Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

PhD in English

Admission Requirements

In order to be admitted to the PhD program, you must have an MA record of distinction or a BA record that holds genuine promise for outstanding graduate work. Most students entering the PhD program have grade point averages of 3.5 and above in their previous coursework. The GRE exams (both the general test and the advanced test in English) are required, but these scores are never the sole determining factor in application. Your writing sample and statement of purpose are also important sources of information about your qualifications for undertaking graduate study. However, successful applicants to our PhD program typically have scored above above 160 in the verbal section and in the Advanced Test in English.

You may be admitted to the PhD program directly after completing your BA if your undergraduate record is outstanding and if your qualifications are clearly above the average of students applying for the MA program. If you apply to the PhD program with the MA already completed, you may be able to transfer up to 30 hours of graduate coursework from another institution toward the 60 hours required by Loyola University Chicago. After you have been admitted, the Graduate School will evaluate your transcript and determine which of your MA courses will be accepted by Loyola University Chicago.

Program of Courses

Doctoral students in English who have completed the MA degree will enter one of the following three specialized fields and must meet the course requirements defined for that specialization. Students will be free to change their field at any time, provided that they are able to fulfill the course requirements for the new field.

Note that several of these requirements will be partly or wholly fulfilled by all students as part of their MA study.

If a student has been required to take certain undergraduate courses as a condition of admission, those courses have priority over all other program requirements. No more than two undergraduate courses may count toward the PhD Undergraduate courses cannot satisfy the specific distribution requirements outlined above: they will be counted as electives.

Funding for Doctoral Study

Graduate Assistantships: Each year, the department offers a number of graduate assistantships to new and continuing doctoral students. Assistantships cover the full cost of tuition and pay a stipend of $18,000 as well. Students are eligible for up to five years of graduate assistantship.

Loyola's graduate assistantship program differs in significant ways from similar programs at many other universities, particularly in terms of the duties students perform as part of their assistantships. To learn more, visit our graduate assistantship page.

After students come off departmental funding, they are eligible to apply for a limited number of fellowships offered each year by the Graduate School. These include the Advanced Doctoral Fellowships, the Schmitt Dissertation Fellowships, and the >Pre-Doctoral Teaching Scholars Awards. These fellowships are competitive and may be held for only one year. For more information on these awards, please visit the Graduate School Financial Assistance and Funding webpage.

The Foreign Language Requirement

The foreign language requirement ensures that students are able to become acquainted with scholarship in languages other than English. Languages accepted are French, German, Spanish, Italian and Latin. Students may meet this requirement either by passing a foreign language examination or by taking a graduate-level course in a foreign language offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and receiving a grade of B or higher. This requirement does not count towards the 60 hours of coursework, and must be completed prior to the PhD examination.

The PhD Examination

The PhD examination includes a written and an oral component. The written exam consists of three three-hour papers covering fields chosen by the student in consultation with his or her examining committee and the director of graduate programs. With the approval of their examiners, students must define three fields of the following kinds:

  • An area of critical theory
  • An area of composition and rhetorical theory
  • An author
  • The literature of an historical period and/or genre, which may be additionally be focused on a particular subgroup

Students may include up to three fields of the last type, but only one field of any other type. Examples of fields of the fourth type might include:

  • 17th-century British poetry
  • Early modern women’s writing
  • Postcolonial drama
  • African-American literature, 1914–1959
  • Contemporary working-class fiction of the US
  • Modernist poetry
  • Women's autobiography

Any or all of the exam fields may be related to the student's dissertation topic; however, some breadth across fields is expected. And although the selection of texts within each field will be influenced to some extent by the student's particular interests and approach, he or she will also be expected to demonstrate a general mastery of the field.

Dissertation and Defense of the Dissertation

To become a PhD candidate you must fulfill the foreign language requirement, pass the PhD Examination, form a dissertation committee in consultation with the graduate programs director and the chairperson of the department, and complete an outline of your dissertation to be approved by your committee, the chairperson of the department, and the Graduate School. Regulations regarding the dissertation are set forth in the graduate catalog; please note that the departmental deadlines for distribution of readers' copies of the dissertation are October 10 for a January degree and February 10 for a May degree. When your dissertation is completed, you will be examined in a one-hour oral defense.

Time and Residence Requirements

Work on the PhD must be completed eight years from the time you have begun coursework applicable to the PhD If you entered the PhD program with an MA, you will have six years from the time of beginning coursework for the PhD. Extensions to these deadlines are possible by application to the Graduate School, with the recommendation of your faculty adviser and the Director of Graduate Programs.