Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois


Graduate Studies in English

Current Students

Information for All Students in the Program

Information for Students in Stage I: Literature and Writing Studies

Information for Students in Stage II and III: Literature and Writing Studies

Placement Services

Program Requirements

Financial Aid

M.A. in English: Literature Specialization

The M.A. degree may be completed in one year, but most students take one and a half or two years, combining their study with a teaching assistantship. The basic requirements are:

  • Eight semester-long courses in British and American Literature and Critical Theory.
  • Demonstrated reading knowledge of a foreign language.
  • Courses (worth four hours of credit each) must be taken in six of the following nine areas:
    • Medieval British Literature (beginning to 1485)
    • Renaissance British Literature (1485-1660)
    • Restoration/Eighteenth-Century British Literature (1660-1800)
    • Nineteenth-Century British Literature (1800-1900)
    • Twentieth-Century British Literature (1900-2000)
    • Early American Literature (beginning to Civil War)
    • Later American Literature (Civil War to present)
    • Anglophone Literature (other than British and American)
    • Critical Theory

      Candidates may substitute another area (such as film) for one on the above list with the permission of the Director of English Graduate Studies. However, all students must take at least one course in a period before 1660, and one course in either Early or Later American Literature.

      At least four of the nine courses must be in 500-level graduate seminars (limited to 14-18 students). The others may (but need not) be in 400-level courses (limited to 36 students) in which graduate students complete work beyond that expected of undergraduates.

    • In their first year of teaching, students are required to complete a Professional Seminar in the teaching of composition or business and technical writing for four hours of credit.
    • The Foreign Language Requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating a reading knowledge of an appropriate foreign language in one of the following three ways:
      • By completing the equivalent of three full years of undergraduate work;
      • By passing a proficiency exam administered by a UIUC foreign language department;
      • By passing a non-credit 501 language course with a grade of B or better.

After completing the M.A. Degree, students may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program; admission is ordinarily granted to students in good standing committed to continuing their studies.

Ph.D. in English: Literature Specialization

Students in the Ph.D. program can complete the degree in four or five years following the M.A. degree, combining their study with teaching. The requirements for the Ph.D. are:

  • Eight additional semester-long courses at the 400 and 500 level. These, selected in consultation with a faculty advisor, either focus on the proposed field of specialization and allied fields--in English or in other disciplines--or fill gaps in the student's background.
  • Doctoral students in literature will either take a Professional Seminar in the teaching of literature or film or act as a teaching assistant for two semesters in a large lecture course before they teach literature courses. They are expected to teach at least one literature course during their Ph.D. work.
  • The Foreign Language Requirement (if not already satisfied at the M.A. level) may be satisfied by demonstrating a reading knowledge of an appropriate foreign language in one of the following three ways:
    • By completing the equivalent of three full years of undergraduate work;
    • By passing a proficiency exam administered by a UIUC foreign language department;
    • By passing a non-credit 501 language course with a grade of B or better.
  • Completion of a Special Field Examination (oral, written, or both). The exam, administered by a committee of four faculty members selected by the student, is based upon the student's approved Special Field list of primary and secondary sources, including a discussion of its rationale and relation to the proposed dissertation topic. Approved fields include historical periods, genres, film, and critical theory.
  • Completion and two-hour oral defense of a dissertation. Students working on their dissertations are eligible for fellowship support or released time from teaching. All students in good standing and making good progress will ordinarily receive at least one semester free from teaching. A few students receive a year or more of fellowship aid to work full-time on their dissertations.
  • M.A. in English: Writing Studies Specialization

    The M.A. degree may be completed in one year, but most students take two years, combining their study with a teaching assistantship. The basic requirements are:

    • Eight semester-long courses in Writing Studies, Literature, and Theory.
    • Demonstrated reading knowledge of a foreign language.
    • Courses (worth four hours each) must be taken as follows:
      32 hours of graduate credit, at least 16 of the 32 must be in 500-level courses. Eight of the 16 hours must be English 505 and 1 course from the following list:  English 506, English 582, English 583, English 584. In addition, students must take two courses in Literature or Theory and four courses approved by the Writing Studies advisor.

      At least four of the eight courses must be 500-level graduate seminars (limited to 14-18 students). The others may (but need not) be 400-level courses (limited to 36 students) in which graduate students complete work in addition to that expected of undergraduates.

    • In their first year of teaching, students are required to complete a Professional Seminar (593)in the teaching of composition or the teaching of business and technical writing for four hours of credit.

    • The Foreign Language Requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating a reading knowledge of an appropriate foreign language in one of the following three ways:

      • By completing the equivalent of three full years of undergraduate work;
      • By passing a proficiency exam administered by a University of Illinois foreign language department;
      • By passing a non-credit 501 language course with a grade of B or better.

    After completing the M.A. degree with a specialization in Writing Studies, students may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program in Writing Studies; admission is ordinarily granted to students in good standing committed to continuing in the program.

    Ph.D. in English: Writing Studies Specialization

    Students in the Ph.D. program can complete the degree in four or five years following the M.A. degree, combining their study with teaching. The requirements for the degree are:

    • Eight additional semester-long courses at the 400 and 500 level. At least 8 courses, normally at the 500-level, and including English 505-506 and 2 methodology courses (at least one of which is an English 582; the second methodology course should be approved by the advisor and typically will be approved by the Center for Writing Studies for the methodology requirement in its Writing Studies Graduate Concentration). In addition, students must take one course in Literature or Theory. Specific courses taken at the MA level (English 505, 506, 582) are counted as fulfilling those specific requirements at the PhD level.

    • Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an M.A. from another institution must show demonstrated reading knowledge of a foreign language.

    • Completion of a Special Field Examination (oral, written or both). This exam, administered by a committee of four faculty members selected by the student, is based upon the student's approved special field list--which includes a discussion of its rationale and relation to the proposed dissertation topic. Lists are representative of the field of Writing Studies and include two or three concentrations within it. Approved fields include: Cognition and Composition, Computers and Composition Studies, Classical Rhetoric, Critical Theory, Discourse Processes, Gender and Writing, Literacy Studies, Technical Communication, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing in the Disciplines, and Writing Assessment. Other combinations of fields are possible, including those that combine disciplines (e.g. African-American Studies, women's studies, and literacy).
    • Completion and two-hour oral defense of a dissertation. Students also present a public lecture on their dissertation research to the Colloquium Series of the Center for Writing Studies.

    Students working on their dissertations are eligible for fellowship support or released time from teaching. All students in good standing and making good progress will receive at least one course off from teaching. A few students receive a year or more of fellowship aid to work full-time on their dissertations.

    M.F.A in Creative Writing