PhD in English

The English Department offers small graduate seminars in a variety of fields and topics each term. Students may also take approved courses in other Tufts departments, as well as enroll in classes in a consortium of schools that includes Boston College, Boston University, and Brandeis University, and in the interdisciplinary Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS) located at MIT.

After undergoing supervised training to help them master the necessary skills, our PhD students gain valuable teaching experience, designing and offering their own courses as Graduate Instructors in Tufts' First-Year Writing Program. The Experimental College and the OSHER Program for Lifelong Learning provide additional opportunities for students to design and teach courses at Tufts. The strong training in pedagogy that the department provides and the experience our students gain as classroom instructors prepares our PhD candidates well for a competitive job market. Our recent PhD recipients have secured faculty positions, including on the tenure-track, as well as other academic positions, such as directing a writing center and in college and independent school administration. Our students have also been successful in winning prestigious post-doctoral fellowships, including multi-year teaching fellowships.

Program Requirements and Policies

MA Review

Students entering with a BA will normally be evaluated and receive their MA after two years of classes.

Foreign Language Requirements

Students must demonstrate reading knowledge in one approved foreign language to receive a PhD in English at Tufts. Satisfaction of the Foreign Language Requirement should occur by the end of the third year, and may be completed by examination, by course, or any combination of the two.

Graduate students may satisfy the language requirement by passing a two-hour examination in a foreign language. Exams are coordinated through the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and are offered in September, January and April each year. Contact the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to make arrangements for taking an exam. Native speakers of a language other than English may petition to waive the requirement by affirming that the language in question is relevant to their proposed area of doctoral study and by submitting relevant transcripts.

Passing a course in "Reading Knowledge" will also be accepted as fulfillment of the foreign language requirement. Tufts offers two such courses, "French for Reading Knowledge" and "German for Reading Knowledge," which are only available during Summer Session. Boston University makes similar courses available to Tufts students during the academic year. Students may also present appropriate evidence of competence achieved in a foreign language in another graduate program.

Oral Examinations

During the semester after coursework is complete, students study for and take a two-hour oral comprehensive examination. No standardized list of texts is issued for this examination. Each student selects six fields from those below for which they will generate a set of works in consultation with faculty for the examination. One of the six fields may be a "special topic," which students design in collaboration with a member of the faculty.

  • Old English Literature
  • Medieval Literature
  • Sixteenth-Century English Literature
  • Seventeenth-Century British Literature
  • Eighteenth-Century British Literature
  • American Literature Before 1820
  • Nineteenth-Century British Literature
  • Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • Twentieth-Century British Literature or Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
  • Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Global Anglophone Literature (other than British or North American)
  • Twenty-First Century Transatlantic (British, Irish, and American) Literatures
  • Literary-Critical Theory
  • Special Topic