PhD Requirements

Requirements for PhD in English Language and Literature

The PhD requires a minimum of four years of extended study to master a specific subject completely and to extend the body of knowledge about that subject. Applicants should already possess a Master’s degree in English or a related discipline. The requirements below are for all doctoral students in British and American literature and those in Rhetoric and Writing.

The PhD in Language and Literature degree requires 54 hours of coursework, comprehensive exams in three areas, a Foreign Language requirement, and a doctoral dissertation. Typically, PhD students have recently completed a Master’s degree in English with something in excess of 30 semester hours. The English department accepts up to 24 of those hours toward the PhD degree, leaving students 30 hours of regular course work to complete from the time of matriculation.

Note: Students who did graduate work in a discipline other than English likely will not transfer the full 24 hours to the PhD program. Such students will need to complete more than 30 hours of regular course work before moving on to the dissertation. The Associate Chair of Graduate Studies (ACGS) and the Committee on Studies (COS) determine the number of hours students are able to transfer to the PhD.

Required Coursework (for complete requirements, see the Graduate Handbook)
As explained above, PhD students must take 54 hours of course work before taking the Comprehensive Examinations and moving on to the dissertation. These hours must be distributed as follows:

Core Course (3 hrs)
Engl. 500:
Introduction to the Professional Study of English (3 hrs) (Must be taken in the first semester of graduate study)

Distribution Requirements (15 hrs)
Students must take 15 hours of coursework in Language, Theory, and Pedagogy, as described below.

Language and Theory (9 hrs) Students must take a total of nine hours from Language and Theory courses, at least three of which are from Language and three from Theory courses.

Language (at least 3 hrs from the following)
Engl. 541: English Grammar (3 hrs)
Engl. 545: History of the English Language (3 hrs)
Engl. 547: Old English (3 hrs)
Engl. 548: Beowulf and Other Topics (3 hrs)
Engl. 549: Middle English Language (3 hrs)

Theory
(at least 3 hrs from the following)
Engl. 510: Criticism and Theory (3 hrs)
Engl. 511: Special Topics: Criticism and Theory; Literacy and Cultural Movements (3 hrs)
Engl. 540: Topics in Language or Rhetoric (3 hrs)
Engl. 542: Major Texts in Rhetoric (3 hrs)
Engl. 543: Contemporary Texts in Rhetoric (3 hrs)
Engl. 610: Studies in Criticism and Theory (4 hrs)

Pedagogy (6 hrs) Students must take six hours of pedagogy courses from the following or from approved substitutions in other departments. (All new Teaching Assistants, including those who have previous teaching experience or similar course work elsewhere, are required to take Engl. 537, which is offered every Fall semester, in the first semester they begin teaching at UNM.)
Engl. 535: Teaching Creative Writing (3 hrs)
Engl. 537: Teaching Composition (required of all new TAs) (3 hrs)
Engl. 538: Writing Theory for Teachers (3 hrs)
Engl. 539: Teaching Professional Writing (3 hrs)
Engl. 592: Teaching Literature (3 hrs)

Seminars (12 hrs)
All PhD students must take at least three four-hour seminars offered in the English Department; these seminars are often, but not always, in their fields of study.
Engl. 610: Studies in Criticism and Theory (4 hrs)
Engl. 640: Studies in Language and Rhetoric (4 hrs)
Engl. 650: Studies in British Literature (4 hrs)
Engl. 660: Studies in American Literature (4 hrs)
Engl. 680: Studies in Genre, Backgrounds, Forces (4 hrs)

Electives (24 hrs)
The required courses above total 30 hours; students who have transferred 24 hours from the MA into the PhD will have fulfilled the minimum course requirements, excluding dissertation hours, required for the degree. Students who need more course credits, should fulfill their remaining hours with approved graduate courses in English or related disciplines under the advisement of the COS and the ACGS. All 54 regular course requirements must be completed before enrolling for dissertation hours, Engl. 699.

