Literature MA & PhD


MA Literature

The MA in literature develops literary, critical, and creative knowledge, preparing candidates for a variety of professional careers and/or further graduate study.

MA Literature Requirements

MA Requirements (33 credits beyond the BA)

  1. Required Courses (2 courses / 6 credits)
    • ENG 6009 Introduction to Graduate Studies
    • 1 Critical Theory Course (either ENG 6018 Criticism & Theory I or ENG 6019 Criticism & Theory II)
  2. Historical Distribution* (4 courses / 12 credits)
    • 1 Medieval or Renaissance course (including 17th-Century)
    • 1 18th-Century course (British tradition or Early Literature of the Americas)
    • 1 19th-Century course (Either British tradition or Literature of the Americas)
    • 1 20th-Century course (Either British tradition or Literature of the Americas)
  3. Cultural-Critical Studies* (2 courses / 6 credits)
    • Two courses in ethnic literature (including African-American, Latino/a, post-colonial), world literature, women's literature or gender studies, critical theory, film, genre
  4. Elective Credit (2 courses / 6 credits)
    • Students taking ENC 6745 Practice in Teaching Composition must use this as an elective if they count it toward the 33 credits in the degree.
  5. Portfolio and Defense (3 credits)
    • 3 directed study hours (ENG 6916) to prepare portfolio  
    • In their fourth and final semester (excluding summer terms), MA students will submit a portfolio for review to a three-member faculty committee six weeks prior to the Graduate School deadline for thesis/dissertation submission. Upon submission, the student and chair of the committee will establish a defense date with the Graduate Program Specialist.

*Of the 6 courses in II and III, 2 must be from British traditions and 2 from American traditions.

NOTE: No CRW courses can satisfy degree requirements in the literature track. Only 1 practicum will be allowed to satisfy degree requirements (including ENC 6745). One Directed Study may be used to substitute for degree requirement with the approval of the Graduate Director.

PhD Literature

The PhD is designed to produce teacher-scholars who have a good general knowledge of critical theory, literature, and composition, as well as a specialized knowledge in their field of concentration.

PhD Literature Requirements

  • ENG 6005 Scholarly Writing and Research (3)
  • ENG 6018 Criticism & Theory I or ENG 6019 Criticism & Theory II (may have been taken at the MA level) (3)
  • 1 theory-rich course (3)
  • ENG 7939 Doctoral Seminar (3)**

In total, a student must complete a minimum of thirty (30) hours of coursework beyond the MA degree, exclusive of the following: (i) credits devoted to the foreign language; (ii) directed research hours (unless approved by the graduate director); (iii) doctoral dissertation hours. 

Note: PhD students must take one practicum in teaching or in tutoring for the Writing Studio. ENC 6745 Practice in Teaching Composition (3) is required for Teaching Assistants. Students are allowed to take up to two practica as part of their 30-credit requirement.

**All PhD Literature-Track graduate students are required to take three one-credit doctoral seminar courses. In their first semester, all doctoral students will take one credit of ENG 6939. Over the course of at least four meetings during the semester, graduate students will be introduced to the portfolio, mentored on forming committees, and mentored on designing and implementing a plan to complete the portfolio in a timely manner. In the second year, doctoral students must take ENG 6939 with a member of their portfolio committee to complete one of the aspects of the portfolio. While the graduate student may work with the Chair of the committee, they may work with anyone on the committee. By the second year of PhD coursework, the student should identify a course to take in conjunction with his or her third seminar requirement. He or she will register for the regular three-credit course; additionally, the student will register for a one-credit seminar hour (ENG 7939) that will be taken together with the approved course. The student should take this 6000-level course in his or her dissertation area with one of his or her major professors. The student should meet with the instructor as soon as he or she has identified this course as a seminar course, and the two should agree in writing on the details of the work to be done for the seminar hour. The graduate program specialist will manage registration for seminar hours.

While taking the 6000-level course, the seminar student is expected to do extra work in preparation for writing a dissertation. For example, he or she could be responsible for teaching or leading a portion of a class on a particular work and writing a 25-30-page essay based in research on material from the class, which would substitute for one of the writing assignments in the 6000-level course. Satisfaction of this requirement must be approved by the instructor and the graduate director.

Additional PhD Literature Requirements:

Demonstrated proficiency in one foreign language
A PhD portfolio
A minimum of 10 dissertation hours (no maximum)

Foreign Language  

Refer to the PhD Handbook.

PhD Portfolio  

Refer to the PhD Handbook.


A student may not register for dissertation hours until officially admitted to candidacy. In order to be admitted, the student must have successfully completed the following steps: finished all class work, fulfilled language requirements, passed the PhD portfolio, and established a PhD dissertation committee that has been approved by the Department, College, and Graduate School. This committee should consist of one major professor and three additional members. The graduate student's first obligation once admitted to candidacy will be preparing a prospectus.