Graduate Brochure - The Ph.D. Program


Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program in English, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Degree and Grades. Students are required to have a master's degree in English, or its equivalent, from an accredited college or university, with a GPA of at least 3.5. This is the minimum requirement. Successful applicants frequently have GPA averages that are higher.
  2. GRE Scores. All applicants are required to submit GRE scores. Verbal scores in the 86th percentile range are typical among successful candidates, though such scores provide no guarantee of acceptance. We accept the old as well as revised versions of the GRE test. International applicants must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and must score at least 550.
  3. A completed online application (see Application Information below).
Course Requirements

To earn the Ph.D. degree, students must:

  • Complete 27 semester hours of course work and 24 dissertation hours
  • Satisfy the M. A. General Literature and foreign language requirements (even if student is directly admitted into the Ph.D. after completing only a B. A. degree)
  • Take a total of eighteen credit hours (nine for those delivering a creative dissertation) in an Area of Concentration chosen from the approved list of eligible concentrations or another area approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Committee, this in preparation for a Ph.D. Preliminary exam in the major field. Students can apply a maximum of nine hours from the Masters level toward the Ph.D. concentration requirement.

Subdivisions within the general Areas of Concentration, listed below, will be detailed by individual caucuses comprised of faculty specializing in the Area:

  1. Medieval and Early Modern British Literary and Cultural Studies (through 1660) - Requirements
  2. British and Irish Literary and Cultural Studies: 1660-1900 - Requirements
  3. Post-1900 Literary and Cultural Studies (American, British, Irish) - Requirements
  4. American Literary and Cultural Studies to 1900 - Requirements
  5. African-American Literary and Cultural Studies - Requirements
  6. History of Text Technologies - Requirements
  7. Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality Studies - Requirements
  8. Colonial, Postcolonial, and Transnational Literary and Cultural Studies - Requirements
  9. A Literary Genre
  10. Rhetoric and Composition - Requirements

Take one literature course whose chief organizing principle is alterity (i.e., a course that focuses on race, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity). In this one instance the course fulfilling this requirement may, as well, fulfill another.

Pass a major and a minor exam based on reading lists drawn from the Areas of Concentration above.

Individual Areas of Concentration may involve additional requirements. These requirements will be set by the caucus comprised of faculty in the Area of Concentration.

In addition, a student's supervisory committee may determine that additional work in a relevant foreign language is necessary for a student's graduate program and scholarly interests.

TAs teaching literature classes, creative writing technique classes, and other 2000 or 3000 level classes are required to take the appropriate 1 credit advanced pedagogy course.

University Scholarly Engagement Requirement

In order to receive the degree, the Ph.D. student must satisfy the university’s Scholarly Engagement requirement, which ensures that doctoral students are active participants in the scholarly community. Students can fulfill this requirement in a number of ways, including serving as a Teaching Assistant, working for The Southeast Review, serving on the Graduate Student English Organization (GESO), taking part in reading groups, and regularly attending departmental events, among other forms of scholarly engagement. See the Graduate Handbook for a complete list.

Time Limitation

All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within five years from the time the student passes the preliminary examination.

Preliminary Examination

To be formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D., the student must pass the preliminary examination at least 6 months before the degree is to be granted. The examination consists of a 12-hour written test given over 3 days (8 hours on the major area, 4 hours on the minor area), and a 1- to 2 hour oral examination by the supervisory committee, normally held within two weeks after the written test.


After filing a prospectus, the candidate will write the dissertation in close consultation with the major professor and the committee. The dissertation may be an extended essay, three or more essays related by subject, or an extended original work in fiction, poetry, or drama. The candidate will defend a draft of the dissertation in a 2-hour oral examination by the supervisory committee.


Financial Support: Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships



The majority of students in the Graduate English Program receive support in the form of a teaching assistantship. Teaching assistants are provided with a stipend and a waiver for most of their tuition. Experienced TAs are often invited to teach during the summer term for an additional stipend. Typically, M.A. students are offered a two-year assistantship, M.F.A. students are offered a three-year assistantship, and Ph.D. students are offered a four-year assistantship and are eligible to apply for a fifth year contingent on satisfactory progress through the degree program and availability of funds.


