The Ph.D. requires a total of 72 hours, split between coursework (48) and dissertation research (24). Course requirements for Ph.D. candidates vary with each individual’s chosen concentration in creative writing, English and American literature, folklore, linguistics, rhetoric and composition. For the most part, these requirements aim to provide a generalist education, the flexibility needed for each candidate’s concentration and research interests, and preparation for the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations. Before taking comprehensive exams, Ph.D. candidates must fulfill these course requirements and demonstrate reading proficiency in two foreign languages or fluency in one.
Depending on their previous coursework, doctoral students holding teaching assistantships are encouraged to complete their coursework in the first two and a half years, their comprehensive exams during the third or fourth year, thereby allowing them to begin dissertation work during the fourth or fifth year. The department makes every effort to offer extensions on assistantships to candidates who demonstrate continued progress toward the degree. Because of their lightened teaching load, Fellows tend to complete their degrees at a slightly accelerated rate.