Department of English

Ph.D. Program Requirements/Program of Work

The English Department offers the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in fifteen fields of study.

The program of work consists of a minimum of 24 hours beyond the M.A., including the 3 hour core requirement, and satisfactory completion of the foreign language requirement (see "Satisfying the Foreign Language Requirement") Students are urged to complete this requirement early in their program of study.

Qualifying Procedure

To continue in the Ph.D. program, all Master’s-level students must pass the Qualifying Review (QR). With the consent of the Graduate Adviser, students who enter the program with an M.A. from another university may be eligible for exemption from the QR. Students who began their graduate work at the University must pass the review before the beginning of the fall semester of the third year of graduate study; if not exempted, students who enter the program with an M.A. from another university must pass the QR before the beginning of the fall semester of their second year of graduate study in the program.

The QR will be supervised by a panel consisting of three members of the GSC: the supervisor of the master’s report, and two faculty members (one of whom may be the second reader of the master’s report) appointed by the Graduate Adviser after consultation with the student and the GSC chair. The review will not only consider the quality and promise of a student’s master’s report, but involve a stock-taking of the student’s preparation and discussion of the student’s direction and future work in the doctoral program. To this end, all students will assemble a portfolio containing the following material: their master’s reports; their personal statements discussing their experience in the University’s English graduate program and plans for completing the doctoral degree; and transcripts of their graduate course work in English at the University and, if relevant, at other universities. The QR will last approximately one hour.

Program of Work

After passing the Qualifying Review, students must complete a minimum of 24 hours of coursework for the Ph.D. beyond that which was done for the M.A. Students entering with graduate coursework from other institutions may petition the Graduate Adviser to accept up to 6 hours of applicable coursework from other institutions, but no coursework more than six years old--either from U.T. or another institution--may be submitted on the application for doctoral candidacy.

The application for doctoral candidacy is filed after passing the QR, satisfying all remaining coursework requirements (see below), passing the Ph.D. Field Examination (see next section), and submitting an approved dissertation prospectus--usually by the third year of doctoral study.

24 hours beyond the M.A., to include the following:

3 hours core research methods (E 384K) course (may have been taken as part of the M.A.):

3 hours E398T, Supervised Teaching in English (required for all AIs unless waived by the Graduate Adviser and the Lower Division English Director).

(optional) 3 hours conference course, taken on a Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) basis, to prepare the Field Examination.  For details, see the description of the Field Examination below.

(optional) 3 hours conference course, taken on a credit/no-credit (CR/NC) basis, to prepare for the Ph.D. Prospectus Examination. Students will write a draft of the dissertation prospectus and compile bibliographies for project to be defended. For details, see the description of the Prospectus Examination below.

Field Examination

The Field Examination (FE) is designed to test students' general knowledge of primary and secondary texts in their chosen field of study as well as to help them advance toward their dissertation projects. In the FE students will be tested over individualized lists composed of approximately 60-80 primary and/or secondary texts. ("Secondary text" here may mean a complete book, a very substantial article, or a set of articles.) The faculty in a given field will have the primary responsibility for preparing the general lists of texts and determining the specific protocols for the FE in their area. The general lists (including the specific protocols decided on) will be given to students when they first enter the Graduate Program. Students, working within the protocols for the FE established by the faculty in their field, and in consultation with the members of their examining panel, will determine their final individualized lists for the FE. (General reading lists by interest groups)

Students who choose to work in two fields at once will compose their final lists based on the general lists of both fields. They will work under the guidance of their examining panel and will produce final individualized lists that represent both fields adequately. Students may identify themselves as working in no more than two fields for the purposes of the FE. There must be at least one faculty member on the examining panel from each of the two fields.

The FE will be supervised by an examining panel consisting of three members of the GSC proposed by the student being examined and appointed by the Graduate Adviser. The chair of the panel will likewise be proposed by the student and appointed by the Graduate Adviser. The FE will be oral and will normally be one and one-half to two hours in length. Students are expected to take and pass the FE sometime during their sixth long semester of study in the Program, and no later than the twelfth class day of their seventh long semester (or during their fourth long semester of study in the Program, and no later than the twelfth class day of their fifth long semester if they entered the Program with an M.A.). Students may petition the Graduate Adviser for an extension of the deadline (if they should, for example, switch fields). In order to have time to prepare for the FE, students may take a three-hour Credit/No Credit conference course at some time during the year before they take the FE.

