English, PhD

The Department offers full-time M.A. and Ph.D. programs. Comprehensive in their range of specializations, these programs are intellectually dynamic and rigorous. Our M.A. program offers students a solid foundation in the professional study of literature and culture, and our Ph.D. program prepares students for full participation in the profession as scholars and teachers of English and American literature, broadly conceived. Over seventy graduate students enjoy close interaction with thirty-eight internationally renowned faculty members in the Department who teach and publish on a large number of historical periods, theoretical areas, and methodological approaches.

Our Department culture reflects our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment that is at once challenging and supportive. We recognize that success in our profession requires more than taking courses, passing exams, writing a dissertation, attending conferences, and publishing articles; it also involves the recognition that we produce new knowledge collectively. Accordingly, we consider our graduate students full members of the Department and encourage everyone to take an active role in the intellectual and social community of the Department as well as other programs and departments across campus.

View the Graduate Handbook: http://www.english.upenn.edu/graduate/handbook.

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs.

Sample Plan of Study

The total course units required for graduation is 20.

Year 1
Proseminar (taken in the fall)
Select 7-8 seminars 1
Language Exam
Second Language Exam (by Year 4)
First-Year Oral Exam (50-Book Exam)
Year 2
Teaching of Literature and Composition
Select 5-6 seminars 1
TA and Grader requirements
Year 3
Field List (taken in the fall)
Dissertation Proposal (taken in the spring)
Select up to 1 seminar or grade-bearing independent study (fall)
Field Exam
Dissertation Proposal
Year 4
Dissertation research and writing
Junior Research Seminar (teach for one semester)
Year 5
Dissertation research and writing
Year 6
Dissertation research and writing
Dissertation defense

Each student must take courses that fulfill six distribution requirements:

  1. One course pre-1700
  2. One course 1700-1900
  3. One course post-1900
  4. One course on literature of the Americas
  5. One course on literature outside the Americas
  6. One course in Minority literature (racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality) 

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2022 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.