Doctorate (PhD)

*Important updates to PhD program*

All PhD students receive a tuition scholarship as well as a stipend of at least $23,140 (as of 2016). Students specialize in a given historical period or tradition and receive intensive pedagogy/practicum training. PhD students are eligible to take graduate courses at Columbia, NYU, Princeton, and elsewhere through the Doctoral Consortium. Most of our PhD's receive tenure-track positions (see Placement).

Through the course of the PhD program, students will:

  • Attain research and teaching skills in a field of learning in literary studies
  • Learn to conduct original research and produce written accounts to a professional standard
  • Acquire professional skills commensurate with the capacity to secure employment in disciplines of literary and cultural studies


Students must complete thirteen (13) courses (39 credits). Those entering with an MA degree are required to complete 10 courses (30 credits). Students must also complete two courses (0 credits) or examinations for reading knowledge of two foreign languages, pass a PhD comprehensive examination, and complete a dissertation and oral dissertation defense.

Of the thirteen courses, three are mandatory: Research Methods, Critical Theory, and the Teaching Practicum. Research Methods must be taken in the first semester of the first year. The Teaching Practicum begins in the second semester of the second year. Apart from these requirements, PhD students may begin to specialize as early as they wish, keeping in mind the particular range of knowledge they will need both for the PhD comprehensive exams and the dissertation.

Students must take courses to satisfy five historical area requirements:

  • Pre-1485 (British 1)
  • British literature, 1485-1800 (British 2)
  • British literature after 1800 (includes Irish and post-colonial) (British 3)
  • American literature before 1900 (American 1)
  • American literature since 1900 (American 2)

Graduate literature courses taken elsewhere may be approved to count toward these requirements, and similar courses in Critical Theory may be counted, subject to review by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and through completion and submission of the departmental waiver form.

Normally, PhD students do not take Creative Writing courses, and they are not allowed to do so in their first year. In their second year they may enroll in a Creative Writing course after obtaining the written permission of their adviser.

Doctoral students have 8 years to complete all of the requirements for the degree. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress including a minimum 3.5 GPA and maintenance of continuous enrollment. For complete policy details, and the most up-to-date information, please refer to the GSAS Policies and Procedures Guidebook. For important registration, administrative, and graduation dates, please see the GSAS Academic Calendar.


Application Deadlines and Requirements
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Graduate Admissions

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Julie Chun Kim
Interim Director of Graduate Studies