Department of English at Illinois State University

Graduate Student Handbook

The Graduate Handbook is your essential guide to the policies and procedures of the English Department's graduate programs. Please read it carefully and discuss any questions you have with your advisor or the Graduate Coordinator. As in most large programs, there is much lore among students and faculty about requirements and procedures, and this lore is sometimes not current or entirely accurate. The Graduate Handbook is the official word on these matters, and the Graduate Coordinator will answer any questions that you have after reading the Handbook. You may also wish to visit the Graduate School website.

Download the 2014-2015 Handbook.



English Studies at Illinois State University

The Department of English embraces an English Studies model that explores interactions among Literary and Cultural Studies, Rhetoric, Linguistics, Critical Theory, Writing, and Pedagogy. We offer three advanced degrees, the Ph.D. in English Studies, the Master's in Writing, and the Master's in English. There are about 40 graduate faculty and some 130 graduate students, a mix that allows us to offer 30-35 graduate courses each semester and to support a wide range of specializations and interests. In addition, there are several hundred undergraduate English majors and some 200 student minoring in English.

Program Advisor

All students are initially advised by the Graduate Coordinator. Once they complete 18 hours, students choose a permanent advisor from the graduate faculty. The permanent advisor might, if you wish, also direct your internship, comprehensive examinations, and your thesis or dissertation, as appropriate to your program. Each semester, you must meet with your advisor to select courses for pre-registration and to discuss your academic and career goals.

Dates and Deadlines

For current dates and deadlines, refer to the Graduate Catalog and the Graduate School's Important Dates and Deadlines. The important dates and deadlines are also printed in the Course Description booklet each semester.

Note that most of these deadlines are for the formal graduation ceremonies. However, students can complete theses and dissertations at any time. If you complete your degree before or after the official graduation date and need to show a prospective employer or graduate program proof of your completion, the Graduate Coordinator will be happy to write a letter confirming your completion of all requirements.


Graduate Handbook

Need More Information? Contact

K. Aaron Smith,
Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Contact Dr. Smith

Download the 2014-2015 Handbook.

Below is a brief listing of the topics you will find in the Graduate Handbook.




  • Introduction to Students
  • Introduction to Graduate Faculty
  • The Role of Advisor: Master’s Level
  • Post-Baccalaureate Graduate Certificate in Teaching of Writing in HS/MS
  • Master’s in English and Master’s in Writing
    • MA vs MS and the Language Requirement
  • Master’s in English
    • Degree Requirements
    • Thesis Option for the Master’s in English
  • Master’s in Writing
    • Degree Requirements
    • Master’s in Writing Internship
  • Master's in Writing: Professional Writing and Rhetorics Sequence (Portfolio Option)
  • Thesis Proposal & Nature of Master’s Thesis in Writing
  • Plan of Study: Master’s Level
  • Comprehensive Exams: Master’s Level
  • The Master’s Thesis
  • Oral Defense of Final Draft of Master’s Thesis
  • Assistantships: Master’s Level
  • Timeline for Selected Decisions: Master’s Level

Topics (cont.)

  • Applying to Doctoral Programs
  • The Role of Advisor: Doctoral Level
  • PhD in English Studies
    • Degree Requirements
    • Research Tools Requirement for the PhD
    • The PhD in English Studies Teaching Internship
  • Plan of Study: Doctoral Level
  • Comprehensive Examinations: Doctoral Level
  • The Dissertation
    • Oral Defense of the Final Draft of the Dissertation
  • Assistantships: Doctoral Level
  • The Job Search for Faculty Positions
  • Information Common to Both Master’s and PhD Programs
    • Course Descriptions
    • Registration
    • Independent Study
    • Progress Toward Degree
    • Readmission
    • Constituting a Committee
    • The Thesis/Dissertation Proposal Approval Process
    • Fellowships and Awards
    • Support for Graduate Student Travel
    • Graduate Tuition Waiver Guidelines
  • Sample Advising Worksheets, Master’s & PhD
  • Graduate Faculty Advising Handbook