English PhD Degree Program Information

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Doctoral English programs can take 5 to 6 years to complete and have intensive requirements for graduation including exams, a written thesis, subject specialization, and teaching. Specializations within an English doctoral program may focus on time period, geography, or techniques, and can include literary theory, professional writing, rhetoric, linguistics or the study of a specific genre or period of literature.

Some of the prerequisites for admittance can include foreign language proficiency, coursework in linguistics and/or literary criticism, and writing samples.

Ph.D. in English

Some programs consider applicants with a bachelor's degree in English and confer a Master of Arts in English as part of the Ph.D. program. The curriculum usually focuses on knowledge and research in British and American literature and the study of language and composition. However, students may also gear their studies toward a particular specialization or topic for their dissertation and research. Some courses may be required, such as those in pedagogy and theory of composition or surveys of literature based on time period or geography. Topics addressed in an English doctorate program might include:

  • British Romanticism and Imperial Culture
  • Contemporary literature and cultural theory
  • Modernism in literary thought
  • History of literary theory
  • Gender and early sexuality in early modern literature
  • Rhetoric

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that postsecondary teachers could expect to see employment growth of 2% between 2019 and 2029 ( According to the BLS, in May 2020, individuals employed as postsecondary English language and literature teachers earned a median salary of $69,000.

Doctoral English students can usually choose an area of concentration during their program. Generally, these programs examine various literary time periods, genres, and writing styles, often preparing students to enter into careers as English professors.

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