The Florida State University Graduate School offers several fellowships and awards each year. The most prestigious and competitive of these is the newly established Adelaide Wilson Fellowship which will be awarded to newly admitted Ph.D. students this year. This fellowship is $30,000 per calendar year, and it provides support for up to 5 continuous years. 15 multi-year Legacy fellowships will also be awarded to incoming doctoral students this year. The Legacy Fellowship is a $10,000 supplement to a 0.5 FTE assistantship (required) per academic year, and it provides an annual health insurance subsidy. Ph.D. students at the dissertation stage are eligible to apply for a very limited number of University Dissertation Fellowships, currently funded at $10,000 plus tuition waivers for three terms. Finally, students may apply for the $10,000 Kingsbury Writing Award. For more detailed information on any of these fellowships and awards, please go to the Graduate School website ( ).

Minority Fellowships

Leslie N. Wilson - Delores Auzenne Assistantship for Minorities: This assistantship is available for all new or currently enrolled minority graduate students. Nomination is through the department or college, but competition for these awards is on a university-wide basis. The stipend is a minimum of $5,000 per academic year plus tuition waivers. Assistants also receive an annual health insurance subsidy. In addition, eligible minority students may qualify for the FAMU Feeder Fellowship. This fellowship is for students that graduated from Florida A&M University and completed the FAMU Feeder program. Awards will be given for a maximum of four years for doctoral degree-seeking students, and two years for master's degree-seeking students. The award will have a non-duty stipend of $5,000 for each of the Fall and Spring semesters. A number of African-American students in the program have also held McKnight Doctoral Fellowships, which provide up to five years of support, with a stipend of $12,000 plus tuition waivers. These fellowships are administered by a state-wide foundation. For further information on any of these fellowships, see the Graduate School website ( ).

Post-graduation teaching appointments

Upon receiving the Ph.D. in English, as part of their professional development and in tandem with the job search, graduates may teach composition in the department for up to two years through the Next Generation Visiting Assistant Professor Award program and/or the Visiting Teaching Faculty Program. Both are salaried appointments with benefits, albeit with different sets of eligibility requirements and teaching responsibilities.




Application Information

Procedures for applying to the M.A., M.F.A., or the Ph.D. Degree Program

The online application opens on August 1, 2019 for admission to the Summer semester 2020, and it closes on December 13, 2019. The following items are required to complete an application:

  1. Submit an electronic application at
  2. The following items should be uploaded in the supporting documents portion of the application
    1. Statement of Purpose (250-500 words describing the applicant's academic and professional experience and goals)
    2. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
    3. Writing Sample (applicants to the literature or rhetoric program should submit a critical essay; applicants to the creative writing program should submit 10 poems, a story, or a chapter from a novel)
    4. GRE Scores GRE Scores (Please note: GRE General Test scores are required for all degree applications: the GRE Subject Test is not required for any degree application)
    5. Unofficial Transcripts
  3. Submit three (3) letters of recommendation through the electronic application. Note: Our online application system does not support submission of recommendation letters via Interfolio.
  4. Submit the application fee upon completion of the electronic application.
  5. Submit official transcripts (from every university attended) and GRE scores to:
    • Office of Admissions
    • Florida State University
    • 282 Champions Way
    • PO Box 3062400
    • Tallahassee, FL 32306-2400

Important: students applying for the MFA or the PhD in Creative Writing should specify intended genre (poetry, fiction, non-fiction) in the appropriate space in the application.

For more information about the application procedure please see the Graduate Studies homepage at:

Deadlines: All new students, which include the PhD, MA, and MFA, will be admitted in the summer semester each year. To be considered for admission and a teaching assistantship in Summer, 2020, the online application must be submitted by December 13, 2019. For University Fellowships deadlines - See the Graduate School website

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