English (Literature), PhD

The PhD in English (literature) program at ASU emphasizes the study of literary texts in their cultural and historical contexts, as well as on these texts' production, distribution and reception. Broadly defining "text" to include folklore, oral traditions, popular culture, and film and digital media in addition to traditional literature, the program also explores various modes of inquiry such as linguistic, rhetorical, aesthetic, philosophic, and economic analysis, along with issues of race, ethnicity, race, gender, ecology, health and more.

The PhD in English (literature) at ASU is a premier graduate program in the U.S. with strong interdisciplinary ties and faculty links to research centers on campus and in the state, including the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, the Institute for Humanities Research, the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture, and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. With these resources and a strong mentorship program at their fingertips, our graduates are prepared for a wide array of professional opportunities including careers in college teaching, research, writing, editing, higher education, and humanities-related organizations.

5 years to degree
5 years TA funding
32 faculty

Degree Overview

This 84-hour program requires 42-72 hours of coursework and research including 12 hours of dissertation. PhD examination includes one essay, an oral exam and a prospectus. There is a language requirement. The ideal candidate will have research interests in the production, distribution and reception of texts, their linguistic, rhetorical and literary structures and functions.

How to apply

All applications for admission to the program must be approved by the doctoral admissions committee in the Department of English and by the Graduate College. There are several requirements for admission, none of which will be arbitrarily disregarded, and the best applicants will meet or exceed all of these criteria. However, the admissions committee will consider the individual aspects of each application.

Deadline: January 1

The GRE is not required to apply.

For details, see the Application Procedures link or click the Apply Now button in the left menu. 

Graduate faculty provided significant feedback on my writing and were always available to meet to discuss a paper or project or to provide advice about the job market. From talking with grad students at other programs, I've learned that this level of support is rare and I truly appreciate and value the relationships I've developed and the experiences I've had at ASU. Beyond a variety of class offerings and supportive faculty relationships, the English department sponsors numerous faculty projects, interdisciplinary collaborations, guest speaker series, department-sponsored conferences, etc. that expose students to leading scholars and innovative ideas.

—Jason D. Price, PhD 2014


The PhD program is a total of 84 hours. In general, a student with an appropriate master's degree must complete a minimum of 54 credit hours of approved graduate course work, which includes 12 hours of dissertation. Research hours may be used towards course work in consultation with the advisor. A student without an appropriate master's degree usually must complete 84 hours of work at ASU. At the advisor’s discretion, students may include up to 12 hours of appropriate, graduate-level course work undertaken at another university, and not previously counted towards any other degree.

A minimum of 84 hours is required without an appropriate MA.

Requirements and electives


Courses in English

39 or 24 (with MA)

Approaches to Research



6 *could be included in courses in English


15 *could be included in courses in English

Research and Electives




Note: Students should consult their supervisory committees when choosing electives.

Courses and electives

Minimum Course Requirements:
PhD with appropriate MA – minimum 24 credit hours (500-level and above)
PhD without appropriate MA – minimum 39 credit hours (500-level and above)

Note: Independent Study courses, i.e., ENG 590 and ENG 790, may not be used to fulfill the minimum course requirements.


The PhD in English Literature degree is highly flexible, allowing students to take courses broadly in their areas of interest. See the graduate catalog for a list of possible courses and descriptions. 

Theories, methods and/or methodologies as well as qualitative and/or quantitative approaches to the specific discipline. Familiarizes students with the areas of research.

Appropriate courses for filling this requirement must be in the area of the history of criticism, literary theory, rhetorical theory, linguistic theory or cultural theory.

Students wishing to take courses outside the department may count up to 12 hours of those courses toward the degree.

At least three seminars must be taken in the doctoral program at ASU (600-level).

Students may take research (ENG 792) for the purpose of working independently in preparation for the doctoral examination

Dissertation (12 credit hours): ENG 799

The PhD in English Literature degree is highly flexible, allowing students to take courses broadly in their areas of interest. See the graduate catalog for a list of possible courses and descriptions.

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