Degree Requirements

Progress to Degree

On average, students complete the PhD program in 5-7 years. The Graduate College limit for students in the program is 10 years. See: Timeline to Degree.


All PhD students are required to take the following courses. Credit toward the PhD is not given for any course in which the student receives a grade of less than B. Courses are four (4) credits unless otherwise noted.

Course Description Download
English Studies
  • Minimum Total Credit Hours: 96
  • Minimum credit hours from the MA/MFA: 32
  • Minimum PhD credit hours: 32
  • Minimum PhD dissertation research hours (ENGL 599): 32
  • Proseminar Requirements: ENGL 503
  • Teaching College Writing (required for students with teaching fellowships: ENGL 555
  • Bridge Course Requirements: One course from 507, 517, 527, 537, 547, 557, 567
  • At least 2 semesters from Discourse, Text, Context (505,510,515,520,525,530,535,540,545,550) or Theoretical Engagements (579,580,581,582,583,584,585,586,587,588)
  • Preliminary Exam Research requirement (ENGL 592): 4 (min)
  • Prospectus Research requirement (ENGL 591): 4 (min)

Creative Writing In addition to the English Studies requirements above, students specializing in Creative Writing are required to take three workshops (12 hours), not including translation and publishing workshops; students working in fiction must take 8 hours in fiction workshops; students working in poetry must take at least 8 hours in poetry workshops; nonfiction writers must take 8 hours in nonfiction workshops. word-icon PhD Progress Form

Advanced undergraduate courses with a grade of B or better may be counted toward these distribution requirements with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. Credit toward the PhD is not given for any course in which the student receives a grade of less than B.

Classes are four (4) credits each (view COURSES by series list) unless otherwise noted.
Preliminary Exam

Both written and oral preliminary examinations are required. The UIC English PhD Preliminary Examination consists of three written examination papers, followed by an oral examination on those papers. Two "Field Examinations" are based upon two separate reading lists, and are written in a take-home format. One "Research Examination" is written in the form of a submitted research paper. Registration in ENGL 592 is required. A breakdown of the Preliminary Examination can be found by clicking here.


No later than the semester following the preliminary examination, students are to prepare this document under the direction of their dissertation director. The prospectus should be at least 10 pages; it should include a bibliography where applicable, and should have content appropriate to the student's chosen concentration. Registration in ENGL 591 is required. A breakdown of the Prospectus can be found by clicking here.


Degree candidates in English Studies write dissertations involving innovative research in criticism, theory, rhetoric, and/or literary/cultural histories. Candidates pursuing the creative writing option 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. Students are required to register for a total of 32 hours of ENGL 599 to satisfy degree requirement. A breakdown of the dissertation can be found by clicking here.

The program code for doctoral students in the English Department is: 20FS0311PHD.

Language Requirement

Students must present evidence of reading knowledge of a language other than English. Visit our Language Requirement page for more information.


Students lacking teaching experience must take ENGL 555 during their first year. All students must serve as teaching assistants for at least four semesters. All teaching assistants teach sections of Engl 160 and 161. Teaching assistants are often assigned to other lower-level courses in English appropriate to their specialization. The Graduate College has compiled a guide to teaching at UIC: "Teaching at UIC: A Practical Manual for Instructors and Teaching Assistants."

Interdepartmental Concentrations

Please visit our Joint Concentrations page to find out more about joint concentrations in Gender and Women's Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, and Second Language Teaching.