Ph.D. in English and American Literature

Building on a record of excellence in the student's M.A. preparation in the broad range of English and American literature, the Ph.D. student in literature should work toward increased sophistication in his/her scholarship. The Ph.D. student should continue to strengthen and deepen an understanding of three distinct but related areas of expertise, contributing toward a scholarly focus. At least one of these areas should be a historical period. A second field should be a related historical period, literary theory, or rhetoric, and the third field should be a specific individualized area of inquiry. The career of a Ph.D. student should be marked by increasing independence in thinking and writing about literature. Working toward these objectives advances the student's competence in writing the scholarly dissertation. The Ph.D. in Literature constitutes solid preparation for scholarly publication and expert undergraduate and graduate teaching.

The concentration in Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy prepares doctoral students with the intellectual training and resources to become scholars and teachers of writing who understand teaching as a reflective practice.

Application Deadlines

Fall Admission: February 1
Spring Admission: November 1

Texas Common Application Form

Minimum Requirements for Admission

  • M.A. in English or M.F.A. in Creative Writing
  • 3.5 g.p.a. in graduate studies
  • Studies in one foreign language (Student can complete this requirement while in residence.)
  • GRE general test 

Application Materials

Students should submit the following materials to the University of Houston’s Office of Admissions:

  • The online application 
  • Academic transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended
  • The scores for the GRE general test 

The following materials should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • The student’s statement of intent (1-2 pages)
  • A 15-25 page critical writing sample with bibliography

Requirements of the Degree

  • 36 hours of coursework
  • Foreign language. Students must demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages or intensive knowledge of one foreign language.
  • 3 written comprehensive examinations
  • 1 oral comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation

Click here for the degree plan for the concentration in Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy

Distribution of Coursework

  • 3 hours of Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English
  • 6 hours of bibliography, literary theory, or rhetoric. If students have taken a course in one of these areas for the M.A., this requirement will be waived, allowing the student an additional 3 hours of elective course work (but not a reduction in the total hours required).
  • 27 hours of literature, including:
    • 9 hours in early literature
    • 6 hours in later literature, and
    • 12 hours of elective courses, each contributing to the student's areas of expertise. Students should select each of these courses in consultation with the graduate advisor and his/her faculty mentors. Early British literature is defined as British literature before 1800 and early American literature is defined as American literature before 1865.

Doctoral Reading Lists