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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

English (ENGL)

Program Home Page

DEBRA HAWHEE, Director of Graduate Studies
136 Burrowes Building
814-863-3069; Fax: 814-863-7285

 

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.A., M.F.A.
Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and African American and Diaspora Studies
Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and Visual Studies
Dual-Title M.A., Ph.D. in English and Women's Studies
Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (B.A./M.A.) Degree in English

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Programs

Candidates for the M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in English may choose from a variety of courses in English literature and language, rhetoric and composition, and theory/cultural studies. The M.F.A. in English helps prepare candidates for professional careers as writers of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, or for careers in academia.

The department offers a strong college-level teacher-training program, and most graduate students in English have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants. Students usually begin by teaching basic composition courses, but there are opportunities for advanced students to teach courses in business writing, technical writing, fiction writing, poetry writing, literature, and humanities, and to serve as tutors in the Writing Center.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed in this section are in addition to general Graduate Council requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Applicants should have a junior/senior grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale), although exceptions may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Aptitude Tests (verbal and quantitative) are required for admission. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation, a writing sample indicating their ability to do analytical or original work, and a statement of their professional goals.

For admission, M.A. students should have strong backgrounds in English courses: 18 credits beyond freshman composition are a minimum, but the department prefers at least 24 credits.

For admission into the M.F.A. program, students must have a baccalaureate degree (with substantial work in English), a portfolio of publishable student writing, and the intention to pursue a career as a professional writer.

To be considered for the doctoral program, students must have completed an M.A. in English, M.F.A. or its equivalent. The records of potential students should indicate promise of superior work in doctoral study.

Master's Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Candidates for the M.A. take at least 30 credits of course work, with a minimum of 18 credits of 500-level courses, including:

  • ENGL 501 Materials and Methods of Research (3 cr.)
  • 1 course in literary theory or rhetoric (3 cr.)
  • 2 courses in literature in English prior to 1800 (6 cr.)
  • 2 courses in literature in English after 1800 (6 cr.)
  • 6 credits of ENGL 596 Individual Studies, in which students complete their culminating master's paper.

In addition, M.A. candidates must demonstrate reading knowledge of one of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Latin, or Classical Greek. Other languages may be substituted with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.

M.F.A. candidates are required to take 48 credits, distributed as follows:

  • 3 credits ENGL 501
  • 12 credits in ENGL 512, ENGL 513, or ENGL 515, at least 9 of which must be in the student's area of specialization (ENGL 512, 513, and 515 can be repeated for credit)
  • 12 credits in ENGL 596 for the final project, or at least 6 credits of ENGL 596 and 6 credits of English Department graduate seminars. Candidates will complete a book-length manuscript of publishable quality in their area of specialization.
  • 9 credits in electives (400 or 500-level courses)
  • 12 credits in literature at the 500-level

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

The Ph.D. degree does not require a specific number of credits although all candidates are required to have completed English 501 (or the equivalent), one course in rhetoric or theory, two courses in periods before 1800, and two in periods after 1800. With the help of departmental graduate advisers, students select a program of seminars or reading courses. To complete their programs, students must pass a Ph.D. candidacy examination and pass a comprehensive examination (consisting of both written and oral components); and write a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Title Ph.D. Degree in English and African American and Diaspora Studies

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their primary graduate program.

In addition to the admission requirements set forth by the Graduate Council and the Department of English, students will be admitted to the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies by an admissions committee of African American and Diaspora Studies faculty. Students enrolled in the English Department can apply for admission to the dual-title degree prior to taking the candidacy exam.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in English, listed above. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in African American and Diaspora Studies, listed on the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page.

Foreign Language Requirements

As required by the Department of English, students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one foreign language no later than the third semester of residency (not including summer semester).

