Doctor of Philosophy in English

The Ph.D. program in English is designed to develop knowledgeable scholars, critics, and teachers of English literature. Course work is offered and dissertations directed in the full range of subjects defined by our faculty’s expertise and by our internationally renowned archival holdings of manuscripts and books in McFarlin Library. Specific clusters of study that carry the advantage of faculty depth and the potential for original research are:

  1. 20th-century literature - Modern and Contemporary British, Irish, and American literatures;
  2. 19th-century literature - antebellum and post Civil War literature, British and European Romanticism, Victorian literature;
  3. American studies, cultural and gender studies, African American literature, and women’s literature.

Seminars are also offered in Early Modern and 18th-century literature, in critical theory, in the pedagogy of composition, and in the creative writing of fiction and poetry. The doctoral program is administered by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Committee. All members of the Faculty of English participate as instructors and on student committees.

The Doctor of Philosophy program is fully flexible in coursework and focused by student interest in specific clusters of study that carry faculty depth of expertise and library archival resources. Students take 36 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the master's degree, and an additional 24 hours of directed study, research and writing that culminates in an approved dissertation project and final manuscript. A proven reading knowledge of one foreign language (classical or modern) and the successful completion of a qualifying examination, taken after the completion of course work, are necessary before students can proceed to formal work on the dissertation. The examination encompasses one primary and two secondary fields chosen by the student in consultation with faculty advisors. The primary field and one secondary field must be in literary historical periods; the third field is frequently critical theory and/or method but it may also be a literary historical period.


Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold a master's degree in English or the equivalent from an accredited university, and should submit a 10-20 page sample of academic writing, acceptable scores on the general tests of the Graduate Record Examination, three letters of reference, and a personal statement. Please note that while there is no formal deadline for admission, the deadline for teaching assistantship applications in English is January 15.  For additional Admission and Financial Aid information visit the University of Tulsa Graduate School.

Residence Requirements

The minimum period in which the Ph.D. degree can be earned is two full academic years of study. The student must spend at least two consecutive semesters in residence as a full-time student in work toward the doctorate.

Course Requirements

The doctoral program is designed to be a five-year program for students entering with the B.A.; such students will complete 54 hours of coursework (including 3 hours of Directed Reading in the second year) and at least 18 hours of directed study and dissertation research. For students entering with the M.A., the program requires between 18 and 36 hours of coursework to be followed by 24 hours of directed study and dissertation research. In the latter case, the precise requirements for coursework are established by the Graduate Program Committee as part of the admission process. To assure adequate breadth and depth of preparation during doctoral coursework, at least three courses in literary periods prior to 1800 and three in periods after 1800 are required. As preparation for the Qualifying Examination, doctoral students must take at least two courses in each of their declared primary fields.

Language Requirements

Doctoral students are required to achieve a sound reading knowledge of one classical or modern language, as demonstrated by passing a translation test set by program faculty. Students must propose for approval the language on which they intend to be examined. The standard is a capacity to translate accurately a representative critical or scholarly passage with some bearing on the student’s field of interest. The requirement should be met as early as possible in a student’s career and must be fulfilled prior to taking the qualifying examination.