PhD in English

PhD Program Structure

The PhD program is designed to be completed in four years of full-time work. It is primarily intended as the first step in an academic teaching career, although some of our graduates find employment in fields such as publishing, librarianship, or government. Recent PhDs are in tenurable positions at numerous universities in Canada, the United States, and around the world. Still others have secured research employment in government and universities in Canada or internationally.

Our doctoral degree requirements are designed in order to facilitate timely completion of the degree, to promote intellectual rigour, to provide an intellectually rich experience, and to support students in all aspects of the program, including enhanced teacher training.

The PhD consists of:

Year 1

  • 5 courses at the graduate level
  • 2 Proseminars (A and B)
  • FGSR Ethics Requirement
  • Professional Development Requirement
  • Statement of Research Plan and Constitution of Supervisory Committee
  • Language Requirement
  • FGSR Supervisor Checklist

Year 2

  • Teacher Mentoring and begin teaching
  • PhD Colloquium
  • Writing Workshop (Optional)
  • Long Thesis Proposal
  • Oral Candidacy Exam in spring of year 2 or fall of year 3
  • Language Requirement if not completed in year 1

Years 3 and 4

  • Dissertation
  • Appointment of Examining Committee and Oral Defence


Students are advised to complete coursework in their first year when they are relieved of any teaching duties.
Please see current graduate course descriptions.
Students can take up to 2 courses in another department or at another institution, with permission from the Director of Graduate Programs.


Enrollment in all EFS Graduate Seminars must be requested through the office of the Graduate Program Administrator. EFS students will have priority in enrolling in these classes. They will be asked to submit a list of their preferences to the Graduate Program Administrator. The Director of Graduate Programs will make decisions about priority for enrollment in classes that are over-subscribed.

If there is room in an EFS graduate class after all EFS graduate students have enrolled, non-EFS students may ask for permission to enroll. Professors for each course make the final determination about who may enroll in their course. Non-EFS students will typically be prioritized in the following order: Faculty of Arts Graduate Students; Graduate Students from Other U of A Faculties; Visiting Graduate Students; Open Studies and Special Students.

Course Expectations:

General practice in the Department regarding workload on average takes the following form for a graduate course: 15-20 pages of written work, the equivalent of one or two 20-30 minute oral presentations, and weekly reading assignments roughly equivalent to a 200-page novel and one or two critical or theoretical readings (scholarly articles, chapters of books, etc.), in addition to independent research. Final projects for graduate classes should be due no sooner than one week after the final class meeting.

Supports for Graduate Students

The Writing Workshop offers regular workshops on:

  • Preparing a scholarship or fellowship application
  • Preparing postdoctoral fellowship applications
  • Writing the thesis
  • Time and stress management

The Placement and Professionalism Committee offers workshops on such topics as:

  • Getting your work out there
  • Preparing proposals
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Getting published
  • Writing book reviews
  • Securing travel grants
  • The job market
  • The academic cv
  • Job letters
  • The interview
  • When to start applying
  • Non-academic jobs
  • Professionalization
  • Current issues and questions

PhD Concentration in Editing and Publishing

Are you interested in conducting research and gaining real-world experience in the world of editing and publishing? The PhD English Concentration in Editing and Publishing could be right for you.


PhD Internship in the Public Humanities
Are you interested in developing skills to pursue a career in the public humanities? If so, declare your interest in the Orlando Project internship position in the Public Humanities when applying to the PhD program in English at the U of A. 


Why Study With Us - Graduate Programs




Program Details and Forms for Current Students and Supervisors