Feb 29, 2024
Rhonda L. McDaniel, Program Director
The Department of English offers the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy.
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 outside of the academy.
The Ph.D. in English offers a program that promotes the kind of dual specializations that provide breadth of knowledge and are often sought in academic employment. Student may seek specializations in the fields of American Literature; Anglophone Literature; British Literature; Children’s and Young Adult Literature; Composition and Rhetoric; Critical Theory; Film Studies; and Popular Culture. 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 an M.A. degree in English or closely-related field.
Students in the Ph.D. program who have earned an M.A. in English at MTSU may apply up to 12 hours of course credit from the M.A. program toward the Ph.D. program.
All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.
Those seeking teaching assistantships must apply by February 1 for the following Fall semester. All other applications for Summer/Fall admission must be complete by March 1. Applications 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 www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php.
- submit an application with the appropriate application fee online (www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php). Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
- 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 60-71 semester hours.
- demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. (Committees may require more than one language.) (NOTE: The requirement may be waived for students whose native language is not English.) 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.
- near 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; or a student-researched custom area. An oral component to the exam may be required upon the successful completion of each written component.
- complete a dissertation (12 hours minimum) and oral dissertation defense.
The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements. In addition, a maximum of 23 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; minimum of 24 hours in English)
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, and requires a minimum of 24 hours in English. 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.
NOTE: ENGL 7909 recommended.
Dissertation (12-23 hours)
Graduate Assistant Requirements
Graduate teaching assistants are required to take ENGL 7821 in their first year of the program.
Candidate must file an approved Advisory Committee form listing the members of the candidate’s doctoral committee with the Graduate Office and College of Graduate Studies upon successful completion of the written preliminary examination.