Graduate Degree

English - Doctor of Philosophy

English - Doctor of Philosophy
Plan Code:
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Arts and Letters

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.

College of Arts and Letters

Department of English

Graduate Study
English - Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, of the College of Arts and Letters, and of the Department of English, students must meet the requirements specified below.


To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in English, an applicant must:

  1. Submit a writing sample, written at the master's level, that reflects the candidate's critical and scholarly abilities.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A master's degree in English or in an appropriate cognate area.
  2. An academic record that reflects graduate work of high quality.
  3. Met the foreign language requirement for admission on regular status to the Michigan State University Master of Arts degree program.
  4. Students currently enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program must have completed all of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Literature in English.

Students who are admitted to the doctoral degree program in English before they have satisfied the requirements referenced in items 3. and 4. above must do so before they may take the comprehensive examinations.  Credits in courses that are used to satisfy these requirements may not be used to satisfy the requirements for the doctoral degree.

To be admitted on an accelerated basis to the doctoral degree program in English, after one year of Master of Arts course work, students must:

  1. Be enrolled in the Michigan State University Department of English Master of Arts program in Literature in English.
  2. Submit a statement of purpose of 750-1000 words describing the student’s specific area of interest(s) and desired area(s) of emphasis.
  3. Submit two letters from faculty members who support their application for accelerated admission.
  4. Completed a minimum of five courses at Michigan State University, including at least one of the required courses and two seminars in literature from different periods.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in English

The student must:

  1. Complete all of the following courses within the first four semesters of enrollment in the program (7 credits):
    ENG    800    Studies in Race, Gender, and the Human   3
    ENG    802    Literary Criticism and Theory                       3
    ENG    820    Professionalization Seminar                        1
    Students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Film Studies may substitute FLM 800 Methods in Film Studies for ENG 802 above.
  2. Complete an additional 18 credits of graduate course work in English or related fields with attention to issues of criticism and theory, literary and cultural history, and multinational or global literary traditions with a grade-point average of at least 3.5. This course work must include a course that covers literature before 1800 and one course that covers literature after 1800.  Not more than 3 credits of independent study may be used to satisfy this requirement. All required course work must be completed before students may enroll in dissertation research credits. Any exceptions must be approved by the graduate chairperson.
  3. Complete a language requirement at the college-level to provide students with the tools they need to conduct research in languages other than English.  Each student should work in consultation with the Guidance Committee or with the Director of Graduate Studies to determine which language or languages are most appropriate for the student’s research topic, and which one of the following two options will best fulfill this objective in light of the student’s chosen area of study.
    1. Demonstrate advanced reading proficiency at the college-level in any language other than English through completion of course work in the language at the 400-level or above, or by passing an advanced reading comprehension and translation exam.
    2. Demonstrate second-year proficiency at the college-level in two languages other than English through completion of course work through the 200-level, or by passing an examination of reading comprehension.
  4. Pass the doctoral comprehensive examination.
  5. Pass an oral examination on the comprehensive examination.
  6. Complete requirements 1. through 3. above and have a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all graduate course work before beginning work on the dissertation. Students must complete 24 credits of English 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
  7. Pass a pre-dissertation examination that consists of an oral presentation based on a written proposal of the dissertation.
  8. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Academic Standards

A student who fails the comprehensive examinations, the oral examination, or the final oral examination in defense of the dissertation may repeat that examination only once.