Program of Study
- Students are expected to complete a minimum of twelve courses no later than the end of the third year. These include the following required courses: Approaches to Literary and Cultural Studies, Pedagogy, and Writing in the Humanities. Note that Pedagogy and Writing in the Humanities will be offered on an alternating basis every other year, so students should plan ahead.
- Students can – and are encouraged to – count up to one transferrable skills course from outside the department toward the twelve required courses. Examples of transferrable skills courses can be found on the website.
- A student who comes to Brandeis with an MA degree in English may apply to the director of graduate studies (DGS), at the end of the first year of study, to transfer up to four graduate-level courses from the institution granting the MA. Of the eight additional courses required for the PhD degree, at least seven are normally taken within the English department.
- The program reserves the right to require additional courses to assure thorough mastery of the area of study.
- A student who wishes to be exempted from these rules must petition in writing to the department chair and DGS.
- Students enroll in six courses.
- Students are required to enroll in ENG 200a (Approaches to Literary and Cultural Studies) in the fall semester.
- Students are required to enroll in the Department Proseminar (ENG 350a), a yearlong pass/fail seminar that is in addition to the twelve course requirement.
- Students select their other five courses from departmental offerings at the 100- and 200-level, although at least three of these courses must be 200-level seminars. One of these five courses may be a transferrable skills course from outside the department.
- In addition to satisfying these core requirements, students design a program of study in light of the strengths and weaknesses of their previous preparation and in accord with their own interests. First-year students are encouraged to meet with their faculty advisers to discuss curricular offerings, departmental expectations, and the nature of the academic career.
- Students who come to Brandeis with a BA degree normally take two courses each semester.
- Students who come to Brandeis with a MA degree complete their course work.
- Students complete their course work.
- Students are required to enroll in the Field Exam Proseminar, a yearlong pass/fail seminar that is in addition to the twelve course requirement.
- Students must have completed the Pedagogy and Writing in the Humanities courses by the end of the third year.
- Students are encouraged to take or audit additional courses during their third year and beyond.
- The Field Exam must be taken no later than May 15 of the third year.
Notes Pertaining to Courses
- Creative Writing Workshops do not count towards the PhD degree.
- ENG 360c (Article Publication Proseminar) is optional and does not count towards required courses for the degree.
- ENG 352a/b, Directed Research,
- Cannot be counted towards the 200-level requirement.
- First-year students usually cannot enroll in a section of ENG 352a/b, Directed Research.
- Normally, only one section of ENG 352a/b, Directed Research, can count towards required coursework for a graduate degree.
- In other departments at Brandeis,
- Through consortium arrangements with Boston College, Boston University, and Tufts University
- Through The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS), but not taught by department faculty members. Any course taught at GCWS by a faculty member in the department, and approved by the department, shall be deemed the equivalent of a 200-level course within the English department for the purposes of meeting degree requirements.
All students are encouraged to attend departmental events, such as guest lectures and conferences, and participate in professional development workshops.
In the fall of their second year, students present a paper to an audience of graduate students and faculty at the Second-Year Symposium.
Teaching Requirements and Preparation
Teaching is a core requirement of the PhD program in English and is integral to the professional development of all graduate students. To qualify for ABD status, all doctoral students must satisfy the department's requirements for training in teaching. Training in teaching takes place through assistantships in the department and the pedagogical course.
Teaching assignments vary according to the pedagogical needs of the individual student, the curricular needs of the department, and enrollments. The university reserves the right to change these assignments as necessary.
- First-year graduate students have no teaching responsibilities; instead they devote themselves to course work.
- Second-year students serve one semester as a teaching assistant in a department course and one semester with no teaching responsibilities.
- Third-year students serve as teaching assistants in two department courses, one each semester.
- Beginning in Fall 2020, fourth-year students complete an internship in one semester and have the option to serve as instructor of record in an English or University Writing course in the other.
- Fifth-year students have no teaching responsibilities.
The minimum residence requirement is three years.
The language requirement reflects the department’s belief that it is important for scholars in the humanities not to be monolingual. The requirement asks students to advance their knowledge of at least one language other than English as part of their graduate studies unless they have already made the study of languages a significant part of their education in the past. Students may fulfill this requirement in the following ways:
- By demonstrating a reading proficiency of a language and passing the English department examination.
- By undertaking further study of a language and earning an A- or better in a fourth-semester language course—such as a 100-level Brandeis language course—or a course designed to provide an equivalent reading knowledge of a language.
- By beginning to study a language (either because they have not seriously studied a language other than English before or because they have a reason to take up a new language), earning a grade of A- or better in a second-semester course in the language —such as a 20-level Brandeis language course. Ideally, the language should be related to their field of study.
Please note language classes do not count toward the required number of classes for the PhD.
Students must have completed the language requirement no later than the end of the third year in order to take the field exam.
