Mar 04, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

English, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. degree programs prepare students to write, to teach on the college and university levels, and to conduct scholarly research. At the end of their Ph.D. coursework, students will have acquired a productive general knowledge of the various fields of literary study in English and will have developed a concentrated preparation in their areas of specialization.


Applicants should be aware that admission is competitive and that meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the Ph.D. program. Before entering the Ph.D. program, students are generally expected to have completed a master’s degree in English or a closely related discipline from an accredited college or university. The Department of English admits students to its doctoral programs only in the fall semester of the academic year. The Director of Graduate Studies in English will consider only complete admission files. Applicants are responsible for seeing that their admission files are complete by the deadlines for admission published in this catalog.

All applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. Transcripts of all previous college or university work. Students should upload unofficial transcripts from every post-secondary institution directly to the application. Any student offered admission will need to have official transcripts sent to the Office of Graduate Services.
  2. Three letters of recommendation sent directly from persons who testify to the applicant’s ability to do graduate work. Applicants from the M.A. program in English at Georgia State must submit new letters of recommendation, preferably from English department faculty;
  3. Competitive scores (no more than five years old) on the General portion of the GRE;
  4. An essay composed by the applicant stating goals and career objectives; and
  5. A 10-20 page critical writing sample.
  6. For Creative Writing applicants only: a portfolio consisting of a minimum of 10 poems; or three works of fiction totaling no fewer than 30 and no more than 50 pages. One of the three fiction samples may be an excerpt of a longer work (novel, novella, etc.), and you may include short-short/flash fiction, but we ask that you send at least one complete, stand-alone example of your short fiction of 15 pages or more. On the first page of the creative sample, the applicant should list her or his name, email address, phone number, and program she or he is applying to (PhD Fiction, PhD Poetry).


The Director of Graduate Studies will serve as the student’s initial faculty advisor, whom the student should consult regularly. However, very early in the program, the student should begin to design a course of study leading toward an area of specialization. The student will be tested on this specialization (the doctoral examination and the coursework required for taking it are described below). Optimally in the first semester of the doctoral program, but certainly before the end of the second semester, the student should form a three-member faculty advisory committee composed of at least two faculty members in the area of specialization. Working with this committee, the student will define and develop the area of specialization and determine the courses that can be used to satisfy the specialization requirements.

Doctoral Degree Plans

Students may choose to follow one of three plans. Plan 1 focuses on literary studies. Plan 2 emphasizes rhetoric and advanced writing courses. Plan 3 emphasizes creative writing.

Basic Coursework and Residency Requirements

Depending on the plan chosen by a student, the total credit hours required vary from a minimum of 50 to 59 beyond the M.A. (30-39 hours of coursework plus at least 20 hours of dissertation research). To fulfill the residency requirement for the Ph.D. degree, students must enroll for a minimum of 6 hours per term for 4 semesters. Two of these semesters must be consecutive. Each plan has further particular coursework requirements which are specified below. Please note, graduate assistants are required to enroll for a minimum of 12 credit hours each for the fall/spring semesters and 9 credit hours for the summer semester. These credit hours will consist of courses required for the prescribed program of study, as well as additional hours of thesis research and non-thesis individual research.

Doctoral Examinations

After completing coursework and the graduate research skill requirement (see above), students in all concentrations must pass the examination specific to their concentrations.

In the Creative Writing concentration, the doctoral examination in poetry is a two-day, on-site exam. Each examination period is four hours. The examination on Day 1 includes a section of identifications and either two or three essays dealing with the works and authors pre-1900 drawn from the Ph.D. reading list. The examination administered on Day 2 is comprised of three or four essays about the works and authors post-1900 drawn from the Ph.D. reading list. The examination director will decide on the final format for the examination.

In the Creative Writing concentration, the doctoral comprehensive examination in fiction is a two-day, onsite exam. Each day a four-hour examination is administered. The examination on Day 1 includes a section of identifications and either two or three essays dealing with works and authors pre-1900 drawn from the Ph.D. reading list. The examination director will decide on the final format for the examination.

In the Rhetoric and Composition concentration, the doctoral examination is a seven-day, off-site examination. The examination draws on both a primary field of specialization and a research focus within that field. Further information on the format of the doctoral examination in Rhetoric and Composition is available at

In the Literary Studies concentration, the doctoral examination will be in the area in which the student plans to write the dissertation. The examination consists of three parts: a two and a half hour on-site written, a seventy-two hour off-site written, and a ninety-minute oral. As described in the list of required courses below, in order to take the examination, the student must have completed 12 credit hours (4 courses) in or strongly related to that area. The exam itself will be based on a reading list composed of no fewer than forty texts, devised by the student in consultation with the faculty advisor who will be the primary reader of the exam. The examination reading list must be composed, and approved by the faculty advisor, at least one semester prior to the semester in which the student will take the exam. The examination questions must be approved by the Director and Associate Director of Graduate Studies.

Examinations are not offered in the summer. Students must give the Director of Graduate Studies in English written notification of their intention to take the primary examination by the departmental deadline. Each doctoral examination will be graded by at least three faculty members. A student must pass the examination on either the first or second try in order to remain in the Ph.D. program. Examples of past examination questions and of successful answers are available to students preparing for the examination.


Doctoral students must submit a dissertation acceptable to the Department of English and to the Office of Graduate Services of the College of Arts and Sciences. Stages in the preparation of the dissertation include the following: choosing a dissertation director and dissertation committee, submitting a dissertation proposal, defending the dissertation proposal, writing the dissertation, defending the dissertation.

Soon after completing the doctoral examination, a doctoral student must submit to his or her dissertation committee a written dissertation proposal that should include the following:

  1. A description of the subject, including a statement of the way the proposed approach to the subject differs from, contributes to, or modifies the existing scholarship on the subject;
  2. A description of the proposed method of treatment and an account of the research necessary to complete it; and
  3. A preliminary bibliography, including a discussion of the availability of materials.

After consulting informally with the dissertation director and the other members of the student’s dissertation committee, the student must defend the proposal orally in a meeting with the committee. If the committee judges the student’s proposal to be acceptable, the student will be given permission to proceed with the project. While writing the dissertation, the student must register for at least 20 hours of ENGL 8999 - Thesis Research.

Each student must pass a public oral defense of the dissertation open to all interested faculty and students. The structure of this defense will be determined by the student’s dissertation committee. After booking a room for the defense at a time agreeable to all members of the committee, the student must notify the graduate director and submit the completed dissertation to committee members at least two (2) weeks before the defense date (or earlier if required by the committee). The date, time, and location of the defense will be publicized by the graduate director. The student will bring to the defense a properly formatted Dissertation Title Page/ Signature Sheet. In the event of a successful defense, all committee members as well as the Department Chair must sign the Dissertation Title Page. It is the student’s responsibility ensure that the proper signatures are obtained and that the title page and dissertation are uploaded to the Office of Graduate Services before the graduation deadline.

Time Limit

Work on the doctorate must be completed within ten years of admission to the program.

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