English Graduate Studies

Ph.D. Program Overview

SMU began enrolling students in a new Ph.D. program in English in fall 2007. Our program offers students the chance to study and work with a distinguished faculty in a collegial environment.

We admit students to the Ph.D. program who have been awarded a B.A. or M.A. degree.  All students admitted to the Ph.D. program in English will receive fellowship support. Our aim for the Ph.D. is to graduate comprehensively trained scholar-teachers prepared to assume college and university positions, as well as a range of other non-academic jobs that benefit from advanced academic preparation. We are committed to ensuring our graduates’ professional success through a program featuring:

  • One-to-one student-faculty ratio, ensuring small seminars and ample options for tutorial studies.
  • Fellowships for all doctoral candidates for six full years at extraordinarily generous rates, followed by the opportunity for a seventh year as a Visiting Assistant Professor.
  • Medical benefits, tuition waivers, summer seminars in Taos, NM, and professional travel support for all doctoral Fellows.
  • Opportunities for doctoral Fellows to teach writing and literature classes, beginning in year two.
  • Dissertation-year support for all doctoral Fellows.
  • Close mentoring from matriculation to and beyond graduation.








The Ph.D. in English requires 60 hours of credit, including classes, directed readings and dissertation hours. Core courses required of all students are English 6310 (Advanced Literary Studies), English 6311 (Survey of Literary Criticism) and English 6312 (Teaching Practicum). Students are also required to complete workshops in teaching before the fall of their second year, in preparation for teaching undergraduate courses during that year and subsequent years of graduate study. In addition, students must take a minimum of six 7000-level seminars and will be expected to include in their program of study courses covering a wide range of fields. With permission, students may develop interdisciplinary approaches by taking up to two courses outside the English Department.

Proficiency in one non-English language relevant to the student’s course of study is required and should be demonstrated by the second year in the program. For certain dissertation topics, an additional language may be required. Further requirements include written exams in the fall of the fourth year of study, a dissertation prospectus and an oral defense of the prospectus during the spring semester of the fourth year. The M.A. degree will be awarded after completion of the written exams.

Students who remain in good standing – with a G.P.A. of at least 3.0, demonstrated ability to do work of appropriate quality in seminars, continuous progress in the program and the recommendation of an advisory committee – will receive fellowship support for six years. They will teach two courses a year for four years beginning in the second year of study, with either their fifth or sixth year serving as a dissertation fellowship year with no course requirements or teaching responsibilities. Exceptional students may be offered a one-year visiting assistant professorship in the English department after fulfilling all requirements for the Ph.D.

Students who leave the Ph.D. program after completing 30 hours and who have demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language will be allowed to take an exam in order to receive the M.A. degree. Any student who has demonstrated proficiency in a second, non-English language  and achieves a G.P.A. of 3.0 in 24 hours of course work during the first year of study but does not receive the positive recommendation of the advisory committee to continue on to Ph.D. candidacy will be awarded a terminal M.A. degree.

Fellowships begin at over $27,500 per year, renewable annually for up to six years. Additional stipends and scholarships may be available through the SMU Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

The base package of Fellowship support includes:

  • an annual stipend of over $27,500 (distributed monthly);
  • medical benefits;
  • full tuition waiver;
  • $500 moving allowance;
  • laptop computer;
  • professional travel support, usually commencing in year four with successful completion of the Qualifying Exams;
  • dissertation year as Research Fellow, with no teaching duties;
  • possible seventh year as Visiting Assistant Professor of English, after completion of the Ph.D. (competitive basis).

Fellows who have completed the Qualifying Exams may teach literature courses, and they will be given no teaching duties for one year (either 5th or 6th Year) as Research Fellows while writing the dissertation. The Department’s Graduate Committee annually reviews the progress of all doctoral candidates, and a finding of inadequate progress toward the degree may be cause for revoking Fellowship support. The seventh year of support as Visiting Assistant Professor is contingent on the completion and successful defense of the Ph.D. dissertation. These appointments will be competitive. The Handbook to English Graduate Study details the full course of studies and the provisions and processes for advancing to the Ph.D.

  • 6310 Advanced Literary Studies (required of all doctoral candidates)
  • 6311 Survey of Literary Criticism (required of all doctoral candidates)
  • 6312 Teaching Practicum (required of all doctoral candidates)
  • 6313 Rhetorical Theory
  • 6320 Medieval Literature
  • 6330 Early Modern British Literature
  • 6335 Early Modern American Literature
  • 6340 British Literature in the Age of Revolutions
  • 6345 American Literature in the Age of Revolutions
  • 6350 Modern and Contemporary British Literature
  • 6360 Modern and Contemporary American Literature
  • 6370 African American Literature
  • 6373 Hispanic American Literature
  • 6375 Sex, Gender, and Literature
  • 6380 History of Print Culture
  • 7311 Seminar in Literary Theory
  • 7340 Seminar in British Literature
  • 7350 Seminar in American Literature
  • 7370 Seminar in Minority Literature
  • 7372 Seminar in Transatlantic Literature
  • 7374 Problems in Literary History