Ph.D. in English


Completion of 72 credits is required for the Ph.D. degree. Of these, 30 credits accrue from the M.A. degree. Coursework requirement is 24 credits. The dissertation (ENG 699) counts for 18 credits, and students should plan to take these in the third and fourth years with the goal of completing the Ph.D. in four to five years.

  • The Graduate School allows 7 years to complete the program. A petition for a time extension requires an explanation of extenuating circumstances that delayed progress, a reasonable time-table for completion of degree, and approval of Major Professor and Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Refer to the Administrative Guidelines and Forms for more information about what to file and when.  

The typical progression through the Ph.D. program:


  1. Take the required courses—ENG 510/511 Introduction to Professional Study and ENG 514 Studies in Critical Theories.
  2. Plan your specialization and begin to take courses in that area.
  3.  Choose a Major Professor in your specialization who will become your mentor. As you get to know faculty members, find a professor in your area of specialization and approach him or her about serving as your Major Professor. Your Major Professor will supervise your academic progress, help you form your core dissertation committee or portfolio committee, and act as your mentor.
  4. Plan to develop seminar papers into conference papers and/or publications.
  5.  Become familiar with the Comprehensive Examination Process and start reading works in your area and related areas.


  1. Complete course work under the direction of your Major Professor.
  2. Before the end of the Fall semester, submit a Program of Study Form including the upcoming Spring courses.
  3. Form your Doctoral Committee with your Major Professor, submit an Establishment of Committee Form, and schedule your Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations for early in your third year.
  4. In consultation with your Major Professor and Doctoral Committee, create reading lists for your Written Comprehensive Examinations.
  5. Begin to plan a dissertation, discussing topic possibilities with your Major Professor.

THIRD YEAR: Dissertation research credits, Comprehensive Examinations

  1. Be aware that you must complete your Comprehensive Exams within one year of completing your coursework.
  2. At the completion of course work and prior to taking Comprehensive Exams, submit a final Program of Study Form signed by the Doctoral Committee.
  3. Form your Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Exam Committee with your Major Professor. Complete the Written Comprehensive Examinations and Oral Comprehensive Examination. The Oral Comprehensive Examination must be taken within four weeks of completing the Written Comprehensive Examination. 
  4. Revise and present the Dissertation Proposal for committee approval. The Program expects that the proposal shall be approved no later than eight (8) academic weeks after successful passage of the Oral Comprehensive Exam. You may elect to present a draft of the Dissertation Proposal at the Oral Comprehensive Examination. Submit a Dissertation Proposal Approval Form for your core committee approval.  
  5. A student who successfully defends their dissertation proposal becomes eligible for ABD standing. Please complete the All But Dissertation Status Agreement (ABD)
  6. Once coursework is completed, you must remain enrolled by taking at least 1 credit of ENG 699 each semester.
  7. Attend job search workshops and begin to develop materials for the job market.


  1. Complete and defend your dissertation.
  2. Complete the Nomination for Graduation Form and complete the Apply for Graduation Form in e-Campus.
  3. Check your Program of Study. Any further changes are noted by filing a Petition for Changes in Graduate Program.
  4. Schedule your Dissertation Defense and submit the Request to Schedule an Oral Defense Form.
  5. Follow the Dissertation Formatting Guidelines and carefully observe all Dissertation-related Deadlines set by the Graduate School.

Additional Information for Ph.D. Candidates

  • You may take two graduate courses in another program at URI to count toward your English Ph.D., with approval from your Major Professor and Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Students who wish to pursue an independent study (ENG 690 or ENG 691) under the guidance of a faculty member should submit a formal request to the Director of Graduate Studies, indicating reasons for pursuing an independent study, a description of the project, how the study will be conducted (i.e., weekly meetings, biweekly meetings, etc), and space for signature by the student, professor, and DGS. This request must be approved by the DGS prior to enrolling in ENG 690/691.
  • You must be registered for the semester in which you take Comprehensive Exams or defend your Dissertation.
  • TAs must register for a minimum of 6 credits per semester.
  • The Director of Graduate Studies must sign all forms before they are sent to the Graduate School.