Dissertation (no fewer than 18 hrs)

Engl. 699: Dissertation (3-12 hrs, no limit).

Foreign Language Requirement
With the approval of the ACGS and COS, PhD students may satisfy the language requirement in one of three ways.

  1. By demonstrating competency in two foreign languages. “Competency” can be demonstrated with a grade of B or better through a second semester, second-year level undergraduate course or through a graduate-level reading course in a language other than English. Students may use English 547 (Introduction to Old English) and 548 (Advanced Old English) to fulfill competency.

  2. By demonstrating fluency in one foreign language. “Fluency” can be demonstrated in one of several ways with a grade of B or better: through the second-semester, third-year level undergraduate course in a language other than English; or through two graduate-level reading courses in a language other than English. Students may use English 547 (Introduction to Old English), 548 (Advanced Old English), and an Old English 650 or another 548 to fulfill fluency.

  3. By combining competency in one foreign language with a similar competency in a research skill such as a computer-programming language or Statistics. Competency in the research skill can be established by the completion of a second-semester, second-year course with a grade of B or better.

Competence and Fluency can be demonstrated through course work from previous institutions, course work at UNM, and CLEP or UNM-administered language tests. The decision as to which research skills courses such as Computer Science and Statistics will satisfy the Department’s language requirements will be negotiated between the ACGS, COS, and appropriate faculty from other departments; other research tools may be approved in exceptional cases in which similar provisions must be made for rigorous academic study in the subject.

Note: Course credits for classes used to complete the language or research requirement cannot be counted toward the 54-hour requirement for regular course work.

Comprehensive Examinations
To ensure a thorough and broad knowledge of English as a discipline, the Department of English requires PhD students to take comprehensive examinations in three different fields. Under the advisement of the COS, PhD students should select their three fields of study early in the course of their doctoral program, so that they can take course work that enhances their understanding of their three fields.

Dissertation Prospectus and Its Defense
After passing the Comprehensive Examinations, PhD students must organize a Dissertation Committee, write and submit a Dissertation Prospectus, and successfully defend the prospectus before the Dissertation Committee. The prospectus defense must be completed no later than six calendar months after passing the Comprehensive Examinations.

The PhD Dissertation
A dissertation is a formal, scholarly document, seldom less than 150 double-spaced pages and often much longer, which makes an original contribution to its field and shows a professional mastery of academic methods and materials. Few dissertations are written in less than a calendar year. PhD students who are also Teaching Assistants commonly find that the process takes two years. UNM requires that students must complete all degree requirements, including the dissertation and defense, within five years of advancing to candidacy (i.e. passing the Comprehensive Examinations).

PhD Concentration in Medieval Studies

The multi-disciplinary PhD Concentration in Medieval Studies degree requires 54 hours of coursework, comprehensive examinations in three medieval studies areas, a Foreign Language requirement, and a dissertation. Typically, PhD students have recently completed a Master’s degree in English with something in excess of 30 semester hours. While the English department accepts up to 24 of those hours toward the PhD degree, the course requirements for the PhD, Concentration in Medieval Studies typically limit the number of transferable hours to eleven. For complete requirements, see the Graduate Handbook.

Required Coursework (54 hrs)
Foundational Courses (15 hrs) All students must have taken the following courses, either in their MA program or within the first two years of the PhD program:
Engl. 500: Introduction to the Professional Study of English (3 hrs) (Must be taken in the first semester of graduate study.)
Engl. 551: Topics in Medieval Studies: Bibliographical and Research Methods (3 hrs)
Engl. 547: Old English (3 hrs)
Engl. 581: Chaucer (3 hrs)
History 503 or 504: Early or High Middle Ages (3 hrs)

Core Courses (30 hours) PhD students in Medieval Studies must take thirty hours of core courses including courses in Medieval Language and Literature (9 hrs), Multidisciplinary Studies (9 hrs), English and History Seminars (11 hrs), and Problems (1 hr), as follows:

