Home » Graduate Program in English » Ph.D. in English

Ph.D. in English

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program trains students to be successful scholars and teachers of literature and of writing and rhetoric. The program begins with an immersion in coursework, designed to introduce the discipline at a broad level and to lay the ground for avenues of individual research. The Comprehensive Exam solidifies the student’s grounding in three fields of study linked to that fin which the student intends to specialize. The dissertation, completed under the close supervision of both the dissertation director and the dissertation committee, is an original research project that stands as the student’s entry into the field of professional scholarship.

In addition to the formal curriculum, the department offers a range of opportunities to introduce students to new scholarship in English, including the Barrs lecture series. We hold frequent workshops on various aspects of graduate study and professionalization, and students are involved in a plethora of hands-on research opportunities, including the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, the Early Caribbean Digital Archive, Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive, and The Women Writers Project. Many students are also involved with 826 Boston, where they have gained experience in teaching and community engagement.

Program Highlights


Students entering with the B.A. or equivalent

The core curriculum consists of 42 semester hours of coursework, including:

ENGL 5103: Proseminar
Introduction to the history and current scholarly practices of English studies.

ENGL 7392: Writing and the Teaching of Writing

Two Theories and Methods courses
Seminars organized primarily around one or more theoretical or methodological topics.

One course in each of the following literary areas:

One Writing or Rhetoric courses

Six electives

Students entering with the M.A. or equivalent

The core curriculum consists of 21 semester hours of coursework, including:

ENGL 5103: Proseminar
Introduction to the history and current scholarly practices of English studies.

ENGL 7392: Writing and the Teaching of Writing

Five electives

Graduate Certificates

The Graduate Program in English offers students enrolled in any of its degree programs the option to complete graduate certificates in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and in Digital Humanities.

Ph.D. Milestones

Please see the Ph.D. Guide for more information about coursework, language requirements, annual reviews, Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations, and Dissertation.


Academic advising is a critical part of a student’s experience in the graduate program. New students are assigned faculty advisors and are welcome to subsequently change advisors as they fine-tune their academic and career objectives. Advising covers substantive questions in the student’s field of study as well as long-term academic and career planning. Students are strongly urged to speak to an advisor before registering for courses each semester. Any change in advisor must be reported to the program director.

Graduate Student Teaching

Ph.D. students usually work as Writing Center Consultants their first year in the program and in each semester thereafter teach one section of either First-Year Writing or Advanced Writing in the Disciplines, both required undergraduate courses that fulfill Northeastern’s Writing Requirement. The Writing Program supports Ph.D. student instructors with mentoring pairs, three annual workshops, teaching networks, and informal inquiry groups. For more information on the Writing Program, see www.northeastern.edu/writing/.

Ph.D. Placement

We are committed to providing students with the best preparation and support as they pursue their job searches. Our dedicated Placement Director works with students on the preparation of their job materials, strategies for going on the market, and the interview process. Our programs’ many extracurricular offerings also prepare students well for alt-ac careers.

Graduates of our Ph.D. program in the past ten years have found tenure-track faculty employment at Oberlin College, Auburn University, Middle Tennessee State University, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mercy College, Bristol Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Diablo Valley College, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Patrick Henry College, Queensborough Community College, and Quincy College. They have also found positions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Wheelock College, American University at Dubai, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Loyola University Chicago, Mount Ida College, Trinity College, and University of Southern California at Dornsife. Graduates have also received postdocs at Brown University and Middlebury College.