English PhD


Learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy in English.

About the Program

The English program enjoys a high reputation for teaching and research in both traditional and innovative areas of literary history and literary criticism. The graduate program prides itself on providing students with the advantages of studying at a Research I institution in a diversity-filled urban environment. Temple University is the only public university in the Philadelphia area offering a doctoral concentration in rhetoric and composition.

The English doctoral program offers a curriculum that provides training in broad foundational areas while also allowing for concentration in more specialized seminars and in areas of individual student interest. For students entering with an MA, the time to completion can be five years. Students with a BA may need an extra year, during which adjunct teaching may be available.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: In order to be certified as full-time, a student must engage in at least 9 credits of coursework each term or the equivalent in supervised teaching, dissertation research or writing. In special circumstances, the department permits part-time enrollment, but no student is exempt from the guidelines concerning reasonable academic progress toward the degree.

Interdisciplinary Study: Students are encouraged to engage in serious interdisciplinary projects and to work closely with a faculty member engaged in research and publications projects that take them regularly into the areas of History, Philosophy, Psychology, the arts, and non-print media.

Affiliation(s):  Affiliations include the Association of Departments of English (ADE) and the Modern Language Association (MLA).

Areas of Specialization: The literature faculty is unusually productive in both emerging and traditional areas of literary scholarship. The doctoral program provides options for intensive study in British, American and Global Literatures, encompassing critical theory, cultural theory, film theory, interdisciplinary methods, minority literatures, gender studies, and rhetoric and communication. Specialty certificates may be pursued in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and/or in Cultural Analytics, which uses digital techniques.

Job Prospects: About 40% of graduates hold tenure-track positions at colleges and universities. A smaller number are non-tenure-track faculty, while some work in publishing, foundations or corporate positions. Graduates have traditionally found placement in the Northeast. Increasingly, however, the program's graduates have taken jobs outside the region in Midwestern, Southern and Western states.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: In general, English graduate courses are open only to students who are matriculated in an English graduate degree program. However, students matriculated in another graduate program at Temple University may be admitted to English courses at the discretion of the instructor. In exceptional cases, a non-matriculated student may request permission from the instructor to register for a course. All non-matriculated students or students in other University graduate programs should first contact the Graduate Director, who will advise on registering.

Financing Opportunities: All applicants are automatically considered for funding in the form of a Teaching Assistantship, which consists of five years of support that includes a living stipend, tuition waiver, healthcare and other benefits. A research semester and up to $5,000 in research support are also included. Conditions of the award are determined by the graduate student union contract with Temple University, which currently requires recipients to perform a combination of teaching and other assignments. For funding consideration, applications should be submitted by December 15. The department makes funding offers generally in February and March. Students may be admitted to the program without funding and are then placed on a waiting list for funding.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: December 15

To be considered for a fellowship and/or teaching assistantship, applicants should submit a complete application by December 15. Applications are accepted until February 15, although funding consideration is uncertain for later applications.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with the applicant's academic abilities.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration: The applicant should have completed an undergraduate concentration in English covering a broad chronological range.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A master's degree is preferred.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A baccalaureate degree in English is required.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 600 to 1,000 words, share your research goals, particular interest in the Temple English graduate program, and future goals.

Standardized Test Scores:
GRE: Optional. Scores may be submitted if available.

GRE Subject Test in Literature: Optional. Scores should be submitted if available.

Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 105
  • IELTS Academic: 7.0
  • PTE Academic: 72

Resume: Current resume required.

Writing Sample: The writing sample should be a literary critical essay, not a piece of creative writing, approximately 12 to 15 pages in length. It should represent the student's best work, and it may or may not relate to the student's future graduate studies.

