About the Ph.D. Program

Course Requirement

Twelve courses in the Department of English; one of which must be 200a (Approaches to Literary and Cultural Studies). Students who enter with an MA degree may apply to transfer up to four graduate-level courses.

Residency Requirement

Students must complete three years full-time residence. Students entering the program with a BA must earn the degree within eight years, and students entering the program with an MA must earn the degree within seven years.

Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of two major languages other than English must be demonstrated by passing written translation examinations. The completion of the language requirement at another university does not exempt the student from the Brandeis requirement.

Field Examination

All candidates for the Ph.D. are required to pass an oral examination in the historical period in which the candidate expects to write a dissertation. Beginning with the fall 2013 entering class, each student will submit a field essay of approximately 20 pages to the examining committee at least one week before the exam. The essay will identify topics of scholarly concern and critical debates in the field and explain their significance. This examination is taken no later than the first of October during the fourth year and must be passed by the unanimous vote of the committee members. PhD students enrolled before fall 2013 need to take the exam no later than the first of November.

Learn More about the Field Examination

Prospectus Defense

No later than six months after passing the field exam, students must hold a prospectus conference and defense, which both first and second readers will attend. A prospectus typically describes the topic, the questions to be explored, the method of research, and reasons for believing the dissertation will be an original contribution to knowledge.

Dissertation and Defense

Each student will submit a dissertation in a form approved by his/her dissertation director and by a committee appointed by the director of graduate studies. One member of this committee must be from a graduate department at Brandeis outside the Department of English or from another university. The student will defend the dissertation at a final oral examination.