2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jun 14, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

English, PhD

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Director of Graduate Studies, 401 Hall of Languages, hm315-443-2174


Crystal Bartolovich, Dorri Beam, Dympna Callaghan, Jonathan Dee, Susan Edmunds, Carol W.N. Fadda, Chris Forster, Ken Frieden, Mike Goode, Roger Hallas, Chris Hanson, Coran Klaver, Erin S. Mackie, Patricia Roylance, George Saunders, Will Scheibel, Stephanie Shirilan, Scott Stevens, Harvey Teres, Tony Tiongson, Silvio Torres-Saillant

The Department of English offers a range of graduate programs: the M.A. in English, the M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and the Ph.D. in English. The department welcomes students who plan to become writers and scholar/teachers, and it makes a serious effort to tailor its programs to each student’s interests. Classes are small, usually from 5 to 15 students, and there is ample opportunity for independent study and supervised research.

One of the Department’s greatest strengths is its faculty, which includes distinguished scholar-teachers and internationally known writers.

The graduate programs in English ask students to attain some coverage of literary periods, genres, and major authors, while also devoting substantial attention to those modes of theoretical inquiry that have disrupted and enlivened the study of literature in recent years. To that end our current course offerings represent both traditional approaches to English and important work in contemporary theory and cultural studies.

For more information about our graduate programs, degree and program requirements, course offerings, and specific application deadline dates, visit our department web site: http://english.syr.edu/

Student Learning Outcomes

1. An ability to work independently, including a capacity to generate research questions and to revise their own writing
2. An ability to identify and make use of scholarly archives as well as conduct original research using primary and secondary materials in ways that indicate command of current debates within a specific field of study
3. An ability to produce a sustained logical argument about literature, film and/or other cultural texts in both essay form and in a substantial dissertation (200-300) pages that makes an original contribution to the discipline of English
4. An ability to teach literature, film and/or other cultural texts to undergraduates
5. Advanced familiarity with norms and expectations concerning publishing, conferences, and other aspects of professional life

Ph.D. in English

The doctoral program is intended for the most promising students entering with a B.A. or M.A., who all receive five years of support. This is a research degree, aimed primarily at those expecting to teach on the college level. The Department has particular strengths in early modern literature, 18th and 19th-century British literature, American literature and culture, and film, but includes other areas as well. Small proseminars and advanced seminars, designed to develop both breadth and depth of knowledge, offer students intensive intellectual engagement with members of the faculty. The faculty all share a strong interest in literary history and forms, critical theory, and cultural studies. About four students are admitted each year. Applicants should use the intellectual statement on the application for graduate study to describe, as fully and specifically as possible, the intellectual projects they wish to pursue. Students who have successfully completed the qualifying examination and have reached ABD status will be granted the Master’s of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree in English.


The formal requirements are 36 credit hours of coursework in English beyond the M.A. (54 credit hours of coursework for those entering with a B.A.); demonstrated competence in teaching; proficiency in a foreign language; a field exam of two parts: (a) a written test, and (b) a critical essay of 20-30 pages (students entering the program may, at the discretion of the Graduate Committee, have a part of the field examination requirement waived; this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.); a three-hour oral Ph.D. examination on two fields, to be taken after the third year of coursework, typically in the fall of the seventh semester (the first exam area will focus on the literary, critical, and/or cinematic/media texts of a major period, while the second exam area may focus on a particular topic, genre, or mode of inquiry); the prospectus of 10-20 pages and defense of an 18- to 30-credit dissertation.


ENG 631 - Critical Theory  is a required part of students’ coursework credit. Other courses are chosen from proseminars (ENG 630 ) and seminars (ENG 730 ). To fulfill the graduate proseminar requirement, students will need to take at least one proseminar in British Studies and one proseminar in American Studies. During the first two years of coursework, students will be required to take at least three graduate proseminars and three graduate seminars, in addition to other electives that will comprise the minimum number of cumulative hours.

A Ph.D. student may take up to two courses outside of the English Department. In special cases, the student may petition the Graduate Committee to have courses from other departments, or independent studies in English count as part of the coursework credit required for the degree. The Graduate Committee will grant such petitions if the student demonstrates how these courses form an integral part of his or her study in English.

For a fuller description of course offerings, write to the graduate studies coordinator, or submit your request online at our web site: http://english.syr.edu/

Graduate Awards

Teaching assistantships include tuition scholarships for nine credits per semester (plus six credits in the summer) as well as a stipend of $19,500.

Beginning Ph.D. students serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate lecture courses taught by full-time faculty in the English Department for two to three years. They receive ongoing mentorship and faculty review of their performance.

Advanced Ph.D. students teach independent courses of their own design in the English department for one or two years, and participate in the Future Professoriate Project. This project offers mentored teaching and participation in teaching seminars every semester. Students who fulfill all the requirements receive at graduation a certificate in university teaching.

One Ph.D. University Fellowship is awarded to a new applicant of exceptional quality and determined by the Graduate Committee and the department also competes for other various fellowships such as African American Fellowships, Ronald E. McNair Fellowships. All fellowships include tuition scholarships for full-time study as well as stipends from $19,500 to $25,290.

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