PhD in English

Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • Baccalaureate Field Applicants who intend to specialize in English Studies or English Education must have an undergraduate major in English or the equivalent that includes a balanced program in English and American literature beyond the level of sophomore surveys. Applicants who intend to specialize in Creative Writing may have an undergraduate major or a graduate degree in any field, if they show substantial evidence of ability to complete the work in literature required for the degree in English. 
  • Grade Point Average At least 3.00/4.00 for the final 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study and for all graduate work.
  • Tests Required. None, except in cases of English competency for some non-native speakers of English (see below).
  • Minimum English Competency Score
    • TOEFL 95, with minimum subscores of Reading 24, Listening 24, Speaking 24, and Writing 22 (iBT Test); 60, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Writing 21 (revised Paper-Delivered Test), OR,
    • IELTS 7.0, with subscores of 6.5 for all four subscores, OR,
    • PTE-Academic 54, with subscores of Reading 51, Listening 47, Speaking 53, and Writing 56
  • Letters of Recommendation Three required, preferably from individuals acquainted with the applicant’s recent academic, professional, or creative work.
  • Statement of Purpose Required.
    • Domestic applicants must submit a statement of about 500 words presenting their reasons for wanting to take graduate work in English at UIC and the relationship of this advanced training to professional and other goals.
    • International applicants must submit a two- or three-page summary of their educational experience that emphasizes their work in English and American literature and language. They should conclude this summary with their reasons for wanting to do graduate work in the English department.
  • Other Requirements
    • Coversheet: All MA and PhD applicants must submit an Admissions Review Coversheet (.docx) with application materials.
    • Writing sample: All MA and PhD applicants must submit a sample of their written work.
      • Applicants for the specializations in English Studies and English Education must submit a sample of no more than 20 pages appropriate to their proposed area of study.
      • Applicants for the Creative Writing (also known as the Program for Writers) must submit a sample of no more than 20 pages of material in genre of interest (at least five poems, one or more stories, a chapter from a novel, comparable work, etc.). Applicants for the Program for Writers must also submit an optional critical writing sample of no more than 20 pages.
    • CV/Resume
  • Deadlines Application deadlines for this program are listed on the Graduate College website.

Additional information on the application process can be found on the Department of English website.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 96 from the baccalaureate, 76 from the MA.
  • Coursework Credit toward the PhD is not given for any course in which the student receives a grade of less than B.
Required Courses
Proseminar: Theory and Practice of Criticism
Preliminary Examination Research
Prospectus Preparation
PhD Thesis Research
Electives (32 hours)
No more than 8 hours can be at the 400 level.
No more than 12 hours can come from departments other than ENGL.
Students specializing in Creative Writing are required to take three workshops (12 hours), not including translation and publishing workshops; students in fiction must take 8 hours in fiction workshops; students in poetry must take 8 hours in poetry workshops; and nonfiction writers must take 8 hours in nonfiction workshops. Students in English Studies or English Education have no requirements specific to their area of emphasis; program of study is designed in consultation with their faculty advisor.
In preparation for holding a TAship, students must take ENGL 555 Teaching College Writing, generally during their first year.
  • Creative Writing: Students in Creative Writing are also required to take three workshops (12 hours), not including translation and publishing workshops; students in fiction must take 8 hours in fiction workshops, students in poetry must take at least 8 hours in poetry workshops, and nonfiction writers must take 8 hours in nonfiction workshops.
  • Preliminary Examination Required; written and oral. ENGL 592, at least 4 hours.
  • Prospectus Preparation Required; ENGL 591, 4 hours.
  • Dissertation Required. Students must have 32 hours of ENGL 599 to graduate, but no more than 32 hours will be applied to the degree.
    • Degree candidates in English Studies and English Education write dissertations involving innovative research in criticism, theory, rhetoric, and/or literary/cultural histories.
    • Candidates pursuing Creative Writing are expected to produce as a dissertation one of the following: a novel, a volume of short stories or poems, a play or group of plays, or a unified collection of essays.
  • Other Requirements
    • Teaching: In preparation for holding a TAship, students must take ENGL 555 , generally during their  first year. ENGL 555 may count toward the 36 hours of  coursework required for the degree. It is recommended that all students serve as teaching assistants for at least four semesters. All teaching assistants teach sections of ENGL 160 and  ENGL 161, as well as other lower-level courses in English  appropriate to their tracks. Teaching Assistants may also be assigned to lead discussion sections and conduct grading for lecture courses.

Interdepartmental Concentrations

Students earning a graduate degree in this department may complement their courses by enrolling in select concentrations after consulting with their graduate advisor. Interdepartmental concentrations available for this degree include: