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The Department of English has four graduate programs, each one designed to meet the specific needs of students with varied interests in language and literary studies. Students in all our programs are well and equitably funded, receive excellent ongoing support for the full range of their program activities, and are encouraged to take advantage of the resources, including the interdisciplinary strengths, of the Department and University as a whole.

Helen Zell Writers' Program

The Helen Zell Writers' Program is a two-year graduate program in creative writing leading to a Master of Fine Arts degree. Students concentrate in either fiction or poetry. The program prepares students for a lifetime of writing and professional publication. 

At the heart of the program are the writing workshops, where students assemble as a community of writers to read and comment on one anther's work in progress. 

Students are fully funded for two years, including funding for conference and research travel.

Through the Zell Visiting Writers Series, students are given the opportunity, through readings, residencies, and dinners, to meet established writers in their genres. The program also offers professionalization roundtables with agents and editors. 

Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to receive a year-long post-graduate fellowship, such as the Meijer and Zell.

PhD in English Language & Literature

The doctoral program in English Language & Literature is designed to lead to the PhD in six years of post-baccalaureate study. Students specialize in such diverse fields as British literature, American literature,and literatures of the U.S., Gender Studies, African American literature, Postcolonial Studies, and Feminist Theory, exploring a wide range of critical theoretical and cultural perspectives within those fields. The Program assures that students gain broad literary and cultural knowledge along with the research skills that will allow them to make innovative contributions to the world of ideas. Interdisciplinarity sets our program apart from most other English PhD programs. Students have the opportunity to take cognate courses (graduate level courses in departments outside of English), as well as having a cognate member serve on their dissertation committee. We offer a number of student run interest groups in such diverse areas as the 19thC Forum to Science Fiction.

Another strong feature available to students in all three of our PhD programs, is our Jobseekers program. With faculty serving as advisors, this program professionally prepares students in their final year to successfully navigate the job market.

PhD in English & Education

The Joint PhD Program in English and Education prepares students with prior teaching experience to assume positions as professors of English and/or professors of Education. The Program emphasizes research traditions and methods appropriate to study in the discipline of English as well as those customarily followed in the study of educational issues; because of this, the Program is interdisciplinary in character, and students have the opportunity to take a broad range of courses in English and education, and others outside those fields.

Upon entering the program, students begin teaching in their first year as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs). E&E students may also avail themselves of the English Department's Jobseekers program, which professionally prepares students in their final year to achieve success while on the job market.

For more information, please visit our JPEE Program page.

PhD in English & Women's Studies

The Joint PhD Program in English & Women’s Studies was designed to serve the needs of students whose interests draw on both disciplines. Building on the strengths and resources of the English Department and Women’s Studies, students have the opportunity to work out an interdisciplinary approach to a research problem from an early point in their training, and benefit from the kind of interdisciplinary mentorship that is necessary to develop and complete an interdisciplinary dissertation.

E&WS students closely follow the course of study of the English Language and Literature PhD program, and have the opportunity to become a part of both the English cohort and the other joint Women's Studies program cohorts. Another strength of the Joint Program is the interaction between Women's Studies students in the other three joint programs: Sociology, History and Psychology. E&WS students also avail themselves of the English Department's Jobseekers program, which professionally prepares students in their final year to successfully experience job market.

For more information, please visit our Women's Studies Joint PhD Programs page.