Prospectus Examination

The Prospectus Examination (PE) will consider in detail students’ preparation and plan for completing the doctoral dissertation they have presented in their prospectus. The latter will consist of a substantial description of their project, a summary of its chapters, and a full bibliography of both critical and primary works that are directly relevant. The PE will be supervised by an examining panel composed of three members of the GSC who are likely to serve on the student’s dissertation committee, including the student's prospective supervisor or supervisors (those supervisors will be ineligible to serve as the chair of the examining panel).

After passing the Field Exam, students will normally complete their Prospectus Examination and apply for candidacy within twelve months.

The PE will normally last from one to two hours, and the Chair of the panel must report the results of the exam in writing to the Graduate English Office. The panel may require revisions to the prospectus before the student may apply for doctoral candidacy.


When students have fulfilled all Ph.D. course work requirements (including foreign language proficiency) and successfully passed the FE and the PE, they may file for doctoral candidacy and begin registering for dissertation hours (E -99R, -99W).

The application for doctoral candidacy formally appoints a dissertation supervisory committee, outlines the program of coursework applied to the degree, and describes the dissertation project. It must be approved by the dissertation director, the English Graduate Adviser and Graduate Studies Committee chair, and the Graduate Dean.

Supervisory Committee

In consultation with the Graduate Adviser, the student selects a chair of the dissertation committee (co-chairing is possible) and at least four other committee members (or three others, if the committee is co-chaired). At least three members must be members of the Graduate Studies Committee in English, and at least one member must be from an outside department or program.

An off-campus scholar may be appointed to a committee if the application for candidacy is accompanied by the scholar's curriculum vitae and a letter stating that the person is willing to serve and that the University will not pay travel expenses or provide recompense for such service. If later changes to the committee are necessary, requests must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies through the Graduate English Office.


The supervisory committee must approve the topic and plan of the dissertation before the student begins research. A copy of the final draft of the dissertation reviewed for technical and grammatical correctness by the supervisor should be submitted to each member of the dissertation committee not less than four weeks before the date on which the student intends to defend the dissertation (see the Graduate School Catalog for further details).


A Request for Final Oral must be signed by all supervisory committee members and submitted to the Graduate Dean's Office at least two weeks before the examination is to be held.

The defense consists of a one-hour oral examination on the dissertation and the future research plans.

At least four members of the supervisory committee must participate.

In the interests of reinforcing a sense of professional community, the Graduate Dean and the English Graduate Adviser urge that the defense be given in an open forum, allowing the participation of interested members of the University.

Time Limits

A student's Ph.D. candidacy will automatically be subject to review two years after admission to candidacy and yearly thereafter.

This review is conducted by the supervisory committee for the Dissertation, which makes specific recommendations to the Graduate Adviser, the Graduate Program Committee, and the Graduate Studies Chair, who, in turn, make a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Meeting Professional Responsibilities

All students admitted into the graduate program are expected to serve as TAs or AIs (unless they have been exempted from this requirement by the Graduate Advisor at the time of their admission). In order to remain in good standing and thus continue in the program, they must therefore not only meet the requirements established by the Graduate School, but they must also successfully execute their professional responsibilities as TAs or AIs. Should a graduate instructor (a TA or an AI) fail to execute his or her responsibilities, a committee composed of the supervising professor, the GSC Chair, and the Graduate Advisor will be convened to make a binding decision about termination.

Failure to meet professional responsibilities includes, but is not limited to, such things as the following: failure to grade and return student papers and exams in a timely manner; failure to meet classes; failure to attend faculty lectures (as a TA); failure to turn in grades at the end of the semester; conducting (as a TA) a discussion section in a way that undermines the purpose of the class; compromising (as an AI) the DRW syllabus; and failure to meet staffing obligations in the UWC or the DWRL in a satisfactory manner.

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    University of Texas at Austin
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