The field portfolio and exam demonstrate expertise in a significant scholarly field and equip students for future contributions to the humanities. All students are required to take a year-long, credit/no-credit proseminar in their third year which will prepare them for the field exam. The proseminar is in addition to the 12-course requirement. No later than May 15 of the third year, students must turn in a portfolio and pass an oral examination. The portfolio must contain
- a list of 50-70 texts, representing thorough field knowledge
- a brief (500 words) introduction to the list
- an original essay of approximately 20 pages that articulates the student’s intellectual agenda in this field, formulated in consultation with the advisor. The essay can be a synthesis of a significant scholarly debate; a description of historical developments in the field and its methods; an analysis of pedagogical or curricular issues in the field; an interpretation of the field’s significance in a specific context; a description of emerging questions and methods in the field; a description of potential contributions to the field as a teacher, scholar, editor, translator, digital creator, program administrator; or some combination of these and other topics.
- two original syllabi relevant to the field
- optional: inclusion of one other item of approximately 5 pages or equivalent, which represents a contribution not represented by the field essay, for instance a website, proposal for an anthology, translation, book review, or equivalent
The portfolio must be turned in to the examining committee at least one week before the exam.
This examination is taken no later than the fifteenth of May during the third year and must be passed by the unanimous vote of the committee members. At the discretion of the examiners, students taking the field exam may be asked to retake one portion of their exam and/or revise one or more items in the portfolio. If a student is asked to retake a portion of the exam or revise the portfolio, the time frame for the second examination will be set by the examiners in consultation with the student.
Doctoral Project / Dissertation Prospectus Conference
Students should meet with their prospectus committees after successful completion of the field exam to discuss the prospectus. The prospectus is intended to be an initial exploration of the doctoral project and is typically around 20 pages. No later than October 1 of the fourth year, students must hold a prospectus conference, which both first and second readers will attend. The prospectus must be signed by both readers. The prospectus should explain and justify the project’s topics, audiences, genres, media, and platforms and give evidence of the student’s preparation to complete this project.
Dissertation / Doctoral Project
The dissertation or doctoral project is the culmination of a student's studies and should make a substantive and original, primarily written, contribution to a designated field. Doctoral projects might consist of a book-length manuscript of scholarship, or a portfolio comprised of one or more of the following: a suite of linked essays, comprehensively researched creative nonfiction, a critical edition, a digital archive, or additional options of equivalent proportion. The portfolio should have a substantial analytical component. Its conception should be coherent, its organization should be compelling, and its design should indicate the desired impact on intended audiences. Where relevant, the project should satisfy prevailing professional ethical standards. The genre, medium, and platform of the doctoral project should be appropriate to its goals. The doctoral project will be evaluated by a dissertation committee comprised of two department members and an external evaluator with relevant expertise. The student will defend the doctoral project at a final oral examination.
Annual Status and Funding Review and Probation
Being an active student in any given year does not guarantee future enrollment in the program. Continued enrollment in the doctoral program in English is subject to the department’s annual May student review process where the progress of graduate students, particularly first- and second-year students, is discussed by the department faculty. Using suitable academic progress (see below) as its guide, the department will determine if a student continues in the program, is put on probation, or is recommended for termination from the program. Continued enrollment is also subject to the Graduate School’s status and funding review process.
Because a career in the academy requires success as a scholar and teacher, service on administrative committees, and collegial participation in the life of the academy, suitable academic progress is judged principally by three criteria: grades, citizenship, and timely completion of work.
- Grades: Students are expected to maintain an A- average.
- Citizenship: Students are expected to participate regularly in department activities, including the departmental proseminar and scheduled talks and events.
- Timely Completion: Students may normally take no more than one incomplete in any semester; in exceptional circumstances a second incomplete may be permitted by the DGS. All incompletes must be made up by the deadline set by the Office of the University Registrar each semester. Students who require incompletes must apply for them from the relevant instructor in advance; incompletes will not be automatically granted.
Students placed on probation will be informed of that decision by letter and should feel free to meet with the DGS and their advisor to discuss it. Students who are put on probation are required to meet with the DGS and to submit to the DGS a written plan to return to good standing--which might include completing missing work, meeting certain deadlines, and participating more robustly in the life of the department. Failure to return to good standing within one academic year will normally lead to recommendation for termination in the subsequent end-of-year meeting.
Students who do not establish candidacy according to the deadlines noted in each section above will be placed on probation automatically and may become ineligible for funding. Students who do not demonstrate satisfactory academic progress during the probationary year will be withdrawn from the program. Failure to pass the field exam or defend the dissertation prospectus by the required deadlines may result in the student's being recommended for termination from the program.
Completion of Degree
Students entering the PhD program with a BA must earn the degree within eight years. Students entering the PhD program with an MA must earn the degree within seven years. A student requesting an extension must demonstrate significant progress toward completing the dissertation by submitting a prospectus (or equivalent, including a chapter outline) and at least one chapter to the student's adviser. If the student's adviser agrees to support the requested extension, the adviser will refer the case to the graduate committee for approval.