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PhD Degree Requirements and Timeline

The graduate program in English offers a PhD degree in English with different tracks for English Studies, Creative Writing (known as the Program for Writers), and English Education. Most candidates for the PhD have earned an MA in English or another relevant discipline; the program is specifically designed to encourage innovative work in writing and teaching, leading to careers in academic professions.

A range of rigorous seminar courses aims at strengthening a student’s command of specific historical periods, topics, and theoretical issues; these courses also provide crucial preparation for writing the dissertation and making substantial contributions to work in a student’s chosen field(s). (See Faculty listings for information on areas of expertise.)

Guided by faculty advisors, PhD students follow their preliminary examinations with a creative or scholarly dissertation. These components of the degree, combined with teaching experience in composition, creative writing, or literature, provide a high level of professional training and help to ensure success on the academic job market.

Accepted doctoral students are normally awarded six years of departmental funding via a teaching assistantship. The Graduate College and the Department both offer a number of fellowships and awards in varying amounts for graduate students. Limited amounts of travel funding are available through the Department and the Graduate College.

Students who have completed their preliminary exams are eligible to apply for the cotutelle with Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia.

When do I...? Heading link

What When
Take ENGL 503 - PhD Proseminar? Fall Year 1
Take seminar courses? Years 1 and 2
Enroll in ENGL 592 - Prelim Prep? Usually Fall Y3; sometimes students will take two semesters of ENGL 592 while preparing for prelims. Be aware that the dissertation leave can only be taken AFTER the prospectus colloquium and ONLY in Spring
Need to submit a Committee Recommendation Form to the DGS Office? At least three weeks before exams or your defense. The Committee Recommendation Form is available on the "Forms" page of this site.
Write my Prospectus and take ENGL 591 - Prospectus Prep? After prelims (usually Spring Y3 or Fall Y4)
Complete my prospectus colloquium? By the week that grades are due. Fall: 3rd week of December; Spring: 3rd week of May
Take my dissertation leave semester? In the Spring term following your successful prospectus colloquium - usually Spring Y4
Write my dissertation and take ENGL 599 - Dissertation Research? After the prospectus is approved and until you reach 32 hours of 599; then you may register for Zero Hours until the dissertation is defended or continue to register for course hours. You may register for 591 and 599 concurrently.
Qualify for granting of the PhD? After 32 credit hours of ENGL 599 and all other course hour requirements, language requirements, and defense requirements are met
Register for zero hours? After all course hour requirements have been met
Register for "Option B" zero hours? When living far from campus and after all course hour requirements have been met.
Need to petition the Graduate College for an extension of time to degree? After your ninth (9th) continuous year of enrollment.
Need Graduate College approval for a Leave of Absence? When you will be gone two or more consecutive semesters, excluding Summer terms.
Need to petition the Graduate College for an extension of preliminary exam? If five (5) years have passed since your exam, and you have not completed all degree requirements.

Teaching Heading link

Students holding teaching assistanships (TAs) who do not have first-year writing program teaching experience must take ENGL 555 during their first year. TAs must serve as teaching assistants for at least four semesters. All TAs teach sections of ENGL 160 and 161. TAs 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.”

For more information on the English Department’s policies on appointing Teaching Assistants, please see the following documents: