Graduate Program

Welcome to the University of Chicago's Graduate Program in English Language and Literature

Graduate students in the PhD program of the University of Chicago’s Department of English join a vibrant intellectual community. The department’s culture of inquiry encourages the cross-pollination and testing of ideas via conversations formal and informal. Students with strong commitments to medieval studies engage with and challenge students focused on new media studies; students fascinated by the shifting borders of global literature inform and are informed by the thinking of students studying American literary and cultural temporalities and regionalisms; students immersed in archival research share insights with students exploring theoretical questions. All join in a department that fosters foundational scholarship, conceptual innovation, and interpretive sophistication.

In the structure of our program and in our individual teaching and research commitments, we keep centrally in view our students’ hopes for their professional future. We provide coursework, workshops, mentoring, and job preparation exercises to ensure that our students enter the job market well-prepared for the thinking, writing, teaching, and program-building that characterize a career in academia or related fields.

Above all, we strive to help our students develop the kinds of scholarly and intellectual attitudes needed to sustain and energize literary and cultural study in these complicated times. We are very proud of what our graduates have achieved, and continue to work to make sure our program provides support – financial, pedagogical, and social – to help them reach their goals.
—Director of Graduate Studies Lawrence Rothfield

About the Program

The PhD Program in English at the University of Chicago prepares students for independent work as teachers, scholars, and critics by developing their abilities to pose and investigate problems in the advanced study of literatures in English. The program consists of four main components: course work, the preparation of oral fields examinations, the PhD dissertation, and teaching. Together, these components introduce students to a variety of textual modes, critical methodologies, and historical/cultural problems; provide extensive practice in research, discussion, argument, and writing; and develop pedagogical skills.

Each student who is admitted to the PhD program receives a five-year fellowship, which includes a tuition waiver, a generous living stipend, two summer research grants, and basic health insurance. The program also provides students with many different opportunities to gain teaching experience, including serving as a course assistant in faculty-taught courses and teaching a self-designed or core introductory course in the departmental undergraduate curriculum. The program requirements are designed to lead to the doctorate in five years after the BA degree.

While the Department of English does not offer a terminal MA degree, The University of Chicago offers Masters level study in English through the Master of Arts Program in Humanities. In this one-year program, students build their own curriculum with graduate-level courses in any humanities department (including English Language and Literature) and complete a thesis with a faculty advisor.

For more information on the graduate program in English Language and Literature, please click on the subpages in this section of the website or feel free to e-mail department staff at

For more information on graduate faculty and their fields of interest, please click on Faculty.