Brown’s doctoral program in English offers professional training in literary criticism, theory, research methods, and the teaching of literature and writing.
The English Department has a diverse faculty representing a range of critical and theoretical approaches. They regularly publish books and articles in such areas as literary history, theory of the novel, poetic form, literature and the visual arts, African American literature, Asian American literature, critical race theory, postmodernism, new historicism, feminist theory and criticism, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial literature and theory, and film studies.
The English Department has close ties with the departments of Africana Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature, and Modern Culture and Media, and with the Cogut Center for the Humanities and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Graduate students in English are encouraged to take advantage of the wide-ranging multi-disciplinary resources that these relationships make accessible to them.
The first two years of the doctoral program are devoted to course work and the fulfillment of the foreign language requirement. We expect graduate students to take the Qualifying Examination by the end of the third year. Their remaining time in the program is given to the writing of the dissertation. We expect this project to involve research and to demonstrate the potential to become a book or series of articles during the early years of the student’s career as a college or university professor.
Brown’s doctoral program trains graduate students to become teachers as well as researchers. Thus we require that, with some exceptions, our students teach for three years as assistants to members of the English Department faculty and as instructors of sections of ENGL0900 (formerly ENGL0110) Critical Reading and Writing I: The Academic Essay, and ENGL0200 Seminars in Writing, Literatures, and Cultures. This teaching begins in the second year of the program. As part of their course work all students are required to take ENGL2950 Seminar in Pedagogy and Composition Theory. To help develop their teaching skills, we assign students to a variety of teaching positions, from assistant in a large course to instructor of a virtually autonomous workshop. We are convinced that the intellectual relationship between teaching and research is one that stands a college or university teacher in good stead for the duration of his or her career, and we try to establish this relationship early on by assigning graduate students, whenever possible, to teach courses related to their general area of research, and to work with faculty who may serve as appropriate mentors.
- Candidates for the Ph.D. are required to take a minimum of thirteen courses.
These courses are typically distributed as follows: six courses in the first year, five in the second year, and two in the third year. The two courses taken in the third year can be independent studies designed to help students prepare for the qualifying exam. Among the thirteen courses, students must take one in each of the following areas:
- Medieval and Early Modern Literatures and Cultures
- Enlightenment and the Rise of National Literatures and Cultures
- Modern and Contemporary Literatures and Cultures
Graduate students are also required to take one course during their first year of study that has been designated theory-intensive. The theory-intensive course may also satisfy one of the three area requirements listed above. In certain cases, 1000-level courses (intended primarily for undergraduates) may satisfy the theory-intensive requirement.
- Foreign language competence and courses in particular areas of specialization are required.
- ENGL2950 Seminar in Pedagogy and Composition Theory is taken by all students during their second year of graduate studies.
Throughout the year, the Department plans a series of seminars that address a variety of timely academic topics that are meant to enhance the students' professional development, as well as expose them to important elements of an academic career. The seminars are usually led by faculty members, and the topics are determined each year by the Graduate Committee. Students in all years are strongly recommended to attend the professionalization seminars since they are a constitutive part of graduate formation.
Students Entering Brown's Ph.D. Program with an A.M. from Another Institution
In their second year at Brown, students who already have an A.M. (or M.A.) in English or graduate credit from another institution may transfer up to one year’s coursework toward the requirements for the Ph.D. at the discretion of the department.
Foreign Language Requirements
Ph.D. candidates can satisfy the language requirement in two ways: by demonstrating either an ability to use two foreign languages in their scholarly and critical work, or the ability to do graduate-level literary work in one foreign language. The department offers its own language exams. Students may ordinarily choose any languages that are appropriate to their research interests, but some fields within English and American literature have specific requirements.
The purpose of the Qualifying Examination is to certify your mastery of the scholarly field in which you have chosen to specialize. The exam is given by a committee of three faculty members chosen by the candidate; it is oral, lasts approximately two and a half hours, and is based on a Field Statement of up to 25 pages written by the candidate in consultation with the committee. The exam is taken at the end of the third year, soon after the completion of course work and before the submission of a dissertation proposal and first chapter.
The dissertation is a substantial work of criticism and scholarship that makes a contribution to professionally recognized areas of literary study. The dissertation process begins when the candidate’s proposal and first chapter are approved by a committee in his or her field and accepted by the Director of Graduate Studies. It concludes when the completed dissertation is presented to a committee of three faculty members, including the dissertation director, and successfully defended in discussion with the committee and other interested members of the department.
The University offers incoming graduate students five years of guaranteed financial support, including a stipend, tuition remission, a health services fee, a health insurance subsidy, and four years of summer support. Students are supported by a fellowship in the first year. In years two, three and five, students are supported by a teaching assistantship, and in year four by a dissertation fellowship. Financial support is contingent upon students remaining in good standing in the program and making good progress toward the doctoral degree.
Applications & Deadlines
Applications must be submitted electronically via the Graduate School's website. Application materials should not be sent directly to the English Department.
The deadline for applications is December 15, 2015. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test is required and should be taken well in advance of the application deadline. The GRE report code for Brown University is 3094. The GRE subject test is not required.