Candidacy

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the candidacy exam for the doctoral program. The candidacy examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the African American and Diaspora Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. In addition, candidates for the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in African American and Diaspora Studies which includes a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of African American and Diaspora Studies.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of an English and African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee representing English is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in African American and Diaspora Studies, then the committee member representing African American and Diaspora Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

The African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student’s doctoral committee is responsible for developing and administering the African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the student’s comprehensive exam. The exam must incorporate written and oral components in African American and Diaspora Studies based on the student’s thematic or regional area of interest and specialization in African American and Diaspora Studies. The African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the exam will include the following components: broad history of the field, contemporary theory and debates, and either sexual and gender politics or a topic related to the student’s specific area of interest.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

The candidate must complete a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in both English and African American and Diaspora Studies. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and Visual Studies

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Visual Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Visual Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Visual Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in English, listed above. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Visual Studies, listed on the Visual Studies Bulletin page.

Foreign Language Requirements

As required by the Department of English, students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one foreign language no later than the third semester of residency (not including summer semester).

Candidacy

The dual-title field will be fully integrated into the candidacy exam for the doctoral program. The candidacy examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Visual Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. In addition, candidates for the dual-title Ph.D. in Visual Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in Visual Studies, including a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions related to the Visual Studies.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of an English and Visual Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Visual Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the committee chair does not represent Visual Studies, the committee member representing Visual Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

The Visual Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for developing and administering the Visual Studies portion of the student's comprehensive exam. The exam must incorporate components addressing Visual Studies based on the student’s areas of interest and specialization in the Visual Studies.

Dissertation

The candidate must complete a dissertation on a topic that reflects his or her original research and education in both English and in Visual Studies in order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Title M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies

Admissions Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Women’s Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Women’s Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Women’s Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the degree they are enrolled in English, listed above. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Women’s Studies, listed on the Women’s Studies Bulletin page.

The candidacy examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Women’s Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single candidacy examination, containing elements of both English and Women’s Studies. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of and English and Women’s Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least two members of the Women’s Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the doctoral committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women’s Studies, a member of the committee representing Women’s Studies must be appointed as co-chair. The Women’s Studies representative on the student’s doctoral committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their doctoral committee and reflects their original research and education in English and Women’s Studies. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (B.A. /M.A.) Program

The English B.A./M.A. Integrated Undergraduate Degree Program (ENGL IUG) is a five-year program designed for highly-qualified and motivated students seeking to improve their writing skills significantly. The integrated B.A./M.A. degree offers talented undergraduates a chance to acquire both a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English in five years of study. The first two years of undergraduate course work include the University General Education and Liberal Arts requirements in addition to introductory course work in the English major. Students typically will apply to the B.A./M.A. during their 5th or 6th semester and begin graduate studies in their fourth year. In the third year students are expected to take upper-level course work in English in literature, rhetoric, or creative writing. In the fourth year, students will complete the capstone course for the English major, English 487W, and enroll exclusively in 400-level and graduate-level courses in creative writing. The fifth and final year of the integrated program consists entirely of graduate-level seminars. The program culminates with the submission of a master’s paper that consists of the best creative work that the student has produced in his or her primary creative genre—either poetry or prose, and includes a scholarly research component.

Time of Admission to the Program

Students shall be admitted to the English IUG program no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree, as specified in the proposed IUG plan of study.

Application to the English IUG would typically occur in the junior year after a student has completed 60 credits, enrolled in the English major, and completed two English courses in creative writing.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply to and meet admission requirements of the Graduate School, as well as the admission requirements for the M.A. in English, listed above. Admission requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Admission to the integrated B.A./M.A. program will be based on the submission of a portfolio of creative work and a plan of study to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program. Applications typically will be filed during the 5th or 6th semesters of study, and applicants must have achieved a minimum of 60 credits and a 3.3 overall GPA and 3.6 GPA in English to begin the program. The English DGS will ensure that the applicant meets the minimum credit and GPA requirements for the program. The Director of the B.A./M.A. program will evaluate the quality of the student’s creative work and the applicant’s plan for fulfilling the requirements of the M.A. in English. The Director of the B.A./M.A. program, in consultation with the Creative Writing faculty, will have final approval for what constitutes an acceptable level of creative work and an acceptable plan for the completion of the M.A.

