PhD Degree Requirements

Students in the PhD program may pursue a traditional doctoral course of study, or may tailor their coursework and independent research by enrolling in one of several “Structured Emphases,” which reflect the department’s strengths in the areas of ethnic American literary studies, film and media studies, folklore, literature and the environment, medieval studies, poetry and poetics, and rhetoric and composition.

PhD Degree Requirements 

  • 18 approved graduate seminars (equivalent of two courses per quarter for three years). Six of these seminars must be in required areas: 
    • Introduction to Graduate Studies 
    • Introduction to Theory 
    • Pre-1500 
    • Renaissance 
    • 1660-1800, British or American 
    • 19th century, British or American 
  • The twelve remaining seminars may be distributed among any areas, but must be determined by a program of study to be approved prior to the second year of study by the student’s Faculty Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies 
  • Foreign Language Requirement. Doctoral students must demonstrate reading competence in two foreign languages or high proficiency in one. 
  • Teaching. Doctoral candidates must have experience as classroom teachers in the department before they receive the degree. 
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 in graduate course work. 
  • Residency requirement of nine approved graduate seminars taken in the University of Oregon Department of English. 

PhD Breadth Examination 

The PhD Breadth Examination includes written (take-home) and oral components. It is based on reading lists, generated by the student and their examining committee and then approved by the Graduate Committee.  

Students who fail either part of the written exam do not take the oral portion until they have retaken the failed written part.  

PhD Major Field Examination 

After a student in the PhD program has satisfied the language requirement, completed course work, and passed the PhD Breadth Exam, they take a two-and-a-half-hour Major Field Examination in the chosen area. It is divided into two parts: 

  • A prepared presentation by the student on a topic or problem related to the student’s dissertation, followed by a discussion of that topic 
  • A discussion of a special field that provides a context for the issue examined in part one 

The Dissertation 

After passing the PhD Major Field Examination, the student prepares a twenty-page dissertation prospectus under the guidance of their dissertation advisor. When the prospectus is approved by the dissertation committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, the student officially advances to “candidacy” (becomes a PhD candidate) and is ready to write the dissertation. This is a substantial work of scholarship on a single subject, based on original research, which contributes substantially to knowledge in the field. Upon completion, the PhD candidate must undergo a formal, public dissertation defense. This is an oral examination in which the student fields questions from the committee about the subject, methodology, research findings, and knowledge of the field. 

Apply to the English PhD Program 

Students who want to pursue a PhD at the University of Oregon should apply directly for a PhD. The number of places in the PhD program is limited, and admission is competitive. 

Graduate Admissions

Graduate Coordinator

​​​​​Kathy Furrer,
Phone: 541-346-1501
Winter Term Office Hours:
  • Mon: Working Remote/Off-Line  
  • Tue: 8:30-12/1-3:30 OCIAS (175 PLC)  
  • Wed: 8:30-12 OCIAS (175 PCL) 1-3:30 ENG (118 PLC)  
  • Thur: 8:30-12/1-3:30 OCIAS (175 PLC)  
  • Fri: 8:30-12/12:30-3:30 OCIAS (175 PLC)