English PhD Degree Program Information
English Ph.D. students may be able to focus their studies on an area of interest. Find out more about the curriculum, along with prerequisites and national employment data, such as job outlook and salary potential.
Ph.D. in English
Most doctoral English programs take approximately 5-6 years to complete. In addition to taking graduate-level classes in English according to their area of interest, students may be required to teach some introductory or survey courses to undergraduate English majors. They also complete comprehensive examinations and a dissertation. Prospective doctoral students should verify what's needed to apply for admission, such as a master's degree, related coursework and fluency in a foreign language.
A Ph.D. program in English generally prepares graduates for a teaching and research-oriented career as an English professor for a college or university. Students are usually required to choose a specialization within the degree program, such as literary theory, professional writing, rhetoric, linguistics or the study of a specific genre or major period of literature.
Prerequisites may vary, but many doctoral programs require a master's degree in English. Some programs consider applicants with a bachelor's degree in English and confer a Master of Arts in English as part of the Ph.D. program. Schools generally expect that students have already taken classwork in subjects like British and American literature, linguistics and literary criticism. Adequate or advanced competence in one or more foreign languages might also be required. A writing sample may also need to be submitted.
The curriculum usually focuses on knowledge and research in British and American literature and the study of language and composition. However, students may also gear their studies toward a particular specialization or topic for their dissertation and research. Some courses may be required, such as those in pedagogy and theory of composition or surveys of literature based on time period or geography. Topics addressed in an English doctorate program might include:
- Early American fiction and nonfiction
- Contemporary Irish fiction
- British romanticism and imperial culture
- Contemporary literary and cultural theory
- Modernism in literary thought
- History of literary theory
- Anglophone fiction
- Gender and early sexuality in early modern literature
- Shakespeare's works
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
In December 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that postsecondary English teachers could expect to see employment growth of 15% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, in May 2010, the 69,880 individuals employed as postsecondary English teachers earned an annual average salary of $67,920.
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