9 hours)
British Literature through the Renaissance
British Literature since the Renaissance
Electives (33 hours)
- ENGL 7909 - Doctoral Readings 3 credit hours (recommended)
- Chosen from the above courses or any other English graduate courses to complete the required number of hours.
Cognate Option (6-9 hours)
The cognate option in the Ph.D. degree plan allows doctoral students to take graduate-level courses (6000 and 7000 level) in other disciplines related to their areas of concentration or professional goals that would apply as electives toward the degree in English. The cognate option is limited to a minimum of six (6) hours and a maximum of nine (9) hours. Courses taken in other departments beyond the nine hours for the cognate may not apply toward the Ph.D. in English, even as elective hours. Likewise courses taken outside the department by students who have not declared a cognate or received permission of the graduate advisor or program director will not count as credits toward the degree.
Dissertation (12-21 hours)
- file a degree plan in the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
- file an approved Advancement to Candidacy form listing the members of the candidate’s doctoral committee with the Graduate Office upon successful completion of the written and oral preliminary examination;
- file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which the student intends to graduate.