PhD CRES Program Requirements

The PhD specialization in CRES requires a total of 48 hours coursework, 24 dissertation hours, and two hours of teaching practicum (for teaching assistants). Students with previous graduate work may transfer in up to eighteen hours of applicable coursework. Students may not transfer graduate credit that is more than six years old. There is a minimum of 30 hours credit required beyond the master's degree (earned here or elsewhere). The PhD course requirements are as follows:

  • 12 hours in Core English Requirements
    • 3 hours in EN 537: Introduction to Graduate Studies (Research and Bibliography)
    • 3 hours in critical theory (normally EN 535, 536, or 635)
    • 3 hours in EN 538: Research & Critical Prose
    • 3 hours in EN 637: Workshop in Academic Writing
  • 15 hours in Core CRES Requirements
    • 3 hours in EN 532: Approaches to Teaching Composition
    • 3 hours in EN 652: Theories of Teaching Composition
    • 3 hours in EN 653: Composition-Rhetoric Research Methodology
    • 3 hours in history of composition-rhetoric (EN 638: History of Rhetoric Part I OR EN 658: History of Rhetoric Part II).
    • 3 hours in EITHER EN 512: Computers and Writing OR an additional history (EN 638 or 658)
  • 9 hours CRES Electives
  • 9 hours Approved General Electives (can include courses in literature, linguistics, creative writing, or interdisciplinary areas related to English Studies)
  • 3 hours EN 620 or other linguistics
  • 4 hours in EN 533/534 Teaching Practicum (for graduate teaching assistants)


Language Requirement

PhD students must demonstrate reading proficiency in two foreign languages, OR advanced proficiency in one foreign language. 


CRES students who have passed the preliminary examination should form a dissertation committee consisting of a director from the CRES faculty, three other English faculty members, and a faculty member from outside the department. The candidate's dissertation prospectus must be approved by the committee and defended in an oral examination.

The CRES dissertation prospectus should provide a thorough overview of the proposed topic and an explanation of how the research will build on existing knowledge in the field and contribute new findings. Students should work with their director to establish a viable topic and preliminary bibliography for the project. The prospectus should cover the following topic/areas, although students may adapt or change this suggested outline in consultation with the chair.   Students can obtain a sample of a CRES dissertation prospectus from the field advisor.

  • Overview/Abstract
    • This introductory paragraph should summarize the prospectus.
  • Defense of Topic
    • This section should introduce the project and set out the research question that it seeks to address. It should explain why the proposed project is important to the field at large and how it fills a gap in existing research.
  • Literature Review
    • This section should thoroughly review relevant findings on the topic.
  • Discussion of Theoretical & Methodological Framework
    • This section should overview the research methods, materials (or data sources) and theoretical framework for the project.
  • Chapter Overview
    • This section should give a chapter-by-chapter preview of the dissertation, devoting at least one well-developed paragraph to each chapter.
  • Timeline
    • This section should provide a detailed plan for researching, writing, and revising the project, including the time needed to collect data and conduct additional research as necessary.  A table or bulleted format will be acceptable for this section.
  • Bibliography/Works Cited
    • The bibliography should include works cited in the prospectus itself and works that will be consulted during the writing of the dissertation. Students may choose to divide the bibliography into works cited and research remaining to give the committee a sense of the research agenda.

PhD Timeline

For students who already hold the master's degree, the PhD specialization is generally completed on a 5-year timeline:

Year 1: Complete required courses.  In consultation with the field advisor and/or graduate studies director, decide on a course of action for completing the foreign language requirement.  Think of course papers as possible bases for dissertation topics, conference presentations, and publishable essays, and discuss these possibilities with faculty.  Work with the field advisor to complete the transfer of credit process. 

Year 2: Continue with coursework and look ahead to the dissertation, conference participation, and possible publications.  Make significant progress toward completing the foreign language requirement and begin assembling a reading list for the PhD exam.  Apply for funding to attend a national conference such as CCCC. 

Year 3: Finish coursework and satisfy the foreign language requirement.  Complete the PhD exams in the semester after finishing coursework.  After completing the exam, register for dissertation research (24 hours required). Form a committee and work on a prospectus.   Seek to present work at a national conference and to publish a short piece or submit an article for review. 

Year 4:  Complete dissertation prospectus by the fall of the fourth year.  Work on data collection and/or literature review and draft the body of the dissertation. Continue building the resume through conference presentations, scholarly publication or public scholarship (as in academic blogs, professional newsletters, journalistic/community venues, or textbooks), and through service to the department and program. 

Year 5: Continue revising the dissertation and plan to go on the academic job market, having completed more than half of the dissertation by the beginning of the fall semester.  Submit one chapter of the dissertation for publication as a an article.


Graduate School policy requires that PhD students complete the degree within a seven-year time limit (eight years if entering the doctoral program with a BA, not a master's degree).