The application procedure requires submission of the following:

  1. Support letters from faculty and administrators (addressed to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program)
  2. A personal statement
  3. Portfolio of creative work
  4. A Plan of Study
  5. A transcript and degree audit printed from  the student information system
  6. A current resume or curriculum vita
  7. A copy of the completed on-line Graduate School Application (GRE scores are not required).

Plan of Study and Advising

Prior to the application process, students should communicate their intent to enroll in the IUG to the English B.A. adviser and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program. The Director of the B.A./M.A. will help each student identify an appropriate series of English courses to properly prepare each student for the 500-level M.A. workshops and 500-level literature courses.

Students will be expected to maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 for all undergraduate course work and a GPA of 3.6 in English (ENGL) courses throughout the IUG program of study. Failure to do so will result in the student being advised that he/she must regain a GPA of 3.3 within one semester. If the GPA is not 3.3 or higher in general undergraduate course work and 3.6 or higher in English course work after that term, the student will be dropped from the IUG.

Each student enrolled in the B.A./M.A. will meet at the beginning of each term with the Director of the B.A./M.A. to discuss his or her progress through the M.A. degree and to make sure that he or she is following the plan established upon his or her admission to the B.A./M.A. program.

If the student decides not to continue on in the IUG, the student may, contingent on fulfilling all other requirements for the BA in English, graduate with a B.A. in English.

Degree Requirements

Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree in order to be awarded that degree, subject to the double-counting of credits as outlined below. Degree requirements for the B.A. in English are listed in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Degree requirements for the M.A. degree are listed in the Master’s Degree Requirements section above. Up to 12 credits may be double-counted towards the degree requirements for both the graduate and undergraduate degrees; a minimum of 50% of the double-counted courses must be at the 500 or 800 level. Credits associated with the culminating experience for the graduate degree cannot be double-counted. The courses that are eligible to double count for both degrees are: ENGL 412 (3 cr.), ENGL 413 (3 cr.), ENGL 415 (3 cr.), ENGL 512 (3 cr.), ENGL 513 (3 cr.), and ENGL 515 (3 cr.).

Student Aid for English Graduate Students

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. Student on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin. In addition to the fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin, the following awards typically have been available to graduate students in English graduate programs:

EDWIN ERLE SPARKS FELLOWSHIPS IN THE HUMANITIES (8)

Available to beginning and continuing graduate students in one of the following graduate programs: Comparative Literature, English, French, German, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Spanish, and Speech Communication; stipend $12,560 plus waiver of tuition. Apply to department before February 1.

KATEY LEHMAN FELLOWSHIP

Provides approximately $13,000 plus tuition for a year's study in poetry or fiction writing leading toward the B.A./M.A. in English or the M.F.A. in English. The Lehman Fellow will teach one course during the fellowship year. Fellowship holders are eligible for graduate assistantships with a similar stipend and tuition grant during the second year of study.

WILMA EBBITT AWARD

Funding to support research in rhetoric. Number and amount of awards to be determined.

BEN EUWEMA MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

Travel funding for graduate degree candidates; consideration will be given to all currently enrolled graduate students in English. Preference will be given to students at the Ph.D. thesis stage, particularly those who need to travel to complete their research; number of awards and amount of each will be determined each year.

FOLGER INSTITUTE FELLOWSHIPS

Penn State is a member of the Folger Institute of Renaissance and Eighteenth-Century Studies. Graduate students in English are eligible for Folger Institute Fellowship to study in seminars and workshops at the Folger Library, Washington, D.C.

PHILIP YOUNG MEMORIAL AWARD

Funding to support research in American Literature. Number and amount of awards will be determined.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

ENGLISH (ENGL) course list

 

Last Revised by the Department: Summer 2017

Blue Sheet Item #: 46-01

Review Date: 8/22/2017

Faculty linked: 6/9/14

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