Advanced Standing: Students who have earned graduate credits or a master's degree in English from another institution can transfer up to 15 credits (five courses) toward the coursework requirement for the PhD.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 48

Required Courses:

Core Courses
ENG 5001Introduction to Graduate Study in English3
ENG 5502Current Directions in Critical Theory3
ENG 8900Advanced Study in Literature and Culture 13
5000-level Courses
Select two from the following:6
Early British Literature
Early American Literature
16th and 17th Century British Literature
18th Century British Literature
19th Century British Literature
19th Century American Literature
20th and 21st Century British Literature
20th and 21st Century American Literature
Anglophone Literatures
History of Critical Theory
Topics - Rhetoric and Composition
8000-level Advanced Seminars 26
Electives 321
Research Courses6
Preliminary Examination Preparation
Pre-Dissertation Research
Dissertation Research 4
Total Credit Hours48

Language Requirement: Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. For doctoral students, the language requirement must be satisfied before taking the first preliminary examination. No exceptions to this rule are permitted. Additional information on fulfilling this requirement can be found in the Graduate English Office.

Culminating Events:
Optional Master's Degree:
Students enrolled in the PhD program who do not already possess the MA degree may acquire the optional MA degree while continuing on to the PhD. Students who leave the PhD program for any reason also can apply for the MA degree. In either case, the student qualifies for the MA by successfully completing 30 credits of coursework; passing the foreign language requirement; and writing a Qualifying Paper that demonstrates the student's ability to write perceptively, lucidly, and at length (4,000-6,000 words) on a literary subject.

Preliminary Examination:
The preliminary examination should demonstrate competence in two areas. Typically, one area corresponds to a general teaching area (e.g., British 19th Century, American 20th Century), while the other represents the student's scholarly research interests (e.g.,  Ecocriticism, Ethnic Literature, Gender Studies, Literature and Visual Arts). Students define these areas by writing a protocol and constructing two reading lists, one for each area. The protocol is an explanation and justification of the two reading lists in terms of professional aims. 

In preparing for the exam, students in their final term of coursework register for ENG 8900 Advanced Study in Literature and Culture. In addition, they typically register for ENG 9082 Independent Study or ENG 9994 Preliminary Examination Preparation. During the following term, with all coursework completed, students take the exam itself. The exam consists of three parts:

  • Part I is a course syllabus for each area of the exam. It is submitted by the student in advance of the exam.
  • Part II constitutes written answers to questions in each area, which are prepared over the course of three days and may be written at home or in a place of the student's choice.
  • Part III is an oral examination that is taken only after passing Part II. The oral exam is conducted on campus, no more than three weeks after the written exam.

Exams are judged "Pass," "Fail," or "Honors." Additional details on exam procedures and the criteria for passing are available from the Graduate English Office.

Dissertation Proposal:
The dissertation proposal should:

  • identify the key issues to be investigated;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the relevant scholarship in the field; and
  • provide a detailed outline of the proposed dissertation.

The dissertation should demonstrate the student's ability to conceive, research and write a scholarly project of at least 150 pages. The student's doctoral research is overseen by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, which consists of at least three Graduate Faculty members. Two members, including the Chair, must be from the English Department. Committee compositions must be approved by the department's graduate committee. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of the committee members, and informing the student of their academic progress.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense, including the student's ability to express verbally their research question, methodological approach, primary findings and implications. This committee comprises the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the English Department. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the term in which the student will defend the dissertation. The committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

If a student wishes to change a member of a committee, the new member must be approved by the department's graduate executive committee and registered with the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate School.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Dissertation Examining Committee and register with the Graduate Coordinator at least 15 days before the defense is to be scheduled. The Graduate Coordinator arranges the time, date and room. After the Graduate Coordinator has made the arrangements, the student must send to the Graduate School a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” at least 10 working days before the defense. The department posts notices announcing the defense.


Program Web Address:


Department Information:

Dept. of English

1027 Mazur Hall

1114 W. Polett Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6090



Submission Address for Application Materials:


Department Contacts:


Tara Lemma

Graduate Coordinator



Director of Graduate Studies:

Miles Orvell, PhD




Roland Williams, PhD