The Department of English accepts applications to the doctoral program from those holding a B.A. degree or an M.A. in English. Applicants who have earned an M.A. elsewhere may receive transfer credits toward the doctoral degree at Temple. Those with a B.A. must declare an intention to proceed toward the Ph.D., although they can still receive an M.A. along the way or choose to stop at the M.A. Those interested in applying to the Master’s Degree program should see The M.A. in English.

How to Apply

For information on how to apply to the Ph.D. program, please see the “Admission to the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs” heading on the Graduate Programs homepage here.

About the Program

The English program balances theoretical sophistication with historical scope and is designed to give students a grounding in the methods of literary study and foundational knowledge in areas that are both traditional and emerging in English studies. Our particular strengths are in modern literary and cultural studies, although we offer training in all historical periods of British and American literature, Anglophone literature, and cultural theory, including interdisciplinary visual studies. Our faculty research interests cover a wide spectrum, including critical theory, cultural studies, gender studies,  minority literatures, visual and spatial studies, and other interdisciplinary areas where literature intersects with history, psychology, philosophy, the arts, and non-print media.

Foundational courses provide the broad background needed for independent research, while our advanced graduate classes allow students to engage with cutting-edge faculty research.  Recent special topics courses have covered: Literary Aesthetics; Transatlantic Feminist Theory; Photography and Literature; Fetishism and the 19th Century Imagination; Feminist Rhetoric of Science; Joyce and Lacan; and Queer Poetry and Poetics.

Following course work, students generally choose a concentration in one or two of our main areas of strength, each of which will prepare them to teach and do research in the field:   British Literature; American Literature; Postcolonial and Global Literatures; Ethnic and African American Literatures; Literature and Visual Studies; Critical and Cultural Theories; Poetry and Poetics;  Gender and Sexuality; Composition and Rhetoric. (See listings with faculty, below.)

Students are thus prepared to produce original and ambitious work at the level of the dissertation. Recent dissertation titles reflect the innovative work our students are undertaking: “Going Southwest: American Humor and the Rhetoric of Race in Modern African-American Fiction and Authorship”; “Making Flesh Word: Baroque Modernisms and Pragmatist Reconfigurations of Embodied Masculinities in Twentieth-Century United States and Cuban Literatures”; “Once Upon a Time There Was a Country: Nation and Cynicism in the Post 1990’s Balkan Cinema”; “Untying Tongues: Translation, Culture, and Identity in Asian American Literature”; “Through the Negative: The Relationship between Photography and Literature in 19th Century America.”

Our aim is to produce students who will be prepared to teach in their chosen areas, who will write publishable dissertations,  and who will  pursue productive careers as scholar-teachers.

Stages of Progress toward the Ph.D.

  1. Courses. Students entering with transfer credit from a Master’s degree generally complete course work within two years. Students entering without transfer credit will generally take three years. The course requirement (including whatever transfer credits are awarded) is 48 credits, which equates to 14 courses (3 credits each) plus an additional 6 credits of individually supervised work for the exams and the dissertation.
  2. Foreign Language Requirement. Students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one foreign language before they can proceed to the Preliminary Exam.
  3. Preliminary Exam. Following the completion of course work, students focus on their preliminary exams, with two concentration areas. Their preparation is guided by their individually chosen Preliminary Exam Committee.
  4. Dissertation: Following the Preliminary Exam, students proceed to the dissertation, first writing a proposal and then the dissertation itself. Their work is guided by their individually chosen Dissertation Committee, which is usually the same as the Preliminary Exam Committee.
  5. Time to Completion:  Students entering with a Master’s degree can complete the Ph.D. within four to five years; students entering without a Master’s can complete the degree within five to six years.

Transfer Credits

Students who have earned graduate credits or a master’s degree at another institution can transfer a maximum of 15 credits toward the course work requirement for the Ph.D. All transfer students must take the Introduction to Graduate Study course unless they have taken comparable courses elsewhere.

Funding Opportunities

Temple offers financial support to eligible students during the program. Students are encouraged to apply for teaching fellowships,  which include a tuition waiver and a stipend for the nine months of the academic year. Teaching Assistants can assist in a large lecture or can teach as instructors of record in composition courses and in lower level literature classes.  Applications for funding are submitted along with admission applications. The department also nominates highly qualified students for University and Presidential Fellowships, which combine fellowship support (non-teaching years) and teaching experience over four years. At the Dissertation stage, funding is available to all students through Dissertation Completion Grants and through other university fellowships for graduate students in their final stages. Students can also serve as adjunct instructors after they have entered the Dissertation stage.

Job Placement

The Department’s Job Placement Committee helps prepare students to enter the job market and to locate professional positions once the program is complete. The majority of graduates from 2007-2017 hold tenure-track positions at colleges and universities. A smaller number are non-tenure track faculty, and some work in publishing, foundation, or corporate positions. The program’s graduates have taken jobs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Ohio, New York, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and other places. See our current list of Ph.D. graduates, dissertation titles, and job placements here.

Rome Seminar

Temple University Rome, an optional program,  offers a four-week graduate seminar designed to bring together the disciplines of aesthetics and cultural studies. In its interdisciplinary thrust, the six-credit seminar is intended to serve as a foundation for advanced study in the human sciences and to reflect the most current trends of thought in post-modern culture. The seminar convenes at Temple University’s campus in Rome.

Philadelphia as a Place to Study

Temple’s location in urban Philadelphia gives students access to exceptional library resources, including the Rosenbach Library, the Philadelphia Free Library, the Library Company, and other area college and university libraries rich in manuscripts and rare printed materials. Temple University houses the Charles Blockson Afro-American Collection, one of the best collections of material on the African-American experience in the country. In addition, Philadelphia is a rich center for the arts, with  The Philadelphia Art Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Barnes Museum,  and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  In addition to ballet and cinema, Philadelphia hosts both an annual International Film Festival and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, a program of innovative arts and performance. Downtown Philadelphia presents a rich array of galleries, restaurants, bars, and local music venues.

Areas of Study and Doctoral Faculty