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Program Overview

Degree Requirements

No more than three courses at the 500 level may be submitted for the degree. All other work must be at the 600 level and above.

Required Courses (9-12 hours)

All students have three course requirements in their doctoral program, and all are taken as a part of the 36 hour plan of study. The course requirements are based on the student’s declared primary area of specialization from the following options:

Areas of Specialization
Old and Middle English
Renaissance/Early Modern English
Restoration and Eighteenth Century British
Nineteenth-Century British
Post 1900 British and Anglophone Literature
Postcolonial Literatures and Theory
American Literature Before 1900
American Literature After 1900
African American Literature
Rhetoric and Composition
Literary Theory

If a student’s specialization is in literature before 1800, the course requirements are

  • 2 courses in literature after 1800
  • 1 course in rhetoric and composition or literary theory

If a student’s specialization is in literature after 1800, the course requirements are

  • 2 courses in literature before 1800
  • 1 course in rhetoric and composition or literary theory

If a student’s specialization is in rhetoric and composition, the course requirements are

  • 1 course in literature before 1800
  • 1 course in literature after 1800
  • 1 course in literary theory

If a student’s specialization is in literary theory, the course requirements are

  • 1 course in literature before 1800
  • 1 course in literature after 1800
  • 1 course in rhetoric and composition

In addition, all graduate teaching assistants are required to take ENG 747: Teaching College Writing. This course does not fulfill a doctoral course requirement above but may be included in the plan of study.

Electives (24-27 hours)
For the remaining hours of electives, students should choose graduate courses that will help them specialize in their primary and secondary areas in English and in supporting fields. These courses selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Study and the student’s advisory committee, should form a coherent plan to prepare the student in the areas of specialization.

Minor In A Supporting Field

With the approval of students’ advisory/dissertation committee and the Director of Graduate Study, students may use their electives and additional courses toward achieving a minor in certain supporting fields outside of English. A minor consists of at least 12 hours of advanced work in a single cognate subject. All course work applied toward the minor must be approved by the Director of Graduate Study.

Foreign Language Requirement

Ph.D. students fulfill the foreign language requirement before taking the preliminary examination. A level of proficiency in one foreign language, equivalent to completion of the second semester of an intermediate course (such as 204 at UNCG), must be documented either by previous course work completed during the last five years and approved by the Director of Graduate Study, or by course work while enrolled in the Ph.D. program, or by an appropriate score on a written examination. Native speakers of other languages can demonstrate foreign language proficiency through their graduate course work in English.

Preliminary Comprehensive Examination 

At the end of the course work and after satisfying the foreign language requirement and other requirements, students must pass the preliminary comprehensive examination. In preparation for the examination, the student prepares reading lists for one primary field and two secondary fields in consultation with the advisory committee.

The written examination is taken on three days within one week and consists of the following:

  1. A five-hour examination on the primary field, the specialization chosen from among the following areas:
    Old and Middle English
    Renaissance/Early Modern English
    Restoration and Eighteenth Century British
    Nineteenth-Century British
    Post 1900 British and Anglophone Literature
    Postcolonial Literatures and Theory
    American Literature Before 1900
    American Literature After 1900
    African American Literature
    Rhetoric and Composition
    Literary Theory
  2. Two three-hour examinations in secondary fields. One of these fields could be either a different area selected from the list of primary fields or a cross-period/critical problem.
  3. The oral examination (two to three hours) is on the primary and secondary fields and is taken within a month after the written examination.

Dissertation (15-21 hours)

ENG 799 Dissertation (15-21)

A dissertation demonstrates ability to do original research and to present this investigation in an orderly, exact, and complete manner.

See PhD Dissertation & Prospectus for more information.

Final Oral Examination

The examination administered by the advisory committee is largely related to the dissertation but may cover topics from the entire field of the candidate's study, including courses taken here and elsewhere.


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