Medieval Language and Literature (9 hrs)
Engl. 548: Advanced Old English (3 hrs)
Engl. 549: Middle English Language (3 hrs)
Engl. 550: Middle English Literature, (3 hrs)
Engl. 551: Topics in Medieval Studies (3 hrs)

English & History 600-level Seminars (11 hrs) All PhD students must take a minimum of eleven hours of seminars—one from the Department of History. The following seminars count toward the degree and should be taken when offered in topics related to Old or Middle English or Medieval Language, History, and Culture.
Engl. 650: Studies in British Literature (4 hrs)
Engl. 680: Studies in Genre, Backgrounds, and Forces (4 hrs)
History 601 or 602: Anglo-Saxon England, 450-1066 or The Crusades (3 hrs each). See the Medieval Studies Director for other approved seminars.

Multi-disciplinary Coursework (9 hrs) These courses are taken in Art History, Medieval History, Medieval Philosophy, and Medieval Language and Literature other than English, such as Old Norse, Medieval Latin, and Medieval Spanish. (Only one course [3 hrs] may be counted from the History department.)

English 697: Problems for the Doctor’s Degree (1 hr)
Under the guidance of the students’ committee members, students must prepare and submit an article-length essay (20 to 30 pages, inclusive of notes) for publication in any of the major Medieval Studies’ journals.

Electives (9 hrs): The required courses above total 45 hours, inclusive of foundational and core courses; students who have transferred at least nine hours from the MA into the PhD will have fulfilled the minimum course requirements, excluding dissertation hours, required for the degree. Students who need more course credits, should fulfill their remaining hours with approved graduate courses in English or related disciplines under the advisement of their COS and the Director of Medieval Studies in English. All 54 regular course requirements must be completed before enrolling for dissertation hours, Engl. 699.

Dissertation (no fewer than 18 hrs)
Engl.
699: Dissertation (3-12 hrs, no limit)

Foreign Language Requirement:

PhD students in Medieval Studies must demonstrate a reading knowledge of Latin, to be satisfied no later than the second year. Competency is satisfied either by passing a language examination or Latin 202 (Intermediate Latin) or Latin 352 (Accelerated Latin Reading) with a grade of B or better. Students must also demonstrate competency in an additional language other than English. Competency can be demonstrated with a grade of B or better: through the second semester, second-year undergraduate level in a language other than English; or through a graduate-level reading course in a language other than English. Course work from previous institutions, course work at UNM, and CLEP or UNM-administered tests may be used to fulfill the language requirement.

Note: Course credits for classes used to complete the language or research requirement cannot be counted toward the 54-hour requirement for regular course work.

Please see the PhD Concentration: Medieval Studies Graduate Advisement Sheet (pdf)

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

In accord with the Department of English policy on the Ph.D. English Comprehensive Examination, students must take three field examinations of four hours length each. Because a degree in the Ph.D. concentration in Medieval Studies in English connotes a special mastery of medieval English, the examinations must cover Old English, Middle English, and one other medieval disciplinary field

Dissertation Prospectus and Its Defense
After passing the Comprehensive Examinations, PhD students must organize a Dissertation Committee, write and submit a Dissertation Prospectus, and successfully defend the prospectus before the Dissertation Committee. The prospectus defense must be completed no later than six calendar months after passing the Comprehensive Examinations.

Ph.D. Dissertation
The policies regarding protocol and procedures for completing the doctoral dissertation in the PhD Concentration in Medieval Studies in English generally fall in line with the English Department’s and University’s policies. Because the concentration is distinctively interdisciplinary, the dissertation should show some expertise in a discipline (or subdivision of a discipline) other than English, as for example, English medieval literature and history of medicine (subdivision of History); English medieval literature and philosophical thought (sub-division of Philosophy); or English medieval literature and the aesthetics or influences of medieval art (subdivision of Art History). The candidate and the dissertation committee discuss these issues.

Learn more about Medieval Studies here.