Department of English at Illinois State University

The Ph.D. in English Studies Program

The doctoral program at Illinois State University began in 1977 as a Doctor of Arts degree with a particular focus on the teaching of English. In 1997 the name of the degree was changed to a Ph.D. in English Studies to reflect the scholarly nature of the degree, but the pedagogical emphasis has remained effectively the same.

Placement of our doctoral graduates in full-time positions in colleges, universities, and secondary schools has consistently exceeded 90% during the past twenty years. Most of our doctoral graduates teach full-time in four year colleges and universities, while some hold positions in community colleges and secondary schools. Graduates enjoy such success because of our program's long-standing and thorough commitment to preparing college and university teachers with a broad background in all facets of English Studies to complement their areas of specialization.

Each year, we admit approximately ten to twelve new students to the doctoral program. Most of these are admitted with full-time status and are supported by graduate assistantships. Our enrollment in this program is about fifty students, and we award approximately six to eight degrees a year. Students who plan their coursework carefully can complete the required classes in 24 months. Students then generally spend another two to three years completing their internships, comprehensive examinations, and dissertation. Graduate assistantships are guaranteed to those who are awarded them for four years, and who also maintain consistent progress toward the completion of the degree.

Dissertations in our Ph.D. program connect research with pedagogy. Recent dissertations have been in technical writing, creative writing pedagogy, children's literature, developmental and advanced composition, literature, business writing, ESL, and the management of writing and learning centers.

Our Ph.D. students have found employment in a variety of secondary and collegiate settings. For more information, see our Ph.D. Alumni page.


Ph.D. Degree Requirements

1. At least 13 courses and a teaching internship distributed as follows:

  • 4 required Ph.D. core seminars in linguistics, literature and culture, writing, and pedagogy.

  • 5 courses in the student's area of specialization

  • 2 courses in pedagogical theory related to the student's specialization
  • 2 or 3 electives
  • A teaching internship (ENG 591), which is the capstone of the program.

2. Comprehensive exams in two areas (research specialization and interdisciplinary English Studies) plus an internship essay.

3. A dissertation of original scholarship in English Studies. Dissertations combine theory and practice to a wide range of pedagogical topics.

Core Doctoral Seminars

  • ENG 510: Seminar in English Studies Pedagogy
  • ENG 540: Seminar in Linguistics & Language Study
  • ENG 560: Seminar in Literature and Culture
  • ENG 590: Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition Studies